DISTRICT OF MACEDONIA
Office of Attachment Affairs
AFFIDAVIT OF IDENTITY IN RETROGRADE
I, being duly examined, hereby affirm under penalty of endless wandering, sorrow and confusion, on this day of declaration, that I am (Check one)
X Other Both Heir and Survivor
of the Estate of Promise. The purpose of this affidavit is to secure the transfer or delivery of
X All wisdom and knowledge found in the First Born Of the Dead
If pleases the court, after decades of deliberation and the compilation and research of prophetic messages and mercurial witnesses, and in consideration of laws and liberties established before the foundations of the world, I heretofore submit the following testimony, as stated, which unequivocally meets required criteria for required articles of acceptance: i.e. complete and utter reliance on resources beyond any one individual, mass of individuals, powers, or principalities outside the purview and distribution of Our Sovereign Creator.
I certify, UNDER PENALTY OF PERJURY, by the law of Passive Righteousness set forth by the courts of HEAVEN’S ARMY ANGELS, that the foregoing is true and correct to the best of my understanding.
BODY OF EVIDENCE: (as follows)
Ours are a people breathed.
Ours are a people stained.
We are a story together.
A story apart.
We bleat peril and growl heroism.
We view ourselves from many angles.
Sometimes from the beginning.
Sometimes from the everlasting.
The middle remains to be lived.
We make much of ourselves.
There is much to be made of everything.
We act as if we begin with ourselves and end with ourselves,
but we believe otherwise.
We will tell you all about it.
We will share our thus and so’s.
The thus and so’s include what is precious.
What is deplorable.
Particularities shimmy into our stories named and unnamed.
Straddling glaciered time, shaped as much by what we know as by what we imagine,
Life is strangeness; an aching secret even unto ourselves.
We live and have our being in making much of.
On any given day we wake tangled in much-ness.
Our legs tangle with the legs of our mothers.
Our hands tangle with the hands of our fathers.
What is a ship to a sailor was a church to our grandfather.
A fleet of churches bobbed in his wake,
an uncelebrated catch of theological books about holiness.
A tribe of grandchildren he barely got to know.
I so wanted to be important enough to gain his attention.
To be holy.
To receive God’s promises,
undeterred from God’s good plans for me.
Surely this distant father, the father before my father,
a man who ordered field stones into sanctuaries,
surely, he knew about good and evil and the sorrow of suffering alone.
His death ended in a collision between a car and a train,
leaving us with the wreckage.
We are children grown.
Children yet to be.
The wars irrevocably traumatized our fathers.
Abandonment slept with our mothers.
Back from the hunching trenches, my father
entered a matrimonial battle everyone said would fall to divorce.
Pneumonia took my grandmother at the age of 38.
My mother spent her life trying to resurrect her in wild garden landscapes,
lavish tables set with antique China and cast-off brick-a-brac.
In the void of grandmother’s early death, I found little space for me.
My parents strived to be birds, hammers, wooing echoes and bright reflections.
To be their child was to maneuver in a world of fierce hands.
More than one.
Sometimes a hand flings a belt.
Sometimes a hand is open and drumming.
Take an ordinary day.
A peculiar kitchen.
Pecky-cedar cupboard doors.
Speckled linoleum floors.
The mother makes lunch.
Intent on endeavor, her hands flutter across the bread.
The word endeavor tumbles in the child’s mind.
End and ever put together.
End and ever kissing.
End and ever walking down the aisle.
Born tongue-tied with an indigenous yearning for togetherness,
the child carried her story through a day of many mountains.
A yellow, red, blue story.
A bright story she tells to stem the mother’s tide.
The child tells her story in its entirety, with gusto.
Before the colors dry,
the mother’s face tightens.
The mother’s hand flies out and strikes.
The child holds her burning face.
The colors smear.
– Who do you think you are?
Over and done.
Something heavy, something sharp contorts the child’s face.
