Saturday, October 29, 2016
He extended a thickly muscled leg while offering a hand four times the size of mine to use as a counterweight.
Unbelievably, maybe even miraculously at the time, I let myself trust his bulk enough to begin the climb up the face of his body. I leaned back, perpendicular to his flexing plane of ascent, to get grip from my bare feet and take step after step, from ankle to shin to knee (sorry about stepping so hard on your knee, dad), to thigh, crotch (ouch again), before abdomen (ripped six-pack from days as Golden Glove boxer workouts), to chest, and then, unbelievably, shoulders.
There I stood, king for a moment, on top of everything, almost banging my crew cut against the ceiling, my perspective changed. I looked down on the living room, my mother, my brothers and sisters. I was almost four years old, and he was about to leave for Korea.
Now, over eighty years later, he is the one who walks like a toddler. He is palsied, liver-spotted, exorcised of his Golden Gloves cockiness; he stumbles with words, looks for them when they fail to come. He falls. He wears diapers.
I am not going to lie. I don't look forward to seeing him this way, but I know I must go. The flight I can't really afford has been booked, rental car reserved. Time blocked out.
It's time to go. I am not all of the man I hoped to become. I have been angry at him for what he couldn't give me.
A son has to own his role in falling short of his dreams.
A son has to give up blaming a father for his failures.
A son pockets his anger.
A son lifts the heavy tongue of the wagon that carries his father into his final days. He leans into the weight and forces the the wagon to roll ahead, inevitably.
He may want to quit, to avoid, to cave in to habits too old to forget. But a son shows the father that he can, that it is because of the father that he heaves against the weight, finds peace in the pulling. A funereal pyre and a long rest wait at the end of this final journey.
My father dreams of his father, of the warmth of a barn full of horses, cows, sheep, goats. He smells the manure and it is rich and muted with hay and corn. Outside the wind howls. It's January in northern Minnesota, and the father of my father carries incredible weight with hands four times the size of his son's. He teaches his son to play cribbage to pass the time, to work, to never back down.
My father was a giant, a tree, a mountain, a fighter. He and I fought. I landed a few. He gave me coils of rage that I have yet to untangle.
A son begins the work to untangle. He shows his father that he loved the boy into a man.
A son finds in his father a gift that no grief can ever repay, that no shame can hide.
Thursday, October 27, 2016
Space is all there is down there. Hanging over nothing that is. He is what some might call over-extended. Made too many commitments, let his heart sail away on a stiff breeze, spinnaker full, way past the horizon of his control, began a story he has no chance of finishing. He went just a bit too far to return, and now the tether that used to hold him has stretched to the breaking point. One more step, or even a lean against it, and, snap, it's history. The thing he is standing on might not support his substantial weight, though. If that's the case, he's done too. Oh well, it was the best he could do at the time, given the boundaries of his imagination, the blinders he helped put in place. Might as well test the extension to see if and what it gives.
Wednesday, October 26, 2016
Much as I am loathe to admit it, there are times when you have to think. You have to arrange the chess pieces of your life in a way that includes souls other than your little self and your puny horizons. Doesn't matter if you want it more than anything, are stamping your feet like a spoiled two-year-old in a fling-yourself-to-the-ground-fist-pounding-feet-kicking tantrum. It aint the right thing. You can't quit your job, buy a van, move to Colorado, get a dog, and live on scribbles. Yet anyway. Yes, you are champing at the bit and going nuckin' futts, but take a moment to consider the cost. And a bigger part of you knows it, has to get it, has to think it through. The old saw of the blues song "just because you can doesn't mean you should" bangs around in the crazy hungry cavern of your little skull. The consequences outweigh the bennies. There are irrefutable facts to consider -- sixty effin' years old, crazy as a bedbug, locked into contracts, bills to pay -- to meet face-to-face. You can't really eat like a sparrow and shit like an elephant, or, better yet, the other way around. Truly.
Tuesday, October 25, 2016
The banquet table was spread with mini chimichangas, stuffed mushrooms, pickled red peppers, a plate of pork tenderloin, and cheeses, lots of cheeses: Havarti, real mozzarella, brie. The plates were tiny though. I could see I would be making many trips. But before the food, I needed one of those cold ones offered at the open bar, staffed by a friendly server with a barbell piercing in her nose. "Anything local?" "Closest is Cali. Lagunitas." She obliged my thirsty eyes. Even provided a frosted glass. Now one might wonder what a yahoo like me is doing at some fancy hotel with an open bar and gourmet hors d'oeuvres. Well it just so happened that I was here to read a poem, a few poems actually. Aloud. To people. Who would have thunk it? The lout from Stoogetown, Wisconsin in front of a bunch of university muckity-mucks reading original verse? Yikes! Miracles can happen. I did include gun powder and pheasant shit in one poem though. The only way forward, in this case, is out the barrel, after all.
