Pictograph by Melissa Kwasny and I can’t let go of it. Sometimes I carry it in my bag wherever I go, just in case I suddenly need it. You can get it here: Pictograph | Milkweed Editions.
UPDATE: I just realized how similar the book cover is to Walk Like Monsters which I swear is a coincidence because I had not seen this when I chose the picture for WLM.
1. From Ross Gay’s poem ‘to the mistake’, which is in his collection catalog of unabashed gratitude.
“I am lecturing on the miracle
of the mistake in
that hiccup or weird
gift that spirals
what’s dull and land-locked
into as yet untraversed i.e. cosmic”
This made me think of wabi sabi. “Wabi sabi embodies the Zen nihilist cosmic view and seeks beauty in the imperfections found as all things, in a constant state of flux, evolve from nothing and devolve back to nothing.” (Andrew Juniper in his book Wabi Sabi: The Japanese Art of Impermanence.) I crafted a neat little poem for my second book while thinking of wabi sabi. It was too neat, it talks about letting things go, and making it rough and all that, but it’s precisely laid out with every little word in place. I put it at the beginning of the book because I hope the ones that follow it will do something else, something more.
2. Living between places is antithetical to hoarding. I’m a collector of spices, yarn, books, vintage jars and bottles. I have spices I will never use. I will not finish my stash of yarn before I leave. An immigrant life described not as sunlight or dreams, but as ‘all that yarn I bought and won’t get to use.’ A psychiatrist once told me the mind creates decoys. Faced with something it doesn’t want to face, it creates little fires to put out elsewhere. As the plane leaves LA, my mind will be on the Wool of the Andes worsted. Color: hollyberry.
3. If I was struggling into a notebook, what would I be struggling with? The word seems to be at the surface today. The struggle to swallow down spice. Blood burst in the throat. The struggle to sit.
There are bird sounds. I saw a white butterfly sit on a parsley plant. The parsley is struggling to hold its place because a Broccoli plant, unwise-layed, is also threatening to sit on top of it. As an experiment, I’ve stopped tending the garden. How will things grow in my absence. Just fine, thank you, it says to me. Everything in the garden is going to seed. It’s beautiful.
4. We lost our car in the desert. It broke. We never repaired it–the cost of repairs being more than the cost of the car–we left it there in a garage owned by Rusty whom I never met. We got $100 for it and drove back in a rented orange car. It’s the beginning of this next phase, we said, of learning to let go.
It was just a car. Curiously, I kept thinking of our dog as we drove back. Cars are not pets. Cars are not pets. Yet, that silky black nose. That soft underbelly where the beige fur went all white.
People react differently to a child dying. Some never leave the house where it happened–they believe the child lives there. Others leave the house overnight, bags boiling with grief. After our dog died in LA, I wanted to leave the city. When I had survived the loss, I wanted to stay. Not because he had died here but because there was something in the place that had allowed me to live anyway. By live, I mean enjoy things.
(I’m not saying a dog is like a child.)