Night Papers 2014

I am the silence that is incomprehensible and the idea whose remembrance is frequent.

I am the voice whose sound is manifold and the word whose appearance is multiple.

I am the utterance of my name.*

in the dream, i slide my underwear down over a round of ass skin–– i am wearing them in real life because i am bleeding. i know this even in the dream. they are black cotton with small scallops at the openings of the legs and waist. i can see the round of ass as if it is not my own but because it is a dream, i can also feel the cotton as it slides down my skin.

i have come home from a night of alienation-lite that i can only describe as los angeles. i slide the underwear down and beg my lover to come in me from behind with nothing on. this is how i want to fuck: with recklessness and risk.

but i am refused. my lover pushes my belly down on the bed, full weight of a body at my back, presses skin into me but refuses, breath thick at my ear, panting responsibility, refusal.

Into the dawn light a room blue grey, my eyes open.

For some moments the many bodies of my lover that appear to me in dreams hover in the room like a confusion and I palm my flanks slowly stroking down and slide my ear nearer to her mouth so that I can feel her breathing, and remember who we are. My rustling wakes her and our many bodies scatter into language drifts as the telling rights itself, and shrinks us back into the bodies that we know.

A memory pattern there grooved in deep burrows back down from where it came: wanting slick dick skin no condom, the recklessness, the risk it brings. My lover gives me all of this.

And no risk. For us, there will be no accidents of this kind.

For I am knowledge and ignorance.

I am shame and boldness.

I am shameless; I am ashamed.

I am strength and I am fear...

Give heed to me.

there is a saint who was tied to a tree and shot through with arrows. he was one of the last men, and this was his name.

he was tall. we shared a childhood together, although we did not know each other then.

when it was all over, many years later, we would meet on the stairs of grand central station and he would not stand when he greeted me and so i sat next to the bulk of him, elbows folded on knees looking out at the people going and coming and going and coming. there were so many. and when we stood to say goodbye to one another, he seemed to keep on standing, getting taller and taller as his knees unbent. and i remember thinking then: what did i do with all that body?

the day it came, i had spent the afternoon falling. first in my body, onto the wooden floor of a dimly lit room. that was when the crying started. not from hurt or fear but from some other place, an older one, where the upside was down. later came the feeling through the falling: a dark and narrow hole, some thing like a spiral and i could see it and i was falling through, falling out, down. the walls were reddish black like an esophagus. and even though i had my eyes closed i could see it.

i lay my body draped across the island in his kitchen with my face crying into the countertop and my arms stretched wide. it seems i cried for hours then. something undone in me, something shaken. i cried for children held to kitchen cabinets while their fathers screamed spit splatter in their faces. i cried for the hole inside myself where love should have been. i cried for loneliness and for company and for not tolerating either. i cried for the raggedness of growing and for all the times i could not cry for fear of falling. i cried for all the other afternoons. i cried then.

and he lay his body on top of mine so that i would feel his weight. and he asked me no questions. and so there were no words.

for a long time.

and then. and then my lover slowly lifted, put his hands where weight had been, smoothing every stretch of skin, hungry everywhere. calloused fingers squeezed scruff of neck hard, palm slow over shoulder blades, spine, small of the back: all curled upward, opening, ass rounding and his big mitt palm spread its fingers wide to hold the all of it. a shirt comes off, pants undone, and my eyes opened for the first time in hours and i felt like i could see, like i had come outside the other end of that esophagus, or something, and breath was there and clarity and skins had lifted and weight was gone and i was as i am, or closer to it.

and we walked like that into the bedroom fumbling for more skin not aching but slow, decided. words between us then: i knew it was my time. and then bed. and then i sat up riding full and looked out the brooklyn window onto the street below, trees still sticks of themselves then, stretching branches into bright white sky, tiny blossoms budding: spring. and i remember then as clear as i have ever been, emptied of pain and past and story. a flash came through and the word was this: C O N D U I T. everything else, story. and i came just then. and he palmed my hips to shove me off.

Somewhere there is a photograph: a person sitting on a toilet seat with a camera, looking down. A web of underwear spans between two tanned legs that trace down to feet slightly perched so that a heel lifts out of the lavender coloured flats resting on the surface of an old tiled floor. The underwear is tan fishnet and string, bought somewhere in the central Termini station, in Rome.

With the fabric's tiny diamonds spread like this between the legs, the black and white tiles of the floor show right through them.

In the center of the image is the tawny patch of cotton, the thin rectangular bridge between the underwear's two fishnet halves, a little patch to slip into the warmth between the legs when this garment gets pulled up, where it was made to be.

In the photograph, the tawny patch is empty, unstained. No blood. It has not come.

I am unlearned, and they learn from me.

 it comes to me through dylan first.

she is on skype and my connection is bad and so she is pixilated and looks like an energy field and not like a figure and so i can't see the subtleties of her face or what she is wearing but i can hear her voice shift and i try to soften my eyes so that i am mostly listening. and somewhere she says: i am unlearned and they learn from me–– a line foretold her in a reading, a tuning in she needed that she is giving me. and i am thinking about teaching and we are talking about loving and i write the words down quick and let them live in me for days.

and then i search them out. this does not take me long. in pictures, small bricks of papyrus bound in leather with a narrow leather strap coiled tight around the middle, like a belt. they lie on top of one another: the spoils of the find. somewhere in upper egypt, two brothers, ancient texts, saved tight beneath the seal of an earthenware jar, far below the surface of the soil. they come forth in multitudes and they will shift the thinking because they tell the story of the gospels, but not quite. and this one doesn't tell it because this one is telling secrets of another kind because this one channels through a female voice and she is wide and she has been silent for over sixteen centuries and that is a long time to wait.

the thunder perfect mind. the thunder, perfect mind. the thunder: perfect mind. translations vary.