Monday, October 24, 2016
Not unlike a finger in a live light socket, the symptoms snap your attention into the here and now. A fever, pulsing nerves, sleeplessness, and heart in a vise all point to mysteries on the move. You have been hit by the spell, are collateral damage in the cross-hairs of alignment. Soul, brain, body, and something larger have all conspired to set you straight. Problem is now you're good for nothing in this world of money changers and character assassins. So you've got to go it alone until you find your tribe, your kindred. It's a crazy thing, and some will spurn you, will never forgive you. Yes, you are one of the crazies. Welcome home, the home that always changes, riding the wave of life on fire.
Sunday, October 23, 2016
He and the cat greeted the morning by sleeping in. It was October, finally, and the swamp cooler, failing as it was, took a break after the marathon of summer in the desert. Glorious is the work of the slug-a-bed. But there was more here. He tasted the rare prospect of being at the helm of his day. No honey-doos, no work drudgery, no immediate home crisis. This had to be one of the rarest of rare experiences a human being can have he thought to himself. True, he was limited by money and his lack of fitness, but he was free to get up and do whatever the hell he wanted for maybe the first time in his long, plodding adult life. This was the key, he realized, to finding some of what he had lost over the years. The way, as usual, but now so utterly distinct, was to find a blank sheet of paper and pick up where some part of him,that part that still held a dream, had left off.
Saturday, October 22, 2016
The first time he saw what he took to be a long-dead ancestor he ignored it. He felt a chill for sure, but the habit, being strong, was to look away and get back to his work of filling in boxes for the Beegkeester Corporation. It was deadening work he had to admit, but not dead as in the apparition that peeked around the corner of his sight just when he grabbed his double latte -- ultra venti -- that served as breakfast. Besides, what the hell could some imagined specter have to do with him making his daily bread? He doubled down and sent off a text to his colleague, Boinker. He included a happy face and a ghost emogi just to defuse the tingle he felt somewhere down there at the base of his spine. But the creepy feeling wouldn't leave him. The eidolon rose from the pixels of his screen, surfaced the bloom of his espresso, made dates in his day planner. It pursued him. In fact it mocked him. The more he ran, the more the phantasm persisted. Avoidance wasn't working. Then, on the way home, driving his new Volkswagen Golf, he met the gaze of his nemesis in the rear view mirror. Rather that avert his gaze, however, this time he examined the eyes from the past that he had buried, hidden from himself, pushed into the shadowy recesses of his psyche. Until you see me, bring me into the light of your little world, they said, I've got you.
Thursday, October 20, 2016
Brain scans tell us that multi-tasking, as in doing more than one task at a time, doesn't exist. What the brain does do is switch from one task to another, doing each badly. And women are no better at this than men. With screen ubiquity people are doing what they do worse than they would by just sustaining a focus on one task. Kids, research has shown, can study for about two minutes before getting distracted. The skill of paying attention to what we are doing is underdeveloped. Face to face human interaction has become a dying art. Research also points to increased anxiety when we can't check in with our phones. In meetings, we don't follow what is being covered because we are looking at a screen, our brains somewhere other than here and now. Our lives are moving on line to an ongoing stream of distraction. We have become intolerant of boredom. (I am not referring to the boredom born of mind-numbing, repetitive, monotonous drudgery called modern work, but that which arises from creating a space free from distraction.) The problem here is that some things require a degree of tedium to accomplish. To be creative, we have to sit with quiet, empty, and sometimes boring "space" to discover a heretofore unknown potential. The brain then can kick into gear to produce something -- an answer to a problem, a line for a poem, an insight previously not available -- rather than merely receive or consume. It's a boredom thing.
It was the way he used words that changed things. When he thought a second before speaking, considered the options, the consequences of some, the benefits of others, the truth of all of them, he began to see the way out. He was carried in a stream of words was drowning in them. He failed to see the power they had over him. They were an unbroken chain that extended back to some imagined slight. Only when he began to tame them did they become servants to his life rather than masters of it. Only when he saw them for what they were and learned about space did they relent. Might as well complain about the rain he thought to himself as they pelted him with their insistence. When he found nothing, the blank page of here and now, only then did the story truly begin.
