Green. Blue. Gold. Letting Go.

 

Grass Mountain, Santa Ynez
 
The sun was slipping in and out of the clouds in the sky as the sky moved in and out of their lungs as they climbed up the mountain. Her and her friend hadn’t hiked up hills together before, and they were finding the strength and weaknesses within themselves. The poppies beckoned on the hillside, disguising lupine and various wild flowers as a mosaic of color splashed near across the peak. Heat moved its warm fingers across their skin and set it red, blazing with life. From afar, it is hard to pick out the separate flowers, but as they moved closer, they noticed the lupine garnishing the poppies.

Then they were in them. Full force color, bursting from every direction, brighter than anything they had seen in the natural world. It was a scene so obviously beautiful it made them question beauty and what triggers the mind to recognize something as beautiful. “Beauty to me is something that is inevitably going to pass,” she whispered, “it’s as if the moments I cannot capture are the one’s that I process as beautiful.” Her friend smiled as her glacier-blue eyes stared out onto the rolling hills. Together they allowed the scene to run through their bodies filling them with soft-spoken love and adoration and sadness simultaneously.

I’m sure you’ve felt it. The feeling when when you know something beautiful will pass. You want to bottle it up, to capture it, to put it in a container where you can visit it again. That is what makes beautiful things so beautiful. Everything only exists when it does, and then it is gone. The flowers in this photo have since perished. A burst so sudden that the heart nearly jumped at how startling the grandeur is. Just as suddenly they turned to seed and pod and the hills have begun their journey towards gold. She had that feeling too, inside of her. A connection so strong, it seemed foolish not to allow it to happen against all reason. The stranger that grew her into a mountains of poppies the next day vanished in a wildfire. Her own wildfire burning all traces of beauty… “For efficiency’s sake,” she tried to convince herself. 

She had fallen suddenly through words on a screen. An almost stranger. Too good not to be true. He ran aroung nature searching for flowers spread far and wide in between. The bush. She held herself high and floated in this new romance, and suddenly she felt need. She felt fear. She felt vulnerability. She felt herself giving herself. She tried to pull away, to gather all of the pieces slipping through her fingers, but they all laughed as the slid. She believed he was falling too, in his own way. Finally she dropped everything in her hands and opened them to him. “Here, come sit, I will hold you till you’re ready.” He jumped in half-heartedly, unsure of how to proceed.

In his voice she found strings of hope, lacing themselves around her heart in a way she hadn’t felt for years. “Is it possible to let someone see all of my inner-workings?” She said to the stars on her mountain, hoping they would reassure her that she wasn’t too much. In her fear she had begun to wrap her hands around him. It wasn’t too tight, but he couldn’t leave when he needed to and his skin was pinched in places. She knew she was holding on. She was trying to bottle the beauty. She woke up the next morning to find him gone. She was confused, but assumed he would come back. She laid out beds of words for him to lay on and play in, but she made the valleys too deep and uncertain and she forgot the swings sets. She wanted to convince him he didn’t need to be scared. She scared him further.

Then one day she realized he wasn’t coming back. Her mind, naturally conclusive, began to build walls. When it wasn’t looking she would pull down a stone to throw some more of her heart over it in case he decided to find it. She watched the wall go up, solemnly. She watched the flowers wilt one by one. She watched another too-good-to-be-true fade into itself. Saying goodbye to someone she knew was hard. Saying goodbye to someone she wanted to was harder. She closed the chapter of her book and gently placed it on her shelf, hoping she would be able to write more of that story soon. The golden hills sung in the distance, a new kind of beauty. 

Then she remembered her hands. She looked down at them. They were still open. 

Bones

Elk Bone, Montana
Skeleton. A frame work holding something together. The legs on a chair. My legs. Her legs. The legs of the buffalo, strong and sturdy. The stem of a flower, holding the colors up to the sun against gravity. Water flowing in a river bed. The bones in her head. Her head, an entire universe expanding on itself. The clash of past with present with future simultaneously. And stories… So many stories forming on the lips of the musicians on the stage and the limp in the store clerks gait and that fleeting glance of a stranger. She felt her own bones creak under the weight of her sadness and happiness. She was in flux and slipping down the rabbit hole as she opened to her own gifts. 

