This is an excerpt from “Here Is The Flood” — one of the opening pieces in my upcoming book Luminae. You can click play to hear me read the full piece.
I find that one of the hardest things to do is to try to speak about why I write. For me it’s about going deep enough within to a place where one can find the breathtaking beauty in pangs of sorrow, and terrible longing even inside joy. Whenever I write it seems more and more is revealed to me about the paradox of what we are as humans. Though I know I’ll never be able to grasp it in full, I believe somewhere in the search for myself lies the truth of who I am. It is that elusive truth which keeps me coming back to the page.
I hope you enjoy this piece. I hope it sparks something creative inside of you.
Luminae will be available on Amazon beginning November 15th.
As the wind on the other side of the house spins dry leaves into playful funnels, I pour a glass of red to take the edge off the cracking in my worn out limbs. When static picks at my insides, I think about how the passing of time can do strange shadowy things to the air in an empty room. I remember your arms reaching for me under warm wool blankets like rays of twilight radiating from behind the gray pale hills in winter. The way the coming season tasted cold in my throat just before your lips made silver puddles in the curves of my fading summer skin. We bent like swans in a secluded cove, beauty is more beautiful when it moves back and forth between two creatures, felt but unseen.
Lighting tall candlesticks made of honey and wax, I swallow the darkness in bottles to help sleep through the pain.
I miss the way you used to hold my eyes with yours so gently that to look away felt like a thousand little claws tearing in my heart. The heavenly weight of you, once pushed against me now hangs burdensome within. I notice I am clutching my hands so tight there are marks in my palms, I’m trying to hold us together though we have long been torn apart. You linger in a place which grew so loud inside me it screamed itself alive, built its strangled silence into faces on the walls.
The scent of heady incense stays nestled in the curtains, the bed sheets, the windowsill I run my fingertips along just now. Splinters, glittering stars, little fires spitting heat. Spirits hollow, sing; your ghost in the bird wings scattered at my feet.
There are traces of you in my reflection, your bones carve out the shallow in my cheeks, the stubble on your chin still scratches the length of my collarbone before the dead mornings like knives rush in, bleak. I saw you. I could almost swear but what’s the use. When the heavy snow came down you were red fire in the smoldering paprika sky. My lips burn swollen at the thought of the flame of you. I wish you could still feel the blood pulsing expectant in my wrists, your hands upon my neck. I wonder if you still do. If the places in the mind which ring the mystery of longing exist someplace safely in a place far beyond my name.
But the days have grown short inside of me and midnight falls too easily now, bleeding and so full that when I close my eyes I forget everything I had ever been told about what it means to love, what it means to die, what it means to touch. I still hold you close without thinking and bury my tears into your memory before I lose the grip I once had on what is real and what has disappeared. When will this madness lift. When will all the ache be gone.
The wine is plush and smooth as silk as it glides over my tongue. How is it that as the world grows darker, you grow luminous. How is it that the dead still breathe in dreams. When will those little brown leaves finally let the tired north wind rest in peace.
(*If you click up at the top there you can hear me read this piece.)
The cool dawn is so clutched with frost that the atmosphere cracks when I exhale. I have been here all this time waiting for you to come home, to build your little warm nest inside me and thread your ribbons through my bones. The air has become rich with darkness inside my lungs; thunder and church steeples round and round like a crown above my low fallen skull.
How is it we emerge again? Is it through sheer force of will, is it by the benevolence of something tried and tested by the fires of hell, something divine which guides the universe. White lights are flaring up, one by one, along the runway toward eternity and all those uncertain things which eat away my organs.
How many ways are there to find your way home. How many people are as lost as I am, listening for voices, calling out for affection, tracing their chipped fingers over bumps in the globe.
As I gaze up into your cloud space eyes, my skin blooms with the taste of that heady sensation just before ecstasy and the way it tingles through my wet body. I drink the sweet rhythm of you and at last begin ebbing away from the pain. I am only as strong as what I believe and I believe in nothing if I do not believe in you. Prayers are fresh tears in a jar by the bed, prayers are the beads of dread and sweat I swallow to try to forget.
With my mouth I hand you a leash of promises and you lead me like an animal into the sun. Four small sparrows sit huddled upon the window ledge and as we depart the earth they sing. Every winter which ever scarred the womb has buried itself inside my final breath. A tangle of rose buds encases my heart like a cage and I sleep with you peacefully as the stones which once erected the bloodiest cities in the world begin caving in.
The footsteps I hear are whispers and the whispers are trees. Could the beauty of your stride be my darkest secrets suspended overhead for all to see. The way you collect me like a child collects the dying leaves tells me we are not done here. We are not done.
