a small distance scented with sage and sandalwood a soft silence begging for a reach for a touch for the right angle for the perfect moment when he won't derail when he won't run when he won't reject when he will let me have what I want and be unafraid and be bold 'let me have what I want' is not the makings of care is not the root of the tenderness I feel for him it is the byproduct of my smallness the Vegemite of my creation salty and bitter and hateful and wanting and greedy and powerful I reroute disappointment, reset tracks a figure eight of self loathing that ensures he won't be hurt by me while I eat myself from the inside out wondering why chewing and swallowing my pale skin my stretch marks my too loud laugh my never feeling quite good enough my ignorance my endless questions my lack of experience my vulnerability He is something to me something powerful something important I will find a way to care about him and not hurt to reach for him with a closed hand to not want from him to not take to not harm to listen until his truths become louder than the sound of my chewing
I’m finished with this project for now.
In some ways it feels like I did what I set out to do. I looked at those experiences closely and lived them more thoroughly than I had previously and most certainly felt them more honestly than I was capable of at the time … and I let him in, even if only a few times and they were awkward and difficult but that will get easier.
I have started something and I think now it’s time for me to let it sit on it’s own for a moment. Some recovery is needed before I can come back to this. I feel like continuing would just be creating hurt for myself and that’s not at all what I want to do.
No, I did not make it until the end of April and I have feelings about that, but I have done so much more than I’d ever even considered before and I have learned so much and seen so much and felt so much these past few weeks … I need to stop now. But I’ll be back, to revise and revisit and hone.
the blooming season new growth soothes hot skin sweating aching under the labor of change longing to recline into certainty that the earth turns that I have done well that I can rest that I am not too late fearing I've missed something am missing something am hurting someone am not doing enough have done too much have said too much am not enough am too much unsure what will they grow into what have I done when can I stop I want this to be tidy and finished I want to lean on someone and feel safe being unsure today, I miss the silent dead of December today isn't an adventure and all my fault I started everything
slowly twisting history I play measuring compassion and fear by the moment I move in pilgrimage toward freedom a spectacle of failing fathers lining the street as I pass heavy and plodding and never-ending wondrous, the legends of men who have stayed I marvel at the ease with which legendary men are made I ask each what pain is it that let you run? what did it take for you to believe that drinking yourself to death killing your wife abandoning your children was your best option was your only option was an option? a parade of Heather moves forward their faces turn away as I pass soft and fierce and never-ending what strength is it that lets me stay? what love is it that brings me here?
Look around This is where the adventure happens where I gather the ragged and beautiful pieces of myself and they fit and are assembled all separate and one whole individually epic collectively the silence here is unafraid of a cry ready for awkward and painful and cruel poised for the blow that is change while smiling into the mist of right now dad, I know how to do this I know how to pattern and mimic I know how to sing with you and dance with you and play clapping games My daughter taught me and I can teach you put your hand like this and follow what I do 'I feel silly' he says, hands at his sides You feel silly? I'm talking with a dead man Shush and give me your hand 'I'm afraid' he says, hands shaking of course you are we all are I've got you prying eyes from the ground he looks 'you made all this?' he asks, hand raised a breath from mine yes, I made all this now do what I do hands move together mirroring dancing watching and a weight lifts and the mist rises and I hear the buzz of summer and I feel his eyes on me and I smell wood fire and I never thought I would be here
in the circle I tell him the story the long drive to West Virginia the childhood home of carnival glass how they circled the grave these relations in thin suits and Sunday hats as I approached the crowd parted silence then the whisper began 'Doug's daughter' a rolling message 'that's Doug's daughter' harmonious in their merging 'she looks just like him' voices filled my head 'daughter' a rolling wave of celebrity 'oh my' and attention 'that's Doug's daughter' and discomfort I feel the moment at the grave the crush of their gaze and whisper snapping some vital connection in me and I was gone somewhere fuzzy and cottony somewhere with no hard edges no soft sounds no more memory "It was to keep me safe" I say "Safe from what?" dad asks I watch him from the corner of my eye he watches the ground at his feet does he really want to know? Sighing "I was something much more and much less than sad." He doesn't understand "I don't understand" "I know ... just sit with me." and we sit and we smell the wood fire and I don't know how to begin
a very small me rides a very pink bike banana seated and plastic basketed Easter candy loot in her periphery she smiles sunshine on her face warmth and safety and freedom and spring and hope and delight and Reese's eggs My littlest Heather and there are so many more Heather who sat alone during the vicious rejection of junior high Heather who discovered how complicated rape can be Heather who went away to college and learned the beauty of Dickens Heather who survived an asphyxiation Heather who forgot her own face and Heather who remembered and there are so many more every step I become someone new every moment I am recreated and renegotiated today we sit together and we heal my band of challenging women baking bread and showing their teeth fearsome little girls riding bikes and wielding sling shots "I am Legion, for we are many" today we discuss could he sit with us? my very young father today we ask will we open our circle to him? a Mowgli in our wolf pack today we wonder can we teach him to sing in harmony? to sleep in a mound of each other's warmth and care I don't believe the dead can learn from us but a newer Heather, whose questions don't tip up at the end, asks can we teach him to survive? and what will we learn in the teaching? and isn't this audacity what makes us strong?