She had always wanted to be a writer. She had always been scared. She loved run on sentences, that had a million commas, and led into Infiniti because she didn’t like endings; they always meant something that was wouldn’t be. Like the animal of the bone that she held. A plate in the spine of a creature that moved and breathed and danced in the wind. And loved. Maybe this creature loved another creature. Or loved the way it felt when it ran over long hills and the river water splashed on its belly. She loved the way water held her when she lay back and floated off to anywhere in the world. I love the way that water holds me and makes me feel less like my bones and more like everything else. 

She spent her days trying to decipher what was her and what wasn’t and she realized that everything she experienced was her in what wasn’t. So finally, we decided to let them all run free. It was dangerous. The game of depicting the world around you in sounds and smells and sights and feelings all separately in order to piece them together again. Noticing things comes at the cost of awareness and awareness comes with responsibility. Once the bones become an animal, it is impossible to see the bones without them. Her meals had become hands. Hands that planted seeds and hands that harvested them and hands that moved them and cleaned the food and hands that bought it and the hands that cooked and cleaned. The hands that did all of this loved other hands too. Hands love other hands.

The human hand has twenty-seven bones. Fourteen of these are in the fingers. She clasped her hands together around the Elk bone to feel her own. “I am small,” she said to me as I peered into her eyes, watching her slip away into a million other words. We sat together in our bones, growing and decaying at equal rates. She drank a sip of water that slipped through her rib cage and danced through the rivers of her body. I left her there thinking. I could tell the bones were becoming her, and she needed space to fill in all of the words that clung to her own spine and kept her contained in one vessel. She has been fun to travel with. I have never seen the world in such a clear and cluttered way before. It is as if everything has new life again. I ask myself, “Is this what it is to be alone?” often, noticing it is the first time I have been for years. I am alone with her as we learn each other again. She is kind and confusing. She is still mad at me for ignoring her while I tried to play along with ways of seeing the world I didn’t understand, while she sat outside explaining everything in poetry behind a window. 

She always knew how to explain everything that no one else seemed to understand. I just didn’t know how to listen. I didn’t know how to bring her around my friends, though she always drank with us. 

She has known me all along. I feel her slipping back into my bones.

Dreaming


This is for the girls who think in poetry. This is for the people out there who aren’t sure where reality ends and dreams begin. This is for those who are keeping their dreams alive because the same people who told them go ahead, held them back when they did. This is for those dreams. May they live on as long as possible against all reason. 

She was on a bike. The bike was moving. Her body was moving the bike. The ice plant hung to the sides of the road; an unwelcomed welcome guest. Her hips jiggled on the bumps. She felt herself smiling. She wrote in third person. She saw life as a wonderful and fleeting thing and she was never the person she was ten minutes ago. She was always morphing into others. “Oh you’ll find yourself someday,” they all echoed in her ears. “I have,” she said, knowing she was a million different people in one. She wasn’t afraid of the truth. She loved it, she sped towards it, and climbed over the walls protecting it, and asked and dug and ran. She scared people unknowingly because she was a dream they had locked away in some part of their hearts.

She was tired of scaring people, but ordinary conversations didn’t interest her anymore. She realized how fleeting life is one day while watching a dandelion get trampled in the duff. She realized she was made up of the same things. When she was sad, she would lie in the sand, or ocean, or grass, and try with all of her might to dissolve into anything else. Something else. Anything other than that body she had been born into. She used to hate her face for the ways people didn’t look at her. Then she hated her face for the way people did. She was ashamed to be society’s standard of “pretty.” So she hid in every way she could. She fell in love more times than she could count so that she would be able to share some of the things she thought were beautiful in her. 

And she had dreams. Oh boy, she had dreams. But those dreams lived inside her and everywhere around her constantly. Sometimes they would slip out and into the ears of her good friends “I want to go to Australia,” or “I want to fall in love.” Usually they would just sit there around her, playing with her hair, tickling her feet and scratching her belly, hoping that she would recognize them. She would always say “I’m not ready yet,” then skip off into something else.

