Credentials

Credentials. A sturdy tree in the thickly forested landscape of words, its roots tangled in the understory, with those of credence, credit, credible, credulous, and creed. Revealing inextricable relationships (as roots are wont to do.) In this case illustrating dependencies between our willingness to extend benefit– and what and how and whom we believe.

Credentials. Mine are not impressive, but that does not stop me from looking for them in others. Where did this habit come from I wonder? I am fairly certain I did not have it as an infant. Gazing at adoring faces above my cradle, I did not demand to see resumes or even IDs.  What happened along the way?

I do like the word. Credentials. It registers as hardwood dependable. A word that echoes with the weight of its syllables, the quality of trustworthiness it means to communicate. A solid word. A word one can lean on, like a marble pillar, or a brick wall. A bolstering force when one’s spirit or confidence is flagging. 

Do you aspire to enter the business of demanding to see credentials? Then it is highly recommended you begin developing an edge. Sans edge, demanding credentials is a risky proposition. This is why no one in their right minds demands credentials from customs officers, grizzly bears, or grandmothers. Once you have cultivated an edge and are invested with sufficient power, the need to produce credentials falls away. Like the need for modesty past a certain age. With sufficient power, your authority becomes self-evident. Like the sun. Then you can safely bestride the narrow world, like a Colossus. Or Julius Caesar. And if bestriding is not your thing, you can simply sit down quietly instead, and no one will disturb you with demands for productivity– or credentials. 

It must be noted that there are cases where an edge is not necessary. Sometimes it is possible to rewrite the equation and subvert the order of things. Sometimes it is sufficient to tap into your own heartwood, and discover there, unshakeable worth. Sometimes this discovery causes confidence to bloom overnight. Like wildflowers in the desert. A windblown confidence in yourself and the world that extends into a rapturous willingness. To give credit without reck, to all who demand it, and all who do not.

Credentials? You say then laughing– 

This breath. And inshallah, the next. 


Bewitchery

You who set these snares,

Release me, flower-shaken

Heart drowning in light.

Stargazer pollen of 1 lily + kajal shard & 1 bedazzled brush

Visions of Fall

Fall is here again. Season of spare and paring things down, of cutting ties, and letting loose. Season of discards, castaways, parachutes. Of trees performing mass exorcisms. Fall is here again. Lean stray dog, stripping things down to the bone. No furnished rooms for let. Its offices austere, its intentions monastic. Fall does not wish on stars or live in hope. This is what it looks like to divest dramatically. Let the chips fall where they may. 

Thoughts take on a patina in this time of verdigris and vine. Nothing is as it once was. Everything is susceptible to tarnish. Even you. Who can feign innocence in fall? In Spring we are wide-eyed children learning our mother tongue. By fall the world is crowded with words, and we’ve all tasted forbidden fruit. Unforgettable knowledge blooms in the body. The flavor of freewill. All lanes are memory lanes in fall. All beauty is bittersweet. Desolation and delight hold each other’s pinky finger, swear they will never be separated.

There is a clamoring glamour to these days.  Honking geese cause a small traffic jam in your heart. The wind shakes the trees and your confidence. The new moon feels like an abandonment. One must practice self-reliance in spring and summer — in fall one falls upon inner resources. It is too late to build reserves. If there aren’t any then, then there aren’t any. The stringency of this is grounding. All laws of nature are.

Lamp light is poetic in every season, in fall it is also phantasmic. Walk down an unfamiliar sidewalk in that deep blue triangle of life between dinner and dreamtime. In that surreal soundscape of slow cars, brisk dog walkers, and the struggling notes of a valiant middle-school musician, look for curtainless windows. Ones through which you might catch a glimpse of a staircase curving out of view, or the polished corner of a dining table. Maybe an oil painting on the wall, or a fiddle leaf fig by a desk. You do not need to try to fit yourself inside these bright tableaux. You are already implicated. Everyone leads imaginary lives in other people’s homes. There you are. Invisible and standing at the casement window, trailing fingers in the sink, or curled up in an armchair. Lost in a book so old and worn, the lettering on its red spine is indecipherable. 

