...hay barcos que buscan ser mirados para poder hundirse tranquilos.
...there are ships that want to be seen in order to sink in peace.
-- Lorca, from "Moon and Panorama of Insects"
Grey, static sea I hold before me like a microphone. But indolence
doesn't listen, it's too busy lapping the edges, trying to extract
the bare minimum from any situation. So here I sit, covered
in sand, crying over a lost androgyny, my apathy
to gender which once held so much promise.
Hobby, trinket, snow-choked hamlet.
In this place, a job (like gender)
is something to "hold down."
It's usually the other way
around, the phrase
truly an in-
here's to some luck
in attaining a clue. Start
where you are, kissing the
whimper of every startled animal,
webbed foot, hoof, fin. The new crew-
cut of which you're so proud, experienced
knuckles, well-filed lesbian fingernails... they've
taken you just about everywhere & it's smooth sailing
from here: Animaline. "Dynamic lethargy" is how Burton
described Eastwood, a spider's indolence, a shiftless montage.
If "Yanks have tails" & "Jews got horns," what's potent enough to
rinse the grit from your brain-stem? It wasn't that you were a bad kid,
Mom said, just that it was hard to follow where you were going.
Where was I? The time was 1970, 15 years after the invention
of "Cool" & I was nine. Panavision Reflex was in its heyday
filming our society after the bomb, pure macho. Is that
why I longed for horns & was so hard to swallow?
I wished each dawn for antlers to rise upon my
head, a velvet chandelier: stubborn, baroque,
a manifestation of mind -- signal of my
improvident aberrance -- willing &
able to stake out a territory I
could call mine. I never
felt fully part of this
world. That's not
a bad thing. I
where I was
going, longed like
a lizard to drop my tail --
go hybrid -- a composite creature
in a children's book, a horizontal slash
across my pages, where head & torso might
become a goat or frog or terror, & down below
a kicking bear. I wanted to be the jellyfish (Hydro-
medusa; Man-of-War) whose tentacled skirt lashed out
& stung the numbing scenery while back upstairs the wild
bull gored open its world of platters & false answers: my plaza.
Because gender, though illustrious, just wasn't giving up her clues.
In that context I wanted not the golden keys to the kingdom but a Talking
GI Joe -- the 14 holes in his chest a spatter of gore-wounds, neat &
perfect -- opposite of any war -- a sieve through which the 7
seas of language roared their static monologues. I wanted
better, but he was a sailor on the open sore of sea.
I aimed to be lost in a bigger story than that
which girlhood normally receives, adding
my own embellishments, trading in de-
pendency for a more legitimate
principle: surprise! To love
the tale & live to tell it.
But there was
to contend with
& science can squelch
you harder, faster, more
obliquely than even gender. We
give it more power. I turned away
from it -- one less wrong road to go down
-- & traced instead a loner's sense of justice.
I walked the pebbly beach, rarely found it serene
or stream-lined. It was active, implicating everything.
Physical power & the capacity to act from that place has
sickened me since I was young & fell for tadpoles. I mean for
a collaboration with stillness that lasts a lifetime. No more, no less,
no brain-dead gawking. That means a willingness to be accused of under-
acting. Let me take a moment to acknowledge my debts. I'll do it
silently, like a director: "very little fill into the shadows to let
the shadows speak." For surely you realize that where we're
headed is best if turned away from. The limits of a hero
are the clues to my character. Beginning without you,
tomorrow begins, snarling or wagging or drooling
at the sky. Clouds like antlers lodged in high
branches, picked almost clean -- just a trace
of meat left on the skull, a little
meat & fur, an eyebrow
raised in genuine
so earnest. What can't
we learn from them? Even
their skulls convey great delicacy
of mind, attentiveness. I'm fully fledged
now, a frog pushing dinner down with either
eyelid: I squint at what I've swallowed & put aside,
a self-created image with patience enough to let stillness
come through everything else: a unifying theory for absolutely
everything in the universe. I am a kind of Eastwood, facing all directions
as global extinctions fly in the face of my world in many grand &
tiny guises. I aim at the onslaught in a last heartfelt gesture --
not clowning around -- the dusk on my boots I sleep in.
When the badge is tossed, it's up to you to read
between the lines. The cup of atonement
is a moon-flower in mud, indigo-open,
ready to take on the trees with stoic
tendrils, pushing skyward, a
from the buckskin
quiver, who really cares
how badly you're portrayed?
Reckless. Arrogant. Cranky. Chaste.
Choose your weapon. You talk a lot about
days without rules but look how you're living.
Without pity for yourself, or mercy for anyone in
the line of fire. Or maybe it's a lie, a shadow you filled
in simply for effect or the sheer pleasure of erasing it later:
a woman's power. No one who has truly lived remains indigenous.
Nothing -- not even the sea -- is static. If you listen hard, the shadows give
their opinions. I look them in the eye & like the shadows speak,
filling myself in as surely as the ocean swallows every hole
of silent sand, storing it behind the eyes through which
the 7 seas do follow. No mark is truly permanent.
To thyself be indigenous. Be indigenous to
the world. I lay down my swagger,
sword to plough-share at
ocean's edge, where
back into me
there have been
many. My swagger
undulates -- bruised seahorse
in the ripples -- crying out so tenderly
as it drowns, I'm almost tempted to save it.
No. I lower the dagger on which I impaled my life
in waiting, O elusive, golden lyre. I pull myself through
the repossessed music & aim my last arrow toward translucence of purpose.