Here are my love letters for you this month. For weeks I have sat before the facts, the planets and transitions, the rogue comets and fierce planetoids. I’ve taken your phone calls and cupped your questions in my palms. I’ve loved you, each and every one, intimately and from a distance.
The year gets darker, the night gets longer and, for many of us, depression lingers at the edges. But, we have learned how to be our own light when the day is not enough. Or we are still learning, or we are lost and wandering dark streets like a foreigner in the city of ourselves. Don’t be afraid and don’t get angry with yourself.
Let the long night, the shadow journey, be a kind of solace. Your time alone, your time to manifest. What comes to you might not be within your control but it is within your power. And, if you find yourself needing to recharge, lie down for a while and count each star above you as your friend.
P.S. THANK YOU CLAIRE SKINNER (She’s amazing, she’s a poet <3)
P.P.S OMG you should totally donate to helping me write Galactic Rabbit if you can! Because it saves me every time. PayPal!
Shout out to Kim Menig, Sarah Morrill, Elizabeth Kennon Williams, and Abby Cooper for their big generous loving gifts (amongst beautiful wonderful others)!
On a celestial dance floor where the mind and the heart keep forgetting how to move together, you are the one whispering one two three, one two three. Every now and again they fall in step gorgeously, but they fall out of step too, and just as easily. You are the one guiding them back to a mutual rhythm so you must speak steady and be sure. But, what if you’re not sure? What if there are days when no amount of clear communication and processing will do? What if it’s the wrong song, a clumsy night? I mean, what if there are nights when the mind and the heart just can’t seem to make it work?
In The Waves, Virginia Woolf writes: Let us again pretend that life is a solid substance, shaped like a globe, which we turn about in our fingers. Let us pretend that we can make out a plain and logical story, so that when one matter is despatched—love for instance—we go on, in an orderly manner, to the next.
There is pleasure in pretending but there is a price too, Aquarius. Pretend long enough and you forget that the heart and mind live in one body, yours, and are always touching always signaling, always flagging what it is they’re looking for. You are the voice and the dance floor. If your heart hesitates, if your mind just can’t find a reason to keep dancing, perhaps the best thing to do is change the song.
Lie back, Pisces. Are your feet apart? Are your palms up? Collect energy and rock your head. Air enters and leaves you, in with faith, out with fear. Each limb, each digit, a point of connection. In some universe, a loved one is touching the tip of you. Are you worthy of their touch? Are they worthy of you? It’s ok if you don’t know the answer is yes. Or what you are worth. Your body floating in a river outside time, river of loss and river of regret, but you’re right here breathing. Where do you need extra healing? Where do you collect your pain?
I keep thinking of fire, the image of hands rubbing together, the sound of finger print skin on palms, the feel of fat, blood, and bone within. I find myself in the center of looking into shapes that surround me. I attempt to make patterns, layering one into the next, often with such questions: How to participate, to point, to pull back, to listen? Where do I fit in between these tables: eater, poet, judge, hungry person, floater?*
Float, river of glittering laughter and river of soft kisses, where do you keep all your pleasures? Practice un-naming each wound and letting them go. Let go over and over again. Relax your ego and soften the heart. Long ago, you vowed to heal yourself, now move outward. Everyone you have yet to love is at the tip of you. Mirror the heavens, Pisces, and rise generous into the world.
*Ronaldo Wilson/ POETICS STATEMENT IN THE GREAT AMERICAN GRILL
Aren’t you the one who moved across the country with barely enough money to fill your pockets and only the idea of what freedom might look like? Aren’t you the one who wrote stories deep into the night and danced until daybreak imagining a new future, a new world full of bodies pulsing beautiful rebellion? Maybe it was easier, then, to invent the world you wanted and believe in yourself enough to make that world become. Perhaps life has been a little too strict with your young heart and asked you to prove your courage a few too many times. And maybe you are done with proving anything and angry at a world that refuses to see the work you’ve done to get this far.
In her poem “she said, meditate on rage,” Akilah Oliver writes: i am inventing. i am inventing. i am inventing a woman who i can let live in beauty inside of me. i am forsaking. i forsake myself. the scarred scared bitch who answers to my name is just too hard to hear.
Is your disappointment holding you back, Aries? Is it shifting how you see yourself and your possibilities? You invented yourself once: that lover whose whole life is a journey back toward tenderness. Tenderness as a practice in letting go when what you’re holding holds you down, tenderness like a knife at a dying deer’s throat. You’re strong enough to do it again and better, bigger, this time.
