Fishtail braid

I wear a fishtail braid, loose, slung over a shoulder. I don’t wish I were perfect, because still no one else would be. Hurt lurks around every corner. I’m thin-skinned and I wish I weren’t so raw, not so much, but I guess if wishes were horses.

Birds by Abby Diamond

I wish I could live in a house on a big mossy hill. I’d polish the floors to a high gloss and whitewash the walls and hang scant pictures on nails. I’d have shelves, not cupboards, and uneven stacks of china. There would be a cat, doesn’t matter what color or how big. I would have a cat.

The things I eat will be good. I will make bread with my hands and grow lettuce from the earth. I will make enough money to pay the doctor, the mechanic, and the greengrocer.

The days will be verdant and burnished. Green and gold. Evenings will come late around the solstice, they’ll come in time to miss the hymns, as it were, like we always did on yawny Sunday mornings. In the autumn the evenings crowd up, tripping over the heels of Day. Everything has nostalgia if you were ever happy during it. Madelines and boys. Chocolate milk and cigarettes at midnight.

Between sky and earth and cistern.

It’s autumn now, or late summer anyway. The sky’s been blue as love and the tree line is dark green against it. Some leaves are turning already, slowly turning on the spit of their trunks against the fiery sun. Burning up! You’d almost think fall was the hot month, the season when we move closer to the sun. I’ve been in the garden all this week. I taught the children to machete the poke weeds, which we actually thought were rather beautiful but which were destined for removal. The poke weeds were reddish-purple like rhubarb stalks and very thick, as thick around as Annie’s wrist. They branched and spread over the six foot daisies, like some ungainly fairy. There are three orders of djinns, by the way: flyers, walkers, and divers.

I wonder. I wonder.

I’m reading Pablo Neruda’s poems, one at a time, on a different tab. Like sugar cubes, that sweet and delicious. One at a time so they’re not too sweet. I love If You Forget Me. I read it as self-sabotage, as an inward-turning of an already bruised heart. Solipsism is too strong, but a lovely word nonetheless.

What do you think? Do you wish you had a flushed pink heart with no spots, no mildew from disuse, no pale thickened scars, no stretch marks from loving too fast, no patches upon patches like a bicycle tire– do you?

But even Annie’s young heart isn’t a pure pink blush. The only way I can handle the pain of that is by reminding myself that life is suffering and that pain is echoed back a hundredfold when we believe we are somehow exempt from it.



  • beautiful. life IS suffering. that’s what makes it painful and interesting.

  • yes. it is always interesting, at least. Erin– I love you.

  • My favorite Neruda. For all of our burnished hearts, even our daughters. Who, try as we might, are not exempt.

    The Fable of the Mermaid and the Drunks

    All those men were there inside,
    when she came in totally naked.
    They had been drinking: they began to spit.
    Newly come from the river, she knew nothing.
    She was a mermaid who had lost her way.
    The insults flowed down her gleaming flesh.
    Obscenities drowned her golden breasts.
    Not knowing tears, she did not weep tears.
    Not knowing clothes, she did not have clothes.
    They blackened her with burnt corks and cigarette stubs,
    and rolled around laughing on the tavern floor.
    She did not speak because she had no speech.
    Her eyes were the colour of distant love,
    her twin arms were made of white topaz.
    Her lips moved, silent, in a coral light,
    and suddenly she went out by that door.
    Entering the river she was cleaned,
    shining like a white stone in the rain,
    and without looking back she swam again
    swam towards emptiness, swam towards death.

  • Oh how incredibly beautiful. Thank you for showing me that, Katherine.

  • You’re still my favorite writer.

  • Always have been, always will be.

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