What Makes You?
Poietes is made of flowers, Folk, and determination. With a dash of Holmes.
I understand the flowers and determination, but not so sure about Folk. The dash of Holmes I completely get. We all know how well I do at keeping things inside. You know how someone somewhere comes up with some kind of relatively cute/intriguing program that supposedly tells you something about yourself? Well this one is called “What Makes You,” and I got the answer above, which only led me to think a bit more on what actually makes me.
Isak Dinesen once said that “the entire being of a woman is a secret which should be kept.” We all know how well I do at keeping things inside. So here is what I came up with on what makes me, what constitutes my being, those things that I embody and that embody me.
“The cure for anything is salt water—tears, sweat, or the sea.” ~ Isak Dinesen
I must begin with water:
- The sea. I love everything about the sea, from the crashing waves to the ways in which it can be both completely placid and churning. It can be green, brown, or azure. It is never he same. The water that rolls in and licks your feet is not the same water that comes with the next wave.
- Tears. Although I do not cry nearly as often as I used to, I would be lying if I said that my being is composed of all the tears I’ve shed, decades of tears—hot and fierce, quiet and passive.
- Rain. The rains come and with them, the cleansing. The harder they fall, the more grime that is washed away. Does anything compare to lying in bed listening to the sound of rain on the roof, unless it’s a tin roof? Or the smell of the air after a hard rain?
- Snow. When snow blankets an area, the sound of everything changes, becomes muffled. This is as close as we can come to shutting out the noise pollution of everyday life.
- Ice. Dangerous and deadly, an ice storm creates its own sound. The cracking of limbs ricochets like nature’s bullets. It is a fierce sound that demands respect.
- A hot bath. Perhaps the one thing that pulls together all of the rest: hot and calm, it can muffle sound. If I need a good cry, I run a bath.
“The stars: what are they? They are chunks of ice reflecting the sun; they are lights afloat on the waters beyond the transparent dome; they are nails nailed to the sky; they are holes in the great curtain between us and the sea of light; they are holes in the hard shell that protects us from the inferno beyond; they are the daughters of the sun; they are the messengers of the gods;” ~ Eliot Weinberger, from “31: The Stars” in An Elemental Thing
- The night sky. I need to live somewhere that allows me to see, really see the stars at night. These lights in the firmament are simultaneously pinholes and massive. They are both cold and hot.
- Lightning. Flashes that cut the sky, lightning encompasses a side of me that I try to harness. From afar, it is relatively benign, but up close, it can be forbidding. I am drawn to the chaos of it, the seeming randomness. It cannot be controlled. It will do as it wants.
- Twilight. The period right before sunset, the gloaming. It happens quickly, and can be missed if you aren’t paying attention. Within these few moments, the light shifts, the air stills, the sound pauses. Perhaps not in reality, but sometimes it seems to be so. It is the hour of magic, the time of possibilities. I like to think that it still resides within me somewhere.
“Let yourself be gutted. Let it open you. Start there.” ~ Cheryl Strayed
Words and Images:
- Books. Every book that I have ever read, one thousand? two thousand? I do not know. They are all here. Every word, every phrase, every sentence. Portals to other worlds, to other realms, to other people.
- Songs. This combination of words and sound, how it can reach in and wrap itself around the heart, and either squeeze or massage.
- Maps. Torn, yellowed records of ancient places and forgotten discoveries, with words that feel foreign on the tongue.
- Poetry. How to explain this, this combination of words that can be like a song, or a prayer, or a book, or a letter? This creation that can encompass every single emotion you have ever felt. There is no explanation for the ineffable.
- Art. The transference of beautiful words into an image, the selection of color and form as acute and deliberate as the choice of a noun or verb.
“I wanna know what you see when you look in the mirror on a day you’re feeling good.
I wanna know what you see in the mirror on a day a day you’re feeling bad.
I wanna know the first person who ever taught you your beauty could ever be reflected on a lousy piece of glass.” ~ Andrea Gibson, from Asking Too Much
- Hands. My father’s hands, the older I get the more of my father I see in them. Hands that have held and caressed and soothed. Hands that have worked and toiled.
- Eyes. Who do these eyes belong to? In youth, one eye was slightly lazy, made me self-conscious as only a 13-year-old can be. I had to learn to love my eyes.
- Skin. The color of olives and mocha, the meat of an overripe banana, and a fresh brown egg. Different hues on different days. It makes me, defines me, and separates me.
- Hair. Dark as coffee with flashes of red wine in the sun.
- Heart. The four chambers, the capacity for love and hate, empathy, sympathy, dissonance and resonance.
“Say that I starved, that I was lost and weary;
That I was burned and blinded by the desert sun;
Footsore, thirsty, sick with strange diseases;
Lonely and wet and cold, but that I kept my dream!” ~ Everett Ruess, from Everett Ruess
Other things, too hard to categorize:
- The smell of lavender and lilac, paper whites and rosemary, verbena and gardenia.
- The sound of bells, ringing bells, church bells, chimes, gongs, fog horns. They are all hollow and full at the same time.
- The colors of blood, sand, whales, and trees. Monet’s sad purples and greens, van Gogh’s lonely blues and yellows, Rothko’s fierce red.
- The song of a mockingbird, the lament of a mourning dove, the shriek of a red-winged blackbird.
- The beacon of a lighthouse and the path of a falling star.
More . . .
- The first chill of an autumn night and the smell of fallen leaves and woodsmoke.
- The lonely expanse of the desert, the sound of a rolling stream, the smell of mountain air, and the depth of an unexplored cave.
- The sound of wind in the trees, the leaves rustling just before a storm, like a call coming from the earth itself.
- The melancholy of Virginia Woolf and the madness of Carson McCullers.
- The need for truth, whatever the cost, and this has cost me dearly at different times in my life. Yet I will not let go until I have it, all of it.
- The past, the breath of the first person to ask why, the curiosity of the first person to crest the hill, the soul of the first person who recorded it.
- The spirit of a dog, the heart of a wolf, the devotion of a dove, and the loyalty of a swan.
Poietes is water and wind, flowers and herbs, words and truth, stars and song. Poietes is heartbreak and love, devotion and silence. Poietes is the hardness of mountains and the softness of shifting sand. Poietes is gold and red and the color of the night sky. Poietes is privacy and solitude, observation and confession. Poietes is all of this simultaneously, and none of this singularly.
More later. Peace.
Music by Benjamin Francis Leftwich, “Pictures”
The Healing Time
Finally on my way to yes
I bump into
all the places
where I said no
to my life
all the untended wounds
the red and purple scars
those hieroglyphs of pain
carved into my skin, my bones,
those coded messages
that send me down
the wrong street
again and again
where I find them
the old wounds
the old misdirections
and I lift them
one by one
close to my heart
and I say holy