I took photographs of the long row of palm trees in the way off distance that we’d soon enough cross in the car.
The palm trees looked like fairy flowers, the kind you pick and blow wishes off when you’re a kid. Like dancers of all different heights, lined up in unison. Like the way your heart feels inside, when free of comparisons and worries.
I watched you as you talked, for the right moment to take a photograph.
The first lights of cars on the other side of the freeway began to flicker on. Dusk was not that near. Some must have been daylights auto-sensing impeding change, prematurely.
I focused on the line of your jaw. You looked handsome but I didn’t tell you. The landscape flat, the clouds thin, orange trees and wiry weeds to the sides.
I wanted to talk to you about music, but didn’t. I was tired of feeling stupid. I do it to myself, I guess I find others to confirm it.
Later, once we’d settled in to the cabin, once we were walking, the mood was about to shift.
I sensed the irritation when I lingered too long at the top of the hill. I love you, I thought. I’m sorry. I had to take more photographs.
I’ve never seen clouds like this in my life. It’s special, I’m sorry. My heart was sinking. I had to get the pictures. I tried to take them faster.
I recall the gorgeous picture of the palm tree in LA, the one you’d sent me in the very beginning, when we first met. Large imperfect leaves reaching into irregular directions that collectively balanced out into an odd symmetry.
Not a banal snapshot; it captured a wildness. It wasn’t about the tree – it was the way you had framed it in the shot. Your style of looking. You get it. You were speaking my exact language. I thought “this is my man.”
I don’t know if it was on purpose or an accident, the innate sense of choice. What’s called an eye. Or maybe not even that – maybe you just understood how to capture a feeling.
“Why can’t you catch the next flight, I’ll pay for it” in a smile I could hear over the phone.
I don’t know if that was the real you, or if this is.
We have different sides of ourselves. I guess I held the sides of you, that you’d rather disown. I held them along with the rest of you, with all of you, or I tried so hard to, but from your point of view, maybe, there was only one side to be on.
It just, wasn’t mine.
Artists are immature. Artists just need to grow up. It’s just, not very adult.
I didn’t understand.
It was all a mistake, a misunderstanding.
I focused the shot on your silhouette in the light. Beautiful.
Hurry up, I told myself.
The earrings I wore
like tiny weapons
Off the shine
Like sunrises flash
Through the curious
Peaks of your
Clear eyes crossing
The table. Summer glows
Off weeds outside, drills
the roots in so deep.
Our history envelopes
One glance, gone
We share a glass house heart.
A new sap trails off peaks we’ve been.
Sofrito and crème fraîche fall
Over thick red meat
And we saw something there
Really worth drowning for, then you
Face south. Like curtains dropping
Over a river, eyes
At the border of beef. Each cut
Slowly sawn I watch. Edgily
Feeling it out. Then,
Without saying anything, you
And took off the checkered
–Thoughts from October. I dig up this saved draft I’d hesitated to share but now it’s wrapping its arms around a sleepless night and my travel bug, that escapist impulse to jump in a car, on a plane, a train, a boat, anything–
All that really needs to escape is that toxic tendency toward self-censorship.
Writing is still elusive. Writing is hard, unforgiving in a way at times. Writing involves so much organization, I often can’t even handle it without also making visual art. Words have felt like pressure cookers, images like rivers. Images like relief.
It’s said that words, language, are limited and inadequate – but which mode of expression isn’t?
Images aren’t enough either, as enamored as we are of them. There’s things that pictures just can’t do, can’t show the same way. Pictures can not take the place of words. So then it’s the writing that happens by surprise in the midst of creating art. Writing is the relief. Out of a sudden desperation, exasperation that can’t be expressed immediately enough without switching mediums, turning to words.
Images and words have never been separate to me. Two sides of the same coin.
There’s the times none of it seems to satisfy – images, words, whatever. The moment’s raw and the only thing to do is keep going. With the current project, with any project. Whatever’s in front of you. The medium hardly makes much of a difference. It might make you feel better, or just more like crap but you don’t stop. I feel strangely serene now in the face of intensity when it’s there. Its presence doesn’t scare me as it once did. As if my brain partitioned into two coexisting sides of reality, dark and peaceful.
When the inspiration gets intense, weird, dark, I imagine some of the reactions and opinions those pieces could incite. Ah well.
Mixing beige paint in my room and laying it over black I contemplate my favorite person to be with. Wanting this man is futile. Will you leave once again and call me months from now, and what will I say then? No more? I love you?
Even the worst of you could not make me cold for long. An inescapable fact, love. I want out of here, too, restless. It’s the middle of the night.
I toss this whole situation into question. My job, my expensive life here in Oakland. What am I doing? This art. These photographs. This writing. How much could I sacrifice to be able to do this all the time, nothing but this for as long as it takes? Almost everything, I’m thinking.
What if I just said, everything? What would everything look like?