I went to DC to attend Split This Rock despite a hell of a hectic schedule around the close of spring semester. It was well worth it. With Muriel Leung, I co-ran a workshop session on play and pedagogy. It was energizing: we moved, swayed, scribbled, colored, marked, tore, asked questions, and tried to make sense of the places from which poetry can originate. Then monsters, and slaying them, and mutating them, and accepting.
Some things in me loosened up, and then a day later, I was back in Louisiana, too far away from all this:
Pacing. I’ve been totally submerged this past week. Something in the air is changing (in this imaginary way of spring arriving). Even though, it’s too far south for spring here. Still pacing. Submerged as if my world’s been glossed over, or sunken under six inches of sludge. I’m waiting for the gradual lift.
This week I’ve been…eating foods that make me ill. It’s unceremonious. I keep scouring things out of the fridge, and inevitably, it’s usually something that’s gone bad, and what I put into my stomach starts flipping somersaults. Gas bubbles. Wringing.
My grandmother died young and of esophageal (also stomach?) cancer. She eventually starved away because she couldn’t eat anymore. Yesterday for lunch at school I opened my tupperware and realized what I packed had gone slightly sour. I ate it anyway. Grotesque meat. Smelly rice. Too tired, hungry, busy, shuffling between class, to really feel moved to change what I had planned. Then the stomachache I carried for the rest of the day.
Today, again, I ate something old. No excuses. I was home, with plenty of other choices. Then stomachache. My mom used to say that her mom died of eating old foods, too poor, that the cancer came because of rotten food, because she gave her children all the good food and ate only leftovers. And where did this come from, I wonder? My inability to throw anything out, any food out, and will eat old things the way my grandmother did. She was this mythical figure. I’d only known her briefly, before I could speak back to her.
Then the gurgling reflex of my body. This overcoming. And me eventually feeling as though I’d won a battle against something. Then the submerging, again. Holding my breath. What don’t I regurgitate into poetry. I vow to never throw up.
“The tantrum is a form of panic attack”
— Merri Lisa Johnson’s Girl In Need of A Tourniquet: Memoir of a Borderline Personality
Last night I skyped with my family.
My nephew, now 3, managed to sit a little more peacefully in front of the camera.
In the past he would squirm and smash the camera off. His way of saying, Pay attention to me!
I bought him crayons, things to color, picture books to flip through, because mastering solitary activities is a comfort. He still likes to sit an adult down just to do things in their presence, though.
Even using the bathroom.
He intuits that bathrooming is a private activity, ie, he will ask for the door to be closed, but before that, he’ll invite you in first. Just in case.
Me, staring intently at my laptop: Humm, do you hear that sound of water dripping? What’s that?
Him: …water falling from the sky?
Me, looks up at window: Oh.
Summer 2015: crowding with family // I tend to be a solitary person but I am learning to leave solitude, because after a crowding my heart becomes a couple beats better at expanding and shrinking at will rather than at whim
// Photo notes: Fallen banana tree in the damp yard of my mother’s brother home in her hometown in Sitiawan, Malaysia
// here my mother’s family tapped rubber, had fruit trees, battled mosquitoes the size of eyes