Wednesday, August 27, 1997

An Inarticulate Hunger


HUNGRY for words, Sineád has read some 5000 books in her 30-odd years of life—a book a day. Final chapters of bodice rippers orchestrated in the wee hours by the heavy breathing of real birdsong. Aunt Toddy used to bring us huge red onion sacks full of books. A consummate literary escape-artist, I struggled through my grandmother’s bookshelf: Sir Walter Scott, Burns and Poe, hating poetry, but hungry for the stories gleaned from opaque lines and songs. During dry periods, I puzzled over Finnegan’s Wake, the banned Ulysses, The Dead. Even in her 90s, my grandmother could recite passages from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, I couldn’t recall the right facts at school though friends called me a walking encyclopedia. A diagnosis of dyslexia would have to wait decades to dispel the myth that I was dumb.

A poet wrote I am uneasy with this love of books. And at 40, I vowed to buy no more books or to take more lovers. All this love of books, I never heard the word love pass between my grandmother’s Victorian lips. Unmentionable as sex, though she had eight babies; the last in the procession was Sineád’s mother, Canice, who hated porting the armloads of books to her father each week. He devoured the meatier stuff: anthropology, archaeology, history. Some habits seem to skip a generation. After Canice left Sineád’s father, she met a man who couldn’t read; the sons took after the father.

“During the Cromwellian,” my grandmother said, “we kept the tongue alive, sent tykes to the priests in the hedgerow schools.” This hunger for learning distilled for generations. Sometimes I’d sneak off to read in the tall grass as if to keep memory alive. An inarticulate hunger raged unchecked, devouring me from the inside, pre-verbal desire and gnawing in my mind as I teased the dark veins from chicken thighs at Sunday dinners. I sucked pomegranate seeds in the dark and counted the tide of seasons with new lovers while Canice gathered her stories from a long line of bar stools. My tally of lovers, longer than her reading list.

© 1997, revised 2000 Maureen Hurley

Tuesday, August 26, 1997

THIRST, take 2


THIRST, take 2

Last full moon of summer, a tide of ants journeys
to the evening’s dishes stacked in the sink.
Colonies­—eons before we paved these headlands—
why do they ring the bathtub like flotsamic ink?
Counter our battle with traces of formalic acid on bread?

They’ve no need for time or history or maps,
breaching bungalo walls to win the font.
Neil brings me some sweet tea in the bath,
removes the sugar to a stove island where at night
a pilot light guides lost craft and keeps ants at bay.

By the soapdish, ants emerge from riddled plaster,
they pool by fallen brethren, staining the tub.
Perhaps seeking the end of religion they eat their dead.
The communion of phagos: no sweetness wasted.
No tyranny of soul or tragedy of self to proclaim.

Unmade dreams slip from the thicket of thighs
where I caress the cloak to see if I’m alive,
having dreamt of women chadored and circumcised,
hemmorhaging on the white tiled floors. No words come.
I cannot help them nor staunch the red tide.

Who else sat in this tub watching the ants’ progress?
What clothing was shed on the honeycomed floor,
what seminal dreams were flushed down the drain
with little to survive them except the salt-
sweetness of laborer’s sweat at the close of day?

Sequestered on the parched bed, he sleeps with
hands wedded to thighs drowning in moonlight.
Moans in the night, dreaming blank futures,
returning to the womb with tonsured ardor,
leaving a river of ants to circumscribe my thirst.

8/26/97
Oakland

THIRST, 1


THIRST, 1

When the moon is full, an artery of thirsty ants rings the tub.
Over the years, they’ve burrowed from the patio 
through the bungalow walls to gain entrance to water. 
They pool around their fallen brethren as if in mourning.
Perhaps they’ve found religion 
in this microscopic city-state of insects. Resurrection. 
They eat their fallen dead, leaving no trace behind. 
Such is the frugal intelligence of protein when food is scarce. 
The colony of ants, probably here before the house was built, 
is a persistence of memory. I think of the ancestors of those ants 
tunneling through walls for how many generations 
before they breached the final wall in search of water. 
Sometime during the Great Depression, who bathed in this tub? 
What clothes did they divest? What unmade dreams 
washed down the drain with little else to show for, 
like laborers’ sweat at the end of the day?
The unmade August moon dreams at the vee of my legs, 
where I touch to see if I’m still alive, 
having dreampt of circumcised Muslim women, 
and I cannot help them, nor stop the march of the red tide, 
the countdown, while he sleeps alone in his isolation, 
dreaming of a future which never comes.