There are close to 20,000 trees in Central Park. Black Cherry, Cedar and Magnolia, Birch and Black Tupelo. I know this because I looked it up. Walking beside you, under the blazing foliage, I can only call them beautiful and dying. You are like me, a city girl, and you’re still chain smoking like you did when we were fourteen and had fire red hair like this tree…. and that tree too. Years ago, on a fall walk like this one, we perched on surface roots and planned our futures. I was the selfish one, running toward whatever felt good. You bent your branches toward sacrifice “If I do this, then I can give my sister this, I can give my mother this.” And you moved toward math and marriage and money but yours was a wild heart too, an artist’s heart and it was never far behind you.
In her lyric essay “Notes from and on a Landscape: Hell, Fire, and Brimstone,” Elizabeth Willis writes:
At what cost do we separate thought from feeling?/ / What acts of will and imagination remain in the uncombed weeds of the past, beyond the histories we have been conditioned to repeat?
In the story of our lives, the narrator doesn’t have to be reliable, doesn’t have to make good on every past promise. Even if you love the work you do, even if you are good at it and are rewarded, it doesn’t have to be everything you are. The world you chose for yourself yesterday does not have to be the world you give your whole self to.
Remember when you came over and we read poem after poem to each other? I had seen you around, had noticed your undeniable beauty and the way you always found a way to touch me, but I was careful. I was careful because you held your brightness back and I was desperate for a girl with light to spare. Still, in my small kitchen, over childhood photographs and a little bit of liquor, I was charmed by the truth-teller in you. You were a prince bearing her wounds matter-of-factly, without artifice or need, and it moved me toward you. It was not your sadness I admired, it was your ability to face that sadness head on.
In an interview with TIME, Jamaica Kincaid said: One doesn’t have to pursue unhappiness. It comes to you. You come into the world screaming. You cry when you’re born because your lungs expand. You breathe. I think that’s really kind of significant. You come into the world crying, and it’s a sign that you’re alive
If you have found yourself without words these days, Gemini, or if you have felt the weight of your own sadness like a stone in the mouth, hold on. Sometimes the words won’t come out right and what you say is nowhere close to what you mean. You’re one way then you’re another. Pursue happiness instead of being “one way.” Take time for yourself, write yourself a love song, a love song for your spirit, for your health.
Remember years ago, around this time of year, when we stayed at your family farm? The days were bright with harvest and we lolled in the green grass unafraid of ticks. I want to remember more about that weekend, what kind of friend I was to you, what we talked about deep into the brisk farmhouse nights. Instead I recall two moments precisely. One: I tried to herd the sheep without you and they moved toward me terrifying like a black cloud. Two: My then-lover was living nearby and I met her outside under a full moon (yes I remember it was full). She was a cancer too, a cancer who broke my heart simply by being who she was. But who was I? I pressed the ring she gave me back in her hand.
In her essay “By Way of Booze and Broccoli,” Stephanie K Hopkins writes: It’s not in the ability to lift heavy objects or hold my drink or suck a man bone dry where I find my strength; it’s in the soft lens of recognition, in the turning toward my own fumbling self and softening, not trying to hide her. And it’s in the fluidity of self, the being able to let go of what holds us back, like myths, like what we thought was magic but was really accident, and continue to rewrite ourselves.
I’m thinking about that weekend now because in so many ways you have seen me move through heartbreak, a kind witness. Now you must become a witness to your own heart, no matter how painful that is, no matter how many truths rush toward you like an angry herd of sheep! Feel yourself moving through different kinds of heartbreak as you touch the edges of yourself, who you once believed you were and who you are capable of becoming.
“Love takes off the masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.” I have read this James Baldwin quote from The Fire Next Time often, the words running over his pensive face in a poster or packed ornately into a pink scalloped frame. They slip into progressive Valentine’s Day cards and sweet wedding pamphlets. They compel us towards a kind of profundity, a way of understanding the vows we make to each other. Rarely have I seen the quote reposted with the words that follow that first line:
I use the word “love” here not merely in the personal sense but as a state of being, or a state of grace – not in the infantile American sense of being made happy but in the tough and universal sense of quest and daring and growth.
Perhaps it is easier for us to imagine that love (at it’s simplest, at it’s most visible) can do it all for us, or that the passion in our hearts—our desire to be good or good at—is enough to move us toward a kind of redemption. What if we have no idea what love is (let alone who or what we are) and everything we have named it thus far has only been lip service to the god of it? What would your path toward grace look like then, Leo? What masks are you willing to take off so that you might see it?
Recently, Mary Oliver—blessed Virgo poet of learning self-love—revealed a new poem coming. The lines she offered? I have refused to live/ locked in the orderly house of/ reasons and proofs.
The poem is called “Felicity,” and I am thinking of what felicity might mean for you in this celestial moment, when so many planets come to you with their blessings. What if the house you refuse to live in is the one you built and in building, loved? Yes reason, yes proof, yes order you thought you wanted all those things. You set your own rules, your own laws for the kind of person you had to be and who that person had a right to love.
