Galactic Rabbit January 2017!

Today, having just fallen off the edge of 2016, I’m wondering about the power that we give years. We open and close a chapter of our lives based on a number imagined in the mind. But, there are so many markers we can set our years to. For those of us who are teachers, the year begins every September and the end is summer, an unclaimed time measured in how many weeks before the water is warm enough to walk all the way in. For those of us who dip our apples into honey, Jewish New Year came in October and the lunar year is now 5777 (which, by the way, adds up to the number 8—a number that indicates beginnings and endings). Chinese New Year is at the end of January but we won’t leave the year of the Monkey for the year of the Rooster until February! And, reader, I will let you know that I just began my Saturn Return a couple months ago, so everything feels like either a door on the verge of opening or a house that’s been lit on fire.

Whatever 2016 has meant to you, whenever it beings and whenever it ends, whatever happened or will happen, a year is only a river made of days—the girl in the boat rowing along that river, she is the mystery. Where did she come from and how long has she been coming? Was the boat given to her or did she build it herself? And, how did she make it so far down the river? And when, if ever, does she raise her oar so that the current captains her?

What I mean is, even if you are grieving an intimate loss, even if the oldest bones in you ache with fear waking into this political climate, life has to be lived before we can know what it is*. And we can still make something beautiful together. We can defy separation. Even through the thickest, darkest, clouds of fascism, we can look up to each other, we can fall in love and rise in resistance.

With Adoration,
Galactic Rabbit

*Lisel Mueller, “The Triumph of Life: Mary Shelley

P.S. THANK YOU Claire Skinner, poet & clairvoyant extraordinaire for being my first and best reader.
P.P.S. IF you want to support the writing of these astro-love letters, you can donate here.

 

AQUARIUS

Have I used the phrase “pilgrim soul” when I’ve written to you? Today as I sit in the golden light of a house in the woods, I’m thinking about that William Butler Yeats line “but one man loved the pilgrim soul in you.” I’m thinking of your pilgrim soul, which is to say—a soul that journeys to a sacred place to practice worship.

It’s just that I’m beginning to feel like maybe any place where we can be together without fear for the safety our loved ones is a sacred place. And since our country is not that place, since most countries are not, we must create sacred worlds together. We are charged with making the voyage and the destination.

An architect must know a strong foundation when they see one, Aquarius, and you are the architect of our resistance. Just remember, before you begin the arduous task of mapping a world where joy is a seed in everyone’s backyard and the skylights show us unconditional heaven, you might spend some time learning what a good foundation is worth.

And, that means that there will be days when you will have to learn how to feel when the ground is crumbling under you before it crumbles. And, what that means is ,there will be days ahead when fortifying the support systems you already have in place will be your best-laid plan.

 

PISCES 

The very word erotic comes from the Greek word eros, the personification of love in all its aspects—born of Chaos, and personifying creative power and harmony. When I speak of the erotic, then, I speak of it as an assertion of the life-force of women; of that creative energy empowered, the knowledge and use of which we are now reclaiming in our language, our history, our dancing, our loving, our work, our lives.

-“Uses of The Erotic,” Audre Lorde

A wound calls for care so the wounded tends to it, or learns to. It isn’t easy, after all, to care for oneself. The puncture grows smaller over time, barely visible, but the memory of the puncture—its impact and its consequence—the memory can grow large without regard to time.

When the wound’s call was deafening, how did you care for it? Did you seek relief in the arms of others? Did you lie very still and run your hands over yourself, thinking “I am here, I am here, I am here”? Did the past year teach you that relief comes only when you are ready and readiness will look nothing like what you imagined?

And what is the erotic if not a working toward opening? Here, the lover enters through the wound and their entrance is both a salve and a reminder. A salve is not salvation. The wound’s call is subtle now, but it is no less powerful. What can it teach you about your purpose here? You will learn how to gather your life in your hands, you will learn how to answer the call. You will be the one who tends the wound always, but how you tend to it will change. Pisces, you grow strange and you grow stronger.

 

ARIES

Once, when the heart was young, the heart did not wonder if love was enough. It loved. It pumped so fast, you were running across wild grass, toward someone who loved you or you were the field and the heart of all things pumping. Once, the heart was young and love was enough, the world was so many tight buds opening and you were a part of all that, fragrant and damp with opening.