8/26 1997
Oakland

Monday, August 25, 1997

Blue Willow


Book of Knowledge, Children’s Encyclopedia, 1917,  PD Wiki

WHEN I was a child playing at the seashore, I imagined the Coast Miwoks wrapped in bright silk brocades, supping from celadon bowls, dining from blue and white plates painted with rural scenes of China. When Sir Francis Drake the Pirate landed here in Nova Albion in the summer of 1579, claiming Point Reyes for the Crown, he left behind a legacy of coins, glass beads, and his cargo of exotic silks and porcelain from China. Later shipwrecks offered up inlaid rosewood tables, ornate carved chairs waiting for an audience to gather on the beaches. Tabula Rasa. Feathered cloaks for the wind.

Perhaps I became a writer because I ate morning cereal from a story painted inside a Chinese Blue Willow bowl: two birds on the wing. It’s spring: fruit trees bloom beneath a surreal tree near a temple. Though a path of light invites us to the temple, a fence stops us because we are not Chinese. Though I am four, I know this, for my grandmother takes me to Chinatown to buy new pieces for the set. Old men in black robes with thin grey plaits down their backs, kow-tow to her, offer me sweets. I stare, round-eyed at the rows of pale celadon melons glowing with a mysterious verdant resilience beneath a grotesque curtain of plucked fowl hanging by the neck. Gateway to another world. Here, we are all immigrants.

When no one’s looking, I climb over the temple fence. (Later I will find a gate, learn the story of the lovebirds—changelings: to escape her father’s wrath, the forbidden lovers find each other on the wing. A story that includes European colonialism and the Far East—a Chinese story from an English design by way of the Dutch, or was it the Portuguese? Evolving into Blue Willow pottery, ideas shipped back and forth across the oceans.)

I am in love with the blue language of the teapot offered up each evening, and the insistence of silver spoons against teacups calling us to vespers. My grandmother says the designs on the edges of the bowl are like hieroglyphic Greek keys—a symbol for clouds, or, the Almighty. (She knows that I will search for celestial dragons in the mountains of the world, for I was born a wanderer during the tail end of the Year of the Dragon.) Every morning I’d wait for the two lovebirds to meet mid-air. Messengers from the otherworld. If they emerge through the thin layer of milk, upside-down, did it change the story? They say birds are the kisses of Aengus Óg, the Love God. My grandmother urges me to finish the last two swallows of milk—because babies are starving in China. My eating habits will become inexorably linked with the welfare of those poor babies.

I gaze deep into the milky scene: A fisherman in a junk casts his line into calm waters. Distant islands. I’m trapped within the white heart-shaped void between island, trees and slender birdwings. No children. I hardly notice three men dressed in robes on the bridge, who, after morning prayers, leave the temple, carrying the tools of my profession: walking stick, scroll and lantern. As they approach the archway, so like a Japanese torii gate, the ancient willow, roots bared by time, weeps and leans into the east wind, small hands of branches claw the air as if to follow them. Every day they’ll begin the journey but never reach the portal, the birds will never quite meet mid-air. Soon my grandfather will die, the dinnerware and our family will scatter when we move north to the Point Reyes Peninsula. Only a platter and a teapot will survive the uprooting. My grandmother and I will drink tea from it for decades. And the platter will bear the holiday bird at family gatherings.

But from my coffee mug made during the height of the Cold War, modern Blue Willow—not from the English copper engravings of the 18th century—tells another story. Memory reemerges with a different historical slant. The two birds meet mid-air, but have grown into fat, complacent pigeons, the fisherman still fishes, but the boat is farther from shore and the fish don’t bite. Our eyes are no longer drawn to what lies beyond the uneasy sea. The islands are gone. Three men still cross the bridge, they’ve lost more than priestly robes: the first one carries on his walking stick a bundle of rags, the second man still carries a scroll—what is written on it we cannot decipher—the third has lost his lantern. They are centuries from home. The shining path to the temple is dark, the celestial gate is gone—bringing us that much closer to the land. And so I am alone on the edge of the continent, dancing on the brink of I know not what.