The child sees the mother does not have what the child has,
such as a mother.
The mother has no mother.
The child knows this, has always known it.
From before forever, the child seemed to know.
I blamed myself for putting my face in the space of my mother’s loss.
I took it all back: My story,
its light and shadows.
All of it, I gathered quickly back, crushed it small and tucked it away.
– Who do you think you are?
The question kept asking itself.
At night, I braced my knees against the wall by my bed.
I feared rolling into a hellish oblivion, forgotten and unretrieved.
As I grew, high fevers plagued me, clocks and newspapers flew untethered around the room.
I tried not to make a fuss.
Sleep walking and bed-wetting haunted me.
What could not be addressed in brisk conversation emerged in groggy riddles.
Through the abyss of sleep, I wandered half-clothed down our gravel driveway toward the street.
– Where do you think you are going?
– I’m looking for my legs.
Beyond childhood, in the shadow of my grandfather’s disembodied purity,
I disappeared in libraries, in the backseat of my boyfriend’s car, in household chores and fictions.
Desperate need fueled the fires of my body’s pilgrimage.
To cut the noose of promiscuity, I married young.
Wading into the cold river of pretension,
I hiked my skirts and barely kept afloat.
I excelled at chicken casseroles, thank you cards, church attendance, homemade pies and silence.
I battled fear and the subtle curse of self-righteousness tarted-up to be godly womanhood.
We are a people anxious to avoid wolves.
We are kept women, women ignored, women trying to behave.
We are well-heeled men, jobless, and men strapped to our careers.
Together we have student loans, special needs children, small houses, large houses,
houses threatened by fires and tinderbox trees.
We maintain cottage gardens, clip grass, wash cars.
We are well-advised and misinformed.
Preachers and mild-mannered thugs.
Much time has gone by since we’ve shared a meal.
We seek to justify our abundance.
Abundance sustains us.
The life breathed into us goes on expelling and inhaling long after we’ve forgotten the first gust.
We have food.
What we eat and what we wear suggests our contributions to the world.
Too much extravagance requires an excuse – a gift, a bargain, a fluke.
Too little infers sloth, ignorance, an absence of responsibility.
The woven us, the tangled and mingled together, struggles to justify abundance.
We hide our medications, our visits to mental wards.
We want to be dignified, chaste, faithful, but know full-well we hold those things in tension with
the mortifying ugliness of
self-preservation, competition and flimsy piety.
At once with neediness comes the shame of it.
We give advice when we are better off taking it.
Wolves can play the role of both sheep and goats.
And we often play all three.
Borrowing does not become us.
And yet, there are times we borrow without qualm.
A cup of sugar.
An egg can be borrowed back.
But faith is something we cannot bear to ask for.
Lack of faith is a bad habit and upstanding believers do not ask to borrow it.
So eggs yes.
Desperate thoughts, unthinkable,
though they go on lending themselves at whim and we don’t know how to give them back.
We travel from the suburbs to The City.
We push against the rain.
The freeway unscrolls before us and we use its drenched back.
We are not sure where we will end up and how much it will cost.
The rain pays us no heed, is not a good example for learning.
It falls where it falls, it does not clean up after itself.
Rain is all about rain.
Rain is smitten with itself and makes no apology.
When rain takes offense it simply takes off on its own,
refusing to fall, refusing to let anyone know where it is or how to find it.
Clouds are rarely eager for inspection.
Clouds hide out above our heads.
Ladders to the clouds are never on sale and even strike-it-richers can’t risk the climb.
You understand a ride in the rain with your sister.
Perhaps a brother.
You are well-acquainted.
In this case, I drive with my sister, en route to visit our cousins.
– If we ride together, we can use the carpool lane.
– Bring cash and plenty of it.
Cash habitually evades us.
We are later than we wanted.
Surprised to be this early.
Nostalgia pricks our memories.
We move from actualities to suppositions.
My sister remembers feeling unwanted at grandfather’s funeral.
