The Thing With Feathers

In the blink of an eye, it could all crumble into the blistering sea and be over for good. It could all be gone, really. I’m never quite certain if this motivates me or just chews inside my head like a manic kind of disturbance which keeps me from being better. I don’t know what ‘better’ means exactly, I guess I just always feel like it’s something I should try to be although I’m also pretty sure it’s why we spend too much and drink too much and get diagnosed with ‘generalized anxiety’ because we have fears which span a spectrum so wide and varying that it’s not even special enough to warrant a specific label. But maybe that’s just me. Humans always seem to be striving toward something and I can’t help but think that’s why they are so exhausting. They expect you to get so high even as they pin your wings to the ground.

The sky is dark navy velvet as I sip coffee and type in the dimly lit upstairs room. I listen to the little birds outside my open window, chirping away with marked intent. Together their sounds become a beautiful collection of voices which seem to surround me entirely, head to toe. Sometimes I just stare at them in the garden, peer deep into their teeny tiny black beady eyes, watch the clicking of their small fragile heads and the flick of their clever movements. What holds these creatures together but frail tendons and thin feathers and the breath of a god I almost believe in when I see a bird soar right up into the elegant morning air.

Poets are deeply observant which is likely why they can be so unnerving. It is a strange kind of torture-worship which calls a person to the word. The ones who write too much about sunshine and rainbows, I can’t trust them. Nothing is ever that simple. Or maybe I’m too complicated. Either way, I need darkness in my veins if I want to feel turned on enough to pick up a pen.

Sylvia Plath used to drink martinis with Anne Sexton (“three or four or two”) after their poetry class. At the Ritz Carlton if I am not mistaken (I could be). Sexton would drive them and park in the loading only zone, exclaiming to hotel staff that it was okay because they were only there to get loaded. They spoke a lot about death, and spoke about it with fervor and passion. Tragic in the end, of course, and yet what compelling, intriguing figures both of them were. Women who wrote poetry and thought thoughts which they actually expressed were near scandalous back then. They wrote about masturbation, miscarriage, the cruelties of marriage and motherhood. Unacceptable.

And yet.

There is something about obsession which transfixes not only the obsessed but those obsessed with observing them. To surrender to your passion for expression, for writing, for a life bigger, deeper, than anyone around you is living. So much of life is a question of what kind of conversations you are having. What you discuss is who you are and a reflection of how you value yourself. Which, truth be told, makes the culture we are living in at present a very sad state of affairs indeed.

The artists you cannot get enough of, who are they? They are not just artists, they are so much more than that. They are the embodiment of the dare. Do you or don’t you salivate over a thing. And if you do, will you let yourself feel it all the way through. Will you turn toward it or will you hide it away. Will you own it, say it, stand in it.

If what you want to discuss, if what you feel you need to say, or dismantle, or explore, may turn some people’s stomachs, would you still do it? Would you put your desires, your burning needs ahead of everyone else’s?

What if you did. And refused to explain or justify any of it.

8 Replies to “The Thing With Feathers”

    1. Thank you ever so much, Jay. I am so glad you could immerse yourself in this piece. And you imagined exactly right… if I don’t get up ahead of the rest, I’m a bit of a jumble all the rest of the day. It seems it is a necessity for me.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I love that. I mean, the whole thing, but step by step it grows and surprises, sometimes subtly. Even that description of humans always striving for something–that elusive, unnamable somethingS, always, always more–and at that moment, I expect something like “that’s why they are so exhausted.” Ha! Perfect–they are exhausting. Yes. I can rest my soul for a moment or two before the children, the job, the humanly world calls me back to attention, away from the earth itself, which rests and sooths me. But more than anything, I think, just seeing them day after day, rushing about, buying this, replacing it a month later with that, needing the latest gadget, device, fashion, and needing more money to afford it, and so working more than they ever did. We are addicted to this stimulation. More, more. It is exhausting to watch, to be near it all. But even exhausting to feel pulled into it, again and again, and hearing my aging voice, groaning, “Bugger off. Do what you have to. Just leave me the hell alone. Leave me in peace with my trees and bees and invaluable serenity.” … And that degree of incessant stimulation being so, how can anyone “feel it all the way through”? Sorry, Allison, I could say so much more about your incredible provocative writing, but I should probably give others a chance. I just love it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. My dearest George, I hear you, I really do. I feel we as a human collective are so terrified of the things we actually love, want, desire, are capable of creatively, that we can’t stand the call of it, the silence in which it whispers to us terrifies. So we try to kill it off before the pain of being alone with it. I wrote just a day or so ago about being insatiable, and that is true. And here I am writing about too much striving. Is this hypocritical of me? I think what I am getting at is that the soul longs, it needs, it begs, it wants, that is what is precious to me, that is where I may at last or at least for a time find solace, in attending to it. At least for me, I find that the soul begs of me but if I answer that desire, I am fed in return, it is a cycle or a symbiotic relationship. But these things our world holds up as ‘have tos’ or ‘needs’ or ‘wants’ they are illusions, they take and take and take.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Exactly. And no–no hypocrisy in that. It may be unfair of me, but I do think there is a big difference there. The world and its immense and intrusive mass markets and marketing and commercialism projects needs onto and into us that we do not otherwise possess–or need!–while the society around us does likewise–projecting images that we find ourselves compelled to strive to replicate. I must be like that, look like that, think like that person you all believe I should be. And in all of that intrusion and compulsion is lacking the barest spark of sincerity, of personal authenticity. If I choose to adopt this fashion or read this book or vote for this candidate or pen this verse out of a spark in me, however small, and however tiny the impact on my life, then I think I am happier with me than if I did so to comply with some external force(s) who wish me to believe that I am otherwise incomplete without them. Even if by doing so, I now belong. There will always be something alien about me. So be it. Thank you for writing that, Allison. You’ve got me thinking again. About need and identity and desire.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. “Do you or don’t you salivate over a thing. And if you do, will you let yourself feel it all the way through. Will you turn toward it or will you hide it away. Will you own it, say it, stand in it.

    If what you want to discuss, if what you feel you need to say, or dismantle, or explore, may turn some people’s stomachs, would you still do it? Would you put your desires, your burning needs ahead of everyone else’s?

    What if you did. And refused to explain or justify any of it.”

    What if, indeed. Obviously loved this. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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