Monday, September 7, 2009

happen in passing

On New Year's Eve day, I flew back to Chicago. I got off the plane and onto the Blue Line and off at the Addison stop, from which I walked to Target, hauling my overweight suitcase behind me. I heaved the bag into the cart and plucked thigh-high gray knit stockings, nail polish, and other things I knew I needed off the shelves and dropped them into the child's seat. I cabbed home, dyed my hair black, put on the olive green embroidered silk dress I'd recently purchased at a vintage shop in the Mission, and went to an ultra-trendy gallery warehouse sort of party, the kind you never know if you'll enjoy or not until you get there, but the kind you know well in advance you'll enjoy reporting to others of having attended.

At 3 a.m., we were walking up Ashland Avenue, waiting, hoping, calling for cabs. There's never a shortage of cabs in this city except half the time you want one. Instead we found a 24-hour Dunkin Donuts and, because it was late and cold and we were drunk and needed no other reason, we went in, flirted with a few cops, and left with hot chocolate (because it was freezing, just bitterly cold) which I promptly spilled all over my new old dress, slipping in chunky heels on invisible ice while stepping into an about-time-finally cab. I should've known it would be a bad year for writing, but I was all sorts of forward-looking and if you're the sort of person who makes resolutions on every night but New Years Eve, then it's easy to believe that on any unparticular day, things are going to be different, completely and noticeably.

It's hard to write outside of cliches when the day-to-day is so explicitly laden, like spilled hot cocoa at 3 a.m. on a now-tragic favorite dress. I used to write a lot in and about cliches. I used them like metaphors, though I never referred to them as such, all those bridges, windows, letters, and earthquakes I was genuinely enamored with. When I stopped writing in and about them, I started theorizing at them. Mediation, I'd say over drinks sometimes, mediated and mediating. There's something in the instability, in the dependency, and it reads like biography if you're inclined to overly close reading. Perhaps that something in the mediation metaphors is why I can never remember the term for what they do to bridges to prevent them from collapsing or the word for the kind of solid ground that's safest for building near fault lines.

I've been reading quite a bit of poetry lately, at least a lot for me. I'm inclined to think it's because I'm too lazy, too busy, too distracted--like I was when I was 14 and had just started to learn to love to read most things. Poems came first because they seemed flexible. A spacious and forgiving poem fascinates me as much as contemporary architecture in California--six-story water tanks and the obscene symmetry of any thing such that if the world decides to shake it, it can still be a thing. Then short stories, then essays, and finally, maybe sometime in college, I started loving novels, and not for the plots, like I did when I was in junior high.

Reading poems now feels like packing the essentials a month before a move. I'm the sort of person who boxes up the flatware and the silverware first, has to dig through her luggage for her toothbrush several hours before heading to the airport. Lines like "i like my body when it's with your / body. It is so quite a new thing. Muscles better and nerves more." and "I literally don't know your middle name. does that / matter? what systems we arrange for intimacy, small / disclosures like miniature bridges, your mouth." and "You are not beautiful, exactly. / You are beautiful, inexactly." aren't staying put away, will be out on the table again long before I finish the Russian novels, which I'll do this time around, with the patience to keep track of all of the names, I promise.

And some thoughts thought lately in words used such as I could never hope to be able

(why I leave this one) Untitled

That lake is not
an ocean. Even still

May happens even in Chicago.
Even in April

(it’s not) my pacific
seasons will and do (you still?)

happen in passing. Last June
almost at least (that’s what you said) once
a week

the sky at two a m
brilliant. Don’t talk at me

This lake is not. Trust
in time love is

an ocean.

I leave I’ll leave out
this time. Send my things and don’t
look back.

I want to tell you this
lack this miss this gone
is real.

Somehow is not
pacific. Enough.

- Kristin Lueke