I remember tracing faces in the rippling grain of the dark wood pews.
We stop half-way at a Farmer’s Market by the pier.
We park down the road.
We walk toward the water against a salty wind teaming with longing.
A used book store winks us in.
We are never strong enough to ignore the advances of books, used or otherwise.
Fruits, flowers, soaps and vegetables can wait.
We delay the fragrance of basil for the scent of a used book.
I fumble through musty pages.
My eyes hurt.
I want Oz and Narnia.
I want James Bond and The Civil War.
I want ruby slippers and bayonets.
I want lampposts in the snow and the breath of a Lion to blow me beyond the cliffs.
We turn our backs on the magic.
We join produce regiments flanked by curiosity and speculation.
The oceans spits its fog, the sky its rain.
We stand under a dripping umbrella gawking.
Roses bundled like babies,
Snapdragons and Queen Anne’s lace.
Even wearing treacherous heels, a glimpse of beauty shrinks suffering.
We return to our car, climb in and head further south.
We cross the bridge into discombobulating vistas.
We take it in.
We push it away.
For all its homelessness, lack of parking and flying trash,
I imagine a clemency unavailable within the exposing intimacy of the suburbs.
Forgiveness isn’t in the city or the suburbs.
Choose a place to go for forgiveness but it is not found in avoidance and hiddenness.
Forgiveness requires confession and exposure.
To claim abundance we must embrace our emptiness.
Retrace our steps.
Other than a target for rage, time is a slave driver.
I struggle to name what happened when and how.
The futility of argument talks me into listening,
but being heard is a hazard.
We call the hotel, announce our proximity and ask for directions.
– We should be there in a minute.
– I’ve heard that before.
The car inches through traffic.
One of us watches for red lights, another for one-way arrows.
The conversation is velvet and sap.
It is no longer easy come, easy go.
It is perhaps and hopefully and watch out for pedestrians.
A man stands on the corner wearing a ski jacket, poly fill bursts at the elbows.
Women wear gloves and scarves.
Inside the car, the air throbs like a bonfire.
My sister opens the windows.
The ocean air pours in.
I wrap my scarf tighter around my neck, but don’t complain.
Complaints reflect badly.
Complaints continue their tirade even as I work to subdue them.
We arrive at a swank hotel to pick up our cousin and his second wife.
We’ve been called scallywags, hustle-bottoms and airheads;
Perhaps we don’t belong.
I think, what alms can we bring?
We order a tray of honey custard with a dollop of ice cream.
Along with spoons, dishes, white linens and black coffee.
Hoping to prevent a landslide of judgment and poor reflection,
we enter an elevator carpeted with tropical leaves.
There are many floors.
Inside the room, we hug and become our own audience.
We pay attention to our noses.
Exhaust and Ovaltine.
A hint of coffee.
Tea tree shampoo.
We meet the second wife and compare her to the first.
I study the power of her arms.
Her high-collared silk cigarette tunic rides muscular calves.
She clutches a purse embroidered with peacock feathers.
The peacock intrigues me.
I invent a story and tell it to myself.
The peacock pushed too far.
It would not shut up.
It screamed at all the wrong times.
A wolf snapped its neck.
When the peacock died, the wolf roamed free.
The menu is high priced.
The cost of an appetizer equates to a one-course suburban meal.
Entrées are twice again as much.
I picture myself sneaking into Mrs. Chamberlain’s empty third grade classroom.
Rifling through lunch pails during recess hunting for sweets.
I reconsider my anorexic budget and the crush of its grip.
In terms of choice, I decide and disavow.
An earlier warning roars in my ears.
– Who do you think you are?
I spin in a blur of choice: prawns, embellished tofu,
snow peas drenched in sesame oil,
wine flung from the stars,
sake suitable for sushi Queens.
– Who do you think you are?
In one hand I hold a scramble of experience, in the other, a stone of shame.
