Maybe that’s not true. There are probably ways. Doctors may have that whole pancreas thing sorted by now. I know you can be a citizen without a gall bladder. You have to go easy on the apple pie a la mode, but you can do it. I also know, not from personal experience, but still, you can be a citizen without an appendix. You don’t need limbs to be a citizen.
I became a citizen of the United States on August 24, 2011. It would have been sooner, but I had to choose between a swearing in ceremony in June and checking on my pancreas. They don’t tell you to prepare for that choice. They give you a booklet and CD with 100 different questions about the US, but nothing about organs. I am lucky that my friend Josepha Conrad had previously prepared me with the slogan, Not Everybody Can Have Perfect Organs. It’s true.
At the time of making this unexpected choice, I had one citizenship and one pancreas. I wanted to hold onto both. So I left before the June swearing in ceremony, and then I came back in August. August 24 is my mum’s birthday too. So that’s good.
When I came home that day in June, not a US citizen, but a little more confident in my organs, I made this collage:
I have lived in the same cottage since 2001. It is very small. It is slightly adorable and everything kind of leans north. Lots of people lived here before me. It was built, I think, in the 1930’s and I was built a good time after that. So, you know, people contribute. There are shadows and traces. Lived lives.
Two years ago, everything became new again. As newish as 1930 can get. New floors, new roof, new paint job. New arrangement of old furniture. I spent a lot of time looking at the walls, but someone else did the ceiling.
Somehow, until today, I never looked up at just the right place in just the right light. I never saw the planet on my ceiling. It’s right above my little breakfast nook. I guess I’m always looking out a window or into a book. I remember to look up when I’m outside, but now I have to look up in my house. Because there’s a whole solar system in here, I’m almost sure. In the meantime, thirteen years in the seeing: Saturn.
This is the first heart I found. No. That’s obviously not true.
This is the first heart-shaped stone I found. I turned it into a necklace. I wore it a lot for a long time and then I hardly wore it at all.
Maybe I’ll wear it tonight. Tonight is the final showing of SLAB. Do you know about it? Emily K. Harrison and Gleason Bauer adapted it from Selah Saterstrom’s novel. That’s a hell of a holy trinity. If you’re in Colorado or maybe even just a two hour flight from Colorado, you should come. I hear it is so beautiful I might float away. So wearing a stone around my neck might be helpful.
In 2003, I sat in on a class by Rikki Ducornet. She was teaching in Prague for Naropa’s study abroad program, or for the festival at the end of the program. It’s a long story, we gave the festival an NEA (Never Ever Again) grant. But it was wonderful, the festival, and Rikki’s class. She talked about The Deep Zoo. She talks about it elsewhere. Soon there will be a book. Next year. From Coffee House Press. We should all buy it.
In the class, she talked about choosing a shape. Sketching the shape in your notebook or in your mind. And then finding it, or letting it find you. It works no matter how intricate or simple the shape. I have done it for years now and all over the world. I found spirals in Prague. I found stars in St John. I found circles in Melbourne. I don’t know that it would work without the alchemical magic of Rikki Ducornet. But it works if Rikki tells you to do it. And I’m pretty sure she’s going to tell us to do it in the new book.
Also, and always, I find hearts. It started many years ago on a beach. I found a heart-shaped stone, smooth on one side and speckled by smaller stones on the other. I wish I could show it to you. It is at home and I am not. So I can’t. I will soon. Maybe next week. I’m trying to get better at these things. In the meantime, I give you this, from Lake Powell:
Because there is always room for a heart to become more complete.
Or possibly the number 2,190. Or 2,191, accounting for leap years. One sonnet a day, every day, for six years.
In summer 2008, I was between projects, as I possibly am now. What if I never had another idea? (What if I don’t?) Inspired by Marilyn Hacker’s Love, Death and the Changing of the Seasons, and probably sick of my moaning about not having any ideas, Max Regan suggested I try writing a sonnet a day. I decided on wrap-around sonnets. The end of today is the beginning of tomorrow. The first line on the first day: this is the graveyard of selves. Bit gloomy there.
Today’s first line: and how the pieces fit together.
Tomorrow, which is to say next year, will begin: the longest day and how I live it.
Here are some things to know about the number 6:
- It is my mother’s favourite number. I don’t know why. I should ask her.
- It is Bert’s favourite number (see youtube).
