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I’d forgotten how hard blogs are. There’s a story to tell and I keep thinking it’s about Nepal. I should be writing about Nepal. I am supposed to be writing The Nepal Story, after all. So, why can I not write about Nepal?

Dramatic sigh.

I was once told by my mentor to trust my instincts when piecing a narrative together, meaning I shouldn’t be so arrogant as to think I can manhandle an experience if I don’t let it unfold. My story hasn’t even unfolded yet. I want to write a redemption story that hasn’t happened, so it’s no wonder I can’t write about it. Truth be told, mine is probably not a redemption story anyway. Deep down, I know Nepal as a requisite transformative experience will be dark because, when reduced to its smallest divisible parts, Nepal is all in my head.

And there’s a writer in there, too, who refuses to shut the hell up.

From a distance, a shadowed mirage is waving at me like a summer heat reflection on hot pavement and this passage comes back to me:

         Despite our best intentions, we forget the dead.
         Do they forget us?                                  Jane Summer, “Erebus”

So. Leigh “Bindo” Binder*, if you refuse to die, I’ll just have to kill you off in a mediocre poem that’s an apology as much as a lament.

Sleeping Beauty
When the stem drooped and the petals died,
I slept
Sleeping beauty sleep

I awoke to gold
Light too bright
You offered me a dim corner

You and I shared caramelized melancholy
Like cotton candy
Adolescent sweetness, the things that grew in our heads

Restless dreams like your cigarette smoke
From a few thousand miles away
Choke me awake

Weighed together like stone
Bound and pull down like some English great, we weren’t built for this life
But mostly: Have we lived our eternity?

 

*Leigh Binder was a friend and fellow writer, who died two years ago leaving only his writing and YouTube videos (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-43KL2khFHhJ-LmRqA-y2A) to haunt me.

I’m dead with dying
There is an eye I refuse to catch

I was born with knowing
I look and I listen and I discern
I know

You’ve caught my eye
I’m not God
But I know

Tell me everything
The bile and the filth and the worst, pour it
All that will be left will be left behind
Listen to my knowing

Let me catch your eye
My knowing is a reflection
There’s no dream I can’t decipher
I simply know
You tell me what’s the matter
And that’s what’s the matter
A reflection
through kinder eyes than you can’t bear to see
This is my knowing

I was born in January
I am dead with dying
There’s an eye I refuse to catch

It’s the eye of a child
Who won’t let me see
Something terrible happened
Something awful and humiliating
Something that drained my blood from my face my screams from my throat my heart from my chest and
Something that puddled my potty down my leg and between my toes
Something terrible
And I don’t know
Something terrible
And I don’t know

Hollow now
I won’t catch my blue eye that eyes me in the mirror

I was a child born dead with knowing
It was January
It was cold something terrible
Something terrible
And I don’t know

There was a time when you mattered
The last bloom
On the Rose of Sharon

Of
The
Season
In which your spirit did not survive

Another fall
Falls near
As the sky
Or a petal from a poppy
Or a child of God

Did you really believe that?
That there was a time when it mattered
The way beauty fell away to reveal something more beautiful and terrible but toxic

But time
It mattered
Because it was yours
The lost blossom

In a sleep, the wound wept its tears
Bloodshed
Seeped from itself without knowing
But I knew
I saw your death a million times before you did

But then you said
In a sleep, all around was death, death, dea th
You knew bloodshed
Wept for us both before I ever did

there are no promises that can be kept
by gift we live by right we die
grace is optional
except when it’s not

the grace to bear grief
is sometimes always never
the only prayer there is

in these hot, breathless last days, it’d do us to get on with the praying
sooner than later

That’s the hardest part

Picking through the rubble to find scraps of once-yellow note pad paper written and abruptly, rudely, ended:

Toilet paper

Apples

Erasers

8 batteries

Trash bags

Birthday card for —

The hardest heart catches itself before it does what it made to do: lie or die. (And flower and a cake for –)

Again with the ending. Before the card, there was snow. Glowing snow but the ice was  better. You’d sprayed painted it gold and silver and a tie dye of the other primary colors , which ran and pooled at our feet. The flakes and shards died a hued death.

Still the ending.standing at the top of a great mound that once was not a welcome to the White Ones.

They welcome you. The hardest part, you accept.

When the petals died and the stem drooped,
I slept
Sleeping beauty sleep

I awoke to gold
Light too bright
You offered me a dim corner

When you drooped and died,
Gold was gilded with light
There is no sleeping beauty sleep now

Noises in the wall
Like chatter
Or the clatter of chains

It wasn’t haunted before I forgot garbage day
Once then twice
The wall absorbed the trash
There are things I would rather not see
Things I left to rot

It’s doing its best
Salvaging the broken and discarded
Whoever is in the walls, making do with my junk,
Must be paying penance
For a word alone

It was a coyote
Or a lone wolf
Something savage

It lurked in the shadows
Of dead land

It shouldered the shoulder of interstates and crops
Its scraggly coat
And lowered head
Darting as if in surprise
but no

It was something sage
Something undomesticated
or worse
Something formerly domesticated
Something vengeful
Something worse than rogue

Something savage

We welcome scar tissue into our arms like it’s a good thing
As if it were a long-loved but long-forgotten lover we pretend never made us long-suffering
Scar tissue whose flap signals hardening and distance, both reasons to smile sorrowfully
Scar tissue whose cells allow us to survive
But at an angry and vengeful cost

Scar tissue whose existence prolongs our own as if it had an agenda despite our will to die
Whose will does it heed?

SOB with me

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