I have inhaled impossibility, and walk at such an angle, all the stars/ have hung their carnival chains of light for me. There is a streetcar runs from here to Mars. / I shall be seeing you, my darling, there
As teenage witches, my best friend and I haunted the carpeted corners of Barnes & Noble on Broadway and 68th and at the edge of Union Square. We loved the occult section (of course) and the poetry section, regularly ferrying books from one to the other. According to “The Secret Language of Birthdays,” she was born on the day of passionate singularity and I was born on the day of passionate actuality. Passionately, we’d read ourselves out loud until we were satisfied with all we knew.
The poems were the important thing. We recited them on long dark walks through Hell’s Kitchen and the LES. After school, we hunted a language that was so big it could fill up the dark spaces we hadn’t found names for. And, although the library of our minds grew thick with writers, we always came back to Adrienne Rich.
Sitting alone, now, surrounded by her books, I am overcome (again) by her wisdom. This Taurus, this bull-headed, stubborn, beautiful poet, whose will to change was a will pulled from a well of endless love. Love for other women, love for this earth, this erring human race she reached for with an open hand. I won’t say she was without fault. Love is not pristine, not a crystal that is born beautiful and clear in the mind. It is a muddy ugly thing, a blood thing, barely shaped and grappling with light. With Venus and Mars casting about in Taurus, and Sun in Taurus on the horizon, it’s only fitting that each of the offerings I give you have a small bit of her words.
With Wild Patience,
P.S. Thanks again and always for all your donations. Sometimes they feel like they are coming straight from an Angel’s mouth.
Sweet one, I’m so glad you’re here. The nearness of you, your mind, which is both electric current and cool lake, awes me. Once, I wasn’t sure how to believe in you. It can be difficult for a water animal to understand wind unless the water animal learns the value of surrender. I am learning the value of surrender, how we make waves together, how those waves change the shape of everything they touch.
“No one ever told us we had to study our lives, make of our lives a study, as if learning natural history / or music, that we should begin with / simple exercises first / and slowly go on trying / the hard ones.”
Aquarius, what I have learned about your magic, your valiant heart, is only a small fraction of what you continue to discover. You are the seed of passion and revolution. You were born with a star in you, a star that wants to be known, a star that belongs in a tapestry of relations. In a world begging for light, you must learn (over and over) what light you have to offer. You must learn how to nurture when you feel abandoned, how to be generous when you are afraid.
There are days, I know, when you feel like nothing has changed. Like the person you are arriving, is the same one you’ve always been, is the same one you’ll be when you leave. Those are the days when you choose irreverence, when you hold on to a part of yourself you’ve already outgrown so that you might not have to honor all the work you’ve done. Honoring that work would mean continuing, continuing whether or not you are alone on your journey, continuing without an end in sight.
If you feel alone, then you are alone. There are years of our lives when we learn how to be alone and those are the years that save us.
“The moment when a feeling enters a body / is political. This touch is political. // Sometimes I dream we are floating on water / hand-in-hand; sinking without terror.”
The distant future is not a fruitful promise for anyone and this world has no intention of proving you right or wrong. It can only give you what you decide you deserve, it is—believe it or not—your most steadfast witness.
“We did this. Conceived / of each other, conceived each other in a darkness / which I remember as drenched light. // I want to call this, life. // But I can’t call it life until we start to move.”
Many years ago, an Aries I was dating told me that she hoped to be the kind of lover who was entirely selfless. Back then, I believed I understood something about love that she didn’t. That love could never be selfless—that to be selfish was to be human. I didn’t know, then, how to imagine god—or the impossible. Now that I’ve dived to the bottom of my darkest self, now that I’ve learned how to live without breathing, I know that love is not being human. It’s what humans aspire toward.
Selflessness can be a tall order, especially for those of us who’ve spent our entire lives sacrificing our needs in order to care for those around us. Because we are less fragile, because we know how to put pain somewhere else and wait for it to eat itself. But selflessness can also be a kind of freedom, a meditation on forgiveness.
Selflessness could mean the difference between being right and being loved.
Sweet bull, last night I took too many stimulants and stayed up late reading and re-reading Adrienne Rich, writing and re-writing the same sentences. I lay awake, muscles twitching, listening to the squirrels meticulously scratching their way into my home.
“I am an instrument in the shape / of a woman trying to translate pulsations / into images for the relief of the body / and the reconstruction of the mind.”
What is a body, Taurus? This thing we haul out of bed, rinse and empty? All my life I have been shown how to care for it, eat the right things, move enough. All my life caring for it was not the same as loving it.
You store your treasures in tough boxes, take the glass from the edge of the counter, and polish what needs polishing. Taurus, in caring for yourself, you are re-entering a web of connectivity. Your physical presence will reconstruct your mind. There will be days when touching yourself will mean inspiration; there will be weeks when tears will emerge as a new language.
“when I think of landscape I am thinking of a time. / When I talk of taking a trip I mean forever. / I could say: those mountains have a meaning/ but further than that I could not say. // To do something very common, in my own way.”
My Tender Prince, your star is so bright these days, I feel illuminated just looking at you. You, more than anyone I know, have learned what a year is made of. Who was that dark cloud moving erratically over the blocks and avenues? You wouldn’t even recognize her.
She was doing the necessary work of shifting so much sadness from her heart.
I love your will, the way you build the space rocket piece by piece before setting off for the moon. The way you trust your path—even when it’s uncertain, even when all forces seem ranged against you. Magnolia trees bloom in early spring, before their leaves develop, and in late summer—after full leaf development. Perhaps you missed your first chance to open, to bring all your color to the world. I know that you can feel summer coming and summer is your season, you’re ready now.
