Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Something Wet

The last few days, if not weeks, have taken me off track.  Getting off track means going back and forth on Facebook or through email about this measles hysteria. Getting off track means taking seriously the threats and bullying remarks. Getting off track means listening to anything but my own heart and knowledge gained from experience.  Getting off track means being interviewed by the mainstream press about this issue. I declined. Getting off track means taking myself too seriously.

Getting on track means writing both my story and a bit of fiction. It means writing in general, not responding or reacting. It also means caregiving -- lots and lots of caregiving -- to Sophie, to Henry and to Oliver. It means making money. I have two jobs -- contracts for ghostwriting a non-fiction book and for an advocacy project. I've got my Books & Bakes salon to run with two dates coming up -- February 13th and February 27th. I have to arrange all the logistics for my three-week Hedgebrook writing residency in late June -- a task that boggles the mind even more than the thought of taking my writing seriously enough to deserve such an honor.

Getting on track means wondering whether Bob Dylan's new album of Frank Sinatra covers is awesome or just really, really weird.

Getting on track means reading.


A Recovered Memory of Water

Sometimes when the mermaid's daughter
is in the bathroom
cleaning her teeth with a thick brush
and baking soda
she has the sense the room is filling
with water.

It starts at her feet and ankles
and slides further and further up
over her thighs and hips and waist.
In no time
it's up to her oxters.
She bends down into it to pick up
handtowels and washcloths and all such things
as are sodden with it.
They all look like seaweed --
like those long strands of kelp that used to be called
'mermaid-hair' or 'foxtail'.
Just as suddenly the water recedes
and in no time
the room's completely dry again.

A terrible sense of stress
is part and parcel of these emotions.
At the end of the day she has nothing else
to compare it to.
She doesn't have the vocabulary for any of it.
At her weekly therapy session
she has more than enough to be going with
just to describe this strange phenomenon
and to express it properly
to the psychiatrist.

She doesn't have the terminology
or any of the points of reference
or any word at all that would give the slightest suggestion
as to what water might be.
'A transparent liquid,' she says, doing as best she can.
'Right,' says the therapist, 'keep going.'
He coaxes and cajoles her towards word-making.
She has another run at it.
'A thin flow,' she calls it,
casting about gingerly in the midst of words.
'A shiny film. Dripping stuff. Something wet.'

Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill, from The Fifty Minute Mermaid
translated by Paul Muldoon


  1. Good. Welcome back. xo Glad you are writing.

  2. Whatever you write, you are writing.

  3. That's a beautiful poem.
    It sort washes the track away doesn't it?
    Getting on track is hard for me these days too.

  4. Thank you. That was exactly what I needed to get back on my own damn track. I hadn't realized I was following someone else's agenda until you said that. I should have, given the knot in my gut over all of this, but I hadn't.

    Write on!

  5. I am glad you are getting back on track. Sorry for my lengthy dump on your last post. Sweet Jo

  6. Congrats on the writing gigs, the ones for money and the ones for love. It's all coming together. Thrilled. I think we can be both on track and off it at the same time. One feeds the other maybe. Love to you.

  7. I echo Angella's congratulations, and love her remark about tracks
    feeding each other.

  8. And that picture of you and your girl is lovely too!

  9. I'm glad to hear this, and after yesterday's foray on Facebook into the land of People Who Are Pretty Damn Sure They And ONLY They Are Right, I welcome returning to my own writing, too. Love the photo and the poem. Love you.

  10. Stick with your gut and keep writing . Love the poem and the photo of you and Sophie.

  11. Bob Dylan covering Frank Sinatra????

    Without hearing a single note I am voting for really, really weird.

    Maybe you should just avoid the Facebook rabble for a while...?



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