Friday, February 24, 2006

89 Days of Alcatraz

I am afraid to be alone sometimes, though without valid reason; I grasp for the tiny ledges of companionship that will keep me off the ground. I’d like just one more view of the night sky.

These pages slip between my fingers, fluttering in the wind, streaked with black ink. They are my second skin, bound to leather by string, fastening me tightly to the promise of words. My motivation for writing runs as clear as blood, but at least I know that words are my lifelines to the land of the living. When we can name we can create. Names become like cages for our ideas, because we are always trying to hold them for just a minute longer, begging them, please, not to grow up. Ideas, laughing like soft new babies. Unfinished and barely begun. Ideas open and bare and pink, without rows of teeth barring the world’s entry. Ideas not yet captured, ideas transparent as jars and holding silence.

“Hope is a revolutionary patience . . . so is being a writer.” I got this from Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird. I’m only 20 pages in and because of it, my lust for words has already grown to ever more consuming proportions. There are words everywhere, running like black tar over city streets, making my front bicycle tire slip as I ride home at 2 am. Across the city I am towed and tossed, as if a sail were attached to me, a white canvas where words would lodge themselves, thrown from the sky: Recompense. Forgiveness. Salt. Wound.

Patience: Persistent, relentless, unwavering. And I wonder when Hope grew so tall. Hope, after all, always seemed so sunny, tasting faintly of orange sherbet on cool August nights. The sentence jumped out at me because I had, somehow corresponding with my quarter-century year, learned a much different Hope. I was only looking for its name: Hope a lot more like revolutionary patience. Hope like some kind of barnacled twine tying me to an iron post stationed at the end of a pier. Hope older and smelling of the sea, Hope darker and pleasantly bitter, like chocolate.

How does that cat know where she is at this hour? What is everyone doing, sleeping through this calm, missing the city’s most brilliant moments, choosing instead to awake to her most garish extravagances of day.

What's heavier, words or the things they name? (thanks to Malani for this tangent.)

Click on the picture for the source site.

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