Build up, release. At the end of my last session someone speaks up—“André, it looks like you have something to say. I apologize if that’s not the case, but is that true?” It was, but I hadn’t wanted to take up any time, to speak again at what seemed to me to be the last minute. And on the phone yesterday you say “I thought you wanted us to have this conversation.” That was also true—but I hadn’t been sure how to have it, had thought of it but it had dissolved whenever I’d opened the door to you, or been welcomed inside.
If you have something to say, it’s better to speak. Likewise I have been thinking of other kinds of resistances, such as resistance to grief. How to accept the feeling without denying it. To embrace and acknowledge the difficulty and the change of circumstances without pretending that they have not affected you. This is what it means to flow like water, as the I Ching recommends, not to be battered or withered by it but to flow smoothly through all of life’s obstructions.
I don’t want to pretend anything, but sometimes I compartmentalize. Sometimes I trust too much in my imagination, in my power to make the unreal into the real, which has served me well in the past (it has also gotten me into a great deal of hot water, brought me a tremendous amount of heartbreak). But that is the ego, trying to reshape the world in its image.
As always, I move so slowly—I take a step forwards, then slide two or three weeks back. But I don’t know how else to learn.
By the water. Briefly we curl into each other. Sixteen degrees when we left but the clouds gather over the peninsula, wind starts to whip our little stand of trees. On the walk back it is raining, so softly I think it takes you a long time to notice. Well into Sorauren. I lead you down at least one dead end.
I have been wanting to write about water. In reference to an I Ching reading only half-remembered now. A kind of deluge, but one that falls gently, over time. Taking time for recovery. This is the advice of the I Ching, of tarot readers, of my own brain, when I let it lead me. Leading, following, turning in circles. Moving so slowly lately. Want to move faster, but I don’t know where I am going.
Nurture—the self and the other. Return to the loamy soil, retreat, be frugal. Lie dormant. A kind of dormacy. Recover. (On the walk I think I would describe it in a different way than I have before, that I have abandonment issues—irrational and acute, catching me in the kitchen, in the shower, on the street. A trembling as I pass certain intersections. When a name comes up in conversation.)
I would at least like to become a fond memory—but I am worried that when you come here it is only because you are afraid.
Grey squirrel runs across the power line. I have started adding Borax to my laundry. Watercolour paintings line one bookcase—I don’t know what to do with them just yet. Wonder if one of them I should return. Or just put away. Switched the pothos above my desk out for a spider plant, healthy, flowering, with trails of tiny offshoots, little defined root bunches, like delicate scrunched up fingers. I heard a voice outside, just now—I stood up, to get a better look.
After what you told me my eye catches whenever someone passes the window on a bicycle. I do not wish to see the day when there are two.
Speaking about loss. “Every argument with her seems petty, every disagreement… I would take all of it back if I could, none of it really mattered.” No distraction worth it—nothing that was ever placed above what was there. I report a similar feeling—or perhaps I don’t, I am just listening. “How unimportant all of that was! I wish I could call her just one more time. Wish I had known it was coming.”
The first time I had to soften my anger. Anger as protection—I had to give it up, soften it and acknowledge what I really felt. Now I find myself reluctant to—I want to protect myself from feeling so soft. Want to be protected, as if I am going to battle. But I don’t see any battle on the horizon. See no other combatants. Only a mix of anger and softness, tangled in a cloud that I would like to push away. It’s not good for me, all of this anger. I need to release all of it—the anger, the softness, and find myself in some other position… not quite one, not quite the other—something that is alive, generous, gentle, and in-between.
What I lack now is focus. Ease of thought. How to clear the mind. Leave what troubles you behind. I am not particularly good at this. Now reading poems—too many poems. Clear your mind. Waking in the Aegean, blue walls and blue linen, the poem itself bobbing alone on the Riverbend, two fabrics touching at its surface. Many records of this. It is hard to trust, hard to build again, uncertain always to move through the wrack—in a way that is sometimes difficult for me even to appreciate. But I would like to do it, to attain its ease. (The ease of ease.) Close my eyes. Breathe deeply. Sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn’t—some strategies, like box breathing, remind me of whatever it is I am trying to forget. Oh well. What doesn’t?
Necropastoral—in the night the pothos falls from its perch, tumbling headfirst from the shelf. Its legs have gotten too long, it has eaten up the soil that I put in with it four years ago now. This isn’t the first time it has taken a suicide dive—maybe the third or the fourth in the past week, the plant’s environ’s now too light for the plant, upsetting its delicate ecosystem. “You weren’t kidding, when you said that it would swallow you up over the Zoom.” (My camera chastely tilted from the bed to the bookcase, the trailing green arms.) It tumbles when I haven’t watered in a while, the bed drying out—I don’t remember now when last, leaves curling in the kitchen. Somehow difficult to take this kind of care of myself. More than I care to admit I have ordered out from SkiptheDishes.ca (twice, which is a lot for me in one week, but I have eaten other convenience foods besides). I like to cook but this is grief. This is death, more kinds than one. I can’t know what it is going on in the mind of another, or others—what has been shared or expressed, how honest they have been (with themselves or their partner). It really doesn’t matter. A few days ago I was feeling expansive and bountiful—what did any of it matter? I was ready to release the anger. I did. And then the pot came crashing down, again and again, news came with it, and I was forced to wonder why this opportunity was being chased so relentlessly, as if it was the urgent thing that had been left in the fall, or in the summer, not something else, a second place. What does it matter? What does it matter? It seems like shaky ground. (It must be—knowing what I know, how could it be anything else?) But that is none of my business. I will fix the plant—I put more soil in the pot. I water it with water from a jewelled tumbler. It returns to its shelf, minus a few arms. So these arms were taken—the plant is stronger now. Less likely to fall. Less likely to blow away.
weeds rusting (yellowing dramas) wildflower softly cottoning, splitting itself along the edge—tracing its spine
(through the window, varieties of coffee, overgrown, growing up—bubbling over— gesturing—neither of us—) murkpaned window
freed from need—long walks— tearing through the field (—all things I liked) —the maintenances
(catching the seeds in an envelope)
What makes me feel better? I mean when I’m on my own. Writing. Reading. (It’s also where the grief is caught—) “You’ve had two significant losses in just a few months.” If I don’t learn from them they will mean nothing.
The flowers, Ripley’s flowers, turned to seed—sow them and harvest them when next they grow.
They say the hole should be at least two feet. I was nervous I still had a long way to go, but when I got out the tape measure it said that I’d almost reached four. Filled a wheelbarrow with rocks to lay over him. Deer made a path up to the spot, tramped down the tall grass. Two wildflower bouquets: one for him, just over his blanket. And one sitting next to me as I type this. This morning I thought, with a kind of shock, that I should have put his toy in there—the one he would always proudly try to walk away with (pulling against the string).
I laid it among the rocks.
Eating chocolate almonds in times of grief, because they remind me of someone I loved. He was the same weight and shape, the same body that I knew how to hold so well. Thought the aura of death would have changed him. I scratched him on the back of the neck until his body went cold—I could feel when it was no longer him. Kept scratching until they came and took him away. When we arrived there was a crow in the big oak tree in the parking lot. It made a noise, three times, a kind of cooing. A sound I have never heard a crow make before. “Oh, shut up—” I said, “—comeon, you dick,” as I walked around the car to get the carrier, as if I could alter the crow’s meaning.