To explain my bewilderment, I listen to the gaps of conversation.
Will the evening require my presence as a poet or a storyteller?
Poets breeze in with bruising truth and fly out before its shadow print appears.
But storytellers gather abstractions and circle back to give them shape.
One minute, a rhythmic impulse sends me into poetry.
Every candle is tuning fork.
Every heartache, a glaring void.
The Solomon’s baby syndrome grips me.
Am I about to be severed in two?
We remember how to be small and curious,
to try on lipstick,
to climb through poison oak,
to conceive prayers,
to be oblivious,
to write letters,
to cling to outcome,
to legitimate our needs.
I remember being so small praying for a marriage destined for divorce.
On tiptoe, I reached through the wind to pin wet sheets on a line.
I duck my head to keep from being slapped.
We lived through times we thought hunger would end.
Now we crave boomerangs and fat chances.
Various summer-scented cheeses,
Crescent-shaped, mushroom stuffed dough.
Wine, the color coursing through our veins.
We don’t want to duplicate our mothers’ marriages.
We want to forgive our fathers’ dismissals.
Prevent our own disasters.
Levity pulls us this way and that.
Advice flies – market yourself;
be your own encourager;
find out what you don’t know.
Stop balancing broccoli on your head and dressing paper dolls.
Prepare for famine with a history of well-watered humilities.
When worse comes to worst, keep a distance.
Beware the calving glaciers.
While the release of its offspring makes for good footage, its name is Rupture.
Its repair is crucifixion.
To be indifferent is to be instigators.
To be instigators is to be guilty.
We discuss electronic addictions and
young men missing fathers;
fathers missing fathers.
Mothers missing daughters.
Daughters missing mothers.
We take sides against ourselves.
Women are worse than men unless you are a woman and then men are the culprits.
Artists have their own category, that’s how my sister puts it.
I admit I’m an artist.
One day I will make a paper-mache hot air balloon.
Real ones require acres of silk and are capable of crossing from
captivity to freedom without any noise.
We are enamored with freedom and baffled by marriage.
Before we know it, we’re discussing sex.
Every subject leads to sex.
Even if nobody admits it, sex undergirds the conversation.
Whether we want it to or not, sex takes the heat for fake marriages.
Sex is the scapegoat when licentiousness begins to wag its tail.
When it comes to marriage,
We find vows appealing.
– I’ll keep mine if you keep yours.
Covenants perplex us.
– I’ll keep mine even if you don’t.
Our grandfather loved God.
Did his love of God include infidelity?
Did his second wife collude with insanity or accept reality by accusing him of adultery?
By her own admission, she envied the perpetuity plan of the male seahorse.
Served them right, she said, to be bridled with the unborn.
One of us bore witness.
Driving down the road, the grandfather pulled to the shoulder,
Cranked off the ignition, laid his head on the steering wheel and wept.
Later, the word got out.
– Stay away from that woman, she’s crazy.
This struggle lives in the lower leagues of my gut.
It erodes trust.
Peace lives among the treasures we’ve lost;
our mothers, for instance and on the other hand, our fathers,
As go our marriages, so goes the rise and fall of our faith.
The first door to the left at the top of the stairs is not,
as the signs indicate, the lady’s room.
Instead, it is a broom closet shelved with votive candles.
Each one marred by bent wicks blackened by snuffed flames.
I shut the door and find the right door.
Shrouded in dusk-like lighting, the mirror shows me a face I can’t remember.
I see a suggestion of how I might look without the spangled creases between my brows.
Before the rupture.
Before the deep waters.
Before the undertow pulled me into where I’d never been.
Disassociation fries the wire between danger and safety.
It works well in a pinch.
When disassociation happens, I can’t immediately name it.
Disassociation answers to daydreaming, air-headedness.
Disassociation means well.
It sets me apart when I don’t know how to be gathered in.
Disassociation says forget your glasses, maintain decorum.
