Friday, July 28, 2017

this is galilee

As the golden hour-almost-sun-set light hits 35W, Ed Sheeran's Castle on a Hill is playing—fittingly—and I speed down it faster than I ever did coming back from play practice late at night. Israel has really done a number on my defensive driving skills—now I am the driver my mother warned me about. Coming home feels like a long time coming: perhaps it's been longer than since January.

My jaw drops as I drive into the sun, the trees on either side of the highway over sloping hills tricking me—for a second—of thinking I am driving the little white Toyota Corolla (like the one I just passed) I drove from 77 down to the end of 90. Who knew that the Northern woods of Wisconsin and Minnesota look so much like the Holy Land?

I blink. Trying to erase the feeling of déjà vu from my eyes and clear my imagination of such foolish, fanciful impressions.

But, as I drive down 169, I suddenly feel like I am driving down 65, and as I drive over the flat reeds and past the trees shaking gently in the humid winds, I remember that last small stretch of road I would always hit at this time of day, returning to Ilaniya, after a day of hiking, swimming, or wearing out my sandals. Their appearance is undeniably alike. I have always held home as holy, so no surprise there that it bears such resemblance to the sacred. But it is silly to travel to the heart of the world, and realize upon your return to your own little native corner that what you went to see was always with you: that the woods where you went on your first runs in high school are just like those that surround the village, simply surrounded by fewer IDF bases. It makes one feel like a fool to travel so far into the foreign and find that it really is just familiar.

How did I never notice then, how much like home it was?

Thursday, July 20, 2017

my new neighborhood

Cold, quick sprays of dew
splash off the tree branch
car exhaust which smells like weed
pine tree out my window
Sunnymedes expansive green

The sunrise over the Mishawaka trees
Gerald Manley Hopkins' skies
the river licks my bicycle tires
and sandal soles.

Joey and I split Ben & Jerry's at the fish ladder
and the neighborhood kids beg him to
Hit the Quan
He didn't live in Harlem,
he doesn't know.

I walk back alone,
in the dark of the trees
and St. Joe
and the mulberries splattered on the white
sidewalk.

I cut across the parking lot
accompanied by two loping raccoons.
The world compresses into a quilt,
tucking me in with humidity and quiet.

I wake up to the tune of Eddy Street traffic,
some hard-ass gunning his bike,
and a garbage truck driving by at sunrise.
Rush hour.
But the sun hits my bed in the morning
white and Avonlea-pure,
and it cuts through the blinds in the evening,
golden and warm.

Just three weeks of summer,
in a little house on Wayne Street,
a small oasis of rainstorms catching you on the way to the car,
Oaken Bucket a river run a way,
and ferreting out new corners
of an old world.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

settlers of cat[a]

"I do not care" you protest, until you realize that you do. And that must be an odd sensation: to be met with truth in your denial. But you have never been a woman in possession of the infinitely large fortune of twenty-five years and not in particular want of a husband. Women with this kind of wealth—youth—are the Americas, constantly eyed by lascivious colonists, looking for fresh land.

Women who possess the freedom of life lived and more of it ahead to live into, are viewed as prime colonial costal properties. They are an expanse of virgin soil—unsullied by a homesteads or shanty boomtown blights—which cowboys wistfully pretend—play-acting—is their frontier to claim. They lick their lips from behind the borer fence—the land's boundaries are porous, but their visas have tight visiting restrictions. They tentatively try to stake a claim remotely. Like Russians with American elections, they itch to influence what they cannot conquer. They lob advice like rockets from Gaza, foisting their unwelcome flags onto the soil, which, despite themselves, they cannot claim. Their non-possession of the land feeding into the twisted manifest destiny they try to bleed from their own fates. Their fates, which have left them outside the land, which have given them their own lands, conquered, they have irrigated dry. The barren plots of soil they grudgingly farm, while lusting after the much greener grass next door. What harm is there in simply tending the land, caring for it until the foreclosure goes through? Surely, you do no wrong—in fact, it is your duty and your right—to care for this wild, untoward, untouched land. If it is not careful, it will end up in the hands of an exploitive and greedy, terrible farmer. You will care for it carefully, weed its hills, and tend her orchards, until slowly the land is yours, you think. When it slips from your grasp, when some new mystery of its terrain appears, a topographical surprise you did not expect, you grasp it tightly. You bind it like the land you've already tied down.

