August 4th, 2011
Why are you silent? Because I’ve watched the way you watch the way I watch the way you watch me. We’re just watching. And, I dare not speak the words that ache to pass from gut to throat to tongue to teeth. They are vulnerable. They are questions. You see, they’re not safe. They don’t wrap nicely, brown paper, scotch tape, a little string to fold over, under and tie tightly. And, we worry what will happen if we speak, if we choose, if we make a move too soon, like we were playing an eternal chess match. Like one misstep will create a chasm deeper than hell itself. We build boxes to make ourselves taller, so our voices seem more confident, built on forms of cardboard and air, enforced by judgement, when all we’re doing is whispering the same doubts underneath. So keep watching. My lips cannot continue holding in the provoking thoughts of the reality of love. And, maybe I’ve got it all wrong. And, maybe we both do. But, the passing of air back and forth is about life itself, not victory.
A few years ago I took a trip to a Patty Griffin concert on my own. I stood in the crowd as she sang a note that rippled the chords in my heart. I scribbled this around then, and I made the specific date up. I don’t know if that’s when I wrote this or exactly what it was about but it feels like a fit as much now as I guess it did then. What gets in the way of a proper love poem, I ask myself?
A month ago I spent an entire day in between sand and water. I watched wave after wave come over, was tossed by the ocean, and came up sputtering. Air, sweet air. The in-between is exhausting. When you don’t know if you live in water or on land. When you live in both. It seems easier to pick a side, and plant a pole. It seems safer. But, our bodies are made of both water and material, and we wonder why we struggle in a world that hopes to hold us to some particular reality. As if we could really only be one.
All that metaphorical, vague language is just an opportunity to remind myself movement will lead somewhere as long as I still have have air in my lungs. I’d prefer the sea and salty kind. Breathing is a part of the process.
This building trust takes time. It takes minutes and hours and years. It takes floorboards in shambles and windows, bricks, and mortar. And, sometimes when we start, we can only think of whatever the next step is. And, some days we don’t want to. And, some days we knock down walls. And, sometimes we leave. Whether it’s for something bigger, or something easier, or something really far away. And, the sad thing is that sometimes these lots sit empty, a shell of life. Some buildings take years for us to return to and sometimes we never return. But, sometimes we do. And, sometimes we stay. Our backs ache and muscles are sore. We have dirt on our faces and blisters on our hands and we’re still here. We are stronger. And, maybe we look back and realize, yes, we built this house, but this house also built us.