I want to write this letter to someone in particular but I can’t reach them because of reasons.

Everyday Life

Dear B–

I once asked you to describe containment in the hopes that words would become a tangible net or spell and I would be safe forever.

Now, instead of a chrysalis I want:

Emptiness

Extreme space

I want open sky

I want rolling storm clouds and I want to feel the sting of every piece of hail as it strikes the ground (it’s still cold here, still winter–mostly).

But even though I have room to run now my brain is still caught in this weird mind snare that maybe was always there, I don’t know how long I’ve been walking around not noticing.

I’m having some problems and creative outlets help but I still have this awful hollow feeling in my chest and maybe if my body dissolved in the river or the obscenely wonderful streaky pink sunset I’d feel better.

So I want to know, now, even though I don’t feel very proper asking you (it’s not about protocol it’s that there’s so much more going on in the world and it’s President’s Day) but I’d love to know your feelings about the open sky and how you would illustrate the opposite of containment.

Call it freedom if you like

Call it emptiness

Call it a void

Call it silence

Call it the loudest noise in the world, a volcanic eruption

Call it whatever it is that you need to feel a lack of containment.

Sincerely yours,

Jessica

Note: This is an open letter. I’d love to hear/read anyone who wants to answer. Thanks.

It’s the Little Things You Notice

Everyday Life

More thoughts on long distance relationships:

Mr. J. and I have been living apart (work reasons, we’re still married) since December 4 and I’ve surprised myself because I can’t mark his absence from my life in a tally of days. I’ve tried, thinking that will make things more bearable.

Instead I putter along, going with the flow of the day, until something happens, some stupid little thing that makes me realize I haven’t seen my husband/best friend in FOREVER.

The first occurrence was when I had to do laundry for the first time since moving. And I thought to myself: seriously? I’ve already run out of clothes? And this is my first time doing laundry away from Mr. J? And then I thought about how many loads of laundry I will be doing in the 3 years we will be apart. That’s a lot of fucking laundry.

The second occurrence was when I cut my fingernails (I cut them the day before I said “goodbye”). Sorry if fingernails gross you out. But as I was cutting them I thought: seriously? I have to cut my nails already? Surely it hasn’t been that long. But it was.

And then today I realized my new (purchased the week before my move) bottle of Vitamin C is almost empty. I don’t take vitamins regularly even though I should. You could hold a gun to my head and say, “If you don’t take your vitamins every day for a week I will kill you and your cats,” I still wouldn’t be able to do it. And now that fucking bottle is almost empty. I can see the bottom of the fucking bottle.

It’s like hitting the pan on your favorite eye shadow and going: WTF I just bought this!

I can still talk to him almost every day, thank the gods, but whenever I have one of these moments where something little jumps out at me and screams: BEHOLD THE UNYIELDING PASSAGE OF TIME HAHA! And I realize it really hasn’t been that long and I have thousands and thousands of other little moments waiting in the wings to jump out at me.

I’m going to turn 33 next month and I’ll be 35 or 36 when we get to a place where we can live together again. That in itself gives me pause.

And, like an ostrich with head in the sand (is that even a real thing?) or a cat that’s just fallen off of something and doesn’t want to admit there was a moment when it wasn’t graceful and in control of everything around it, I pretend I’m not upset, that that little thing/monster didn’t happen, and I move on with my day.

I don’t know if that’s the most healthy thing to do or that it will keep working but it’s working for me so far and that’s really all I can ask for right now.

Having a creative outlet also helps. Working with characters that I love helps.

What helps you?

Mirror Angels

Lupercalia, Poetry

My reflections and I

plot the points of our knees

like stars scratched in the floor,

we can’t hold summer

in our flimsy hands.

I lean my head against the point where two mirrors join together in a museum exhibit and suddenly I am one girl split into three. This is educational. This is sacred division. I whisper softly to us but they don’t answer my prayers for rescue, escape. I can only mimic their arms with my arms and I cannot decipher the secret within our bodies.

The rough stars

join constellations

Gaping-Mouth-of-Disbelief

with Grinning-Face-

That-is-Not-a-Face.

I look into the mirrors and there are girls who wear my face but not my memories. I look into the mirrors, I look at us and I am so happy that at least some of us are free. When I stand they turn their backs to me and greet their secret, intangible worlds. I cannot go with them when I walk away.

Missing

Lupercalia, Poetry

A clean handkerchief

wraps around grief

like a soft breath

of frost

breathless in the

approaching face

of spring.

Your hand, my hand,

our fingers—

hiding from the memory

of touching

a missing moment—

reach into

pockets

for scraps

that are not there.

Orpheus

Lupercalia, Poetry

…so for your arrogance

I am broken at last…

—HD “Eurydice”

I fell

(a bird’s cry)

stumbled over

the weight of the sky,

(twisted in the air)

all of mortality

smothering us

(joined the liturgy of curses

eaten by the dead).

The cry I plucked

from your lips,

your frown;

(a bird’s cry)

I wanted you that badly

(twisted in the air).

I tripped

over your slow step,

the kudzu vine across the path

or something else

equally absurd

(joined the liturgy of curses

eaten by the dead).

I had to stop myself

from looking sooner,

pushed the wanting down

until it was nothing

but a whisper. Then

the bird screamed.

Photo Credit: Nymphs Finding the Head of Orpheus, John William Waterhouse 1900

Wormwood

Lupercalia, Poetry

She has black dirt on her face.

The ruins of a garden plucked

for winter stain her hands.

She has scratched that greenery free

and bathed in the empty

soil, praying for next year’s harvest

with touches of bare arms and thighs.

She rubs the flesh of the earth,

places stones in her mouth

careful of her teeth

though she knows

this is ritual.

Her tongue rolls in the grit,

hips turn the ground like a spade.

She says, “I will starve myself for the gods

so I can grow poison in the spring.”

Photo Credits: wormwood, Prosperina (1870) Dante Gabriel Rossetti