The Chaos Theory

Between

Trying to find words, I can get lost between languages, between worlds, between lives. There are too many words for somethings and not enough for others.

There are colors. There is the press and the temperature of all types of air. There are the sounds of clouds approaching. There are the shapes of leaves and the shadows they make. All of that adds up to a lot more than nothing.

 

Love

I could write about love, but you wouldn’t understand. I don’t mean you wouldn’t understand love, I would mean you wouldn’t understand me. You would think I’m in love and you would get lost wondering about the details. Whatever. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about something else, entirely. Something like sunlight. Green things make sugar out of it, and they live.

 

Things You Don’t Know

What do you call the time between the moment a thing becomes true and the moment you realize it’s true? When the thing is already true, but you do not know it, and you go on acting and living as if it weren’t? It can be moments, or it can be years. Then when you come to know/understand the thing, you experience it as new even though it has already been there beside you in silence.

Irony: we can see the smallest ant walking across the table, the smallest leaf falling in complete silence, but we cannot perceive the enormity of love or death approaching until it takes us by surprise. It’s like a storm—a hurricane—forming and closing in, but we cannot see it. It comes closer and closer, changing everything in its path, and we have no idea until the rain begins to fall. No radar. No visible clouds. We may feel the change in air pressure and wonder what is going on, if it is our imagination.

Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t.

 

Before

Sometimes I think about the day before. Or the hour. Or the minute. Before anything. Anything important–whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing. The point is, do you remember the day before? When everything was about to be different and you didn’t know? You were so innocent. The day before you got the job offer. The day before you got the diagnosis. The day before you took the pregnancy test. The day before the accident. The day before you won the prize. The hour before you met her/him. The minute before you got the phone call. The second before it happened. It was the end of something and the beginning of something else and you did not know.

I think about this. Is this the last minute of something? It could be. This one right now. The point isn’t whether I will like things more or less after whatever is coming. The point is, is this the last taste of this flavor?  It could be.  Always, at any given moment.

 

The Cherry Orchard

Anton Checkov captured it in The Cherry Orchard. Not in words, of course–theatre can do that. Do you know the play? The sound of the string breaking that comes in Act 2 while all the characters sit in a silence that makes audiences squirm?  That’s what it is. It’s the sound of nothing ever being the same afterward. A melancholy sound from somewhere far off. A breaking sound.

God, I love Checkhov.

They all sit thoughtfully. It is quiet. Only the mumbling of FIERS is heard. Suddenly a distant sound is heard as if from the sky, the sound of a breaking string, which dies away sadly.

That’s it.

Something happens in the distance.  The time it takes for the sound to travel through air divides the thing that has happened from the moment they know it is true.

 

The Butterfly Effect

Everything is connected.

I just finished reading The Ice Queen, a novel that references the chaos theory, the butterfly effect. A thespian like me cringes at a thing called “the chaos theory,” so scientific-sounding, and unaccessible. But it’s at the interface between science and poetry. Things affect other things. Yes. The butterfly that flaps her wings far away perhaps moves the final milliliter of air that causes the first water droplet to form that becomes the hurricane that destroys the coast. Exactly. Things that are true and we never know. Small things that rule the world. Things that are caused by other things that are caused by butterflies.

 

The Gesture That Saves My Life

Perhaps when you lift your hand to wave at me, a hurricane begins.  Perhaps it will be the gesture that saves my life. You won’t know. Neither will I.

Second

succumb for a second

hook my head
in your arm and
crush it against
your heart.
it’s 3 AM and
we are here

trying

to hold it together
to keep a safe distance
to make it to morning
in this life

Talking About Silence

It’s ironic, I know–talking about silence. You destroy it the minute you begin. The only thing you can do is describe the negative space around it. Lo spazio vuoto. Everything you don’t say is the thing you mean.

It takes practice. Silence, I mean.

Silence isn’t something most people love, crave, or become terribly crabby without. Enter: me.

You know the story: silence came to me by accident. I didn’t want it. For 14 years, the tv was on, then suddenly it wasn’t. The ticking clocks were deafening, at first. That’s a lot of punctuation. Are they comas, the ticks, or periods? Maybe they are question marks.

It grows on you.

Sometimes, if you dive down deep enough under water that your belly touches the sand, you can hear whales. Really. Who knew? It’s all this silence and then when you’re down far enough to have to pop your ears, there it is: the language with no words.

I love music. I love lights and noise and having 2 or 12 people over for dinner. I love talking and laughing and telling stories. I love saying the funny thing you didn’t expect. I love telling you a story you can barely believe. Silence waits outside the screen for everyone to go home. It waits with the cats who don’t like a lot of commotion either, and slides back in with them during the night.

You can cultivate silence like a plant. Like a garden. You can plant it and reforest the devastation. You can water it in the evening and check each morning to see if it has new leaves. You can wait for its flowers. You can sit in its shade and watch the butterflies. You can find so much richness in its presence that the pain of it thickens into love. Believe me.

Sometimes I am the one who talks too much, who shouldn’t have started in on that story in the first place. Or who throws out a comment that seems like it’s going to be clever until it hits the air. But not always.

Sometimes I am the one who can’t think of one thing to say. I believe in comfortable silence. We don’t have to talk all the time any more than we have to eat all the time. Why? Can we ever just leave our mouths at rest the way we prop up our feet? I think so. Sometimes there is nothing in me that wants out. Everything is ok where it is. Or I am waiting to know what I mean before I start talking.

