On Voice

"A word after a word after a word is power."

~Margaret Atwood~

There is a voice I allow myself in person, sitting across a table from someone, looking into their eyes, the rise & fall & cadence of conversation. There is a voice I allow myself with my children, lit with laughter & fear & confusion & occasional heartbreak, but love & love & love in every syllable. There is a voice I allow myself with my students, louder & more solid than my regular voice, more assured than I often feel. There is a voice I allow myself with my family & closest kindreds, warm & open vowels & what I hope they know is love. There is a voice I allow myself with my lover, the hushed whisper of consonants in the heat & breath between us. 

Then, there is the voice I will only permit myself on the page. The voice that holds shadows & secrets & stories none other can. The voice that dreams in symbolic ink & paper. The voice that is more me & more un-me than anything else. The voice that holds the power. The voice that lets me blossom & open my hands. The voice that dares, sparks & ignites & I am only just trying to keep up with it, giving chase with my pen.

Lately, I've lost that last voice in the clamor of online life & a world & a country & a personal landscape that all look nothing like what I know. So, as is my way, I've pulled back into the shadows to sharpen my voice to a thin silver blade. In my two weeks almost completely "unplugged" from social media a lot has happened here: SEVEN books have been read (in two weeks, yes.), hours & hours of time spent throwing cards, music wildly filling space, emails & to-dos addressed, a ton of grading completed, over thirty pages of my own fiction written & major breakthroughs in my book. I feel the stumbling shock of staggering back into my life again as though I've been held underwater. 

A word after a word after a word is power & I have been reclaiming mine. I only planned to leave Facebook & Instagram for two weeks, but here I am at that mark & I am not yet ready to go back. I miss certain beloveds there, but the taste of this freedom & this mouth full of words are just too damn sweet. Come find me on this website. Subscribe to the newsletter here. I will send my wordtaste to you. Email me. Call me. Come sit down across a table from me & let me sing. Touch my mouth & hear the words spring to my lips. They sound like me again.

A Kind of Magic

"People disappear when they die. Their voice, their laughter, the warmth of their breath. Their flesh. Eventually their bones. All living memory of them ceases. This is both dreadful and natural. Yet for some there is an exception to this annihilation. For in the books they write they continue to exist...Through the written word they can anger you or make you happy. They can comfort you. They can perplex you. They can alter you. All this, even though they are dead. Like flies in amber, like corpses frozen in the ice, that which according to the laws of nature should pass away is, by the miracle of ink on paper, preserved. It is a kind of magic.”       

~Diane Setterfield~  

A kind of magic in the words I throw on the page, the heart I let bleed black ink, the many selves I have shed & left behind. December closing in after what has been a hard end to a hard year. December, the month of bones. The month my mother died. But, I am trying to keep a part of her like the flies in amber, writing my memories out. Saving her. Preserving her. Lately she has come to me in dreams. Just her hands or just her in profile or just her voice. I can't get the whole of who she was. I see her in the mirror when I look at myself for just a second. I cry in the shower because the missing of her takes over & it is only when I am naked & alone & enveloped in the hot water that I feel like I can add my tears to the uncontained mess of all of this. I need her now. More than ever. She is gone. Two realities that break my life open.

I find myself returning to words again in the spirit of all that is lost. Scratching the surface of the paper to see if I can find her inside of it. Find myself inside of it. Find my characters inside of it--these women who cannot speak. These women who only are spared from annihilation by the smooth weight of my pen. Yes. I suppose it is a kind of magic. 

I have left social media for a little while and so my words here will go out into the electronic void unannounced & unread. Except for you, dear you, who has gotten this far. I am preserved by your reading of this. I am unceasing. I wonder about you on the other side of the screen. Where do you live? What have you lost? What bones are left behind? May we both find redemption & permanence in the life lived in the spaces between our words.    

In Praise of the Summer Afternoon

“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.” ~Henry James~

And, just like that, it is over. The summer of full hearts & long walks. Of late nights & a million fireflies. Ice cream & sleeping in. Books & daydreaming & laughing & stories. Storms & deer in the wide field. Foxes crossing our path & sun on our skin. All of us together. It is hard to let it go. To let them go.

Now, the routines shift with the season. I find myself thinking of harvest, of all that I grew this summer & all that I want to remember to let die off. The way I could spend a whole summer afternoon lost in a book or on a green trail in the woods & what a gift that was to my weary heart. I found something this past season that I didn't realized I'd lost. Reconnecting. Rediscovering. Finding my way home.  

Remnant XIX: Scenes of Summer

Suddenly I realize
That if I stepped out of my body I would break
Into blossom.
~James Wright~

Officially, summer solstice doesn't happen until June 20th, the day of the full strawberry moon--but, my heart has other plans. Heat, flowers blooming, school coming to a close. My heart has already decided.  Summer starts now.

I can feel it in the way the humidity rises above the treeline in the morning like a ghost of the night before. Birds, busy with the business of finding mates, nesting down, outsmarting lean neighborhood cats with quick claws. Everything is blooming--the scent of honesuckle enough to make me drunk. I walk along the edge of the wide green field, waist-high with wheat, watching for deer & foxes who keep visiting. Frogs tremble across the pavement, rising up from the creek in search of higher ground.   

Summer is closing in & summer is dramatic, flashy, naked, & real. Summer doesn't play small or worry about being too much for anyone else. Summer shows color & perfume. Shows sex & heat & light that lasts. Shows sunsets that exaggerate everything & flowers that don't care if others see their beauty--they are damn determined to blossom wide open anyway.

Summer doesn't hide itself.

There are some lessons here in this shameless display for any of us who have struggled with our self-doubt.

This particular summer for me, especially, isn't one to play small. It isn't one that will go as planned or as per the normal routines. It isn't one to doubt my instincts or my ability to bloom wild. I am trusting the lessons this summer will bring me about being connected, being a strong advocate, carving out creative time & space, and standing in my full power as a mother & a woman. I am trusting my body to lead me. Getting close to the Earth. Working magic. Throwing cards. Finishing what I've started. This is the summer of the feral moon. All that is instinct & green & wild. All that is unknown. All that cycles & returns to me. All that lights up the night sky.