© 1997 revised 2000

Saturday, August 23, 1997

White Deer


My grandmother and I used to travel to Inverness Ridge each fall to pick huckleberries, and to watch for a glimpse of Old Man Ottenger’s exotic white deer and the spotted fallow deer; but the National Park Service took the land from them, parcel by parcel—destroying most of the dairy ranches in the process—

The NPS gave the land to the public, tore down historic farm buildings, killed off the exotic deer: non-native species. If the alternative was a future of tract-housing, then they did a good thing, taking the land, but what they destroyed in the process was a thriving community of farmers and ranchers—for the greater good of tourists and their easy dollars.

But most of this land commuting northward at 2 inches a year along the Fault, is so far from civilization that its isolation is its salvation and its reward.

Trigger-points of memory: a certain angle of light reposes on the blood-red roses splayed against the limed wall of an abandoned farm. A bleached redwood wine vat holds the music of spring water plashing into the mossy trough where cattle and deer come to slake their thirst at sunset. Generations of barn swallows sip and weave the air into arabesques. No one wants to look at the moral dilemma: ranchers—treated like the Coast Miwoks their forefathers displaced—offered land treaties in the form of 25-year leases. Polyester tourists, also a non-native species. Rarer now to see the white deer.

Once while camping, I saw a big white buck in the night mist—an otherworld apparition of white on white—his antlers tining the haloed moon. But another kind of darkness hid in the pale Albion moonlight.

A sudden chill, a premonition drove me deep into the arms of pine boughs as truck lights severed the darkness. The silhouettes of two men illumined by red tail lights filled me with unseasonable fear.

At Limantour Spit death’s admiral was waiting in the staccato report of poachers’ guns—like Chinese firecrackers—the night they shot Ranger Kenneth Patrick for the rare white deer hides. Like the dried penises of white tigers, the deerskins were destined to be sold as aphrodisiacs and for healing magic to the highest bidder in the black markets of China.

© 1997 revised 2000 Maureen Hurley

Sunday, August 17, 1997

Celtic Fringe

The Celts are going, the Celts are going at last. Hurrah! Soon a Celt on the streets of Dublin will be as rare as seeing an Indian on the streets of Manhattan.—British Government, ca. 1847.

IN my family we eat soda bread with tea, croon Irish songs when the uisge beatha whets our pipes: it helps us reach that 2nd octave in Danny Boy. My grandmother never let us forget our history: the millions dead from the Famine Years. A dirge for the dying: Oh the praties they grow small. . . My great-grand-father raised fast horses, drove them with the cattle between bonfires at Lugnasadh. My family is of the earth, they survived because they held onto the land, the farms: at Coomb an-nOir, the Hill-of-Gold Walshes, and the one-eyed Sullivans of Bantry; the Reillys and Duffys of Long Kesh, Fihora. My ancestors survived by eating the blackened potatoes, cow fodder, and wild grasses. Then, when that was gone, they sucked stones, swallowed dirt, buried their dead and dreamed of another country to the west: Tír na-nÓg.

Lord Russell said the famine is good, teach the Irish a lesson. Ships laden with Irish cattle and grain sailed for Britain while we died with grass stains on our teeth. Béal na blát: from the mouth of flowers I came. In America, the Cherokee Nation collected $200; they sent us cargoes of maize and beans. Too late. “Coffin ships to the Americas. Slavers to the cane fields and estates of the Barbados,” she said. From the Celtic Fringe to the Celtic Diaspora; countless children sold in the West Indies, destined to enter the bloodlines of Africa. A Black woman asks why she never learned this in school. I tell her we share the same Anglo roots of history. She said, “I had an Irish grandmother,” we joke about being black Irish.

I’m allergic to the new world foods: beans, corn and potatoes. They say there was enough food in Ireland to feed 20 million. Instead we fed the enemy with our bones. Their sheep replaced us. But we survived. Sínn Fein: Ourselves, alone, she said, Never forget. Use their language against them, she said. This, my inheritance. Sláinte Gael macushla mo chroidhe. I’ve kissed the Blarney Stone, though there was little need. The cats form semi-colons at the foot of the bed: what was the lesson were we supposed to have learned? The Irish nation scattered to the winds. Full glottal stop.