I promised you a love letter, but I don’t know what love is. Each to each, bodies cleaving in the open yard and under dark heaven, a panting gesture we have waited to make all our lives. You begin in the garden of love and it is a garden of possibility. Each seed is a promise, an ambition, an idea that could go either way. A girl crawls on her hands and knees through the garden, she says, “look, I crawl on my hands and knees—I make a path in the dirt, follow me.”

You are the girl in love’s garden but to feel love is not enough. The garden has its own ideas. The roses shoot vines that trouble the house, wisteria threatens the pear tree which—if you are not vigilant—drops overripe fruit to the ground and invokes swells of bees. Aries, I promised you a love letter, can you show me what love is? Who will climb the ladder and gather the fruit before it is wasted? Who will cut the roses back, carefully, trading wildness for sustainability?

A girl on her hands and knees in the garden, you buried your heart in the rich earth of your devotion. Whatever grows thrives or dies there, is your charge.

 

TAURUS

Well, the new year started well enough. We were under the open sky, surrounded by pines, in a hot tub that, after many hours of prodding and tinkering, had gotten sufficiently hot. Midnight was ten minutes away and you insisted we go inside, so we went inside. I guess that’s when things got tricky, I don’t know. I’m always watching you trying to figure out what you’re feeling and you’re always watching everyone else with a calm and closed face like the guardian of pleasure.

Of course, there was an argument. There’s always an argument but this time something was pained in you, a radiance of disappointment or discouragement. We dug in, you with your passionate resistance, me with my—yes I’ll admit it—condescending patience. And, here is the place where I love you most, the force of your certitude up against your will to change. You refused my language but you’d kept asking questions anyway.

And I guess I’m still learning about you, your incredible devotion to ideas, which once accepted become part of you—a driving force of change. And, that is why you’re not easily swayed, why shades of grey seem like a weak strategy in a world where you have had to bet on yourself over and over, to be strong because weakness was not an option.

But, Taurus, no matter who you think you are or how you think others see you, the world builds itself around you in a gradient of offerings. The more you open to others, the more they understand you. The more you let the world in, the more pain you feel, the more beauty.

 

GEMINI

During her speech while receiving the Nobel Prize in Literature, Gemini writer Svetlana Alexievich said:

“It always troubled me that the truth doesn’t fit into one heart, into one mind, that truth is somehow splintered. There’s a lot of it, it is varied, and it is strewn about the world. Dostoevsky thought that humanity knows much, much more about itself than it has recorded in literature. So what is it that I do? I collect the everyday life of feelings, thoughts, and words. I collect the life of my time. I’m interested in the history of the soul. The everyday life of the soul, the things that the big picture of history usually omits, or disdains. I work with missing history. I am often told, even now, that what I write isn’t literature, it’s a document. What is literature today? Who can answer that question? We live faster than ever before. Content ruptures form. Breaks and changes it. Everything overflows its banks: music, painting – even words in documents escape the boundaries of the document. There are no borders between fact and fabrication, one flows into the other. Witnesses are not impartial. In telling a story, humans create, they wrestle time like a sculptor does marble. They are actors and creators.”

She was speaking of being a war writer, of writing humanity back into the brutality of war. Tonight, I’m thinking about the truths your heart knows, the small daily ones and the larger ones that direct the compass of your life. I am thinking about your ability to collect fragments of a scattered life and make something remarkable out of something ordinary.

Once, everyday opened into a new idea. I thought, this is the kind of person I am meant to wake up beside. We were artists without labels, we made what we wanted to see, we learned how to do it on the fly—or we taught each other. Now something like a snow cloud. You rise, you meet the day, move forward, but who are you—what are your hands for?

Content ruptures form yes, but internally and externally. Do you feel a kind of inside outside dance, your inner tumult crashing up against the world, chaos? But, you don’t have to suffer to know who you are—it’s not a job, a lover, a sentence written on paper—it’s a beautiful mystery you have to claim every day, like the sun rising, for as long as you’re alive.

 

CANCER 

Oh, it’s a trial, being so tender and so tough, I know. On the days when my heart gets too soft to bear the world, I remember my Cancerian father. I remember his soft watchful presence, how he aimed to take care of me. I remember our long walks along the beach together full of open-hearted talks and, also, his powerful rage, which never erupted. Rather, his rage closed all access to him; he would tighten his mouth and utter what was unmistakably the “final word,” then quietly leave the house not to return for hours.

