Satori

leaf 2I fell in love with a squirrel one day when he skittered across my path.
 
At first, it was a passing crush. I thought, “What a cute squirrel.” But then I noticed, really saw, the intricate white hairs fringing the brown fluff of his tail, and I was utterly besotted, overcome by the wonder of him. I saw the red leaves fallen beneath his feet, and I thought, “Lucky leaves, getting to touch the miracle of those tiny toes.” And then I noticed the exquisite network of veins running through the leaves, and I thought, “Lucky squirrel, getting to touch the miracle of those leaves.” I fell in love with them too, and the whole world exploded into a web of wonder. For ten perfect seconds, I forgot who I was.
 
That was the day I found out what purple smells like, and that spinach tastes like what cows must long for when they dream of grass. I learned that the separation between trees and sky is invisible, and that bugs who walk on water do know they are replicating Jesus, but they try not to get too cocky about it. I discovered that the world is chocked full of yellow, and if you smile at people fast, before they have time to think, they drop their masks for a moment and smile back. I noticed that my own mask has holes in it. I realized there are peekholes in everything, passages to another world. Everything is a wardrobe leading to Narnia. Everything is a train headed to Hogwarts.
Only no one looks because after all, we have bills that must be paid.
 
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ON SUCKING AT SOCIAL MEDIA

I’ve been thinking long and hard about something. There is lots of talk in lots of circles about how to be a successful artist, you have to put yourself out there on social media in really fancy ways, using algorithms and heart monitors and crinkly little slinky things that measure the exact precipitation in the air, the number of teenage boys who have secretly been in love with one of the Beatles, and the amount of toe jam sequestered between the average centipede’s toes, and crunch these numbers to ascertain the precise moment in the day when you should post a video of yourself knitting to reach out to your followers. If you do it just right, you can have 40,000 followers in a week, and if you do it really, really right, you can ascend and become a guru (with or without a long white beard–facial hair is optional.) Fuck. That. Noise. Good God. Life is demanding enough without making social media and blogging into a full time job. I can’t. I just can’t. I know some people who have fun with this sort of thing, and are really good at it. I admire the heck out of them for it. But no, no, no, that ain’t me babe. The only time I ever went viral is when I got mono in high school after I kissed that weird kid on the sketchy roller coaster. I post things because I think it’s fun, and I want to connect with people, and sometimes, I just want to share a nice photo of my soup. Is that so wrong? To want to show people your lentils? There are serial killers in this world. There are street mimes. There is a Donald Trump, for God’s sake. Do we really need to get so up in arms about tasteful photographs of warm, hearty, healthy winter foods? Do we really need to criminalize posting cat photos at midnight when no one is watching, so you probably won’t even get three likes? I’m terrible at this game. I just want to write things, post videos of kittens attacking bemused, patient crocodiles, and eat my lentils, not necessarily in that order.60108_499292975827_5960664_n

TAKEN

Desi's drawing of my back
My beautiful daughter, Desiree Wade, created this gorgeous art.

When I can’t sleep, because I have to teach a four hour class today, and why would I sleep when I could stay up worrying all night that I might not sleep, I finally give up and write silly love poems. I imagine this will be included in So Speak the Stars, a collection of love poems I’m working on, a tribute to the great love of my life. I have quite a caboodle of them now. They all say the same thing. I became a writer because of this person. I mean I always wrote, but I started getting good at it by trying to say I love you in a way that captured what was actually in my heart. I still haven’t come close, but I’ve sold some books now, so that’s cool.

I wrote this one in response to the weird phenomenon that has been happening (phenomenon is too big a word for this, but whatever) where strangers send me love letters. I think I may have been hacked by the “send people you don’t know love letters” hackers. Maybe they’d ask me for my bank account number if I responded. I don’t know. But anyway, one of them persisted for weeks and finally crowned his flurry of unanswered love letters with a marriage proposal, after which I blocked him. Last night, I wanted to write something because I couldn’t sleep, and my little brain said, “Why don’t you write that dude who asked you to marry him a letter?” So I did.

I’ve been having a revelation lately. I’ve had just about everything a human being can ever have. And nothing, nothing has ever made my life feel like pure magic except for love. Love is where it’s at. Love is the only true treasure. Really, it’s the only thing I want. And I hope that everything I do, say, and think somehow plays into the magic of love.

Last night, I had the joy of sitting next to Karen Joy Fowler at dinner. We talked about how publication doesn’t change your life in any real way, about how you are just the same old you on the other side. I thought I felt that way because I wasn’t a big writer, but Karen is, and she feels that way too. You would think that publishing books and having events that make you the star of the show would make you happy, but it doesn’t, not unless you do it from a place of love. If I go to an event worried about how many people will show up, and if I’ll do a good job, and how many books I’ll sell, it’s about as fun as cleaning toilets used to be when I was a maid. But if I go, and I think, “I don’t care how many people show up. If one person shows up, I’m going to do everything I can to give him or her the love in my heart,” the event is pure magic.

But I digress. This one goes out to the one I love.

TAKEN

I could say my heart

belongs to someone else,

but that would be a half truth, at best.

A quarter truth. A tenth truth. Here

is the whole shebang: Both hemispheres

of my brain also belong to him

as well as my torso, my toenails,

and the prickly bumps on my kneecaps.

My hair follicles are in love.

If you study my fingerprints

under a blue light supplied

by a medium who specializes

in languages spoken mostly

by dead men, you will see

that the whorls spell my beloved’s

name in ten forgotten alphabets.

When I went to the dentist, he asked me

if I had noticed my teeth were buzzing,

and if I had, did I realize

they were humming

my beloved’s favorite song?

My doctor worried when she saw

that my entrails had twisted themselves

into a reasonable facsimile

of the date of his birth. Twice,

my waxer has asked me to please stop

tweezing my eyebrows to replicate

his smile. But I’m not. They just grow

that way. Every cell in my body bends

in his direction. If I were a map,

I’d be a boring one. Of course

every road would end with him.

You’ve heard that one before. And yes,

every river would run into his ocean.

He would be the guru sitting

on the snowy peak

of every single mountain.

The moose in the forests

would constantly bellow

his name. At the heart

of each pyramid, you would find

a mummy, and when you opened

its coffin, a pharaoh him would sit up.

You’d be besotted instantly. A thousand

bucks says you’d love him too, on sight.

Do you get me? I’m a hopeless case,

a goner. Do not resuscitate. It’s done.

I’m his. There is no going back, not when

the bumps of my spine mimic his laugh in braille.

When my therapist asked me why, I said:

“He drives the darkness from my bones.

He makes me walk on water.”

 

 

 

 

IMPOSTER STAR

 

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People say I’m rising.

Every time they clap,

line up, ask me to write my name

I remember this plastic bag I saw blowing across the park

back in New York when you and I missed one another by a minute.

Remember?  I waited for you all day in a café

watching out a window

terrified you might pass and somehow

I wouldn’t see.

At night I think back, wonder if I jinxed us by being scared

or if I let the devil in when out of kindness

I turned to speak to that man

who wouldn’t leave me be.

I never saw you

just that red bag and

thought it was like me without you

beautiful to look at, ethereal even,

soaring, riding breezes, carefree,

but heading nowhere fast

or worse

somewhere

an iron gate

a gutter

a sharpened picket fence.

It was inflated

full of wind

full of everything that doesn’t matter

full of nothing.

I watched that hollow thing dance

until it was a red speck on the horizon

It could have been the morning star,

but I knew that it wasn’t.

It was a bit of trash

a jot of mundanity

an empty thing playing at being

spectacular.