© 1997 , rev 2000 Maureen Hurley

Friday, August 15, 1997

VIENNA, 1939

VIENNA, 1939

An old woman contemplates 
a passage in her black book.
She sits alone in a park.
It could be it be Vienna, 1939.

She sits in a metal chair, 
her purse sits on the wall 
like a well behaved cat. 
An umbrella bridges the arms of the chair.

She is dressed in black and white.
Her earrings are of gold, 
she wears a worn wedding ring.

On the other side of the park 
three people sit lost in thought,
as blurred as daydreams they once held.

Her hat and glasses, are from another era.
She primly crosses her ankles, 
maybe it's earlier than I thought. 
The dress is too long and her gloves dangle 
helplessly, and swoon from the arms of her chair, 
a white shawl, in case there's a chill.

Her hands are thick with age. 
The young moon of gold on her ring finger 
remembers her wedding day.

She is, like Proust, stirred by remembrances 
of things past. Perhaps it is Paris. 
Will she go go into a café at teatime, 
order madelines and think of her well spent youth?

She's dressed in widow's weeds.
The dark mourning after the war. 
Was it the first one? Or the second one? 
Did she lose a son, or a lover? Or both?
But that's all in the past. 
She's sitting in the park, lost in a book 
and the city waits for her to reinvent it.

8/15/1997
10/15/2015

COLLAGE

COLLAGE 

The beach rises from the swamp, 
rise and fall by the edge of the sea.
Bring out the lions. 
Little remains of the next frontier.

How lovely, this green made of spring.
Deep in the heart, the earth will translate your arrival
Calling out the names of cattle 
on this last handful of dying earth.

You better find another way out 
of this country by the execution of desire.

A Celtic lion, the flowered word.
Writing jails a tropical sunset 
with its Venetian blind approach to image.
Line after line in pewter script, 
it relentlessly marches across a trinity of palms. 

The ubiquitous cliché of paradise.
But below that crepuscular sea, 
lines and words become like strata 
and break into symbols. 
Like schools of fish in the sun.

At the bottom of the ocean 
the lion is awake 
spewing forth the flowered word 
into the depths of the abyss. 
He is awake, not rampant.

The artist practices her name 
over and over again
Design elements and fluid writing 
like the ripples on the pond 
breaks the surface. Hold her sanity in check.

Sometimes if you sit still enough,
you can see where the fish come to feed, 
breaking the mirror with their small o's
of their mouths as they breach the air. 


8/15/1997
10/15/2015

CORIOLIS EFFECT


South of  the equator
water doesn't swirl in the opposite direction. 
The Coriolis effect in the bathroom sink, 
is as confused as my current relationship.

Postcards from Fiji and the Southern Cross
arrive. Images of Islanders, Polynesia, 
cave writing, the hieroglyphs of a lost culture.

Red lateen sails at sunset. An Egyptian dhow.
Island pals shimmer and dance and sway.
Coconuts are like money in the bank. 
Copra currency in the tropics.

Meanwhile back at home, 
snow falls in the coastal valleys.
Mount St. Helena is like a white lion 
stretched against the empty winter sky.

The equator divided us, 
it did not make us equal, or whole. 
It divided the distance of seasons, days.
Enough to say that I still miss you, 
Especially at sunset in a strange land.

The fish knows no boundaries
other than infinite variations of blue.
The sky fills up its vault with careless stars
and the Southern Cross is crucifying me.

I know of the infinite variations of blue 
in the sky, I know they named the darkness too.
But I no longer know the real word for balance. 

Already the nights are growing colder. 
We've had our first unseasonable snow. 
Postcards floating like rafts 
on the edges of memory.

8/15/1997
10/15/2015

VALLEY FEVER

VALLEY FEVER

It's the way the ivory keys line up 
at the ready, like so many tombstones.
Lives were lost dragstripping along backroads 
where dangerous curves and soft shoulders 
collided at the speed of thought.

It's the way the tree held me, 
as we crawled out of the wreckage, 
all missiles, silos and combines.

Fingernails in columns in varying shades 
of red and gold, and the silk tassel 
of pomp and circumstance.
We were among those who 
almost didn't make it back, like James Dean.

I remember my mother's voice, 
disembodied, and she told me how 
Brenda Fullick's mother crawled out 
of the burning car, her face rippled like water.

My aunt can't abide the dirge, Danny Boy 
because of a boy she once loved.
She would never tell me his name.

