Friday, May 16, 2014

Stalking the Rose

Note to Mister: It comes to this. Of course, I love you. I’ve loved you in the darkest hours of the night, the thieves’ hours—when the world is asleep and stealing what I want is easy. An unlocked window, a child’s rocking horse close at hand, darling in its painted saddle, tufts of brown plush for a mane. I reach in and snatch it, no one awake to see, and the child doesn't deserve it, not this precious little toy. I carry it under my arm, ditch it behind the dumpster, come back later to get it or leave it.

It’s easy and the world is asleep.

I slip in a back door, trip on a soured mop, catch the handle before it drops, move to the front, to the mailboxes, lift the little brass doors with my chewed thumbnail, rifle the envelopes for checks. Take what I need, take the love offered in the darkest hours, lift my hoodie, blow on my cold-stiffened fingers, slip out, soft. It comes to this often. I loved you then and now, tonight, when the fullest moon, the perigee moon makes you howl like a dog and you grovel on your purple couch and clutch your red and black hula hoop. Swing it. Hang on, because, of course, I love you. 

 I wrote you a book, told you a story in the darkest hours, hours stolen in my four-poster bed with it’s down comforter and handmade Sunburst quilt I bought in Solvang when I was alone, traveling to nowhere, nibbling pfeffernüsse. It was a daytime impulse, not a dark obsession like writing a book, not like you.

And, later, your memory with me in the dark motel room, I sensed you sniffing at the rosemaling tattooed on the drawer fronts and complaining about saccharin, about the wooden shoes planted with flowers. You were turning a phrase, talking about latex and restraints, turning my head with the story of the boy on a subway with a knife and cat eyes, while I worked saltine-flavored songs on my laptop.

Now it’s done and I’m writing letters and flyers and press releases to tell everyone what we did in the thieves’ hours, offering to show them and buy and sell them, seduce them and make them mine. Of course I love you, but it has come to this:   

I wrote you letters and you read them, made vague grunts. But, I study your letters long for clues about how to write, not sentences, but for state of mind, for emotion, for truth and heat, for the moment when the artist lets their guard down—like I did with Rilke, Anne Sexton, Conrad, Flannery O’Connor, Steinbeck and Hemingway, Joyce. I see your the tangled path to truth and try to follow with panting heart, treading the rocky trail, stumbling on roots and skinning my palms. And now, of course, I write again in the thieves' hour because I’m afraid.

sit very still now, wonder what's going to happen? Tomorrow, I'll get up with thieves and stalk you, wait. I can’t sleep without you, without getting up to steal the writing and read the emails from everyone, but especially from you.

Note: This post is inspired by an email from writer, Stephen Elliott, publisher of The Rumpus. I came home dusty and wind blown from a rose seminar, tired from walking the test fields, and read Stephen's email, popped out a reflexive response--a melange of fact and fantasy. It's a jazz riff, a variation on theme.

About my obsession: My novel Adrift in the Sound, is available in paperback and e-reader I’ve also published a slim book about the final editing of Adrift, co-authored with my editor, Tom ThomasBetween the Sheets: An Intimate Exchange on Writing, Editing, and Publishing is available now through Amazon for e-reader and in paperback.

And, I've started a serial fiction on the site It's a story installments about a willful, foolish woman who finds ruin and redemption in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Find Drowning in the Delta online. It's a free read, at least for now.

But, no matter. Remember that in the still, black hours, it comes to this: I love you. Thanks for visiting the Word Garden, thanks for dropping comments and encouragement like rose petals. I'll be listening to Brahms and Boney James, waiting for you.