Tuesday, October 18, 2016
You feel like a peeled kiwi, your prickly skin removed, your underbelly exposed to the hot sun. You suck in a breath and want to bolt, run, and run, and never look back. But you hold your ground in spite of the fear, and prepare to speak the first words of the story that is your life, the one in which you might become the hero, not for your own glory, but the hope of your tribe. They are rooting for you, but are afraid too. They fear their own potential that has been canned and put on the shelf. You remind them of their complicity in framing their walls of possible, of taking what was handed to them. A chorus whispers in ambivalence: fear and hope. The trees pause in abeyance. The coyote snaps into alertness. A hawk perches to stare you down. This is it. Now or never. Life or another can down the road. Now. You die to silence and take your shot, your place on the stage.
Monday, October 17, 2016
Things weren't that bad. He had enough to eat, a bed to sleep in, comfort beyond the dreams of most of his fellow souls here on earth. If he snapped a bone, a surgeon would mend it. If his car broke down, a tow truck would haul it to a shop.
Yet, he couldn't help but notice a tug pulling him forward out of the ho-hum of good enough. He had a brother with whom he had not spoken in years beyond years. He gave up in little ways when called to cultivate joy, fell short when invited to dance the dance of intimacy.
The boundaries of his world were wide enough to accommodate a life that passed in comfort and complacency.
But he was not on fire, not appreciative of the gift of his life. So he pulled the lever of chance and dared to ask for something bigger.
As luck would have it, a doorway appeared, and it was guarded by two dogs: possibility and action taken for something bigger than yourself. Pass this way, a sign said, and you will have to cut the cords that bind your broken heart, unlock the cage that contains a crazy dancer, and drop the shackles that keep you from embracing anything larger than self-interest. It is in serving that you save yourself, become the hero of your own life. It is, as a great book says, in giving that we receive.
Beyond the first steps, he could not see where the path led, but something in him knew that his heart would light the way, if only he could turn in back on. It was only in taking a step, willing himself to have enter the domain of making a difference, having an effect, embracing his lost brother, that he would become what a man might be.
In spite of a nattering "It's too hard," and "you can't do this," and "you'll get lost, burned, beaten, and worse," he lifted his hand, and pulled open the gate.
It was time to step through the portal, take his turn at the rudder that guides this leaking vessel called Humanly Possible to steer it toward the broad and infinitely retreating horizon.
Thursday, October 13, 2016
Then there was the day when it was all different. The familiar weight that pulled you into a despair so dark that the only option was out, lifted, and you stepped into a day you thought would never come again, much less be welcome. Behind you lay a swath of broken dreams and lies. Ahead lay... what? You had no idea. The knowing, though, that nothing was there infused you with light. What was true yesterday no longer mattered and you dug into the moment with the ferocity of a badger. You lifted the moment and tossed it into the air and it squealed with delight and you took that delight and used it to rinse the poisons from your eyes and ears. You longer cared what they thought or how you looked. All that mattered was your word and your word had roots deep in what might be.
Tuesday, October 11, 2016
The path has narrowed, gotten rockier, and disappears into impossibly overgrown brush up ahead. He is tired, so leans his staff against a wall of stone, removes his pack, and finds a place to sit. His shirt is soaked through from the effort of getting this far. He is glad to be alone, not just for the solitude, but sparing others the smell of him. Bathing has not been a priority in these last hard miles. He rolls the rare smoke. Sometimes breathing is best marked by the heat and evidence of fire. He knows it's bad, but here, for his purposes, it is good. Very good. He sits with the mistakes of his life. He sees now, finally, the rotten fruit of how wrong he has been all these years. He has operated out of anger and fear and spite. The facts of it stare at him, in the clear light of utter frankness, truth. He feels shame and wants to offer up an excuse. His companion isn't having it and won't suffer bullshit. He knows that, so faces even more the fact of his actions, his convictions, his errors. It's a goddamned mess he admits. When the smoke has burned down and it is time to move on, he leaves the staff, the pack, and all that might spare him the full brunt of sensation and consequence before taking the first honest steps toward the tangle of woods ahead. He goes alone. He is not ashamed. He radiates energy, begins the long descent to the hard bedrock beneath the mud, here finally at the peak of his power.
