Tuesday, November 27, 2012

my run yesterday, innocence and nostalgia

i come around the bend.  it knocks me down again.  the river black.  black like it has never been before and my god i have been here so many times over the years.  but now black like never before.  do i know this river?  i know, i know this river!  but i do not know this river.  (i know i know nothing so why does this shock me?  as i come upon it i make sounds out loud right from the pit of my belly and into the air.)

at the footbridge over the river a tree is caught and hooked upward. one day it will loosen and move down the river, become smoothed, driftwood.  for now it is hooked upward and toward me, caught.  the river (again) black.  the tree covered in snow, the shape of hyperbole in the physical world.  i think, it is a tragedy i can not take this photograph.  (i am running.)  it is a tragedy that this too, this perfection, will pass.

at the moss on the tree, the tree i always visit, i press my face into it.  it is a very cold day.  very cold.  i take my time and breathe.  what emerges from the moss is both autumn and spring.  i release these two hinged seasons from the winter.  autumn and spring come over my cheeks and toward my ears.  i did not know that i would meet this moss again in winter.  last winter i was mournful that i would never know it frozen again.  all spring, all summer i ran to it and kissed it and knew i would never know its winter again.  today at my nose is its winter.  on my cheeks and toward my ears as i breathe are autumn and spring.  summer is nowhere recognizable and i don't care to go looking for it.  i have been thinking a lot about innocence and nostalgia lately.  i love this moss,everything we've shared and what i am surprisingly able to share with it once more.  i run on delighted to be here in winter.

some weeks ago i talked with my son about moving to the united states.  i asked him how he felt.  he shrugged.  i offered, it is complicated, isn't it?  there will be good things with going.  there would be good things with staying too.  we will gain and we will lose.  he shook his head but said nothing.  i said to the larger context of it all, i know.  i know this is hard.

what i wanted to say was, son, once we are born this is the way.  whether we choose or not, inside of every movement of life is gain and loss.  there is always grief.  always.  life is so very sad.  life is so very rife with opportunity.  now, what do we do with our grief?

the other night i cried a great deal about the continual loss of innocence.  nostalgia is more than it seems.  it encompasses the love of this moment and the knowledge that it will always die.  there is no container big enough.

very tired but only half way through my run i circle back into town.  running over the river (again) my warm breath meets the cold air and white puffs form but only as i cross the river, only as my body intercepts the right air.  i am delighted.  somehow this is significant.  i make large plumes of white air and watch them disappear even as i run by them. 

and then i hook a corner.  all of this thought of innocence and nostalgia.  a wagon curves around the distant bend on the street and comes toward me.  i think it is a familiar mennonite man driving the wagon and while this makes me happy, i cast my eyes down so as to not affront him.  i am wrong again.  there is one small horse pulling a very low wagon.  the driver of the wagon is perhaps a nine year old boy and around him, forming a square on the floor of the wagon, three more very young boys, perhaps three or four years old each, sit quietly and patiently.  what mother has sent them off into the world?  what a brave woman)))  i kiss her skirts and hope to learn from her.  they pass by me and i can not help myself a moment more. i turn around while i am running and i wave at them, my heart hurting for the lives that are in front of them, the beautiful painful lives.  they do not wave back.  they do not recognize me, the woman who has been talking with them in my mind all run-long.  this hurts me and pleases me. 

all of this pain.  all of this leaving.  each moment coming and going so quickly.  i can't even know what black is.  i am always wrong.  there is always something more black.  (last week i thought the river was black until today.)  i can't stay hinged to the beauty of the hooked tree covered in snow, can't hold the moss still, my son hurts and hopes and the mennonite boys don't hear my secret voice but here i am one more time running in winter. 

the boys quickly turn the corner at the opposite end of the street and start their short jaunt on the highway and then off again, to a house that i hope is very warm.

i run out of town once again in the opposite direction, not crying today.  instead, allowing my body to become so cold, so painfully cold that i too will have the chance to run to a warm house.

would i wish otherwise, any of it?  any of it?  would i hold any of it still?

i can not ask for less pain.  i can not even want to ask.  inside the pain is the kernel of everything.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

after the first snow

tree fallen across the path.

little fox, you and i arc wide.

do we, in the end, travel the same way?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

november 19th, 2012

am i beating a dead horse?  (dead possum?)

there were five hunters in the back of a truck. they nodded at me as i ran by. i think they were eating sandwiches. they did not have their deer yet.

up the road a little and just off to the side lay a dead possum. or so i thought he was dead. hoped? well, hoped so much as that i was about to get very close to him. his eyes were closed but the slant of them still looked wild, feral, and his small teeth jagged and even then with intent. i crouched beside him and breathed. perhaps the hunters were jumping out of their truck by then done with their sandwiches.