My uncle loaned Danny his car 
with a jerryrigged battery 
and a milk carton for a seat.
When the headlights went out
they didn't see the parked truck.

Before the accident, I dreamed 
of images of wheels spinning in dry earth, 
I dreamed of the fragile beauty of flowers
harvesting the dead.

I saw seven keys for the days of the week 
opening the memory of destruction. 
I think of cars and locks that once held keys—
they are no longer whole, or complete.

They are separated from their source. 
Time reels me in, in increments of weeks.
I still dream of those wheels spinning 
out of control as they bit into the soft shoulder 
and screamed at dangerous curves. 

Eucalyptus trees that loomed in the sky. 
The odor of fresh grated earth. 
At least this time it wasn't a grave. 
A John Deere tractor awaits a writer 
to plow and scribe the fields beyond.

8/15/1997
SRJC Workshop with Terry Ehret
10/15/2015

AN ALPHABET OF WAR

AN ALPHABET OF WAR

She purses her red lips beneath the archway
waiting to be kissed under a storm-laden sky,
a vulture's wingspan completes the doorway. 

Once I tacked vulture wings over the barn door
not expecting their enormous span to engulf me.
Or the stench. The cats lunged skyward like birds.

Over the dead cities of the Fertile Crescent, 
palm trees from an earlier era, pray in the wind.
Mirage water mountaineers the horizon.

Did I gather apples in the Gardens of Babylon 
by the canals, where wild strawberries grew?
This valley cradled a swamp, teaming with life,

where blackbirds whistled drills in the reeds.
Lions guarded the gate as alphabets 
began their ascent from the mud 
and the cuneiform of clay tablets.

Imagine a culture where the aurochs, 
the ox used to plow the field, 
becomes the sound of a baby,
or the barrier of the lips.

The walls of the house, 
the temple in the beginning, 
was the alphabet of lips. 
Mountains on end.

But in the temple. God breathed, 
the sacred ladder of the sky rose up, 
became smoke in the hollow of the hand, 

Became a hook, then an arm, an eye for an eye, 
became a mouth seeking revenge,
a tooth biting off more than it could chew.

It became the head in profile, resh,
pulled back in introspection, or in sorrow.
And see how the monkey turned its back 
to look one more time at Gomorrah?

And that final mark, the tau
that X marks the crosses of the dead, 
and the illiterate mark of the unlettered,
has fresh fodder for its hunger.

A stone angel stands in repose, 
lost in thought, head turned down, 
arm to mouth, in that lovers stance, 
his shields and arrows at rest.

Frozen moment in time. 
Whose lips were waiting for a kiss?
Did a woman come to the city, 
wait beneath the lintel of death?

A woman's lips waiting for the man.
As the red letter a escapes: an ahhh!
merging with God's aspirants.
But the old men objected to this lip service.

Fearing contamination,
they closed the doors to the temple 
of the heart. Slammed shut. The letters of war.
This is what's written in stone. 

8//15/1997
10/15/2015

Thursday, August 7, 1997

Journal notes: Dear Neil letters 8/7 to 8/31

8/7 The other night I dreamt I was standing by a lake, it was too cold. But there was an underground hot spring. I dipped my toe in, ah! a goner, I slid in fully clothed, I love water so much. I swam out beyond the cove, Neil yelled from shore to be careful of the current—It’ll be hard to get back to shore. So I swam across the current towards the cove to where he stood. The evening water was like a mirror, so beautiful and calm. I treaded water as we talked, my clothing gone. It seems I am always naked before him.

8/8 Thurs. I dreamt we were wandering in Mendocino, staying in familiar beds. A memory of my mother, perhaps my grandmother as well. I introduced Neil to Pat Wall, wishing him a happy 85th birthday. His thin face had become platter-shaped like Henry VIII, he loomed over me smiling, how many years? I was glad Neil and Pat met. Where was Micaela?

Scene change: I dreamt we were in a grove of oak trees, a herd of black horses like shadows among the trees. Niall was a black stallion who bit my neck and mounted me. Was I the white mare? I thought I was black like him. He slid off; I was bred in a circle of oaks. Were the druids gathering mistletoe with golden sickles. Was it Lughnasadh? Was it an archetypal dream, or a dream of the now?

