Her long hair is a ladder, a portal and a twisted muscle.
Creamy matted tresses cease to reflect light and absorb all, like the ferocious spiral of cyclone.
Inside is a nest of baby birds and a pool of turquoise water, a pile of warm blankets, a cave drenched in echoes and a fireworks show.
Curls piled tall on top of her head are an infinite beehive stretching to the stars. This tangled tower of tresses collapses behind her and follows like the train on a decaying gown or a bird whose own extended tail erases her footsteps.
(This bird is from an elusive Anais Nin writing that I’ve been unable to locate again, for years.
Do you know it? )
She draws an extended breath, feels the cold mist sting as it fills to the top of her chest.
Her body embraces the inhale, warms the icy cloud inside of her.
Her exhale blooms soft white forms that crystallize into the shape of her mouth, her throat, her lungs.
For an instant, these hazy bodies hover in space, then evaporate into the winter landscape.
She is speaking in tongues.
A flapping echo of language, so fast that
her own glistening fang bites her soft lip,
again and again.
Laughter gurgles up and heightens into
a reverberating shriek of delight.
Her lipstick escapes the dry edges of a wicked smile.
She is a crimson smear.
She is treading water while stirring the pot and flowing like silk as she drowns in the pond.
She is towing the line and unraveling a thread as she walks a tightrope while spinning a yarn.
She is an earthquake, a carpet of moss, a dead bluebird, a hesitant line, an empty coat pocket, satin ribbons, a bloody knot, a loss for words.
She is a broken fingernail, a gasp of air, outdated technology, a peacock feather, one thousand rings from Paris, dirty snow.
She is a hula hoop, tarnished silver, a rabbit skin, a balancing act, a black circle, a glass of pink champagne.
Positioned on a busy corner at Crenshaw and Washington, she sits on the city sidewalk, against a short brick wall, with piles of clothing, blankets, quilts maybe a sleeping bag or two spiraling around her large body.
She takes up space, unapologetically, sitting at the center of a material nest, loosely woven.
Her legs are crossed and her torso is upright. She stares ahead as if in a meditation. Her light brown sleeveless dress is almost the color of her skin which creates an initial, startling, impression that she is exposed.
Her body is regal, her gaze strong, her hardship momentarily disguised.
A march rages on just a few miles from where she sits in her own silent protest.
She moves through life as an apparition. She is unseen leaving the hotel, walking down a crowded street, sitting on the train, moving through the market. She speaks a language that is not her own, in a culture that is hostile to her presence.
Bones ache and muscles throb. Her small body protests the physical work which she continues because there is no alternative. She climbs into her own bed, made with clean pressed sheets perfectly folded and tucked at each corner, a practice that’s become habit from her daily grind.
The world is tolerable under the warmth of the heavy blankets, in the dark, where she can disappear until the day breaks open to invisibility again.
She is a specter in plain view.
Her bungalow had a faded green exterior dotted with lime-colored shapes. Each form vaguely suggested an object that had been pressed against the facade for a period of time creating unintended stencils.
Upon entering through the front door, there was a single path carefully carved out between piles of decaying boxes, heaps of musty bags and mountains of dusty paperbacks. Furniture was stacked to the ceiling – a bureau on top of a dresser on top of an armoire whose drawers one could never reach so high. Each step along this overgrown trail of objects, however seemingly meaningless, reflected a moment in her lifetime.
It was a short and nonsensical passageway that began at the front door, led across the small living room, past a hallway, through the kitchen and out the back door where a Persimmon tree, once full of waxy orange fruits, and since devoured by screeching ravens, stood bare.
Months later, her house is now an empty shell whose contents have been scattered to unfamiliar people and places. I imagine the outlines of her bookshelves, framed pictures and furniture as ghostly drawings on her once pristine walls.
Her body is a balloon floating across a warm pink sky. She is peaceful and content observing the world from this distance but knows this cannot last forever.
Soon enough she is on the ground climbing an enormous wall made of a squishy mauve colored foam. The material is spongy enough for her fingers to penetrate, dig into.
Repeatedly, she hoists her body up, grabs a handful of the squishy substance and pulls herself higher. Partially attached to the flexible surface, her body sways with the curve of the porous plane. It is not frightening at all. She has come to understand in her body that this is how the material and gravity work together.
She’s been ascending for months now, perhaps longer and does not dare look down out of fear that she has made little to no progress. However, with a certain ease, she continues scaling the endless dirty rose form.
She climbs until she can drift again.