i waited for the possum to sense me and move. i did not trust his death.

we both stayed still.

his back foot, it was long and nubby, almost like the toes of a newborn infant, or the whole tiny newborn's foot! i touched it anticipating it being baby soft but it was not. it was no nonsense firm, as though all of the softness of softness had been wrung out of it. i made a point to run my fingers down his long claws which were on just two (i think) of his digits. i wondered what and how many things this possum had touched in his lifetime. certainly he himself had touched death

and yet the possum was so clean. his fur was a man's perfectly groomed fur hat abandoned on the side of the road. it was astounding.

in touching the dead possum i try to touch life, i told myself.

his ear was a hard bit of grizzled leather set in the midst of his perfect fur,

or so i meant to think.

i tested his death again before i reached out and that close to his mouth. i crunched old leaves near his ear and readied myself to jump back.

he didn't move.

and then i touched his ear.

it was so supple, more so than a new leaf, that i could not even feel it!

i touched it again

and again it slipped through my fingers and plucked back out into its form without me being able to note what happened between it and my fingers.

this is a possum's ear, i thought, knowing i know so very little in the world, practically nothing.

i ran on a few more miles, past farmland, appraising a barn fallen down and lumber that might be salvageable, stopping to breathe in a plump hand of pine needles and stretch, and past a woman who offered me advice, who told me it was too dangerous to run out there (i'm not sure why - the hunters, the men, animals or something else i can't imagine) and then i looped back and by the possum.

i stopped again.

again i didn't trust his death. he looked exactly like a living possum if only for his eyes closed.

i made noise and when he didn't move i laid my hand around the curve of his body and went deep. the sensation went under my skin, the weight, the experience of it, as though i held my lover's bearded chin. even now, home and writing this, the weight travels, it seems, into my bones and up my arm. i write this with the weight of the possum.

Friday, November 16, 2012

nov 16, 2012


so in my body this week doing menial work, i miss my body.

where are you, i want to ask of my body, realizing it is not only my body but my spirit body.  i want to take her somewhere private and special and show her the true world, the spirit world, the aurora borealis or a simple sliver of the moon, salmon pumping their tenacious muscled bodies upstream, cows with the stink of cow coming from their nostrils framed in a cool morning, the slim limbs of trees loosening their brisk collars of frost as the sun comes. 

i want a cabin.  i want a wood stove.  i want hunger.  i want time to empty my mind.  i want time to let my spirit fill.

this morning on the way to work i saw - heartbreakingly and real - a frozen pond, a very particular and feminine frost along the limbs of trees, a cow, a horse, animals moving as though into definition and out of - what? imagination? ether?  i wanted to say something.  but there was nothing i could say.  i could only begin the sounds of each word instigated by sight as a revelation and even then, i was unsure which sounds to make.

but then there was work

and the ice on the pond must have melted. i don't know.  i wasn't there to see.

Monday, November 12, 2012

for one brief and glorious instant today while running, perhaps less than a second (but really happening beyond time and so always) i lifted my face to the cold rain and closed my eyes and was gone.  my body was gone.  my being erin was gone.  one breath.  no, no breath.  where i had been a space opened up in the world and nothing needed to inhabit it.  ohhhh, it was freedom. 

then i opened my eyes into the rain and breathed again, felt my peach skin under the grey sky, noted the pavement, the stubborn houses and the half-black-from-the-rain trees and knew, despite the logic, that this too was freedom.
clearly there are the crazy ones.  anyone with zippers, buttons and snaps can recognize them.

i find myself drifting toward wearing shifts these days~
the only way to possibly survive intact is to, ironically, blow by blow, dismantle yourself, your ego

or blow in its face like a haughty child and cause it to be quiet in the corner

ten, twenty uncountable times each day i must tame that abject tiger


what resides beneath/above/beyond the ego?


