My whole world lurches sideways –
familiar days and plans
tumble violently from grasp,
dates and weeks flounder
in the murk of confusion,
and I’m falling,
falling again –
I can no longer make sense of June,
or how long it will take to get to the end of it.
I know you didn’t mean to, but your words
wrenched my heart so roughly
it’s seeping again – I can’t help it.
It’s an old wound, really,
shaped by the story of a thousand cuts
that began before
we both were born.
It’s not your fault,
but a little tenderness
would do a lot for the mending.
It’s funny how a tiny prick
can bring you to your knees
while a single hard blow
doesn’t always do the trick.
But the wind is cruel and merciless –
sirens sent us all scurrying underground
while the house shook and groaned
in the middle of the night.
On the way down I grabbed
things that might vanish,
or that I might need
if everything came to an end
in the end –
passport that may very well outlive me
flashlight to find my way through the rubble
and oh yes,
a clean pair of underwear.
I sat near the washing machine
on the stool with the wheels
and the tray underneath
with my head in my hands
wondering what to do.
A spider approached from across the room
and stopped right in front of me.
We sized each other up
while I reminded myself
that she probably had pretty eyes
and did good work
in the studio that I never use.
I even thought we could be friends
until I moved my leg
and scared the crap out of her.
She made a beeline for the workbench
at lightning speed
and I realized the thunder
was slowly fading.
I’m still wondering
what she was trying to tell me.
I know you didn’t mean it,
but I’m staring at July
through vaseline eyes
and still can’t quite get a grip
on what it is that I’m supposed to do.
I could throw me a rope
but time escapes
like an eel through fingers
I can’t feel the bottom anymore,
but my friends are holding my head
Sirens send us all to the basement
while the house shakes and groans
in the middle of the night.
You didn’t know
I would pull you
from the grave
and hold you so close,
but neither did I…
and now here you are
your blood in my veins
a face in the mirror
that is not me,
a mysterious fusion
forged ever so lovingly
because I still believe in you.
Imagine the place
where miracles are born
of hearts and desires
and the alchemy of the impossible
is made tangible to the soul.
The more I work on the Mixed States project, the more I feel connected to my father, who was lost to me in a fatal car accident when I was only five years old. After his passing I was not permitted to grieve, and for fifty years it was drilled into my head that he was nothing but an asshole. This was difficult for me to reconcile because I was his only daughter— daddy’s little girl—and in 1963 he was frozen forever in my mind as a god on a pedestal. A wise person recently suggested that [in order to resolve conflicting stories and feelings] I needed to learn who my father really was—not the god, not the supposed asshole—but the human being inside the man.
What I’ve learned so far is that he was very generous, affectionate, a great storyteller, and a gifted artist. He liked to travel and read, and always kept a dictionary beside his bed. He loved new gadgets and cameras, and his boundless passion for knowledge required a serious investment—a twenty-four volume, leather-bound, hardcover set of the 14th edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica (1962). I just know my dad would have loved today’s gadgets, Google, and especially the work that I do! I’d like to think that he would have been proud of me.
The Mixed States project is turning out to be much more than I had anticipated. Today I ran the first generation double-exposures through additional processing, which has transformed the images even further. Unexpectedly, it gave the feeling that I was melding my father even deeper into myself, thus the Beyond the Grave idea and the poem above. Although this journey is intensely personal, I can only hope that my work resonates with some of you out there. ❤
My world is small
yet infinitely expanded
by the vastness
in my soul
yesterday and today
in my heart.
A friend who has been producing the most beautiful and profound one-minute poems recently encouraged me to try her method. It involves latching onto a word that pops into your head. Poetry for me, however, always emerges from a phrase rather than a word… and with my friend in mind, this is what emerged.
As for the phrases, they always appear during deep thought, and today’s originated from how grateful I am for Facebook and the connectedness it enables to dear ones across the country and around the globe. I firmly maintain that social media is what you make it. For me it is loving, informative, and positive.
This poem is dedicated to Elizabeth, and to all the special ones who have crossed my path over the decades. I am deeply grateful for you.