Before returning to the table, you study the fledgling koi in a fake pond.
The pond convinces despite its contrived banks.
This could be Paradise.
The evidence of its myth is in the water’s lack of clarity.
The sag of a miniature palm at its edge, suggests a priest cupping his ear to absolve an oblate.
But Paradise ends the need for confession.
Guilt has neither pillow or name in Paradise.
At the table, we make good impressions.
We calculate our worth in clock years.
We flounce our vigorous endeavors, look for prisms in our dust.
Younger is what we want to be unless we already are.
When we are no longer young, we remind ourselves we’ve done the best we could.
I hint at God.
I try to be nonchalant, pretend to know.
I want to convince the others.
No one wants to live in Paradise alone.
I want my doubts to prove me wrong and God to save the day.
Puzzling about God is less risky than believing in miraculous abundance.
We consider God’s position as the lover of mankind.
I want to ask my father what he sees in me.
But I already know the answer.
– Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
The conversation enlarges, including stories from second cousins, cousins once removed.
– Don’t act shocked.
– You did the same thing to me.
– I did not.
– It’s true.
– We didn’t know what we were doing.
– We were sabotaged by indiscretions.
– As were our parents.
– All children get messed with.
– We get attention so we put up with it.
– That was another time.
– They were both miserable.
– And exhausted.
What happens to orphaned kids and grieving adults?
Throw a stone into the sea.
Follow the ripples.
The concentric circles include sex but a deeper desire swirls below.
I never expected love to be hindered by the complications of sex.
I wanted God to save me from my body’s rule and staunch my soul’s despair.
The bill arrives.
We pitch in, but not in equal amounts.
My part makes a contribution just this side of indigence
I still don’t know how wealthy I am.
I want to give more, but it would be far less than what I owe.
I am thankful and humbled.
Expressing gratitude increases my humility.
Saying thank you reddens my face.
We move to the deck of a semi-outdoor bar.
I am not ready to return to the literal.
My desire for connection has increased throughout the evening.
Caught in the resplendent undertow of the past,
I don’t expect to find a dog, a former wolf, in a bar.
But here he stands, panting, docile.
Some people step back and others inch forward.
No one mentions the danger of the now-dog reverting to a wolf.
I imagine the slightest mishap resulting in disaster.
A small cut in an open hand, the tiniest taste of vulnerability.
Domestication has no power over a wolf aroused by human blood.
A dog sleeps while a blood-triggered wolf stalks.
It no longer obeys any voice but its own.
A wolf doesn’t mind owning what belongs to others.
A hunger-crazed wolf feigns a ghost and hunts you down.
Take a knife and dip it in blood.
Put the blood married to the knife in the freezer.
Once frozen, take it out and dip it in blood again.
Repeat until an innocent bundle of pink ice hides the knife edge.
Bury the knife in snow, just below the surface.
The wolf follows its nose.
It sniffs out the blood, licks the snow, numbs his tongue but arrives at the knife.
Licking the blood, the wolf severs its own tongue and dies.
A wolf can bleed to death, but it doesn’t stand in the tracks and let a train run it down.
But a faithful dog – starved by secrets, disoriented with pain, might mistake the thunder of a train for the bellow of its searching master and charge into its path.
Grandfather’s car barreled across an unguarded train crossing.
The train careened through a rain-drenched walnut grove.
People yelled from the cars lined up behind him.
Parting ways, we return to a world of intersections.
Rain smears the windshield.
The aging wipers punish us with caterwauls.
We miss our turn, circle the block before find the onramp to the bridge.
– Why are you crying?
– I don’t know. I have no idea.
But I do know. Translating tears requires more than an alphabet.
Experience marks the path to truth.
Truth lives in absence, silence, and preoccupation.
Tears converted to prayer light the way.
When we encounter truth’s light, tears reconvert to hope.
Our lives unfurl from grace to grace and on into the everlasting.
We will one day cease to weep but therein do not end.