Change comes, in little packets of seasons. Each time one opens, it adds flavor to the landscape; salty or sweet depending on its mood. When I become the landscape, feet take on new importance to me. When I get stepped on, my rhythms stop, and I lie still like an ocean without an undertow. There will always be a landscape.
Sometimes, it is easy to sculpt like sandcastles peaking out from under grain, as close as the distance between two hands. Sometimes on a distant shore, I awake not knowing where I am, and wander for days until I find a river to trace back to my beginnings. When I arrive the terrain changes, takes on more mass, perhaps. It moves slower than I do and knows more than me. What it knows it cannot tell me, although I can always find it in myself.
I am standing with the trees. I am grounded under them. I am flying above them, carried by my wings. The wings are actually made of thread, and I fly because I will do anything to be a light beam.
I have a country all my own, full of particles with particular personalities. They don’t have good resonance, but their echoes do. There is always something falling—a leaf, a broken wing—and always feet first. Whenever I land on my feet, I assume I’m a child. Whenever I land on my feet, I am forced to remember that I have grown up.
I have never built a cocoon. I am somewhere between larva and butterfly, but don’t know how I got here. The people in this country never wanted me to change: they carved their hands into me so I couldn’t own my body, or my words. There are other children like me inhabiting this country who scatter like particles with no freedom to harmonize. Chaos is white in particles and dark purple in children. Children are purple because they have to hold their voices in like breaths, and lose life quickly. As a child who loved purple, I could never make sense of the world I was born into or why no one sees the signs that guide them back to their own voices.
Silences I think are clearer compared to reverberation and those haunting echoes that make me cry. If silence covers the land, words hand over their meanings and get sentenced to periods where they’re locked up in capitols—no rights are stated. Laughter dwindles into nothingness. Nothing always conceives water that forms its own music, breaking down silences.
Even the leaves and the dirt they become have voices. The voices echo throughout the labyrinth under the landscape where I found my string and wound my way to where I could skip like shale, though fragile, to the water’s surface. Somewhere under the water, there is the original source I would like to touch.
Whatever home I once shared, no one treads water like I do. I am your wanderer, that is clear; I have built myself from the cores of trees and the hold-fasts of the ocean floor. I have made myself walk through narrows, because I can find footing best. I can climb and crawl anywhere, I can get lost in a free world. I wove a rope from the string and tensioned my way all the way up the mountain to look down. There is only one mountain here and it lessens every time I climb it. Someday it will be a pebble glistening red on the sand.
I have been, in most conditions, a gray wolf, compact and wild, fiercely maintaining my territory. I defend my people, too. I am with people, but I have no people. For most of my life I have been left alone, making my way like a nomad across these fields.
Time feels as though it is being measured by the clock in someone else’s reference frame. Moments whiz by like lightning bugs; I cringe in a corner knowing I will be next. I am always last. I get dizzy waiting, standing still, so I go fast, dance until the wind carries me, and I catch light beams in my hands.
Why is it so hard to learn to trust again? I fought for my hand and my words and my steps, I fought for I have been trod down, I fought to move the figures in my head, I figured the objects would love me so much more that they’d give me a guide to worldmaking. I thought I could trace the contours of concavity, fill closed loops like smiles, use my hand to signal direction. I thought my hands became my eyes, that I would know even though this and that stand in the way.
I strain to hold my neglected child, I know I do not know, and I am lost, crying for you, flat on the floor with my hands stretched out flat against gravity, and fields and fields away from where I first met you. I must come to terms with my own darkness. How much have I given up to seek a definitive? Perhaps every object I ever loved will let me go. I am reaching for edges to grasp what it is to break out of a circle.
I am always looking for the center and never find it. I am the center. The words come to me. They wait in lines to begin their journey across steppes and cliffs and wetlands, many meters, and eventually home. When I reflect, I mirror the shadows. Darkness is just the absence of light.
To fill the silence that follows, I twine color through my songs, remember what I lost, and how to find it again. The truth is like a sphere, like parabolas and sine waves, like music and friendship—simple and everywhere. In wonder I reach out my hand, for myself, on my own. And light has been worth the destruction of every shadow; this is another way to find the center of it all.
I lift my song by hand and it shimmers through my hair like burgundy, comes out clean. I am usually alone, though you are welcome to find me here. You are welcome to experience everything, live with me in the peaks and troughs, mountains, and valleys of long incantations. In the place where answers are questioned, where silence speaks, where space is woven through our belonging and we have never left each other, you may fly between the chords. And home is what happens when you no longer throw yourself into living as if it’s a thing to chase after or prove you can hold, and just let go. I let go, I let go, I am found again.
3 thoughts on “Lessons In The Landscape”
Beautifully written: where are you? I do not know this neglected child. I only know what you have written. Beautifully written.
Hi Jeff! I’m so glad you liked the post. I’m home just trying to work on my dissertation… don’t worry the being lost isn’t literal. 🙂 I wasn’t a neglected child but I neglected dealing with things that happened to me as a child until they became a problem. Perhaps I could make that clearer. Fortunately I have worked through them. I started this poem at least ten years ago and it took until now to finish it. 🙂
I really did like the poem. Lovely writing, fresh images….honest. Sounds like its done? Don’t think so. Put it away for a few months and read it again. There may be more to say. 😉