Something Worthy of the Sea
An essay with two poems.
On some level, I think, I have been in a bad mood for the past few years. I mean not really, but maybe just a little. Sort of. Do you know what I mean? It’s like when you catch sight of yourself in the reflection of a shop window on the street, or see your own image, unexpectedly, laid out against the black shellacked surface of a car that is parked, or stopped, or crawling by, and there you are, in your coat, or your shorts that looked better last year, your tiredness, your windblown hair, your scowl, the smudge of mascara or tiny bit of city schmutz on your face, and you think, oh. You think, oh. Is that me?
I am usually a fundamentally happy person, or at least that is how I like to think of myself. “Joy” can sometimes sound sort of hokey or corny, or like it’s trying too hard to sell you something, unless of course you don’t have any, in which case you’re fucked. I seem to have a talent for being happy even when I’m sad, and sometimes also vice versa. It is my set point, my natural state of rest, the place to which my system always fights to return. I see the beauty. I crack jokes. I am run through. It’s just that life is very beautiful and funny and also hurts so much. I suppose it is a fair trade, all in all, the ability to see the other side of the moon, earth-light or starlight, bright or dark. But for the past few years, there has been this overhanging sense of something, untethered from the particulars of this one grief or that specific disappointment, not so much a weight as an irritant, like a small stone stuck between sock and shoe.
What can I blame this on? Is it Trump? Covid? The fall of Roe v. Wade? The theft of my own human rights as a woman in America that I saw coming from so far off and yet still could do nothing to stop? Too much time on social media? All of the above?
Some people keep a box of things set aside to break their hearts open, or else a box of things that bring delight. In case of emergency, smash this glass. Songs, novels, films, facts, poems, you get the idea. Poems are so often like little switchblades in this regard; use them a lot and their edge may dull, but leave them alone awhile in the drawer of your forgetting, and the absence will sharpen them up again. The forgetting works like a cutler going door to door with its grinder and stone.
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