Surfing is silent. It can be, anyway. That’s the way I like it. I’m not a chatty surfer. If you can get 4 sentences out of me before I paddle away, you should feel special. It’s easier to pay attention when you’re not using your mouth. That’s about a lot more than surfing.

It’s like your soul condenses in silence. It becomes thicker and contains more of the essential ingredient–the thing it is. More of a bisque and less of a broth.

Turn off the noise and listen to the wind. Or the clock. Or the birds. Don’t speak. Nothing going in. Nothing going out. Stasis.

“What goes on in your innermost being is worthy of your full love.” Thank you, Rilke. Silence become anything but boring.

Poems About Waiting

poems about waiting
hover in the corner
by the ceiling
like angels

they don’t mind because
same as angels
waiting is
what they do

they can wait forever
or until tomorrow
they can wait
for anything
or nothing at all
and they won’t wish
you would hurry or
turn on the tv

while you sleep
they are waiting
outside the mosquito net
nearby
with the cats

poems about waiting
might not have words
because speaking
is not what they do

their language is
made up of comas
and spaces

 

No Language

y que del poema
que existe pero no
nace porque
non trovo la lingua giusta?
none of them have the right
kind of give
per una cosa così necesario
critical and
importante.
bestow se aproxima but
is too formal and
sounds troppo come
chewing something sticky.
obsequiar feels like you
earned it
and you didn’t
assolutamente no;
soy yo la que merezco
mettere in giù questo peso.
dare, così semplice
andrebbe anche bene
until you conjugate it.
first person singular
cae como un puño
al ojo, a la oreja
y me deja
with no language
per questa poesia
così tenera
que muere por nacer.

A Little Heavier

I try to pay attention. I really do. That might be hard to imagine–I know I often talk too much, send too many messages, post too many pictures. I know this about me. I am constantly having to to forgive myself and try again in the morning. But inside all of it, I am trying to pay attention. To listen. To discover the messages.

They’re easy to hear at yoga glass where I’m expecting them–the whole practice is dedicated to paying attention. But I never heard anyone say anything like what the instructor came out with last week. It caught me so off guard I almost burst into tears. Not that it’s anything to cry about, but, you know. Strong emotions have that effect on me.

A resting pose. A twist, maybe? I forget. And the instructor says: “See if you can be a little heavier. Let the earth hold you.”

Seriously.
See if you can be a little heavier.
I mean, who says things like that?
Who does that?

Be heavier. Let the earth hold you.
Damn.

Aren’t we always trying to be lighter? Women, especially, I think, in regards to our bodies–but that’s not the point. In our bodies, in our spirits, in our hearts. We’re always–I’m always–trying to let go, to float, to be less extra and more essential…trying to give the earth as little as possible to hold up. Trying not to be too much. Too heavy, too loud, too bright, too much information, too many glasses of wine, overly honest, too explicit, overwhelming.

And there she goes, and right there on the yoga mat permission is granted to be everything. All of it. Be as much as you are. Be as much as I am. To let the earth hold me up because of course it will. There’s no way I am too big or too much or too heavy for the entire planet. Even I know that.

What is it about the mandate to be a little heavier and let the earth hold it all that makes my eyes prick? Even now. Is it because I am terrified of being too much? Of knocking the whole blue and green ball right out of orbit?

Kind of. I mean, yes.

I don’t know how not to try to be less. I envy svelte people with their shit together who speak in critical sentences and never snort when they laugh, fall of their bikes, post stupid things on social media or tell stories that are too long and end up lost in translation. It must be nice. The day I try to be a little heavier and let the earth hold me, Mother Earth is going to have her work cut out for her. Expect atmospheric disturbances.

What’s the lesson? About being what you are just for a minute? Stopping for a second to take stock of your own baggage before going about the business of trying to let it go, to set it down? Maybe. Because letting go of things is good. Things that don’t serve you. Things you don’t need. I guess I just never knew, until I was lying there on the yoga mat practically crying about it, that you also have to quit trying to peel your fingers off of things that belong to you once in a while. Just for a few minutes, while you breathe. And be everything you are. Have everything you have. And just trust the planet to keep it’s rhythm with all of it. Every last pound, story, poem, wish, tear, stupid thing you said/did that you shouldn’t have.

Oh yeah and keep it together while you’re at it because you’re in public and whereas the instructor just gave you permission to let the earth hold you, it’s not a good place to actually come unglued.

Maybe it’s like breathing in and out, the trying to be lighter/trying to be heavier? You can’t exhale forever. Sometimes you have to pull into you things that you need. It’s very scary. Trying to be less feels safer than trying to be more. Or is it just more familiar?

Anyway. I’m trying to pay attention. I heard the message. It’s about self-love and about trusting the universe to keep me in its grasp.  It’s permission not to be a butterfly all the time.  It’s permission to sometimes be a stone.

Addicted to Amazement

let’s become addicted
to amazement
that dizzying electric surprise
when the unexpected
explodes
before our eyes
on our taste buds
over our skin

let’s take it in our coffee
in our water
in our wine
until we can’t live
a single hour without a
surge of glorious disbelief
to calm us

we will claw the earth for it
find it under stones
in the hearts of
little shells
peel it with our teeth from the
bark of tender trees