Saturday, October 8, 2016
Rain stipples the sidewalk, the stains fading almost as fast as they appear as new, young drops make their mark. A rare October thunderstorm moves down the slope of the Santa Rita Mountains before crossing the wide alluvial fan toward the prison. The leading edge is miles away, but wind carries the scent of the coming storm. Sun still shines as the first drops fall.
The moment juxtaposes a summer in retreat and a fall gaining strength.For me, it's one of those moments of change, surprise, and wonder. The chill and simultaneous heat out here on the yard mixes magic with the routine of rec time. Inmates jog around the perimeter, play basketball, volleyball, do pull-ups, push-ups, just mill around, some of them smoking, thinking, looking at the sky. In spite of the standard orange jumpsuits, the inmates manage to strike a style stance, droopy drawer calf-length pants of the street soldier, hand-made cowboy style orange head-gear, tight muscle enhancing T-shirts. Individuals in a churning sea of orange.
I welcome the cool as I make my way across the Rincon yard toward the education building. October days can still hit the mid 90s, and today is a steamer.
I hear the intercom call out the inmates. A few of them walk to the gate of the rec yard, like school boys who wait for the opening bell. One of them, C., is the barber, and has to deliver the hair-cutting kit to a ramada where inmates line up for a trim. The races mingle, call a temporary truce, like they do in the workshop.
In mundane moments, a sliver of grace appears, even in prison.
I forget that, yet here it is. I am a witness to possibility.
We agreed last workshop that S. would have as much time as he wanted to read a long piece about realizing how much he appreciated his hard-ass of a father. His work was solid, full of rich descriptions of roof work under the tyrannical eye of a father who wanted a son who would not end up in prison.
It is another surprise -- not one I welcome -- when I find I have no copies of his draft in the tub. I rifle through all my files, and, nope, no copies. I had them before. I must have set them aside when I was packing other supplies.
Nothing to do about it. We have to move on, discuss other work.
Then S. asks if he can leave the room for a bit to speak with one of the officers. He takes my copy of the essay with him and says "Take an intermission."
The other 12 men and I sit there before slipping into some discussion about building permits, tile grout, and haiku. I tell I wrote one while standing in line as Costco. A newbie screws up his face at the thought. Haiku? Costco? What the? Someone has painted a mural on the north wall. An inmate's arm extends from the edge, and a wave builds, crests, and breaks over a distant cityscape. We speculate, interpret, argue a bit. I say it looks like what we do in the workshops.
The room is relaxed. Guard is down.
Small talk fills the room until S. returns with twelve copies of a seven page manuscript.
I stutter something like "How... where... what.... ?"
"The CO listens in sometimes. He likes what he hears. I asked him. He made the copies."
I shake my head. Disbelief, challenge to my fixed was of seeing things, robs me of speech. There are allies, in a way, out here. They see, they know, they look the other way when I pass a dictionary, a magazine, a composition book. The men come in empty and leave with possibility in the form of a pad, a pen, some examples, an assignment.
"That's a first." I am floored. This action works to bust up the stereotypes I hold of prison officers. I say so. The statement floats out there, but is absorbed by the business of the day.I have much to learn.
S. is already collating and distributing the copies. No time to philosophize.
He reads. We listen. The work is good, moving. Very good. No one talks when he finishes. We have heard about a man who had been maimed, kidnapped, abused, and who practiced tough love on his wayward son. That son, now a man, is learning to see the man his father is.
We use up our time and have to leave the room, and migrate out of the building, but the gate to the yard is locked. We wait. Minute after minute. A half hour. More.
We stand in the open courtyard surrounded by coils of concertina wire, locked doors and gates. I have no idea where the guards are. We talk. Some of the guys smoke. S. and I share frustrations at our writing. I pull a review copy of a book I am working on and give it to him.
"Read this, if you want. Bring it back if you can. You will find examples of what I am talking about in terms of story, scene, and point of view."
He files the book in his contraband brown satchel.
"You know," he says, "I try to be happy. People don't know that I have been in and out of prison since I was 16. Now I'm in for life. The only thing I have is writing. Well it's the best thing."
He says this looking away. He doesn't meet my eyes. I look away too. I want to say that the mind can be free, in a way, with work, lots of work. That, however, feels trite, a small comfort, if any.
Clouds continue to build, deepening the shadows around the big mountain to the south. It's going to pour.