- It is the smallest perfect number. I don’t know what that means. I could google it, but I haven’t yet and probably won’t.
- I have never been to a Six Flags Amusement Park. I’m okay with that.
- Of course, there are devilish associations when too many 6’s get together. Also, Hexa- is Classical Greek for 6. We could make something of that. Sex- is the Latin prefix. We could make something of that too.
Tomorrow, I’ll begin year seven. Also, it will be the summer solstice. And my Auntie Anna’s birthday. And Bhanu Kapil’s birthday. And the 2,192nd poem. Every day is new. And every poem.
This is Max Regan’s whiteboard. He is writing a book. He is starting again. There are so many words beneath the skin. Holding the space for what is to come. Everything we write we have already written. But we need the colours, we need the erasure. We need to start and start again.
I have been thinking of the layers. What we write. What comes before. The words that don’t make it to the page. The words that do and disappear. The shades they make. A memory of blue. The need for a diagonal.
I would like to study architecture. To understand the importance of foundation. To mark out the walls, the doors and windows. To understand where ground is needed, where something can stand on its own. They knew this in Pompeii. It’s not too much to ask.
This is how books are made. Pre-existence.
There is only so much I can stand in terms of things that creep around. I do not mean to complain. I am on a tropical island. It gets primordial. I have forty-three mosquito bites, but I swim in the ocean every day. It has been rainier than usual, but it has also been about 40 degrees (celsius, I still don’t really understand farenheit) warmer than Boulder.
I grew up in a country with a lot of spiders. I don’t want to talk about it. It didn’t go well. I didn’t know it until pretty much now, but I also grew up in a country with scorpions. I never saw one. I don’t feel good about knowing it now. It’s unnecessary. There’s enough to worry about with the spiders.
While we’re talking about things I don’t know, I might as well tell you that I have never read a James Patterson book. There isn’t time. And I am impressionable.
But he has come of use this week. I would like to extend my thanks to the publishing industry for splurging on a hardcover. Paperback cannot always get the job done. An e-book might have been the end of me. I should also like to extend my thanks to the brave soul who collaborated with Mr. Patterson in the scorpion hunt. Finally: the can of Raid, knife sharpener, blue plastic gloves, and the lovely beer that made it all better later.
Mr. Patterson: If you would like to use this in any of your stories, you are most welcome. Thank you for your participation.
I’m sorry if you like scorpions. I guess this is scorpion snuff. Also, what are you thinking liking scorpions?
I have been thinking about water. Caribbean. Pacific. Warm and blue.
This is also something. One week earlier than anticipated. An almost solid. Cold and white.
I have never seen waves like this. Holding themselves in form. Permanent until you touch them. Which I did. Knowing they would crumble. Hoping they would stay.
I’m not sure when I started loving October. Like many things, it was probably a collaboration. Maybe Josepha Conrad did it first and then I copycatted her. I like to do that. I owe her a phone call. I couldn’t call because it was September.
September is never as good as October, but it is not usually this bad. It is usually just shy about not being October. This year it decided to be known. Everything happened on one day and that day lasted two days. It was too fast and it took too long and I’m happy that it’s over.
This used to be part of a tree. Now it is an O. I found it on my friend Ginny’s land. Where there used to be a lot more trees.
You probably know by now that I did not win $400 million in the Powerball lottery. It’s disappointing. It was definitely a shock, but I’m doing okay.
Max Regan (who also would have been an excellent Powerball winner) and I spent a lot of time talking about how our lives would change and not change with the money. We’d still have the same bodies and minds and families and pasts. We’d still do a lot of the same things in the present and in the future. Some things we would stop doing. I won’t say what, seeing as I do not currently have $400 million and so am still engaged in those endeavours. I am happy to disclose said information for $400 million. Actually, bargain basement, I am happy to disclose for $2 million. I am a cheap date at heart.
Our big discovery, Max’s really, was the lottery of the mind. How thinking about what’s possible with $400 million can let you see what’s possible without $400 million. I won’t be buying the Paris apartment yet, and I won’t be travelling first class. But I can still speak French and go for a lovely walk. I won’t be establishing the artist residency and publishing program, but I’ll still write books and read books and go to galleries.
So, it’s not $400 million, but I still have the lottery of the mind. I’m going to do some things and not do some things. Let’s.