round robin :: week 4


She bought herself a chainsaw. An electric one. To cut and clear out the old dead branches around the bottom of the Monterey Cypress hedgerows in the yard behind the cottage. Tree work. Until she’d traded intellectual labor for physical in Oregon, she didn’t appreciate how empowering it is using her body to accomplish a task. How much physical self-sufficiency makes her strong and centered. How it shows her that she exists in the world.

Years in academia accelerated a learned overfocus on the mind. That overdetermined intellect worked to complicated the taken-for-granted. To weave intricate arguments from the filigree of elevated language. It’s taken nearly four years to untangle her knotted life. She’s learned that when her life is concise, like it is now–when the treadmills and conveyers belts of schedules and plans and other people’s expectations no longer glorify busy–she knows exactly where everything else ends and she begins.

She now has much of what she wished for in the middle of so many nights. She is no longer self-conscious. She can adapt to shifting circumstances like a mf. She no longer feels the need to pretend she’s an extrovert. She loves her body, and it’s hers, for her purposes. She’s not ugly anymore, inside or outside. She doesn’t front—she just is. She is the same, at home or not. She doesn’t mindlessly orient toward what she believes people want or expect or demand her to be.

For the first time since leaving and now returning home, the possibilities are crowding out the pain and fear in her mind and body. She fell into a hole she wasn’t at all sure she could escape. She did escape, though, like she escaped that same hole decades ago. And now, she is in the cottage in the magical place for which she circled, waiting (in vacation rentals) for almost 4 months. She is healthy and (mostly) sane. 

first snow

soft white cold light; fragile flakes

boots break a creamy crystalline crust

iced pea gravel crunches under treads

face frozen, eyes water, fingers numb

early morning on the trail to babyfoot lake


first freeze, first snow

frozen fog and freezing flowers

iced falls and sugarcoated limbs

shiny sculpted trees and fractal puddle art


a sun rises above the trees blasting the fog with orange and purple fire

reflecting colorlight cools the sun’s rising heat

in a lake where an ice moat grows around an underwater snag


evap blows up the skirts of the hard blue sky

while tiny ballooning balls of frost create lilliputian explosions of red soil




the middle of the life dropped out in that other world. the sightline across time–to the little girl–cleared. like a carefully chosen felled tree. a view is created, back, before broken relationships and neglect. the little girl stands and waits, patiently. waiting to be heard, to be seen.

treasure found in that other world. pieces of a protected world, intact and untouched. still in boxes. the woman believes nothing exists from the little girl’s world, and it’s for the best. the time was too dark anyway, the woman thinks, the better to hide bruises and knocked out teeth and shame.

the woman is wrong. the little girl kept parts of herself safe and intact. whole. she saved her dancing. and her singing. her performing. and her pictures. and the little girl protected her love for beauty, for that feeling of being enveloped by something beautiful. of being safe and powerful in beauty. of creating beauty. being beauty.

meanwhile the mind

searching, no rest, forward momentum

like feet walking incessantly in circles

haunting all the regular spots


accustomed to crisis, it crouches, preparing worst-case scenarios

isolation, it self-soothes, imagining connection

disconfirmation, it takes the punch and moves on


meta meta meta, above it all

watching, analyzing, organizing

sense-making, in it all

detecting patterns, rehearsing scenarios, solving problems

ultra-vigilance, under it all

what’s urgent now, what’s coming up behind, what could stop everything dead


all work, no play

all mind, no body