July 12, 2021
Time has been weird and nebulous and I’ve been stuck thinking about how it takes an act of god to turn words into art, and that’s why I’m always on the hunt for the unexpected/divine/surreal.
I’ve set up my writing nook at home, and it has mystical touches:
a brightly patterned blanket my mom and cousin Alicia purchased in a Mexican town older than all of America
a wooden Mary with a small chip on her arm that was unearthed in my friend’s basement in Pittsburgh
a rosary that appeared mysteriously one day in its own jewel-tone box
a prayer card my mother gave me one day, for emergencies (in my pocket since fifth grade)**I once asked my friend Jasmine about this Mary print she had in her house. She hung in the kitchen, and from an angle had a pearl, seashell glint. Jasmine said despite everything, it gave her enormous comfort having another woman standing sentinel over her family reminding her that she was not alone.
I’ve been drawn to tiny stories lately, and yes, they also have a sense of the forsaken. They are handwritten or sketched into paperbound books that fit into the palm of your hand–palm in hand stories.
The first is about an old, old lobster who lays down to die. After it happens, she “spends one whole summer as a single blade of wheatgrass.”
The other is about a blackbird mourned so deeply that he is buried in shiny things and an ant remembers how his friend’s shoulders were red against the sunset.
This interplay of cosmic and minuscule I find fascinating, and I want to continue to talk about these things in my important work–which is different yet just as valuable as my job.
In grad school, I wrote a comic about Biscuit the cat who used to belong to Joann Beard. It was beautiful and true to her memory and then I realized how it would take me about two years to finish watercoloring it to submit to my writing workshop, yet I’m still fond of the pages done before the world went black and white on poor Biscuit (/brisket/bisquick).
There are portraits of you in my office from when you were very young, and I’m startled by the passage of time. You’re about six inches taller than when we first moved here. I wonder if you also look at me and are startled by the passage of time.
You carry tenderness, fragility, and awareness. You fight fire with fire and remind me of my mother. Of my sister Jenny when you laugh with your whole heart, Daisy when you mother hen around the kitchen, Debby when you headbutt me when I’m trying to work, and Noe Jr. when I’m trying to get you to sit still and your eyes are bailando, as my mother would say. You always remind me of my dad. When you marvel at a beetle with a grain of sand on its proud rainbow back, or curl back the ends of a long root.
I am reminded that you have all of these miraculous golden histories folded up within you, just like the lobster.
Maybe I’m too close to see it—but what part of me is reflected in you? I hope it’s something still and beautiful.