Discover my first Shopify code on this phone: Airbnb verification for a trip that I extended, to wander in a distant city without another person (solve a mystery instead, watch as lightning cracked the dappled screen above the Obra Dinn). Discover also a dream that I recorded in June of last year: bunkering indoors, in the country, while a bear terrorized us—me, an ex, her friends and family—charging wild and violent through the field. I wish I had listened to it, even if nothing would be different now. Another, more recent dream—a gentle one, working in the same room, an awareness of the other, a growing comfort. Then a sweet and gentle catch-up—happy only to learn what has happened in a life I no longer know. Woke up wondering if the dream had been mutual—an instance of two minds speaking what maybe, right now, can’t be said. But I know that not all dreams are visitations. Some are only messages from ourselves. This felt like acceptance, to go so far and no further. Now the Cancer moon is speaking, working things raw. I don’t know exactly even what I’m feeling. What it is about, what is trying to come out. I am trying to listen but some work only brings things more gently to the surface. Whether they breach it is another thing entirely. Some work never fully gets done.
That’s okay. Took a long bath when I noticed that my heart was racing. Read something far from stilling—about Anna Mae Aquash and the Wounded Knee standoff. Even in the bath my heart wouldn’t stop beating. Afterwards switched coffee for chamomile. A move borrowed from Bolaño, though for different reasons. Today I might have skied but it rained all day. Listening to rain sounds as I write this. More water. More rain. Perhaps later more still will come.
picking up strays—building a table and chairs on the first date a basement apartment she disparaged—it’s nice—after Queen’s Gambit she pulls my head towards hers, so hard I’m reminded— sorry for this—of her German grandfather sent (for good reason?) to the Gulag—(who am I betraying?)—and in the river house—my dreams—what am I sensitive to—asking for forgiveness—what more do you want from me? Kent’s kind of a loser—easier before waking to write letters, delete them, to listen to the whispers something unformed, heedless, violent—an axe striking the tree clearing the way—he measures every coffee grain, calculates calories per gram, wets the paper first to remove its woodiness (nothing I have ever tasted)—I never want to be so careful—the difference between a relationship and something that’s ended what you take for granted—imagine you already building towards release—preparing to derail—on track—I don’t want what I see here—every ended relationship better than this one—so what is anything lasting—fixed entropy—another dream, an ex with a house—sells it for a tiny apartment—invites me to live with her she’s going to do house shows—poetry, music—I can’t see it— know it will be packed—hard to explain—living here would be bad for me—from the roof, cord from the antenna dangling— empty antenna stalk—who removed it—an axe striking the tree if I meant so much to you—coughing now—why was it so easy
this time last year—pacing the bedroom to get cell signal trying to keep my voice down—sound travels, ricochets sometimes this house feels like nothing—somehow here I am lost—was, once, in the French national archives—beneath posters from May ’68—can’t remember the slogans—something about imagination something about the future—I have spent too much time talking—I have talked too much—something feels exposed in me, something in this house—sitting in on the Zoom—three of us lined up on the couch—a business meeting I spend the entire time wondering—what part of me has so much trouble with this? what part is listening—this month last year in the Owl’s Club a G-winning poet hooked their leg around mine and asked me to come home with them—I said I still hadn’t gotten over my ex, which was true—on Dovercourt felt released and sympathetic in the long shadow of some Futurist’s cool blue— I’m always betraying what I say or think—another photograph cluster of buildings downtown—I was trying to forget someone taking the light in—nuclear white at the top of just one building always think God is touching down—the second season of Fleabag plays in the other room—had a crush on a Catholic when it came out—but really a crush on some part of myself—something I thought I was ignoring—light or passion or death—perhaps only death—perhaps nothing—reaching—into the light or towards the brick’s phosphorescence
portrait nothing like you are—stiff, propped up on pillow, except for some tension wouldn’t know whether you were living or dead, orange striped comforter ivy hanging behind you—not ivy exactly—tangled in the metal headboard
don’t recognize the staircase—leg over the body, two bodies distant house. two bodies, one leg over the other, their tiny intelligences, their fur —two bodies, recently buried (as far as my shovel would go)
the city—landscape—clouds, snow, bare trees, fog of an image of myself in the window what was I releasing in this photograph, where was I taking myself hanging over the field, worrying between two points
something sent to me—dense corner grown up that next spring—could once name the flowers now only colours, the bulbs we dug and stuck, spilling gasoline on my poncho, wrecking my boots in the muck—everything packed close leaf-blower stirring the air
In my dream I make a scene in front of a party of four, and, once I realize what I’ve done, apologize to the man I shouted at, who seems older than he should be—tall and thin, with greying brown hair and glasses. I deliver this to the entire table, but only he—the one I insulted—bothers to listen.