This is for the dreamers. The one’s whose dreams are begging for attention. The one’s who carry them with them everywhere they go, and see them in everything they see. It is us that will stand smiling at the ends of our lives. We will never regret the risks we took as much as the one’s we didn’t. For you, my dreamers, this is the wick that will keep your candles burning. Let your flames breathe, and when the time comes, set the whole world on fire.

Believing

 

Desert Primrose

 

She sat in the sand to say hello to the flowers. She didn’t expect to see them there amidst such extreme heat and mobile sand. The dunes sang, she could believe that, but for some reason the delicate flowers bursting in humble shades of white and yellow seemed alien to her. She smiled at their bravery and lay back in the warm sand to feel it all. She was happy without him. She was ready to move forward. She was willing to believe in love again. “If the flowers can wait for the rainstorm, so can I,” she said to the sky. Love was a part of her always. It rode on her shoulders where the backpack dug in a little to deeply, and in her shaking hips that moved with the moons, and in the way she held strangers’ eyes for just a moment long enough to show them she cared. Love for her was the desert.

Even though it hurt sometimes, fluctuating between too hot and too cold and none at all, she believed in it. When others would try to warn her that nothing was there, she held onto the hopes knowing a Desert Primrose, or a Diatura was just behind the next Creosote Bush. The sand in her toes reminded her of the sand she would become someday. And all of it was terrifyingly expansive, all of the nothingness was a bunch of small somethingness that transformed daily. Love thrives at night when the truth of itself can dance among the moon, and the light is just light enough to mean something. She believed in it all because she believed in the desert.

Her love was a desert. It held onto itself against all reason. What grew there, grew strong enough to handle the full force of the wind of her emotion, while providing other life shade. She had spikes that protected the places where she grew soft and succulent, and it was rare that she would let people see the delicate parts of her. Lovers had to search for those places. The places where the blossoms sprouted up immediately after a storm, and the timing had to be such that the lover could not be too early or late. Timing. Time. To time. To wait. To be in time. Time moves slower in the desert. As if the places just far enough from the equator and just far enough away from the mountains revolved at a different speed. As if her heart actually sped up and slowed down as love came and went. She believed in it without reason.

She believed in it knowing she would always be thirsty. She believed in it knowing she would have to wait for the storms and wait for the water and wait and wait. She believed in it because the blooms were more spectacular and curious than anything she had ever known. Her love, a desert, was waiting, knowing the secrets that it kept.

Tuning in. Tuning Out

A Mama Buffalo

Always leave the banjo tuned and a full cup of coffee left in the pot, and never look down at your phone while walking over tree fall. The next person who comes along to sing to the sky, holding a warm cup of coffee, just might surprise you with their ability to learn everything from nothing. When that first pitch of their breath hits the cool air around you, you might find yourself shaking a little with the unexpected. Always leave the banjo tuned so they can sing on key.

You sip your own coffee, standing on the edge of a bluff looking over a prairie nestled in between mountains. It nearly aches, the way the river bends through the willows and reminds you that your body is a series of rivers moving from the mountain of your heart. Another note, higher than the Osprey slips into the coffee cup and into your mouth. Warm, it slides out to your fingers and toes in a smile. A small group of buffalo walk along in a seeming dance. They move quickly, slowly, leaving land behind them covered in footsteps. You put your feet in their steps, feeling the flex of their muscle moving their two ton bodies moving your two toned body, pale from winter. 

The banjo plays on, a tinny vibration blooming in the countryside grass. You notice a buffalo never eats an entire grass plant. The world has natural lawn mowers. They are gentle. Gentler than you are. You find yourself wistful for a touch so gentle to take only what it needs, while leaving enough to grow. There are bare places inside of you, forgotten and hidden, where others were not kind. Where you gave more than you had. Then you slip away back into the cup of coffee. The patches of sadness you carry aren’t heavy anymore. They have become scars tucked into the folds of your existence.

But the buffalo keep walking, and the banjo keeps playing, and you are tuned in. 

(Meaningless Meaningful Musings in Montana)