i come into contact with two hundred people every day. i want to shake them. i want to cut them open. i want to point at their parts and shout, don't you realize you are alive! i want to ask, what makes you, what breaks you? i want to see them cry. i want to see them spill open and laugh and not worry about their double chins or their carefully arranged accoutrements. i want them to be disarmed. i want them to be disarming. i want them to infect me, shake me, cut me, point at my parts and say, hey, you, you silly thing behind the counter, you too are alive. i want to see the points at which we intersect. i want to know that they drag their feet on the floors of their apartments, their mansions. i want to know that they are hungry and that they piss and shit. i want them to know this of me too. i want to see them weeping. i want to know their pain. i want to see them making love in all their complexities and i want to see them rise toward their ecstasy. i want to know them at their precipice alone, together, alone and shaking. i want to tell them it's alright. i want them to know it is not. it is and it is not. it is dangerous and it is all we have. i want to see them shyly putting on their socks, their underwear, pulling on a jacket. i want to see their shoulders covered, their necks slightly exposed. i want to see them go outside. i want to see them go toward the forest and stop beneath the trees. i want to see their true size. i want them to hear the trees swaying. we are flesh, i want to tell them. our flesh is our language, small hands that hold us intact. i want to show them that our flesh is beautiful, is passing. but i want to whisper to them, to their thin mouths, their wrinkled hands, their joyful exuberance, their stale breath, their ignorance, their pain, that like language holding sentiment, our flesh holds something indeterminable. i want to love them. i want us all to be alive. i want us all to admit the tumult. and then i want us all to be able bear the fact that we die.

Friday, November 9, 2012

my son and the body of the world

i am walking with my son in the darkness. it is an adventure. first we walk gangsta style flicking our hands out lower and lower by our sides saying, wurrrd, which really means that we are two dorky awkward people having fun, not minding that we look dorky and awkward, and rather electing to accentuate it.

 and then we race.

when exactly did he become faster than me? i mean, was there a time on a clock somewhere that marked it or did we all sleep through it? for ten years he was slower than me and now he is faster. we are breathless, tripping over our toes.

and then we become somber, holding one another's arms and looking upward toward the sky as we walk.

"melanie used to live there," he says casually.

"who's melanie?" i ask, not having heard this name before.

"oh, just a girl," he says." she lived there with her grandparents but they kicked her out for liking girls."

"oh," i say. "that seems kind of stupid, doesn't it?" (i don't usually use the s word. oh, i'll cuss up a storm with all sorts of letters but i don't like the word stupid so much, especially with my children.) "it's not like you can control who you like, is it, that you should be punished for it?"

i watch him on my arm, his head tilted back.

"hey, there's the small dipper," he says pointing to a far off cluster. "you almost can't see it."

i watch the words that i have fashioned over 40 plus years approach him and slide into his soft skin beneath his toque, around the soft curves of his ears, under his gentle yet eager eyes. i imagine the words resting on the indentation of his still small chest like an opened hand or a still bird with its wings open.

this is what it is to be a mother, you act like a dork, you speak casually but calculated, you love your children and you love other people's children too. you hope your words are not as far off as the big dipper.

and then we race again

and again in this new world order, he wins.

sometimes i think i am teaching him but underneath this i watch for what slips into me from him.


my son has things to teach me that i can not begin to imagine.


i get my last cup of coffee this morning.  there is a folded up piece of paper on the table that he has left there, most likely by accident.  it is a letter to his friend, perhaps a school project. 

dear markus:

I am working at the Beaudry Maple Farm and I've been working here for a week.  Even though I work long hours I still enjoy it.  The things I have to do is tap the trees and put the sap in the pot to boil it.  I don't have a lot to do hear but I still like it hear.  I like maple syrup on pancakes and ham.  BYE


i don't know what it means but i sense that inside of the letter resides a whole history not yet written and inside of the boy himself a terribly complex nugget that i yearn for like water.


last night at 8pm he came to me and asked me sheepishly, can you please help me with this can of Alphaghetti? 

he was anticipating me saying no at that late hour but instead i said, how can i say no to something put so sweetly?  come here.  and i tossed the can of Alphaghetti to the nearby chair and i pulled him to my bed and held the length of his body. 

he said into my chest like a careful teacher, like this mom - noooooo. 

i said it curtly. 

he said, no, say it more convincingly

i stroked it out, no

he coaxed, even more so

i lifted my finger and said carte blanchly, no, son.  you can not have it now

i felt him loosen in disappointment against me and i laughed. 

son, i said,  you were only teaching me how to say no.  i don't want to say no. 

we rose together and heated the can of gunk for him to eat.  it was terrible.  we ended up on the couch eating ice cream and crackers together.


the boy can not remember to clean his ears or put deodorant on.


the other night on television a reference was made to std's.  as i began to explain my daughter plugged her ears and whined, grossssss, trying to stop me. 

my son very carefully over the words that we were speaking asked, like AIDS, mom?


last weekend i was having a bath and my son came in three times to tell me excitedly about some small thing.  of course i was naked.  he did not see breasts or cunt.  he only saw the thrill of life, life's humming.


my beloved and i were naked beneath the covers.  my son, already tucked into bed once, emerged from his room and laid on the bed beside us, saying nothing.


he is eager to go to his grandfather's again.  his grandfather shot a five point buck and he wants to be a part of it.  sadly, he knows, that body has already been taken care of.


it seems to me that happiness and sadness dwell in my son in equal parts.  he is a garden.


i could go on like this forever about my son.  i will never have the opportunity to be done learning.


