April 22, 2022

A Day on Planet Earth: a Story about Grief & Love.


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There is only Earth Day. There is no other day but Earth Day.

The story carries us into ourselves, and around the world. It takes place in the womb to become an egg. It goes back in time, into space. It seeks its own source, in love.

Everything I learned about myself is true about this story.

(This story can be about a photograph, a poem, or love.)

These are the ingredients of the story: space-womb is the setting, light is the journey, and kindness is the inevitable outcome. Space is a womb that holds us to embrace everything in the ground zero of all compounded things.

Space is a mother who loves us. Earth is a mother who knows us. The child is her story

Time stops everything from happening at once.

There is no hero; there is only a mother—birthing, growing, decaying, and passing away. How does an egg decay? It sloughs off, tearing the womb-lining, washing into the ocean.

This is a story of an egg. It pushes, releases itself, and lets go into the womb of space in a rich embrace of liquid light, like a gigantic fluorescent squid skimming the ocean floor’s inscrutable surface, in a density of species compressed like antimatter.

For all we know, space is an afterthought of light, an event horizon in a ceaseless spiral.

The only ground we have is our story.

A child is conceived, created through lust and longing, through hunger and need. Typically, between a man and woman. And all the spectator souls who magnetize near their coupling are bits of antimatter drawn in like iron filings.

We have not spoken about the heart.

A child is born of a mother and father who may not have been well-suited to raise a child together. But she exists for the story to unfold, carrying us with her.

The father dies when the girl is three, sending the mother into a tailspin, like a planet knocked off its ellipse. She spins toward the sun, hopefully toward awareness. The story of the mother is another story.

And here enters the heart. Wisdom is the great womb that nourishes all sentience. Its essence is light, the source of which resides in the human heart. Indeed, any holder of light, of sentience, possesses and is possessed by a heart.

In our story, the child invents the mother. She originates and excoriates time to shatter notions of linearity.

When grief grips a mature awareness, time ceases. The passing of love produces waves of sensory wisdom.

The child, in losing her father at age three, becomes the seed holder of a nascent grief that can only wait for maturity to blossom.

Grief’s flower produces poetry like pollen.

Here the story continues. The child in the body of an adult woman succumbs to the sensations of love and grief, to release a subtle body into the ethers. Time stops unspooling its linearity and a pervasive presence takes over as landlord, as overseer.

She is left to marvel at the light, which can bind and heal her senses with its oceanic smell. Poetry elasticizes and captures memories embedded in the recesses of her body as trauma. Like seeds, the memories are accompanied by stories that stick, like eggs, like families.

As a young adult, she writes her first poem about the Middle East as a world of sticky families. As an egg cracked open. Her origins are not bound by biographical time. She has memories from many lifetimes.

With each stroke of the gong, a story is revealed that came before, until the origin of time.

She borrows a dream body to make elaborate plans. In the mornings, she finds herself well-travelled but unchanged, undamaged. The dream envelope protects her with a substance close to light.

In her camera, she recognizes her mind as the film spool exposed but undeveloped.

Wearing gloves, she fixes the image in a strong yellow bath reeking of vinegar. Her darkroom floats vulnerably between the hallway and bathroom, taped with heavy black cloth. It is a cave without holes. Her spatial perception is acute like in a dream body.

She spends years in a cave-like recess. Someone brings her food. She practices movements and stretching to stay limber, but she never reclines, preferring to sleep upright in a wooden box slightly larger than the circumference of her seated body. The box is a square frame holding her shape.

Animals pass, sensing her presence. She observes them, learning speech and behavior. How to be a frog, a deer, a dog. She speaks and they listen.

And so it continues for lifetimes, a poet frog sits in a box, becoming deer and dog. She writes in a script on cave walls, graduating to riverbeds, tree trunks, and eventually cumulous clouds. She sends her poems with the rain to her family, her friends. She teaches in this way.

In India, she dreams of violins and sitars, of women with long robes and colorful hair dancing and singing. In Egypt, she remembers the embalming rites of her ancestors and her children. In Houston, she collects the debris scattered on lawns after a hurricane.

All the while, her mind takes photographs. Each conscious moment recorded in the film spool that is never developed. Like a daguerreotype, her life contains continuous movement of shadow impressions, that never freeze into focus. Like a film projected at 24 frames per second but made of stills that appear as if in motion.

In Benares, the blue boys hold their aarti rituals at sunset where the 10 white horses were sacrificed. She marvels at their movement, at the lit lamps dancing in twilight. All the blood washes away by a dancing blue god, watched by an angry goddess, tongue lolling with blood.

She notices the emotions of the gods are not embodied but displays of kindness. She notices the dogs warmly content by the burning bodies. They wait for the skulls to loudly pop. In that moment, they casually rise to make room for their kindred friend. She notices how the monkeys steal burning cigarette butts.

The Shiva-Ganga express hurtles her body toward Bodhgaya, past Luxor palaces that weep at their former glory and their loss of musicianship. Bodhgaya, where the Mahabodhi stupa rises to the sky, where many thousands, hundreds of thousands, enter and exit its circular grid, floating in bubbles and pops. She photographs their lights, the departed souls who travel with pilgrims.

She remembers the dolphins painted on the ceiling of a ramshackle flat in south Tel Aviv, how they attracted orbs and spheres, recorded in photographs.

Over time, the technology changes, but the shapes remain familiar and recognizable.


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