I awoke thinking how the kings of Ireland were initiated into sovereignty by making love to a white mare. (Was I Epona?) Niall Glundubh, of the dark knees, was a dark horse, all right. This dream is more about mating than initiation of royalty. Elements: oak grove/druids: sacred wisdom. Horses: creativity. Stallion/mare: completion/fertility. Black? Neil was reading to me about the four bodies of the individual soul. Black is the casual body: sleep, pranja, heart. Black is sacred anomg Native American tribes.

8/11 Awoke grumpy and frustrated. My rib hurt something terrible yesterday. I carried water, my back’s unstable. Cause and effect. I’m mad at the doctors for misdiagnosing me, mad at Verona for the accident, even at Neil for the ambiguity of our relationship. Feeling forlorn and abandoned and it’s all foolishness for I’m to go home, get my mail and tax stuff, and return. I’m loath to leave, loath to stay.

Neil put me on the phone with his sister May. She said. “The accident makes you appreciate life, puts it in a different perspective. I work in a hospital: In one room you have the terminally ill, in another, the euthanasia patients, in one room they are laughing, in another, babies are being born…” She said to meditate, she hopes to meet me soon. I can understand why Neil thinks his sisters are so great. The concept of family continually expanding as we uncover the links (the ties that bind).

I am out of sorts today, the muscle relaxant didn’t help—foggy-minded—in the foggy, foggy dew? As we continue to forge links, strengthen bonds, I usually don’t resist, but today it’s the taking of three steps backwards only to find myself at the edge of the abyss that keeps following me.—as if I were a cartoon character, the eroding cliff compensating for my forward movement, leaving no place for retreat. The edge of that cliff is time. The option is to remain standing still and let the cliff erode around me. Tow options: willing or unwilling. On days like this I tend to hang out in the latter camp. Neil is the same person he was yesterday, or last year—only my perceptions have changed.

8/ 13 This journal of dailiness, the practice—even if the words don’t come, it’s better than the void. Healing takes its own time coming in. We made a mad overnight jaunt to Forestville, my cabin filled with the archaeology of a past life I can never go back to. Neil loves my cabin, the artifacts, the books. We gather up all my tax stuff. Neil said he would help me tackle the Big One—whatever it takes—his gift to me. I need all the help I can get. We continue to help each other, reordering our lives. I don’t seem to want for, or miss much from my old life. I have all that I need here—save for an occasional scurry into the archives.

I’m feeling breathless an dizzy; Neil wants me to go to Kaiser, if it’s a spider bite, they can do nothing for me—I’ve taken antihistamines. I think I was nailed by a black widow while digging out my old tax stuff from the shed. A bull’s eye bruise and two fang marks. Neil helps me hang an art show on Mon. in the library at the Petaluma campus of SRJC for a workshop on Friday with Terry Ehret and Marsha Connell.

Yesterday Neil spent the entire day tracking the best way to send money to Scotland to buy his mother’s council house, getting few definitive answers and no good rates. At the end of the day I called an 800 number on my checks, got a financial currency broker who gave us a fantastic rate (saving him nearly 300) so we went down and made the transaction from my account—I was a money launderer? We celebrated with a latte at the Coffee Mill, home for soup, and out to a movie, “Mrs Brown” with Billy Connolly—our first “date” since the accident which has disrupted us to the bone. we’re still sleeping in till 10 AM; we can’t seem to help ourselves, needing 9+ hours of sleep in order to heal, most of our waking hours in the house of “Tír-na-n-Óg,” the tiny patio I’ve converted into a dining room. After Amsterdam it seems quite spacious, I bought a couple of plastic chairs, some plants… He laughs at my nesting instincts, loves the results. Loves having me here.

I can’t believe we’re living together so well (though the dreams already warned me this was to be); but though we sleep in the same bed, we are celibate—by his choosing. I dream of making love nearly every night, I wonder if he does the same—sometimes he grabs my hips or rubs my back, strokes my hair. He’s had some restless nights: sweats, thrashing, scratching—I try and soothe him, stroking his hair or back, but it does little to calm him. He seems to find comfort in snuggling up to my back, spoon-style, holding onto my hips: which seems sexual, but he seems a bit afraid. He talks about the rock inside him, how it never allows him to be content with life, with women… he’s tried the addictions, to break free (including women) but says the only thing that works on that rock (there since he was a child) is the meditation, the yoga—it opens doors for him and he hopes it will do likewise for me. It’s more about right mindfulness, being aware in the present. Not to let the distractions of dailiness immobilize us. Though he sees doubt on my face, he tells me this anyway, for he feels I’m on the verge of opening up—shaktipat, he calls it. Is my spiritual path caught up in the karma of a man? Sounds scary.

