Me and a few of my full journals and notebooks
Self-Portrait in Words
She sits in the seat by the window, impatiently flipping magazine pages--then some poetry books. She looks tired, but a slight smile plays across her face as she watches the sun going down--the dark edge of clouds framing the still blue sky. She looks about thirty-years-old, but forgets this sometimes She wishes she knew what she knows now at twenty-one. Time. Already things are on fast-forward and it blazes by while she jots it all down, saying, "Hold on a sec." Stretch marks on her hipbones will tell you that she's had children--if you took her heart and dissected it, a clean cross-section, you'd see the rings like a tree recording years, for her, noting three births. Three times journeying underground to where the veil between worlds was so thin she left her body--where she caught up with shadows on the other side and brought back life, again and again and again.
The silver band on the third finger of the left hand says married--but no engagement ring, no diamonds sparking at the knuckle. Not a newlywed then, not someone who wants to announce something. Jeans, purple t-shirt, black cardigan three sizes too big on top. Not trying to impress here either...wild earrings though, this, a bit off-center. She lives in a small place, passes time watching the vast sky. A dream arcs through her to live on a plot of land rolling out like an ocean. She thinks of sipping tea and writing it all down on a cold Autumn morning watching the undulating flame of changing trees. But, then she'll catch herself--hands flung forward, almost imperceptibly. You can watch her knock wood and kiss her fingertips--afraid of jinxing it--afraid of what might happen if she doesn't mind the superstitions, just in case.
Today she heard about a colleague suffering from Stage IV brain cancer and she ran her hands over the contours of her skull--dowsing for hidden floods in her own body...thinking of the wilting veins in her sister's brain--and how lightning scorches when it strikes...how one simply cannot plan for this. In the morning, her son looked surprised and said, "Why do you always say that!" when she warned him not to lose another set of gloves at school (three sets in a week). Her oldest squeezed her hand as she left and said, "Take it easy today," like a grown woman. At lunchtime, her three-year-old said, "I'm never going to be your best friend again," then wailed and clutched the floor when she went into the next room to pick up her empty mug. The woman wishes for silence, and then, when she gets it in the evening, she finds herself writing about the joyful chaotic noise that is her life...and heads quickly home.
Scattered and uncertain--this time the son has lost his shoes. The oldest runs and asks the bus driver to wait. The three-year-old sings the alphabet song and puts her sneakers on the wrong feet. The woman drives her to her brief two hour school day, and heads down to pick up the tea she ordered. An idea for an essay unspirals in her mind and she does a quick mental sketch of the introductory paragraph, the car hurtling forward at 50 miles and hour. On Main Street, she parks, pulls out her current notebook and takes it in to get her tea and to jot it down. A man in full camouflage emerges from the Army Enrollment Office next door, smiles at her and says, "Good morning to you!" and she starts thinking of war and how she feels and loss and freedom and bravery and conflict and it is more than her pre-caffeinated brain can handle--and she forgets absolutely everything, says, "Good morning" remembering to smile.