I think about the officer who made copies. I think about the teachers who decorate the walls with encouraging slogans, the inmates who paint murals. I want the eyes to see the potential, the will to open to what might be. The times are seldom that I get what I want. That's my fault, I see.
There is some generosity here, inside the wire. It lives between the cracks in the sidewalk, like a seed, waiting for rain.
Friday, October 7, 2016
The doo-doo was over due to be done. The business in the tank was getting urgent. That's when I booked a date with the Honey Wagon to meet me on top of the pile that is Mount Lemmon, where I and some others have been neglecting the septic tank.
"How long has it been since your last service?" the kindly dispatcher asked me when I called about scheduling.
"Ummmm, about twenty years, maybe more," I answered, digging into the recesses of memory. "My sons were about ... two... " Way too much dawdling and unnecessary information for her, I realized. "So, that would be about twenty fooour years."
An audible sigh on her end.
"And how big is your tank?"
"My brother-in-law says it is a hundred gallons."
"Are you sure?"
"No, but I think that's it," I said."You need to know that the road is pretty bad -- steep and rutted and there is a washed-out bridge," I went on.
"We can be there tomorrow. Otherwise it will be about a week before we go back up the mountain," She said.
I was thinking about the other sewage in my life. I was procrastinating on a book, avoiding exercise, being a jerk to dear friends, trying not to think about my dad going into hospice, seeing only the weaker self-defeating parts of my nature. Living with me sometimes is a nasty business. Ugh. Why does all this have to come up now?
"I'll see you there," trying to chirp, and failing.
"The driver will call you when he gets close."
So I go up to the cabin, up the winding mountain road, in my old truck, no radio, no tape player, or any other form of distraction. Just me and my thoughts.
Yikes! I thought. I am spinning and dead-ended even though the surface of my life looks like lottery winnings. The depth of my despair at nothing was a creepy poison under my skin. Such is the strange world of depression. My inner landscape is a churning skein of serpents sometimes. I want out, want distraction, anything other than the here and now. Dealing with doo-doo isn't fun.
But it is necessary. Sometimes, one has to really look at the way things are, especially the crappy stuff. I hate to say it, but, for me, it's the way through it to the other side, the place where magic can happen.
The trees were turning their yellows, reds, and browns of October, my favorite of favorite months. Why was I so unhappy?
I get to the cabin. The cover for the septic needs uncovering. I change into my work clothes, grab a shovel, and get to work.I haven't done hard manual labor for a while and my elbows ached at the shocks of the shovel when it hit the rocks covering the tank. The going was slow and hard, but I am tenacious. The demons are right there with me. "Call about your dad. Your son is in crisis. Do something. You are not so good, in spite of what you say." My body wants to fall into the pit and just stay there, get covered up after the tank is pumped.
My reverie is interrupted by the septic guys who call. I go up to meet them at the gate.
After looking at the road, they say they can't do the job. The road is too steep, washed out, and the bridge too dangerous to drive a heavy tanker truck across. This is not going to be an easy or quick job. Like many things in life, this one is going to take some time, some effort, some attention, money.We pull back the concrete covers over the tank to see what we are up against.
"This tank is in bad shape... it's also much bigger than you thought. I'd say 500 - 1000 gallons. Not a hundred."
Why was I not surprised?
All the work to this point is a start, but not enough. I have a long ways to go. The prospect is daunting, but also a relief. Doing something might help pull me from the funk, this terrible stuck place I fall into once in a while. I have to keep moving, or the demons will win.
We take pictures and make a plan for how to get the tank pumped.
At least I see what some of the work is.
Time to get on the phone, make the call, listen for my dad's voice. Time to deal with the business left undone. Time to clean up the crap between friends, make amends.
Sometimes you have to deal with the pit before you can enjoy the sweet breeze of October.
Wednesday, October 5, 2016
"You are the type," the surgeon said, looking at me over his glasses, wagging his finger, "that I see again because he is back for a second surgery."
I nodded, contrite, wondering what, exactly, my "type" was.
"It's the older guys, 40 -50 and, in your case, up, who go out and think they can play soccer or basketball or do gym-NA-stics (his emphasis) who end up with a second surgery to repair a re-ruptured tendon. I'm just telling you..."
His words were bouncing around in my thick, hollow skull as I bounced down a trail in the Zuni Mountains on my mountain bike. Cycling, I reasoned, was fairly "safe" because there was no jumping, no cutting in front of a soccer ball, no explosive leaps, just safe round pedal strokes, right?