I’m not sure what our future is or what it may bring—I know our lives are inexorably linked at this moment in time: if only the present exists, then this relationship exists in the now (whether or not we have sex is immaterial), transcends ordinary friendship. To know another person so deeply, to put their welfare before yours, is that not love? I keep house—not because I feel I have to, but because I want to. Creatures comforts tied up with our psychic well being. He plays the mantra over and over until it resonates inside my own head when I’m facing the world—a necessary state for my fragile state of being.

Nearly two months since the accident and we’re still weak-kneed, fragile beings who thrive on ibuprofen and foot massage. We nurture each other, what could be better? I keep thinking I’ll go home next week, but next week never comes, I’m still here, after all this time. I was go home last Saturday but I didn’t feel up to it—estranged and out of sorts, I even slept on the couch for the first time in weeks. The end result is that we both began to feel withdrawn and isolated. Over breakfast he said, “Let’s talk about it…” We read the runes. He got Karma, as did I—the rune of destiny comes up again and again between us. It is not yet time.

8/14 I dreamed I found my dead mother’s broken necklaces and jewels (in front of Mary Bianchi’s in Forest Knolls). She was so attached to those things yet made no move to get them herself. I gathered amethyst and citrine, and garnet. Simple stones set in silver. Was I gathering them in my shirt for my dead mother or for myself?. There were so many they fell into the ditch. There I was, bottom up, searching for lost treasure when I realized I was wearing a short skirt and no knickers, my snatch on view for the world to see! Only the windows looking on.

8/15 Say the mantra… I was bitten by a black widow on Monday. Thursday Neil took me to the hospital. we are Pavlovian in our response. Time unreels in increments of weeks. I still dream of car wheels spinning out of control, of soft shoulders, and dangerous curves. eucalyptus trees pointing accusingly to the sky as if we’d tricked fate out of its just due.

8/16 Sat. 1st time home in FV in over a week, Still feels wrong to be here alone. Called Paul just to hear his lovely Welsh accent. He restored my sense of being. He read me Dylan Thomas’s Do not go gentle into that good night… in that lovely lilt that’s neither Irish nor Scottish. Neil clips and glottalizes words—yet I can hear the Irish overtones. I told Paul about the accident and how that poem resurfaced in my memory as a warning? And so we raged against the dying of the light…

A long chat with Neil—neither of us sleeps well apart from the other. He said he felt confused and afraid, slept facing the wrong way. Our sleep cycles altered by the accident. I took creature comfort snuggling up against the wall seeking Neil’s body. He said the play won the Bay Guardian Goldie award and tomorrow is closing night. Ken Larsen called from Oakland, here I’d planned to stay home for a while and I’m already going back down. Neil’s to see Ingred today—one reason why I went away was to give Neil space do what he needed to do—and most of them canceled.

8/22 Fri. Over breakfast we rehearse lines from O’Neill’s play “Long day’s Journey” for a screen test. Neil’s the Earl Flynn of wasps, beating back a yellowjacket, swashbuckling with a bread knife, the wasp dancing a minute fandango or making a benediction over his head—I can’t decide which.

Came to find him later sitting on the couch listening to “The Dead” Snow is general all over Ireland…it falls upon the living and the dead… He was in tears grieving for his father. At last the dam has broken…I’ve been waiting for him to cry, wondering when it would happen, knowing he hadn’t let go. I put my arms around him the way he’s done for me so many times when I’ve been devastated. We’ve seen each other at our worst possible moments and still we love. His love of me (filial, or so he says), mine, full-blown—will the two never reconcile? I awkwardly held him on the couch, he grabbed me fiercely, crying a few brief moments—then put it away, saying, “I’m fine, I’m OK,” as if it were true or even necessary) still grieving for the lost years. “Twenty years here in America, and for what?” he asks pessimistically, feeling guilty for all the “wasted years,” for having to leave home in order to grow, for being so angry with his oldman—when the went to Ireland, seeing his tiredness and frailty. I stroked his hair, letting him ramble on, hoping the slate would come clean, he would push through the wall of grief to the other side: acceptance and healing. For I remembered, ages ago, when he said he hadn’t yet wept for his father, alarm bells went off. Sometimes it just takes its own time coming in.

