Scatter your flowers and walk away
One morning I woke up and nothing had changed.
The next morning I woke up and nothing had changed still.
The morning after that, I woke up and that nothing had changed began to grow a little heavy. Then heavier.
This is the beginning of a story that lasts over a year. The same beginning, begetting different pathways throughout each day; the beginning repeating over and over nonetheless. The story is maddening. I wake up hopeful only to grow mad. I go to sleep hopeful and wake up mad. I move through the day hopeful and slump into mad. I do it anyway, day by day, recklessly.
Due to certain circumstances of my life, I find myself beginning 2022 as though facing a blank slate — a metaphor often used in this beginning-of-Gregorian-calendar time frame to affirm that anything is possible. This year in particular also marks the beginning of a new decade of life for me: a new season; a decade of moments I have been lucky enough to have lived through. In other timelines, this notch on my walking stick should be a reflexively joyous occasion. 10 years is a duration of time worthy of celebration. So much has happened in the last 10 years. So much so that it can’t be possible to have lived so fully and feel like all this has slipped from my grip.
Yet, here I am, faced with what feels like a blank slate — a looming frame of empty showing me all the things I have lost.
“When loneliness comes stalking, go into the fields, consider
the orderliness of the world. Notice
something you have never noticed before,”
— Mary Oliver, from The Leaf and The Cloud
The progression toward this moment is not one of surprise. It has been long anticipated in many ways — chosen even. Notably, this is also not the moment of loss. The moments of loss have been scattered and many, occurring in successive waves over the last long while. Although it is true that grief does not stay contained, each event has at least been necessarily mourned in its time and place. Perhaps, in the now, there is still a residual posture of grief. But I divest from that maddening kneel for now. Instead, I am seizing this moment for recognition — a slow-cracking site for language to tell my stories to me.
I need to hear them. I need to know.
This blank slate season is heavy and lonely. It is at times, infuriating, and other times, almost embarrassing. I don’t want to start over. I’ve worked over the last 10 years for so much. I don’t care for you, I tell the real pains emerging from my body to hover. Don’t sit on my shoulder, you sly, black crows.
I am overly-conscious that this is only normal; a natural phenomenon. In storytelling sessions to myself, I am ever-apologetic for the drama: Why should you spiral / Why coast and dive / Why sink to sink more / Why nurse wounded surprise / The things you work for / toward / love cannot be retained / There is no lasting possession / You have known this / You profess a creed / You have practiced picking up your teacup to put it down with grace / for fuck’s sake / All things will be lost / All things change / Bear your witness to make your words /
Stop whining / Unless the scheming is poetry.
Zora Neale Hurston says “There are years that ask questions and years that answer.” But when the answers come like peach pits, tough as shit with none of the joyous abundance of fleshy peach, I don’t want answers. I become mad.
So I turn instead to the questions, “Can I love peach pits?” or “Will I grow this as a seed?” or “What does a peach tree look like? Do they grow on trees?” or just roll the words “peach pit” lazily around on my tongue. I think, “At present, I have so little. I want to hold this stubborn little thing in my palm for a while.” So I do.
Of course; of course; it really isn’t a blank slate. There are many things from the last 10 years of my life that remain and reverb, that are snugly carved into the contours of my hand. The years are well worn. I am tenderly weathered. Only I am experiencing the blank slate where losses out-scale the things that remain. And this is a big deal. I am sober to time’s little deaths. They hurt. This does not diminish the value of what is still here. The maddening feelings gesture to the precious and exact fit and weight of things that are gone. Oh they hurt.
I don’t want to be told to face it and heal better. Maybe later, in the tomorrow where something changes. I don’t want to sow so as to reap. I am not patient or kind, just tired and floating. I pinch a small ceramic dish for my peach pit on the dresser. In the meantime, the crows have been permitted to roost on the shelf. I do not wish to hurry to fill this blank slate, only to make room for it amongst the remaining. Loss is its own category of non-things I must give audience to for the next while. The whining will have to stay prose for now.