Thursday, November 8, 2012


when i was twelve or so i had running shoes with holes in the bottoms.  i remember the worn soles. they were an iridescent blue, stubbornly so even where they were thin.  then my worn through socks.  and then my toes.  i learned how to manipulate my feet so that others might not see the holes.  i learned how to walk on the shoes so that rocks might not hurt so badly.

today as i ran i relearned how to roll my left foot to lessen its exposure to the gravel.  the sole grows thin.  i do not want new shoes.

it is always and only ever between you and your god

when you are inside the psalm of a moment

when you are in love or with your children

when you believe in nothing (perhaps especially then)

when you run to the wilderness in all sorts of rejection and madness and strip off your clothing and pull with your razor-edged fingertips at your skin and rail at the empty sky and pound your dumb flesh when you are alone alone alone and when you are dying the empty death

even then

it is always and only ever between you and your god

and god does not hear
and god does not answer
for god, in the end, is nothing like you
is nothing like you know in its singular form

so know this now

"god" is your love, your children, your hallelujah, your belief and your ability to be bereft of it
god is the wilderness and your sluggish legs moving, the ignorant sky, your fists and your dumb flesh
god is your ability to be alone for isolation is your crucible, causing you pain, your magnesium, your light to your shadows, your shadows to your light, pain the proof that you are alive and life the proof of god, and death is never empty never empty never empty, for your life, from its first trembling unasked for breath, in and of its catastrophic self, in its being, in its existence, in its duplicities and formations and calamaties, in its freedoms and damnations, is full and (although painful/because painful) right

(written last night in a new moment, stripped, slightly quivering and alone)

Monday, November 5, 2012


and the inability to assuage yearning, the momentum of life created from our necessity to seek that which we can not name, have, hold and sate.

remember this, two more keys to existence.

i kiss this mind that can hold nothing

will we grow tired of grace, of god?  can we?  we do not know what grace is.  we do not know what god is.  we do not know how to ask for them.  we do not know how to name them.  when we are lucky, extremely lucky, lucky meaning we haven't studied or learned how to identify grace or god but rather have forgotten everything and luckily fallen into a moment of revelation - how small and how vulnerable, how ignorant, how needful.  no, no, shed of need.  how raw.  how empty.  not empty bad but empty empty open - then -  then - and then -and only then, an individual of only potential, leaning all ways, leaning no way, only then do we luckily encounter grace and god, stripped of intention, stripped of hope but steeped only in being, speechless, mute. how do we become tired of what we do not know how to name but yearn for and experience only in the most unexpected passing moments, in sudden moments of identification, of noting, of witness, rising up like both shadow and light simultaneously together undeniable and yet unnameable and then dismantling in an instant before the grey meat of bodies and continents and planes of existence well beyond ash?  how then, how then become tired of grace, of god?  grace, god, the nameless, are as passing as the colour of the tamarack and while i write this i damned well know colour is an illusion, only a name to point to the passing, a suggestion, the occurrence of something, only a metaphor for all of being, only hands holding temporarily a bird we will never see but will always, if we are lucky, sense, and perhaps if we are beyond lucky, if we are allowed, if we allow, will for an instant hold.

(from somewhere south of my mind i write this to remember:  i believe that god is not god but rather that this word points to our origins, our wider state of being, the wholeness of the world, of existence, all of existence, not just human existence.  i write this so that i remember.  and even with these black strokes, even if i remember the words, i know i will in some essential and rooted way forget.)

Saturday, November 3, 2012


today i run.

in the beginning i wear a t-shirt, a long sleeve, a zip front jacket, gloves.  along the way i give most of this up to be in the cold.  there is ice on the puddles.  i am in love with ice on the puddles.  i feel that this is evidence.  of what?  i am unsure.  it hardly matters.  i am in love with ice on the puddles.

every run is so many things.  i can not explain all of those things for they are gone as soon as i notice them. 

but rounding the curve on the last quarter of the run, my body through and out of and through and out of so many phases, i raise my head to the distant tamarack, my face burning in the cold.  i say to myself gasping at both their beauty and their being, jesusfuckinggod, erin, remember the tamarack.  

two/three weeks ago they were suddenly all squeezed through the eye of the needle, a bodily undeniable existence, almost a vulgarity of mustard orange, before that a multitude of varying variations of living green, and today only the soft glow of a once remembered orange, almost only an impression. 

remember the damned tamarack, erin, i say, knowing i will not, can not.

this forgetfulness is essential.