full moon splashes a midnight window
opening eyes, awake, drown in light: up!
shoes on, jacket zipped: out!
into the night: fly!
feet dance a dreamlit path
between shadows of shadows while
cypress rows, bathed in bluelight
stand stenciled against a shimmering sky
life in the night light where
a jackrabbit chases
a bobcat glides
a bat darts
a beach at the end of her street
waves like shark fins
push poke pull
breaking surface tension
floating in dreamlight
she tilts her head back
closes her eyes
A perfect day in the city. The sun is out, the streets are clean, the windows shine.
On a spacious street corner, a man checks his phone. Another man, kitty-corner, is doing the same thing. A woman, running, stops at the corner to check her time.
In between these three humans is another one who is bouncing between the trio’s energy, carefully avoiding touching anyone. She has a blanket wrapped around her. Her feet are barely covered in filthy socks. Her hair hasn’t been washed in months. Her face is blackened from dirt. Her eyes are washed out from the sun.
Her faded eyes look at the energy of the people, never at their eyes. She did that, a long time ago, but they never looked back at her. They still never look at her. She has stopped seeing them, too.
She pushes against the man’s energy in front of her, bounces gently off and into the woman’s energy, who carefully keeps her face neutral as she steps sideways, away from the blanketed woman. The man kitty-corner notices the movement in his direction and smoothly decides he’ll cross against the light which is just about to change anyway.
The blanketed woman, mumbling softly to herself, pushes against his quickly receding energy, and propels herself away from the warmth of the corner humans and toward the brick wall of the adjacent shop. She drops the blanket, spreads her fingers wide, and pushes her hands flat against the wall. She closes her eyes, feeling the cold, the hard. She puts her weight behind her hands and pushes into the immobility of the bricks, feeling their presence, letting their substance make substance of her. Letting the actuality of the bricks against her hands remind her she exists in the world, too, even if no one ever looks at her.
The wall doesn’t respond to her either, but it stays still, stays with her.
A cabin, above a river; dusk. A small light flickers, like a hesitant child.
Screeching hawks coast above a fog-shrouded Russian river whose banks drip with lush green growth. The sun’s going down on this Christmas eve day. The sky’s saturated with intermingling tones of deep reds, purples, oranges, and yellows. The colors splash the bellies of speckled clouds. Shadows erase structure. It’s near time for the walk up the mountain.
324 square feet. One year. No reading. No talking. No arguing. No one else.
A deep black resolves from jewel tones into a sky close enough to touch and artfully splashed with sharp sparkles of hard white light. Blues and reds and oranges and purples glimmer and wink from trees and balconies. A striped orange and white cat joins the walk, performing graceful figure eights through less graceful slowly walking legs.
Being, walking, hiking. Learning self-care, how to cook; leaning into the rhythm of the day. Dancing and raging and grieving with deeply interconnected intimate rhythms.
An enormous, glorious oak lives at the top of Fitch mountain. Her lower branches extend from her trunk and gracefully lay on the ground around her. Visitors have fashioned seats from other trees’ trunks and they encircle the glorious oak. On Christmas eve, the seats are filled with silent visitors who gather to remember what matters.
The small light in the cabin winks out, and the river reflects.
She makes her way slowly along the bluff, eyes adjusting to the early morning depths. As she walks, just the beginnings of outlines appear, above and below the horizon. Muted warm light reflects off shining footbridge handrails, revealing deep green and yellow mosses that feast on ancient redwood. Sand crunches under her soles. It’s the only sound that cuddles up to waves kissing the shore.
Standing on the little bridge, watching the sunrise in this place brings her to tears. It’s taken months for her body to believe she’s safe, for her mind to relax and accept, for her spirit to allow itself to be lifted. Every single day the universe lets her know she’s in the right place doing the right work. This morning, the rising sun warmed its way through the defenses her mind’s been slow to relinquish. (Sometimes a soul’s been parched for so long that the salve runs right off at first. It takes a little while to be able to absorb the good.)
She realizes she will never hear the sound of gunfire on this bluff, never hear high-powered, rapid-fire weapons in her neighborhood, never across the street from home. Here, she will never agonize for hours, rehearsing violent scenarios where she tries to defend her kittens and herself against an angry white guy with a gun. Hiking in this world, she will never come upon a sow whose gut has been blown out with small explosives. She will never stumble upon acres of naked, clear cut land. She won’t regularly terrify other animals just because she’s a human animal. She will never, ever say goodbye again to the sun for nearly half the year.
She reaches deep, but she can’t feel the bottom of her gratitude.
falling into flying
She converted her privilege to tools. Her education saved her. All those abstract ideas she’d read, written about, and made her own–they saved her mind. They protected her sanity in a place that worked to annihilate both it and her.
An ability to bracket experience, to be an observer, to acknowledge when her efforts made no difference—helped her learn how to sidestep the passive aggressive power projections relentlessly fired at her. She learned how to unfix herself from the poisonous top-down pressure around her whose force ceaselessly pushed her to bend to its will. Trauma surrounded her, the kind that people there don’t have tools to repair. The knowledge and belief that people are more important than institutions or rules or authority helped her find places to intervene.
Her body is starting to adjust since being home, since she’s learned to stay in her own lane. She sleeps in a little later now, goes out into the night again. Her body has stopped clenching every time she hears something that sounds like gunfire. She saw a whale the other day. It was surreal. Right there, in front of her–swimming and blowing and being magical–while she walked on the bluff. Like most things in her life, she didn’t share it. No reflection. She soaks in healthy experience and continues to heal.
She reads what she writes about herself, over and over. To remember where she is, how she got here. Who she is. Settling in to her new space has thrown her off balance, like when blocking is added to being off book. She forgets her lines, stumbles. Forgets who she is. Where she is. What she’s doing here. Where she’s going next. This story’s ending is only in her imagination, and when she remembers she’s writing toward it, she’s instantly airborne, stomach dropping out, like when you’re at the top of the roller coaster, right before you fall. (In the end, she’ll make falling into flying.)
Reclining in the chaise lounge in front of the giant picture window, she wraps her arms around herself, holding tight while a sailboat glides neatly through three quarters of her living room.