But when I called out for you you were not there, you had become a collection of the things other people laid to rest inside your chest. Your eyes heavy with the quiet death of something I wanted entirely to taste, to be made of, to take into my hands and off your slender shoulders. What did they do to you, my sweet love, that made you cloud so thick inside, fold so yellowed at the edges of your crumbling mouth. I look toward you but you are shifting, you are many sodden bodies multiplied, a wave of faceless mobs turning away in a crowded city square.
The breathing of the pavement hovers inside a dreary mist as I pull a cigarette from under its foil. Inside this void which whispers your name I suck the smoke across my teeth. I would try to keep you but we are only echoes of each other’s imagination. The way you move is a ghost train sliding off its tracks. Yet in your silent mind I am the single voice which curls against your senses, my mouth upon your neck like warm gravestone hills swelling into amber evening. I am the single touch you let touch you everywhere, inside out, outside in.
It is dark where we come from and where we are going, so we make this kind of love without a sound, without a word, without a trace. I am the pulse in the slow glide of your fingers. These chains you tug around my throat, they turn to milk-white doves. They rush against the heavens when I close my eyes.
Isn’t that what you always wanted, something to dangle me over the edge with, some kind of blade some kind of sliding eyes. I believed you when you told me I was everything but maybe we are all thirsty, maybe we are all scabbed over the knees and forever halfway between home and heartache. Some of us live here. And die here. And spin ourselves sick in the cruel open hands of those who cannot take care of themselves. I would open my mouth for you but then you’d come too close. This is a silence we wear on the outside, we are window panes heavy and drunk with rain. Locked down tight but completely transparent. We would hide but our hearts had long ago, by unspeakable things, been forced open. And oh, our hearts. Our mad beautiful masochist hearts.
Turning to look at you, I can barely feel my own body as we nearly kiss. Under your gaze I am already the faintest linen sheets, even before your fingers reach my skin. This is the fascination and the destruction, the way you build me up into heaven before all hell rushes loose from you. No matter the weather, I drink.
Late night phone calls, sex on the sliding pale of dawn, cigarettes and wine, the way the moonlight splays herself down along an endless hallway of cherry hardwood. Through a break in the blinds I can see the old wind turning shadows upon the autumn leaves.
The time changes to sweaters and tall boots and my new obsession with photography even though I never get the angle right so I end up mostly paralyzed and distracted. When it’s pictures of myself it only gets worse, the insecurity, the hyper attention, the opening in my stomach which imagines new and more spectacular worlds, more quiet and less beautiful. We have made ourselves this way as if on purpose and yet we cannot seem to undo ourselves quite as easily.
I like the taste of your fingers across my mouth and how when you speak your voice is nearly choked with worship yet there is a tinge of something on your tongue that tells me you don’t have the capacity to care beyond a certain point. Some people grow a callous around the place too many have touched the wrong way and it gets walled off forever. I don’t need that part of you, at least that’s what I tell myself so that I can live on the edges of a pain I can give my innocence to without losing it completely.
They tell me I have a problem with addiction but I think it’s just that when I look at you the devotion in my heart is like ribbons threaded through a young girl’s dream. Tug on it and the whole thing falls apart. The trouble is you’re just like all the others, the way they sprung up around me like the gush of sudden fountains just to collapse in upon themselves. Mindless. Reckless. Incredible. How the mind can leave its shell behind and we just take whatever we can get.
It’s all around you, the way the vacant words falling from the mouths of those who do not understand separate and resuscitate themselves, surviving only barely by the eating of your breath.
You like the rainy days because they break you and cradle you just enough. I can tell you wear anguish and destruction like a shield, that you believe safety is a gag and a blanket, something you win by paying for it with every aching fiber of who you want to be.
When you smile I want to pull the flowers from your bleeding chest and plant them in the darkest corners of my mind. Never to forget you, you and all of your wilderness, all of your seasons of life and skeletons and death. A wall of tears is suspended in the air, at any moment about to crash along the surface of your limbs. You can tell me all the dirty things, I have no interest in robbing them of you.
The moment I met you I knew we had known each other for a very long time, it felt like my eyes resting behind your eyes would have made perfect sense. The way you saw the majestic and the terrible things I could see and did not turn away. I am always so taken by the souls of those who find silence to be rich, the ones who slide their bodies into a quiet room and listen for the things most people throw away by moving too fast, protruding too intrusively, talking too much. Saying nothing about nothing when I hunger for so much.
They shuffle and speak in low tones as you drift past their illusions and up into the blue electric sky. It’s not that you don’t care it’s just that there has to be more than this, something with a deeper soul must exist if only people would let the darkness into the light and the light into the places where they think there is nothing more to see.
And as they keep trying to sell us eternity, we fade farther and farther into retreat. This moment, the one catching you and I by the gap between heartbeats, this is the only one we need.