By SAIDEE BROWN | Published: February 6, 2010
I am not her. I am not destined to make the same mistakes. There is no seal on my fate that can't be pried open with free will. And though I can see patterns of the generations before stuck on karmic repeat does it mean I am to remain at that station.
In the mirror I see all of their faces pressed into mine. I see the jaw line weakening with age and I recognize my elders. In the mirror I even see the features of the one relation I would like to deny the most. I tell myself that is compassion seeing him in me and then I pluck the line of my eyebrow into a new shape almost erasing him from my face.
Where will I go from here. I tried to rise above the fray that is family only to realize it is a hefty bundle I never cease to carry on my back. And the leaving, the attempt at blind denial could be encoded in the karmic pattern too but I won't know til later. Hindsight won't matter much by then. The joke will be on me. I strayed so far away and the whole thing feels a heavy heap of trash, the cockroaches scattered and there is no one left to go back to. The one died. He was so golden. The other was too damaged to ever be in the core. He held his place for a short time but then a switch was flipped and the growing stopped except the part in the brain that constructs mean hateful scenarios and molds all information into confirming it is everyone Else's fault. He was never a player, he was something to be avoided like the road filled with ambushes on the low side of the forest. And the matriarch who once held us all and all of our doings on a million articulated arms as she spun on a perfect ballet point. She was the conduit of chaos and creation. How she ever let her guard down for sleep I will never know because the house never slept, there was always movement and plotting. There was a cast of a thousand faces coming and going, maintaining a side script, shrinking, swelling, looming, hiding. We were a carnival and the people would stop for a ride and move on.
Path changers is what she called us. People would come into our life and they would be stuck and unclear and over the course of time spent with us they would experience an epiphany and would leave for a broader horizon then they had entered with. I watched this a hundred, a thousand times, We were always the catalyst for change, a watched leaps in self awareness and soul growth. It maddened me that no matter how many we moved we stayed the same. Not the same as we grew but our station remained fixed and our life in the center of the street, in the center of town remained the same. Our job stayed the same. Our work was to move others along and after a while I began to feel stagnant and restless and wanting of change. I forced it a number of times but the wrist rocket that propelled me was sticky and never let me go instead I would snap back again so fast and hard.
Eventually I left.
It was time to go. The sun was blaring on our carnival and everyone knows a carnival does not look its best in the harsh glare of natural light. The joint was getting seedy and the crowds unreasonable. How it all fell apart. They abandoned the house, they dissipated. There was no more home. NO where left to go back to. I mean I could have forced my way back, slept at the feet of my mother on whichever couch of whichever friend living room she was occupying but it was too disturbing. There was a time when we were a noble race. That was what I had been raised to believe. I was raised in a cocoon, thinking I was blessed, thinking I mattered, thinking the support structure would hold tight because I was important, because I was finally important enough for a real home. When did I start to believe in the real home, when did the set she dressed so skillfully after years of gypsy life become not a set but a home. I wanted it so badly.
She was maintaining for me. I was maintaining for her, for him. It wasn't true. I tried to make it on my own. I tried to create a home. I tried to be that nobler race, the one that put on pajama's and sheets and took showers and had clean towels and knew what meals would be made for the week. I lost myself in there. It was a deep little den the hole I dug out to hide in.
I have three little cocoons of my own spun up tight.
The owl woman will make arrangements I have to go out in the night. She will make their lunches and pat their heads, kiss dewy sweet cheeks and send them on their way. It is me, it is me, it is me they will maintain. They won't look to close. All of the motions will be right, the murmurs will fit. By the time they return I will be back.
I split off in a double way, leaving a husk behind and my hand bends the latch on the screen door. My feet don't quite touch the ground but the earth can be felt in my mouth as my tongue presses up with what would be each footfall. No one comes here to this neighborhood. Must be the hauntings or the corrosive smell of toxins escaping from the soil where 200 years of industry scarred the earth, soaked it full of deadly cancer worms and cut the soil with razor sharp particles. We made our peace with it and there stands a crusted protection on the paths we take.
The going can not be calculated by time. It is a few soft bounces forward and a jolt back and an image is received from a haunt as I pass. I slip to a forest in the northwest where the moss is thick and the air moist. It shows me a cottage and a women in a wrap dress bringing in the clothes off the line. It is glad love I feel from the haunt.
"This is home?" I ask it.
A nod in my head that is the haunt.
"Go then." I blow a whisper of intention towards the cottage.
An imploring wince of doubt presses my body.
"You brought me here. it is no memory. you've kept your own self locked away from here. go on. you belong."
This time I set my eyes on the cottage and starting at my right shoulder top I begin to blow again with my arm extended to the cottage, to it's river rock path and I rush my breath all the way down past my wrist, over my finger and out from my hand setting the haunt on its way and ricocheting me back to my own road.