So there I am on this downhill section that is a rutted labyrinth of deep gullies. The trail snakes around and through them until I see where it has been cut by recent rains. I will either have to dismount or bunny hop across the gap.
Well, of course, I decide to bunny hop and lift the bike neatly over the mini defile. All well and good. Until the landing. I forgot that what goes up also comes down, sometimes hard. The shock of the landing traveled from the wheel through the frame and crank to my foot, which took a hard hit.
A bolt of pain shot up from the still healing, and quite stiff tendon through my leg and into that place where nausea originates.
I hid my grimace from my fellow velo fellows and kept rolling, hesitant to put weight on the tendon. I slowed and let them pass. They gave me looks that said "weenie" and "slacker" and "when are you going to get back in shape?"
When they had pulled ahead enough for me to just focus on my foot, I put weight on the pedal. It held. It hurt like hell, but it carried the weight. The intensity of the pain told me there was a bit of a tear, but nothing too serious. Dodged another bullet.
Slowly, easily, I found a rhythm that felt sustainable given the throbbing down there in the tendon.
It hurt for the next two hours, and blood had gathered around my heel. But I could still walk and I was not going back to visit the surgeon.
I went out on another ride and saw a chance to bunny hop a log.
Think I'll walk.
Tuesday, October 4, 2016
It starts when you slip too far into the shoes of the other man's grief, frustration, fear, and rage. You see things a tad too closely, imagine yourself in those situations. You know, the father taking a strap, the hot sidewalks of homelessness, the getting jumped, but mostly the hardening to a world that gives you no quarter. What happens then is you start to dream about days when it was all lost. And you start to lose it. You sit there in your car outside the gates and weep for the relief of being outside, knowing that men are still in there, always in there, tonight, tomorrow, the next day, the next week, the next years. Then it starts to squirm and coil inside you, to tap your energy, take over, like a parasite gone viral. It is then that you have to claw your way back to someplace far enough distant that you can fight back, breathe. You still have to believe, to stand, and to act. Yes, you still have to act. You will be tempted to quit, but that means you have lost. You learn that you cannot save anyone, but that you can marshal the strength to show up, pull from inside yourself the gifts someone might need. You give up hope that anything might change, but find the will to act anyway, and do so with a heart that you don't give away.
Do not be be deceived into thinking it is over just because the barrage has gone silent. This is a pause, not an end. You have to use this time to crawl up and out of your meager protective bunker and get your ass out into the sun where you have work to do. You don't know why or how, but some divine accident has opened up four fucking months of time for you to write what you say you need to write. The work has to happen now, before the skies again fill with the rain of commitments, of tests to grade, lessons to plan, meetings to attend, papers to grade, conferences to hold, web sites to build. If you fall back to nurse your wounds, you will be lost. You will never be able to again face yourself or forgive yourself. These are the days you have longed for, begged for, prayed for. Do not lose this opportunity. Yes, it hurts to move when you are so stiff, sore, tired, and full of the weight of grief and heavy poisons. You have to act in spite of it, to shift your gaze up and out and into the heat and cold and wind. Do not be afraid, but look to the end and feel the hopes of a hundred men behind you, dreaming that you might be one strong enough to tell the story. Lean into the years you have spent preparing for this. Remember the promise you made. Draw on the ineffable that you know waits for you the day lie down, calm in the knowledge that you did not back down, that you gave it more than you ever thought possible.
Monday, October 3, 2016
Dust blows and stings and gathers outside the door, in drifts, like snow. Every particle seems to be on its way to some other place. So much restlessness with no appreciable result other than relocation -- usually in my bed, my shoes, or my scalp. The lover that is rain, water, nourishing moisture, has left in search of something to sustain her. This dryness just seems to part of the way of things; there is no one to blame, or everyone. I see her everywhere, but am bound, paralyzed by fear. Everything longs for water, for love, a break in the dam that holds back the rushing relief of emotion, expression. The dust remembers the days when it was fed by rain, by the shade of blooming fruit. I must find a way to woo her back, woo her home. My eyes are full of the crust of sleep, body stiff, joints sore. This long sleep feels like it will never end. How did this happen? How did I get here? It began when I veered off my path because it hurt too much, was too hot to touch or hang onto. Or so I thought. Numbness was preferable to pain. Sleep walking preferable to scrabbling over the rocks of new territory. It's time to wake up. I hear thunder in the distance, a beckoning promise of consummation.