Years later you are walking down a Brooklyn street and you are nearby the place you were but you are not thinking of this then and a word comes in and it is Endymion. And you can see each letter clear and so you do know how to spell it even though you have not heard this word before. And it is a name and it reminds you of him because it names a dreamer who is beautiful, a man asleep for all eternity because the goddess of the moon has fallen for him. He's been granted to her but only in his sleep (the crookedness of gods).

And you remember yours, the one shot through with arrows, and how he seldom touched you with tenderness by day. But when the night would come and he would sleep his sweaty sleep, he coiled slippery limbs about you and held his fingers near your mouth, close enough for you to kiss them. And he slept so close like this each night, you mused (not seldom) that if a god came down and promised him to you–– an evermore–– and if the promise held too a choice, and you had to choose him always and forever awake or asleep, which one would you choose? And so this is the game.

And every time the game got played you would answer the same way. You would choose him always and forever in his sleep, Endymion. And so in your bed drenched through with sweat, you would choose to have him clinging to you always. A man gone lost at sea and you his only boat.

I am the hearing which is attainable to everyone and the speech which cannot be grasped.

I am a mute who does not speak, and great is my multitude of words...

I am the one who cries out, and I listen.

the doctor was from rome.

she told me many stories.

we wrote emails to each other for years on after that.

three days wait before she would do it for me

so that i could think.


my mother came from the other sofa

held me, proud and beaming, like when i had first bled.

you can have this, fierce she said, defending.

i did not know how to tell her i did not want it.

not that way.


i tell my father on the phone.

oh shit, he says.


i cried when i said i was pregnant.

the nurse smiled

put her arm around me cooed,

is it your first time?

and then i told her what i was there for

they called it termination.

she did not smile then

and she took her arm away.

all business after that.


the roman doctor tells me to undress.

she busies herself about the room.

that day, he comes with me,

sits on the examining table, watches.

i take my clothes off in front of him in front of her.

it means two different things.

(we will talk about this later.)

she dims the lights for me so that they are not glaring

leaves us for some minutes before it's time.

we do not say a word.

i am watching the machine.

green image on a black screen.

it is the the tiniest dot.

this is how she finds it.

this is how she will take it out.

i am lying open and awake.

and when it starts, it hurts.

and so he lies his body over mine.

this helps.

it is warm

and heavy

and his bulk, it blocks the screen.

a small syringe, and it is out.


later we eat outside at la pequeña

and he is so relieved.


i am feeling empty.

and i am feeling saved.


into the evening, by the water, we walk through the streets of brooklyn

and to a skate bowl made of wood where my friends have made a dance.

the dance is called: Seriously Heavy (i hurt myself by hurting you), and i think it's about falling. while we are waiting to go inside, it is golden light, sunset, everything tinged orange.

i have my camera with me and i take a picture of his hand,

he is holding the padlock of a gate we lean against,

by the water, near the shipyards, inside this building hollowed out.

his hand is tan, fingernails trimmed short and the padlock made of steel.

in block letters, etched into the surface of the lock, it says the word: hardened.

there are not many nights together after that.

I am the hearing that is attainable to everything; I am the speech that cannot be grasped.

I am the name of the sound and the sound of the name.

Some stories open slowly. And some feel as if they will never open up to me at all. I have felt this one try to shut its telling down each time I have moved near it. And so I have moved near and waited, moved near and waited, letting the story grow accustomed to my breath, to my being there, letting the story sniff me out.

Often she has bid me sleep while I waited, where sleep felt like the way that story closes story down. And so I learned to listen to the story, said yes to sleeping while I waited, hoping she might say yes to me, in time. In sleep, I do not surprise her, I am not staring at her always or poking at her this way and that. In sleep, as I grew further from my waking, story might move closer in, feel freer to smell my breath, skin, see what kind of storyteller I might be. I have fought her on this, but I have also just said yes.

And sleep has been the locus of my conference.

Hear me, you hearers

and learn of my words, you who know me.

You have wanted this one written. You have wanted her moving through you making words, writing story: not just yours, but all of them. No more a story only to be told to other women moving through it. No more silences, no more a secret knowledge sectioned off.

Because you know this too is the childbearing story, it is a part, and it has always been although it is unsung and now you want to sing it, call it loud into the song, away from shame, away from stifling, a way to live inside yourself inside the telling, because silence is too heavy and too long. And something both so hard and so forever should never be made worse. And we are many voices and we have been for so long.

I am the hearing that is attainable to everything; I am the speech that cannot be grasped.

 a list of things i do not want:

i do not want to count the baby's age every time i think how many years ago it was.

a list of things i do want:

i want to be forgiven.

i want the chance to try again.

 most of all, i want to be forgiven by myself.

There are those who say that souls float in a middle space, waiting, cloaked in formlessness, for the time to come back in. The higher ones, they say, the ones who've trained, are waiting for strong births so they do not fear the wait, or hurry it. I wonder what a soul was moving towards to come in just right then. I wonder. And I wait. And I wonder. And I write. And I wonder.

And so I live my way to know.

I am the name of the sound and the sound of the name.


* All verse here drawn from The Thunder, Perfect Mind, translated from the Coptic by George W. MacRae. In 1945, in a small city in Upper Egypt called Nag Hammadi, over fifty texts dating as far back as 350 C.E. were found buried in the earth. While many of these pertained to ancient Christian sects, a small handful appeared to be remnants of sacred texts honouring the divine feminine. The eight segments of verse included here are drawn from one of these, written by an anonymous female-voiced author. She titled her text The Thunder, Perfect Mind.