Fall nights lift the anchor, make it easy to drift under the stars into the sea of someone, somewhere else, to belong to other worlds without purpose or premeditation. For brief moments, on such nights I walk without name, or personal history. I walk without thought of tomorrow, without thought of past grievances or blessings. Moving as woodsmoke moves, lifting out of a narrow chimney and discovering its belonging everywhere.

In this season of not-yet-winter, I slip my hand into your warm one. Am suctioned sweetly back, into the outline of my skin. I feel my feet on the ground, and stretch inside, like a cat. Ready to lie down at the glowing hearth of my heart. Ready to enter its dream.

In fall, perhaps more than any other season– I remember.

How good it is to be home.


For Rilke

A sideways pursuit

Head bowed, no hands, tail thrashing

Living the questions.

Stargazer pollen from 1 lily, beet juice, lemongrass-scented chai dregs, kajal splinter & 1 questing brush

Summer’s Vintage

Fall tips the bottle

Flowers open fading throats

One last swill of sun.

Stargazer pollen of 1 lily + beet juice + sip of saffron-threaded chai + kajal shard & 1 bittersweet brush

Logogram

Curvaceous mermaid

On rocky perch, singing sea

To land — ampersand.

Stargazer pollen from 1 lily + beet juice + cardamom-scented chai dregs + kajal chip + 1 footloose brush & pen

Unexpected Me

Turned hotly to strike,

Tripped on electric surprise

My coiling beauty.

Turmeric-tinged water + coffee grounds + streak of kajal & 1 capricious brush

Some Days

On some days heart is

a small, fantastical bird

with ruffled feathers

Stargazer pollen from 1 fresh-bloomed lily + saffron-laced chai dregs + a sliver of kajal + 1 nonchalant brush & pen

Dissemination

This love lifts from me

Like summer pollen riding

Bareback on the breeze.



Stargazer pollen dust from 1 brazenly fragrant lily + the very last sip of afternoon coffee + a splinter of kajal & 1 impetuous paintbrush


Tarweed in Her Hair

In late summer there is little left of lushness here. Spring’s pretty florals and prancing greens have given up the ghost. The tall grasses are the hair of a wandering crone, bone dry, wind-matted. Snarled branches of scrub oak mutter incantations. Silver buckeye skeletons filigree the canyon. Even thirsty, delirious, and going to seed, these burnished hills are beautiful. This is what longing can look like. Wild-eyed, bereft, and bursting with the crackling pods of future fruit.

Walking a narrow dirt path, your gaze snags on a small patch of ground. It is misted with a haze of white flowers, the only ones anywhere in sight. Kneel down to meet them. Such tiny, starry faces. Seen close up, a geometry of sacredness is revealed, invisible to all who stay standing. Rays of miniature white petals fringe pale green centers flecked with black-tipped anthers. Such elfin integrity, precision, and eloquence. Language, all language, suddenly feels coarse, and approximate in comparison.

Tarweed. I suspect whoever named you was a person of considerable laziness and limited imagination.

The flowers are borne on tawny stems that are seemingly delicate, surprisingly strong. Stems that branch with painterly perfection in all directions. Sticky with exudate that some say reeks of turpentine. I say one could possibly bottle this scent, and sell it expensively. Fragrance notes: citrus, cedar, amber, candor and sunshine. Struggling with the world’s indifference? Simply spritz your pulse points, inner wrists, behind each ear– and be rendered instantly alluring to some, repugnant to the rest. Apathy will no longer be an issue. 

Perhaps this is why I love wildflowers so much. They disrupt my disregard in welcome ways. They untether my senses from the familiar, compel my gaze below, beneath, beyond, invite me to breathe in the bewitching, musky, pungent, and sometimes offensive, incense of this world, to touch its stickiness, investigate its purpose, to seek even in revulsion– revelation. I genuflect frequently now. I walk with more curiosity and care. Their feral, anything but sterile presence thrills me, spills into my settled pools of domesticity, untames me by slow degrees, acquaints me with holy minutiae and the longing of the waiting, wild-eyed crone within. The one who will one day go to seed. Hopefully with earthpraise on her lips, and tarweed in her hair.