I see more haunts. they are like stone with a thick wet ceramic glaze poured over them. I pass a steep bank and see a father and son set inside it like a relief in the mud. They are all one color. They are from the 1930's. like the haunt before they were here in an industrial boom and died in an accident with one of the trains at the switch-yard. They have no interest in me these two but I almost weep at seeing them, the shock is still in their faces, the despair is frozen in the fathers eyes and his hand resting on his sons overall strapped shoulder is of no reassurance any more. A tragic waste. The boy is almost ready for me. His heart is strong and I can feel its reach but he is uncertain about leaving his pa. I will pass this way again soon, no doubt and he may be ready then. The haunts don't make noise, not like us. There is rustling and what could be called sighs as most haunts are wistful by nature. They are sounds that could be easily muffled out by your own breathing or the brushing of your pants legs as you walk. It takes a certain listening to hear them like fine tuning a radio with an old fashioned twist knob. Now it is difficult for me not to hear them. I have to turn the dial down on my spirit box, I have boxes made by the fella down the way that makes objects that aren't. The one I carry is a flat wooden tile. it is heavily painted, slips into my back pants pocket. . There is a grid of holes to be a speaker or for talk if you are needin to talk. There are two knobs on the front fashioned from small checker pieces and another on the side that used to be a toothpaste lid. That's the on off. On the top there is a bent wire in the shape of a "V" with a loops on the ends that can be smashed down out of site. They can also be bent into different shapes to change the dimension being called. I have some papers somewhere that are the instructions. they are blank except on the back where it has typed "work." This I keep hidden away in a small cloth in my bottom drawer. It could be dangerous if read by the wrong people. The connections are possible without the contraption. The contraption strengthens the execution of the intention, makes it physical.
The river is close by. For me it is a necessity, running water. It moves all of the time, the geography is in constant notable change and it helps me remember everything is in flux. Not even the memory stays the same. It is constantly betrayed by relativity, regression and growth. There are places, we all have these places, there are places my mind slips to and I see them from above as the bird flies and I see them as a telescope eye and I know these places, these spots on the earth are the essence of me, are the very matter of me. I know not what draws me to them as there is no clear event that stands out. Perhaps it is a a place where a significant thought was developed. The very place where I knew I was alone. The spot where I realized my own was just that mine and I could only share to a certain point. Now that I think on them with my full attention I have found a thread. A common sensation. I remember a feeling of completion, a sense that if this were the last moment I had I was fine because I knew I had experienced a perfection of love and sorrow and lacked nothing in those moment, felt no need to reach outside of myself. They were places of ease and in that they became places of power as I could find my center in them. It could be that simple.
One of these places is not far from our home. It is on the river bank and I was going to set myself up there for a conversation I had been looking forward to for months. I left the road, my black boots sinking a bit into the sandy rock mix.. The wind picks up, an empty cup blowing down the street, it's tumble sounded like the rolling clops of a horse pulling a carriage and I look about to be sure it is not another haunt. The way to the river bank is littered with old buildings from the fuel oil company that used to be here. The buildings are well framed with makeshift walls of corrugated metal and plywood. There are years of paint at different stages of peeling. It looks like they were all painted silver at one time, the last coat was white and the effect of the two colors in the night is like looking at old space shuttle equipment. Dirty white dreams grounded on the earth. My favorite structure, the one I visit the most, the brightest spot on the topography of my psyche is a structure I have to assume was a kind of tank holder but it looks like a large standing cement crown. A crown Gulliver might have worn and our land the proportion of the Lilliput's or I am Alice after the eat me, drink me mishap. Whichever it gives a ominous fairytale presence to the otherwise tired industrial landscape. It does not fit. The streetlight makes the shape more unclear lending to the crown appearance, repetition of sweeping lines. I should crawl up onto it and be cradled by those arcs. I could watch my own house from there. I could be on the moon there, looking down on my favorite place. When I get up to the walls of the tank holder I take from my pants pocket an amber glass bottle with a corked top. I take a pinch of dirt from the base point where the walls intersect the ground and put it in the bottle. It is sand and tiny pebbles crumbled from the crowns walls and flakes of paint. With a pen I draw a rudimentary sketch of three sweeping "u" shape to represent the bottles contents. I will need this later. I will keep it for a landing pad.
The covers on the street lights are dirty. The film makes a dull light with a meager reach. I walk through it aware of a flatness like glacier glow that can't cause a shadow but casts a color and this one is phthalo blue in the corners. My spot is at the outer edge of the lights reach. I pull up my hood and see bits of my dark brown hair peeking out the edges as I bend to the ground and unroll my wire kit. Tonight I change the wires from copper to palladium wire. It is best for clearing mixed signals. The copper wires I slide in next to the brass and the silver ones with the carnelian beads. I roll the wires up, put them in my sweatshirt pocket. I widen my stance and bend the first wire with a sharp elbow and the other gets a curve and fold down twist. I put it against my palm and hold it up to face the night sky. I have to flick my wrist a few times to be sure it is getting a signal up to space. There is a change in the air around my hand, there is prickly heat and reverb of echo that vibrates my fingertips and tickles my palm. No matter how many times I do this it still thrills me to be directly linked to a fragment of all we refuse to see. Once the charge is established I can put my hand down and work out the fine parts.
I crouch low and look out across the river. There are a few sailboats anchored and a bridge in the distance and stars. I spot the stars with the recognition one has for long known acquaintances, a short look and a quick inventory of facts come to mind, birth, class, color, death. lapping waves, clank of masts and smell of dirt and fish. I begin to turn knobs, slowly the side one and then a quick spi on the front left and then I pull a hairpin from my temple and set it in one of the front holes and I repeat this pattern until I hear a crackle of static and a low electric hum. It has begun.