"Of Myth and Dreams" by L. Folk

Monday, March 7, 2011

Emerson's Eyeball, Snake Eyes and the Art of Writhing


March 3, 2011
Emerson talked about being one giant eyeball. When he walked in the woods, surrounded by the subtleties of the natural world, he became all perception and no ego. No pitied self, no wounded flesh from the biting flies. Now that the earth is rounding into spring, my giant eyeball senses the light changing. I want more. I want to shrug off the yoke of winter; I want to shrug a lot of things. How wonderful it must have been to live during that time, when there were no cars, when the silence and the subtleties were easy to absorb. We are so interrupted now. But one must persevere, sit down, reach for freedom. Becoming a giant eyeball happens only in moments. I sit, I try, I vibrate with the beginning of the day. This is how I've been waking up lately, slightly vibrating. There is a restless energy within me. It may be spring, it may be my reaction to impending things. I still sit on the mat and call God's name. There is an opening, but no internal images to guide me. I tell myself I am not trying hard enough. Then I say, wait a minute, it's not about trying, is it? It's just about sitting. There should be no trying here, no lurching, no gimme gimme. But I still do it.
I hear the gutter outside vibrating with the wind. I hear it all day long, almost like a buzz. Maybe I will go and buy myself some soft chimes.

March 4, 2011

Today I meditated and a snake eye rolled in. I saw it clearly, the thin, striking pupil, the space of the almond around it. I knew it meant something other than evil. Yes, there's Eve and Eden and the serpent, but I have since learned to see things differently than Catholic dogma. Eve abided by the snake, bit that apple to gain knowledge. As Joan says, We can't blame the poor girl for wanting to educate herself. So if you look up snakes, you will find that they symbolize feminine intuition or wisdom. (You know, seriously, what's up with the Christian religion and all this evil snake stuff and Original Sin shit...It's so fucking obvious Eve was a harness for womankind. Jealous much over the fact we can give birth? And what about Mary Magdelene? Yeah, she was the apostle Jesus loved and should have been the rock of his church, but short minded assholes framed her too). Sorry, sorry, compassion. Breathe. Compassion. So back to the snake eye. I breathe, my eyes are closed under the ficus tree. Another image comes up, of Dibacco's garage, the glass of the window to the waiting room. I hate that waiting room with its plastic chairs and old Good Housekeeping magazines from December 2005 and inside of carburetor small. But sometimes I have to sit there.
I wait for images like a dog waits for her dinner. Another one rises, or rather flashes, of Gandalf the Gray lying on his back in the middle of white. Breath bursts inside him and he is alive again. Is this what is going on, I'm waiting to be alive again? Alive how? Engaged in my life instead of my imagination? Oh goddamnit I'm such a naval gazer, why don't I start thinking about other people for a change. But the breath, the way the body responded, like a shock wave, a jolt of life. It's March and still cold. The ground is dead. We all need that jolt right about now.
And then the word, another flash: satori. I had forgotten what it meant and had to look it up. I once wrote it in calligraphy in a notebook and pasted dried flowers around it. Satori, or understanding. Isn't understanding like a jolt of breath? We move through our days half dead. Go through the motions. The Buddhists tell us to practice mindfulness, or consciousness of our actions. I forget to do this. Don't just go through the motions, be alive in the motions.

March 5, 2011

Welcome Morning from Anne Sexton's The Awful Rowing Toward God

There is joy
in all:
in the hair I brush each morning,
in the Cannon towel, newly washed,
that I rub my body with each morning,
in the chapel of eggs I cook
each morning
in the spoon and the chair
that cry “hello there, Anne”
each morning,
in the godhead of the table
that I set my silver, plate, cup upon
each morning.

All this is God,
right here in my pea-green house
each morning
and I mean,
though often forget,
to give thanks,
to faint down by the kitchen table
in a prayer of rejoicing
as the holy birds at the kitchen window
peck into their marriage of seeds.

So while I think of it,
let me paint a thank-you on my palm
for this God, this laughter of the morning
lest it go unspoken.

The Joy that isn't shared, I've heard
dies young.

March 6, 2011

While the rest of us live in a world of banalities, the poet lives in a world of flourishing images and urges. They have no demarcation lines, no restrictions. Our society is ruled by lines; you cross this line, you're this, you cross that line, you're that. There are consequences. And rightly so; we can't live among chaos; there needs to be rules and establishment, a level of comfort. But some people, some poets are too wild for rules. They blip up from the underworld long enough to seem charming, but this is all. You can't correct them with electric shocks. You'll kill their spirit with drugs. Anne Sexton was a poet, an artist. She had no lines. Her wildness and urges were fully expressed; she saw no wrong in masturbating in front of her child. When I found this out, I was significantly disturbed. I thought perhaps I should choose to study Sylvia Plath as a model for one of the characters in Woman in the Shape of a Cross. Plath is dense and esoteric; her blocks of verses hit me like cement. But my spirit sniffs something out in the language of Sexton's verses. It's a welling, an overflowing of yes. Of, oh yes. I can read God's name between her lines.
Perhaps we must lose our lines to be with God, as Sexton did. She was boundless, as God is boundless. There is something not-so-neatly packaged about God. Religion tries to do this, wrap up God in a nice little white box and give God to you. The demi -gods, the bookmakers, the rule keepers, expect you to prostrate yourself in a public place in front of relics. This is pretentious bullshit. I think God can be in a spider's egg and a tea cup. In the hair that clogs the drain.
I must say I am a little bit apprehensive about doing my delving into Sexton's life. Her biography arrived on Friday and although I was excited, I also wondered whether studying a “bad mother” would have any effect on my trying to conceive or propel me into a depression. But this is anxious thinking, full of lies.

March 7, 2011

From “The Wall” by Anne Sexton

We live beneath the ground
and if Christ should come in the form of a plow
and dig a furrow and pushus up into the day
we earthworms would be blinded by the sudden light
and writhe in our distress.
As I write this sentence I too writhe.

Funny thing, I read a friend's email to me the other day and she complimented me on my writing, but instead of the word writing, she wrote writhing. And I chuckled to myself, yes, that's about right. Today I read Anne Sexton's poem and she says we are all earthworms; she too writhes.
Today I thought of a first line to a poem and my heart sparked. It was good. I turned up my street into the driveway and became occupied with our trashcan. It was in the middle of the road and I was afraid it would be crushed by an oncoming car (we have already lost two). I rescued the can and lost the poem.
I too writhe.
My mother and I went to a modern dance recital in Cambridge several years ago. The audience sat in bleechers close to the dancefloor; we could reach out and touch the dancers. I don't remember much about the show, only one part, where a woman was on the floor writhing. Her body twitched, vibrated, her hands spastically rumbled over her body, trying to push at something. It hit me then, how perfectly she expressed my feelings with respect to anxiety, how I writhe under fear, twitch, slap, mentally scratch at myself and fight like hell to not be afraid. I had become very good at hiding my writhing. At some point, however, you want to truly be free and not fake free. That's when I started to accept my body for what it was and explore my alternatives.
“Take off your flesh,” Sexton says in the poem, “Unpick the lock of your bones. In other words, take off the wall that separates you from God.”
I struggle to write these lines now. Writing is writhing too. As is meditating.

1 comment:

  1. I love this idea of writing as writhing! And how you use Sexton's poems as inspiration, a thread to guide you to the page or the mat.

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