When love comes and, true to its nature, it is not at all what you are expecting, what would it take for you to leave that house behind? Who will be without it? Here is your body, your handful of stars under the night sky, here is the world you wanted—offering itself over and over again. To realize yourself limitless, you have to leave the house that locked you up behind, even if you love it, even if it’s yours.
In her beautiful poem “Salt is For Curing,” Sonya Vatomsky writes: I don’t / feel / haunted. Exactly. More like a spice jar that’s holding / more inside than volume would suggest possible. My / little tin lid fits snug but the pressure is really something.
So I’m thinking about the spice of life and the chance that such a spice might be sorrow. So what? So what if it’s sorrow? A jar you carry with you and—you can’t help it, cupped in your hand—it changes everything you touch. Stop me if my Russian flavor is a little out of hand but here’s something the cookbooks don’t tell you: sorrow doesn’t stop you from falling in love, it doesn’t stop you from being a mad genius or knightly girl. Sorrow belongs to you, a survival tool like a canteen of water or a sword you cast through the brush.
What if you open the jar and let the pressure out? What if everything you have and everything that’s coming is yours because you have learned how to eat your way through sorrow? A spice exposed to the world slowly loses potency and after a while you can barely make out the taste.
With the lunar eclipse, we experienced conditional darkness. Darkness like a trick, a slight of hand. If the Sun casts light on the Earth and the earth gives the moon it’s red shadow, a refraction, who is the woman standing in the mirror? There is no math in magic, no solve for X in terms of Y. One body feels unbearably heavy with memory; one looks up and sees themself small in the universe. Neither one is a liar. Scorpio, it might surprise you to find that the truth lying flat no longer concerns you. You want a truth that knows how to move, how to lay down with a lover and wake up alone without sacrificing the whole of herself. Penumbra, what is obscured and still remains, indelible planet.
“The day’s blow / rang out, metallic–or it was I, a bell awakened, / and what I heard was my whole self / saying and singing what it knew: I can.” –Denis Levertov
You can, Scorpio, you can live as both darkness and light. You can move toward love even at your most vulnerable, you can bet on yourself each time—even if the stakes are high. You knew too much, grew old too soon, now knowledge is just one way to read a map that’s always changing. Moving forward must be an act of courage, of ambition.
It’s doesn’t matter where you start. Where luck is an illusion and hard work a love letter to the firebird within you, try harder. When you lose, lose again and harder.
One night, in a bar at the edge of town, we were talking about that one guy, you know the one, who introduced you to his wife as the girl who “wears a lot of turquoise.” We marveled at the implication, the obvious social slight. In a perfect world, I would have remembered to tell you that turquoise was a stone worn by soldiers on horseback, an amulet that protected them from falling. That it was a perfect charm for your journey.
It would have been good, then, to explore the ways in which we intuitively make ourselves more powerful. To witness our preferences in companion, work, play and, yes, even adornment as choices we have made for the betterment of ourselves.
In her essay “On Self-Respect,” Joan Didion writes: The tricks that work on others count for nothing in that well-lit back alley where one keeps assignations with oneself; no winning smiles will do here, no prettily drawn lists of good intentions. One shuffles flashily but in vain through ones’ marked cards the kindness done for the wrong reason, the apparent triumph which involved no real effort, the seemingly heroic act into which one had been shamed. The dismal fact is that self-respect has nothing to do with the approval of others.”
Sagittarius, if you have found yourself lacking strength this month. If you have, in a sense, exhausted your social graces in an effort to be invited to the table, stop looking outward. Tell me who you are again, what you want to do in this world, show me all the tools you carry with you—in you—that are more than enough to see you through.
In interview up at Jezebel, writer Sandra Cisneros was asked “When and why have you felt most at home in your body and in your home, are they one in the same, do they rarely overlap, do they always overlap?” To which she replied, in part, “You must feel safe in your physical space. You have to have a state of safety and peace, safety from intrusion. You have to carve out private time to be your own confidant. This helps you see the beauty around you…”
I’ve been wondering about safety as a negotiation, that moment when you say I feel ugly inside this conversation- I feel unseen and untended to and the person you’re speaking to actually hears you over the voice in their own head. Safe like a space where you keep what’s valuable locked up inside yourself and every time you copy the key for someone else, every time you allow yourself to be vulnerable, you want reciprocity—respect.
Wanting that kind of safety, wanting not a warm blanket and a lover but to be loved through and within weakness, is knowing that safety is a house made out of intentions—a house we try to live in until it proves unlivable. Each time a wreckage, each time a re-imagining of shelter. Capricorn, no one can make you safe, not even you. Safety is hinged on a controlled set of outcomes and life has taught you more than once that nothing is for sure. So there must be another way to experience beauty, another reason to do what we do: love, create, go on.