Today winter is a hush sound over Lake Seneca and there are crocus coming up, bright and without responsibility. We are not like them, simple with beauty. We must live through every season. I want to walk with you down the rock path by the water, hold your hand, small gesture.
I know you are heavy, see you straining with the weight of responsibility, the suffering of those closest to you. Family relations are not fixed; they are vulnerable to the people that choose them. They are subject to waves of chaos just as much as they are places of refuge. More than that, they are a part of us, something that can’t be erased with busy schedules or distance. Your family isn’t what you’re doing; it’s who you are.
” …No person trying to take responsibility for her or his identity should have to be so alone. There must be those among whom we can sit down and weep, and still be counted as warriors.” In the dim light of evening, when your work is done and time sits still between us, I am waiting for the opportunity to hold you up like you have done for me time and time again.
Once I adored a Leo boy. In winter, we walked the Coney Island boardwalk and took our love slow. For my birthday he gave me a tiny jewelry box. Inside: a blushing porcelain rabbit and a long rusty nail. His love: so precious I couldn’t stop imagining it breaking in my hands. His love: drove right through me, sharp and without compromise. He was bipolar. He told me he was undeserving of love. He called himself a god and I worshipped at his feet.
“this we were, this is how we tried to love,/and these are the forces they had ranged against us,/and these are the forces we had ranged within us,/within us and against us, against us and within us.”
When I write you about this mad love, it’s only because I want you to know that I see both sides of you, the rabbit and rusty nail, the fragility of your affection and the iron-strength of it. Each time you have loved, each time you have been the lover, you thought you had to choose. You don’t have to choose. If you can learn to love as both, the ones you love will honor both. If you can learn to love as both, you won’t have to lose.
In the middle of the city is a verdant field; in the middle of the field is your body. Through your body runs a heavy branch, a branch the fell from a powerful tree, a branch that belonged to your ancestors and also to no one because it is made of what you are made of. To get this far, you’ve had to protect that little piece of life in you. You’ve employed deliberate coping mechanisms that allowed you to feel in control. But, you can’t control your relationships. You can’t control how you are seen and how you are loved. All you can do is drink the light and water around you and use it to grow.
“what in fact I keep choosing//are these words, these whispers, conversations/ from which time the truth breaks moist and green.”
When you speak your truth, not what you want to believe but what you’re afraid to admit you believe, buds break from the branch and open like small green promises. Sometimes the truth might feel ugly, unmanageable but aren’t you tired of carrying the hardness of winter inside of you? Be warned, Virgo, it hurts to bloom, each opening a small wound and so delicate.
A woman outside is pushing her walker through a half empty parking lot. I watch her from the third floor of the room I am sleeping in. I feel her look up at me, or she feels me looking and there we are, watching. She moves on and I turn back to my friend who is doing yoga stretches on the living room floor. To see someone is an ordinary thing. Everyday, we take each other in. These are already moments of love, small openings we create in ourselves so that someone’s humanness can pass through.
“Am I speaking coldly when I tell you in a dream or in this poem, there are no miracles?”
You’ve been waiting for the big sign, the promised thing, a bird with your life in its mouth. I’m not saying it’s not coming but what if it’s not coming? What if all you have is this ordinary life? There must be something beautiful here, your beloved brewing your tea, your cats preening on your lap, your limbs stretching out with their fleshy mystery. There must be something beautiful here and if you can’t see it right now—that’s ok. It sees you.
When your heart breaks even though you thought heartbreak was impossible, consider your heart. Consider the wealth of it, how it pumps blood everywhere like a perfect engine, a hungry mother in the kitchen. Lie down. Lie down and don’t move. In the kitchen of your heart, a mother lies down and the tile is cold.
Maybe this is what love is. The opposite of death, a constant hunger. Maybe you are stronger than you ever imagined yourself to be and all the secret small regrets you’ve stored inside have taught you how to forgive, have made a good animal out of you.
Your heart breaks and you close a door. A new door is possible. “…The door itself makes no promises / it is only a door.” You know that you’re leaving, you just don’t know what’s worth taking with you, what you’ll need. Scorpio, there’s always more on the other side. You just won’t know what’s there until you walk through.
It seems like I am always in a car with you. You’re dropping me off or picking me up. You’re driving me across this country, amnestic with dead cotton fields and corn rotten in the ear. In the small privacy of this machine, you’re telling me the story of your life, or your day, which is emblematic of your life. I know I am taking care of you with my listening, I know that now is the time for feeling not acting.
“Until we find each other, we are alone.”
Sagittarius, I know that in doing for others you seek to understand them but it’s not your job to protect everyone you love, it’s not your job to uncover everyone’s small pain so you might feel it for them. No one expects that from you, certainly not me. I want you to know that I see you trying, working doubly hard to overcome your own disappointments so that you might be a good partner, a good friend.
Let’s just listen to each other for a while and let that be enough.
Dear Sea-goat, it’s true that you have psychic powers, that the river of this world pulses right through you and onward. It’s true that when I have spoken badly of you, I felt your face enter my mind like a warning, a librarian leaning over the stacks and shutting me up.
It’s true that you are capable of great generosity, that there is a healer in you, that you are the one who taught me how to poultice a wound and sweeten lemonade just right.
“Only our fierce attention / gets hyacinths out of those / hard cerebral lumps, / unwraps the wet buds down / the whole length of a stem.”
I won’t deny the good, how it comes in waves, how it cloaks you in a rich colors. It is what keeps those who love you close. But there are those who leave, who refuse to stay, who see the unkind parts of you. In your worst moments, you blame them for their leaving, you throw up your hands, dress yourself in one thousand masks that only a hint at your real face. But at your best, you are a fighter, a soldier of love, a woman without artifice who is willing to change so that she might protect what means the most to her.
Don’t let your ego get in the way of your heart.