These consist of my attempts to account (to myself mostly) for the past 6 months of my somewhat turbulent season…
Read part 1 HERE:
“Dying seeds split towards open…”
“I was about to ask you to speak to me stories of how we met,” she murmured as we waited for sleep, “I never tire of them, how they change as we go, all our perspectives…”
And we begin.
“How was it for you when I entered that kitchen?” I ask, for what occurred in me I am still – four months later – unable to give voice to, just as I was unable then.
What I can say is that I entered anxious, uncertain, afraid and filled with grief – but knowing I must begin somewhere, try, introduce, extend myself, my life, beyond the coil I’d created of children, survival, and pain.
An old yellow farmhouse replete with water pump, out-buildings, repurposed windmill-like sculptures, abandoned well, mannequin-legs lined windows, rust, piles of parts, cats and kittens, bunnies and snakes. The home of two lively artists, the wife soon to be known to me as “her” best friend. Corn and wheat fields with their fences and rows, tall prairie grasses, birds of prey, and heat and wind is what I stepped out of my car toward this April Kansas day.
I carried a backpack of notebooks, pens and books, a small cooler with two wrapped bratwurst, a liter of vodka and TexSun grapefruit juice cans (my armory against strangers and surprises, perhaps against myself) toward the homestead’s screened-in porch.
Opened the door to a greeting androgynous mannequin and a doorway to the kitchen.
I turned the latch with an apologetic and nervous smile as if to express “None of you will know me and will probably wonder why I turned up here in your home.” The lady of the house greeted me and quickly introduced me to a workspace full of smoking hams, tossing salads, and baking grains. At the island stood…and here I blank out.
My torso, from lowest throat through loin-bottom, floods with feeling, with absence, with amazement and hunger. The first sheer drop of a roller coaster. Catching air off the road. Losing your hold on the side of a mountain. What seemed so certain – a mountain of absence and grief, a path of sorrow, loss and regret, misplaced footing, and fright like a life-ending fall… or life-fulfilling…
All I remember was a brain flushed with “who IS that creature?” – large glasses, Dukes of Hazard or Wild Western clothes – a button shirt tied just under the breasts, long and limby body, mass of hair the color of ripe dusty wheat – long like the Kansas horizon. I nodded politely to each, walked through three rooms and out the front door into air. I had lost all my breath for that journey.
Confused and baffled by the overthrow of my reason and will to be a severe and grieving abandoned invisible man, I set off to examine the property, to photograph remnants, to see as far as I could see and let the wind blow this internal combustion away.
Part of me knew I’d survived. What undid me was turning out not to be mortal. Perhaps I maintained the resilience and adaptation of a child with a little less flexibility and imagination, but the floods and droughts had not burned me fallow. It frightened me.
Eventually I conversed most of the evening away with “her” young, thoughtful boyfriend, engaged the generous and open artist-in-residence and made more plans to enjoy this group of hopeful, resourceful humans… while “she” moved about like the grass and the wind, the trees bending, swaying – each too large to comprehend, each farther than the eye knew how to see.
One learns a landscape by living in and with it over time…