I don’t know how to explain that what came out was more involuntary than anything I’ve ever felt or acted upon. When I say goodbye, the woman at the centre of this drama, who I have barely talked to, is facing away from me, wearing a jean jacket and looking at the water. Pretending like it never happened.
I wake up several times that night—in a bed I will later discover is two foam mattress tops placed on top of each other. This is by the river. On the radio a story about a man who discovers mathematics in prison; he is in ecstasy describing its beauty. How did he arrive there? He was given a sheet of problems to solve while he was stuck in solitary confinement.
In the interview the man telling his story can’t seem to feel the barbarity of what they’ve done to him, too focussed on what is beyond. A teenage mathematician he has been in contact with says, for several minutes, without purpose, “He’s not like a prisoner in the movies. He’s not hard. He’s like you or me.”
This morning a hot air balloon flies low over the house, carrying supplies for the movie set that I know is just around the corner. The operator is flying recklessly—I see just the metal bottom, uncomfortably close, from near my window. I worry it’s going to pass over the roof, scrape itself, collapse something, knock it over—and I brace for impact.
But nothing follows. My door opens and closes of its own accord. I am half-asleep, awake but hallucinating. I become conscious that Mowat is in the crook of my arm, resting peacefully against my chest. I’m afraid to disturb him, so happy that he’s there. I touch his fur and it is perfect, warm, vivid—my little friend.
He turns and bites my thumb. I am worried that the dream will turn—but the bite is not hard, or it’s hard but just hard enough. The pain is real. He fades away, and I discover that I haven’t, exactly, been dreaming, though I could not say with certainty whether I have been awake.
New substrate in the city, faded grey masks, working their way into the asphalt and turf. Thought early November, the stretch of days above twenty degrees, would be the end of the good weather this year. But I forgot how the sun somehow feels clarifying when it is furthest from us—no matter the temperature, all that I seem to need is that bright white light that obliterates the pavement ahead.
Holding still. Release the questions that I should not ask. Release the expectations that I should not have. Let the difficulty flow through me. I want to do what the Sage counsels. But I worry sometimes that I do not have the strength. Do not know what to do. How can I maximize the future? This is impossible. Losing what never was. Let it go. Release the future as well as the past.
Hard to know in which direction I should move. The I Ching counsels rest, stillness, in every reading. Now is clearly not the time for action. But it can be difficult to hold the self without moving. To recover without fully understanding the goal. One day I will not need to be so still—perhaps then things will be self-evident, I will return to desire, or desire will find me. That is in fact what the I Ching seems to suggest and to recommend. There will be movement in my future—but when that future comes is unclear.
Two days of snow in the forest. The only footprints belong to wild animals—and to Joshua and his three black dogs near the entrance to the path (the dogs are large, identical animals with huge paws). I pass fox prints, deer hooves, a procession of turkeys. I clear the trees that fell in the last windstorm, see that there will be many more to come. Something is changing in the forest: ashes stand with stripped bark from their roots to the crown. Tall ones, at least fifty feet high, in some places maybe forty-percent of the trees. They will fall at some point between now and next summer, or most of them will. I don’t know what’s happened, only that change is in the air, vibrating perhaps at the level of the atmosphere.
A blight brought on by the shifting climate. I will work with the axe and the saw until the way is clear once the new trees have fallen—I cleared the last tree blocking the way in September. No one who knew it intimately saw me heave the hard-wooded final block away. Took a picture for no one, emptiness at its centre, nothing but a disturbed forest floor. This winter, I will surely take more.