Archive

Monthly Archives: July 2014

IMG_1231

 

I took this picture a week or two after moving to Alabama, more to show how I set up the room than to demonstrate the light. But look at that window. It’s bright and green and streaming, where the window is now simultaneously gone. I have tramped through this room after the doors were removed and the dark swarming tiles piled in the corners, pipes out, damp leaves on the floor.

Advertisements

The next morning, I stepped out of my motel room and into the furnace of Monroeville in August. The Best Western is on Highway 21, which becomes Alabama Avenue. To reach the courthouse, according to the clerk at the motel, all we had to do was follow the road about five miles. It ended right at the town square. We passed an unremarkable stretch of auto parts places and assorted businesses. Next we came upon the Monroe County Hospital, up a short, steep hill to our left, then a strip mall with a Winn-Dixie supermarket, a Rite Aid, and a dollar store.

That’s about as far as I got into this book excerpt on Huffington Post before I had to get up and leave the room and sit quietly being sad. I’ve never even been to Monroeville. These roads are familiar, though, strips of commerce laid out across yellow fields. One corner down 82 was always overrun with giant sunflowers, not long before you found the Northport Walmart.

I’m wary of idealizing / idyllizing the South, seeing it as some simple place where people are all good neighbors—that’s not how it was for me. I don’t want time away to change that. But I had so many pockets of calmness, and long drives, and the heavy pollen on the breeze that wasn’t enough to cool me. I had dread when it rained. I had the cows along the bike route and everyone I knew ending up in the same backyard on a Friday night. I had the intense green leaves of any 100-year-old magnolia, my snakes in the water. I had confrontation with a history, all the time, in the big white houses, in the biased rental codes. Bad roads. Wet winters.

It occurred to me I’ve been too busy here to take time to miss anything, and so the missing occurred to me all of a sudden, in a public place, mostly alone, memory jogged by someone else’s words.

And hey look! Coconut 19 is here! Freshly pressed! Imminently real! Inexplicably heroic!

 

[ “To the west,” Erin Palovick ]

I have some particular excitement about one of these writers, who I tried and failed to publish in my inaugural issue of BWR. It’s gratifying to see that the work continues and the work continues to be great.

I wrote in my writing journal this morning:

I can’t speak to dreams-as-prediction, but I do think that dreams, coming from the unconscious mind, dredge up thoughts/anxieties/memories and represent those things both directly and indirectly. I think the tower of my dreams that had felt so safe and green was somehow my writing, and now it is my writing that’s out of reach. Even if my unconscious was trying to say something else, the act of dream interpretation reveals the unconscious. I know that’s the truth. I feel away from my writing, though I keep trying to approach it. Every approach is unstable: a rocking floating platform, a tiny raft that gives under my weight.

Then inexplicably I wrote a poem. The mouse in our kitchen made an appearance.

Last night I dreamed of approaching the tower from my recurring dream, of green light and safe space and the illuminated hotel lobby that feels like home—the tower always looks a little different, but it is identifiably the tower. I think here about Bachelard and the tallest point in any house, the well-lit garret. It’s the place of elevated thought, heightened reason, closeness to light, airiness.

In the dream I had to approach the tower by water, a channel that ran through a city, by stepping onto a small raft that would take me there, and I stepped off the dock with my arms full of books and sank into the water instead. The books weighed me down and I considered not letting them go, but I had to in order to get to the surface. It didn’t occur to me until after I woke up that they were already ruined.

The tower appeared in another recent dream, this time a giant buoy at the end of an arduous harbor-side trail. I stepped onto the platform and it rocked back into the water, and I saw that there was no door, and the water washed back and forth over me as I refused to leave.

Years ago, my recurring dreams were of giant, deadly dark waves and sinister bodies of water, and it is disconcerting to see my old, bad recurring dream combined with my new one, the one that is inexplicably happy and safe. The hotel is gone—the tower turns away from me, not a safe place for me but a place safe from me. I think here of Baba Yaga / Baba Yaga’s house, the denial of entrance, my own poetic confusion of occupant and intruder, the woman who is both old and young, good and bad, a helpful obstacle.

I have no background in dream analysis. But writing dreams down feels worthwhile. These days it’s the most reliable of my creative acts, not including the act of dreaming itself.

To stay the magistrate

lean into this world or the next. I need the flesh of my body

for favors, my fill

to die, to slowly die, your body the hole,

hair dingy as if white trash

meth, she’s on limbs, cramps, potatos. I

let myself cry hard jogging the Barrio.

 

– Shelly Taylor

This came in the mail yesterday:

20140703-072032-26432882.jpg

I’m halfway through, taking down page numbers as I go, notes for a review. It’s funny to think about how we both write from a Jewish perspective–not necessarily out of choice–and how differently the poems come out. The sense of shared inheritance versus individual expression, which I mean in the sense of genetics, biology, bodies as organisms that live in a living world.