Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it.
For a year I have called people like Archimedes or my own dear children badass because they are but also because of Tara Badamo whose voice was always husky and calm when she talked to me, who told stories with vivid pieces, who was still young and pretty when she died who once called herself and the father of her children badasses to signify that the children in question had come by it honestly.
Honestly I miss her. Want to take words like stones and shore up the well of grief. Grief for her might-have-been.
But I won’t write letters to the dead. Why should I? They can hear us clearly from there, thank you very much, where they sit at the table in God’s kitchen
Once I went on a city-girl camp out. The forest, like the one in the fairytale, was deep-green lovely. Alive even. We packed without regard for the physics of making fire, which meant green wood, cold hot dogs, no true s’mores, and the ultimate kindness of strangers.
We had pitched our tent in the light, but in the Appalachian night all the trees looked the same. At that point I was the one who believed the most in an Interventionist God, which meant quite a bit of out-loud-supplication and some amusement from my agnostic companions.
Funny sense of humor-God. He did not seem fazed by their scepticism when He was the one who found us out tent again in the moonless night, but they were the ones who did not sleep, one afraid of bears, the other-human intruders.
I, myself, am afraid of both
But slept like a baby because I knew they would stay wide awake.
Old story now, this interventionist God-someone to watch over us.
I tell the little girl who lives inside my head, don’t look straight at the sun. She knows by heart the encantations against fear and the haunting past we once lived in together like a candy house in a crumb-consuming forest. Leave stones instead along the path home. Watch out for cages and unexpected hunger. You think it will be the wolf you must run from when all along the danger is so near, crouched in the corner of everything, assuming the guise of the familiar.
The lady in the picture is a fraction of her whole-a bit of glasses, hair like mine. Did she shape the assignment or was it the Wizard of Oz for freshman comp? I don’t know, but as with so many words shaped into injunctions it sticks in my craw–pick the one thing? Not a good thing? Not one among brothers? I suspect literary ambush, which then feels like literary paranoia, but I kick around/go into the weeds with this one thing-
You. You are the one thing. The voice in my head steadying my coward’s heart. My man, Jesus I tell Madeline about that universal division of time into before and after You.
Like if you believed in evolution it would be 50 billion, million zillion years BCE, and those sylphish, wispy 2000 after.