Niall went north to Maxwell for a murder mystery play. (It’s uncomfortably hot today.) Like a good wife (or mother) I laundered and ironed his shirts, coached him on his lines, packed his lunch…and the irony is I actually don’t mind all the housewify stuff… me, the arrogant one who refused to be anyone’s wife. But I’ve now spent so much of my life living alone that it’s a novel experience. At first, I was so awkward, not used to the role. Sometimes I wonder if we’ll soon tire of each other, that he’ll want his space—but so far we seem to be in balance. Or so it seems. I made a vow to get him back on his feet…surely I’ve completed my task. Isn’t it time to go? Why do I linger on? Why does he hold me so?

8/26 Wrote my first real poem since the accident (wrote some stuff at the SRJC workshop) “Thirst” after a strange dream and full moon left me discombobulated. I won’t show it to him for it’s rather a brutal portrait. This unease within me is building.

8/28 Thurs. Thoroughly wigged (and pre-menstrual) I fled Neil’s place while he was at UCB, I was feeling unwanted and insecure for he slept out on the couch. (Indigestion, he said). Neither of us slept much. When he leaves in the middle of the night I immediately sense the loss of his presence… I was feeling funky on Mon. and so the past two nights he slept the other direction—head to toe—this further increased my sense of isolation. I don’t know if what I’m feeling is really from him or if I’m just oversensitive.

When I finally slept, I had nightmares of the stove coming loose from the wall as I was cooking. I tried to move it back before the flame spread to the gas lines. I yelled to Neil for help but I had no voice. He couldn’t hear me. I let go of the stove, ran down the hall to get him. He went outside to shut off the main valve while I tried to staunch the flow of gas. I let go as the flames leaped to the wall and traveled down the pipes to where Neil was trying to shut off the main valve. Only I knew the valve didn’t have a handle—time was running out. The pliers were inside, somehow he managed to save us.

I awoke apprehensive and uneasy as Neil was leaving for school. He said something about closing my eyes while Niall Glundubh snuck off into the sunlight. I don’t know why it struck some aching place inside of me—as if it were true and I’d experienced it before. And I was struck with an overwhelming sense of loss. tears welled up. H handed me a hanky, stroked my face and arm, saying I’d be OK, played the meditation mantra to comfort me. Already he was late and couldn’t stay. But I didn’t realize I was feeling so sad, such grief welling up. Is it because I’ve opened up my life for the past five years? Is it because I’m doing my taxes? are all the deaths and sorrows resurrecting, resurfacing? It felt as if the shadow of a djunn had alighted in the corner of the room during the night engulfing me in its darkness. All this depression taking over.

He said he’d be back at noon, I cleaned the house, but my feeling of unease increased, I fled, leaving a note on his door, feeling I couldn’t wait, I couldn’t face him. Feeling too insecure about our relationship, wondering why he keeps me outside of himself, why no physical relationship, or at least talk about it—why doesn’t he want me? Let’s get it on the table, so to speak, but by living with him I’m too vulnerable. what if he says he’s simply not interested? Then what do I do? Die of humiliation? Was fleeing the right thing?

 Also, I said I’d stay for the summer, which is technically over this weekend. Maybe my work’s done. he’s back in school, his grants came through. He’s on his feet and running. It seems as if there’s little time for me–with the play and school. Time to leave him be unless he wants me to come and live with him formally—as his girlfriend (which everyone thinks I already am—if they only knew that we sleep in the same bed but never touch, except for massages, or the occasional hug—esp. in public, leaving me confused. Am I the fool involved with a man unclear about having a relationship? How did he feel, knowing I’d flown the coop?

I was still sobbing when I got to Novato, so I went to Verona’s, hanging out trying on clothes she was getting rid of. Doing woman things which helped alleviate the depression that was threatening to make me numb. So, ironically, one of the events that set off my rash of insecurity was whether or not I should go to the opening of “Sons of Ulster” tonight at the Phoenix tonight? I asked him if he wanted me there for moral support several times, and he never ansnwered me. I’ll be going to the opening after all with Verona and Herman. A closure of sorts