To be a twenty-five year old woman is to understand conquering and colonialism—one is colonized all the time. There is not accident, Manifest Destiny is an understandable desire: to see a woman and know she stretches from sea to sea, with room enough inside of her, which cannot be corralled. The thrill of that challenge is intelligibly intoxicating.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

the speed of Psalm 90:3

The grass grows and fades with sure same swiftness
of Ansel Elgort in baby driver,
flipping through his sunglasses
or what I call
an Israeli driver on his Monday commute

I am dancing bouncing in my seat to the tune of Taylor Swift
and my fake Ray Bans, feeling
fly af as
Ansel driving to the tune of
Queen on his morning heist

The air of South Bend sings
I bask in its benediction upon my
Yo Pro Commute to campus

Prosper this, I think

Prosper this commute: which is not a walk
which is not morning subway bus ride —
the missing of the bustle of midtown in the morning
strikes me:
to be again
grinding pavement beneath my boot heels
would be nice —
but I ride this car into the sunrise
pulling on the brakes
dipping around the slower eddies of cars
hitting the green lights as bars on the xylophone
of high spirits that chime on 92.9

Prosper here, I pray

each awkward meeting moment
this translation
from one congruent sphere onto the other
prosper the new languages
and spaces that have opened up
I think that I can live in this
Perhaps I can live here in this
prospering.

Monday, July 3, 2017

descending theology, cf Mary Karr

But Thomas said to them, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe."

Thomas' ultimatum is a familiar one to me.
Stand down, o Mystery, I yell at the force that pulls me forward. Show yourself.
Not to others, not to a Church whose word must take, a body I must believe is yours by force of sacrament and sign, but to me. Talk to me in ways I understand, diminish yourself entirely for me. Speak my baby talk; I'm too lazy, young, tired, selfish, weak, stupid, indolent, self-absorbed to learn the higher language that you speak.
I don't want subtleties, I don't want your great music. Put away your symphony and play the pan-pipe I have made of macaroni.
They tell me God is imminent; well I want accessible. A mystery that it takes no ounce of askesis to uncover. If God is here, why can't I see his face? Show yourself, I pout, demanding favors of the almighty like the spoiled brat I am.

And God does.
God comes to Thomas, in radical humility. The Word goes in for a blunt and obvious kill: he appears in all his radiant wounds, exactly as desired.
God is pleased to acquiesce to his request.

And that's sort of spectacular. That's a sort of spectacular God, I imagine. The one who will cripple his own person in ways I never will. A sort of God who will diminish God's own self to fit into a personal pronoun or a body or a wound.

And yet, one gets the sense that even though Thomas' desires are answered, his expectations are shattered.

It's the Word, with a unique new accent and enunciation.

It's as if you have returned home from confession; you get to have all the same things you had before, they are all intact. But your approach to them is entirely new. They are imminent, but the access is completely different.

Love has been burned way by love. Ego is emptied into a more gracious feeling of tenderness and care. Concern more for the other, unimpeded with obsession of self. It's the same feeling, he's the same person. But it's different now.

The confines which hemmed us in have broken down. Our blue funk turned to sparks.

This is what the Word is. Here. Yet always pulling us away.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

simultaneous compositions

My breath is uncontrollable, tearing through my lungs (which I think have a tumor in them) and searing through my muscles. I ask a lot of questions, and try to give my heart time to catch up to yours. But perhaps it speeds ahead.


— 

Nuclear: how odd that that's the adjective for "family." I mean, not odd, since it pays homage to the building blocks of our molecular structure. We honor kin by calling them nucleus of our atomic orbit existence. Now, "nuclear" cannot escape the connotation of "bomb" — of an atom we have split, a stability we have ruptured, a stasis we have disturbed. We have torn into the fabric of our nature and rent it down the middle. Our nuclei are no longer stable, we have split them into many different centers. What sort of instability do we inherit? What fatal central flaw is passed down through these nuclear bloodline unites? Instability is at our very core: molecular and familiar.



My breath comes in ragged tears, despite all my attempts to take deep yoga breaths in through my nose and out of my mouth. It's a breathing that leaves no extra energy leftover with which to speak and I finally feel a shard of sympathy for all those couples that I judge so mercilessly as they eat together at restaurant tables in silence. I think that is my nightmare: sitting in a restaurant in silence.
But.
If you are just trying to keep pace with each other, sometimes there is no leftover energy for speech. Perhaps it takes all the effort of the partners to even gather together. Perhaps all their energy is shoved into the superhuman attempt to holding the nucleus together, when clearly it cannot hold. Gyres are widening, and falcons are spinning out of earshot of skilled falconers. In this environment, it appears, that all our fates end in the anarchy loosed upon us, some still breathe together. And that takes an endurance and a strength greater than what I can summon for this six mile run.

I have renewed empathy for the couples that silently share restaurant tables together. I admire their strength in simply showing up to share that space together. Because that is more than I can muster desire at this moment.