From him, I learned the impact of being quiet and showing pointed restraint. I learned how to hold my most vulnerable self back when it was threatened, even subtly, how to punish without words. It was only after he died, after my girlfriend left, after a long time of trying to open myself to love again, that I learned how much impact all that distancing had had on me. Most of the time when I grieve my father, I grieve a man with a secret heart. I know he loved me more than life itself, but he never knew me—because I never let him.

Cancer, when you refuse access to your heart, no amount of crying or processing will ever soothe you. And, the strength you feel inside your armor will be a temporary strength, or a strength borne by isolation. When you open the door and let your loved ones in, you will find that you let yourself in, you get closer to yourself.

 

LEO 

When one animal lives in a dark forest, her heart is a jam jar filled with ruby jewels. For a long time, the animal did not know herself from the forest and so she could not imagine her own shape. She tried to draw the outline of herself, her boundary, but the line kept running out and into shadows. When another animal came, let’s call him animal2, she wasn’t surprised. A forest is made for many animals and her jam jar, a beacon. She said, “come by my fire, animal2,” and he sat there. She offered him some jam and he ate all the jam.

A boundary breached in the emotional body: an alarm sounds in your spirit, a powerless anger.

Our animal grew hungry and resentful, still the next day she offered up her jar again. She said “I have some jam to share but it’s my only jam,” animal2 ate all the jam. It made him sad to make sad, but that’s the kind of animal he was.

A boundary broken felt through the body, an ache, a sense of shame, a resentment in the gut.

She said “I won’t give you jam if you don’t leave me some” still he never left her any and she always gave him jam so her words had no power.

A boundary is a protection spell that only works if you honor it. There is no power in a name that is written in sand.

Our animal’s heart was an empty jar she collected tears in. One day, animal2 came to our animal, he said— “Can I drink those tears?” And our animal handed over her jar, thinking he might know her heart and be good to her. But when the last tear dripped into his mouth, the outline of our animal softened and disappeared until animal2 was the only animal left.

Leo, to offer oneself, one must have a defined self, otherwise what you offer is what you might not be ready to lose.

 

VIRGO 

In the car with my best friend’s mother, we wondered at what make a 15-year-old girl leave her home and a mother who loves her. What I offered her was an answer I would have offered my own mother. It had to do with the secret life of children, a life we take for granted, which is invested in perception and accumulation—change. I know all immigrant children have a different story but here is something I found shared, we did not choose to begin a new life—a new language, a new culture—it was chosen for us and it was something we were sent to do alone. We were given a mission but the closer we got to accomplishing it, the further we fell from our origins and consequently our families.

There were days when love was enough to tether us, and struggle too was a kind of adhesive, but there was also disjuncture in love language, something lost in the translation between individual difference and culture imitation.

What was lost comes back around, Virgo, and you will find that the child you were—the one who moved through this world despite your family and in step with them—is the adult you grapple with. The way you see your failures, successes, your belief in love’s power and love’s shortcomings, these things are in conversation with your origin. When the conversation becomes heated, when you feel the untenable tension of who you were born to be and who you have become, running will seem like a good option. But, Virgo, you should stay, you should put the bottle down. That child you grapple with is the one who needs you most.

 

LIBRA

All your life you’ve been looking at an image of scales and told to identify with it. But what is a scale? A means of measurement. An object attempting at balance.  A sculpture made of chains, cups and lever, dancing. An implement of comparison and exchange. And you? Are you the scales or the keeper of? Do you walk through world seeking inner balance, shifting weights from one side to the other, or do you stand still before warring sides and weigh each opinion, mediating their actions and declaring their worth? The scale is an altar where justice is observed but not where it lives. This, the eternal question: what is balance in an unjust world and how do you, Libra, determine the worth of an exchange which is never equal?

Today, on a car-ride to Philly, I was reading an old issue of NYRB where (Libra) Maya Lin takes us step by step through the creation of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. I think it is important that all artists read this text if only for the line “I had a simple impulse to cut into the earth,” but here is where I thought about you and about us, about the choices that get made for us when we forget what to believe in:

There was always the expectation that since the war had been controversial, the memorial must be also. It wasn’t so much as artistic dispute as a political one. The choice to make an apolitical memorial was in itself political to those who felt only a positive statement about the war would make up for the earlier antiwar days, a past swing to the left now to be balanced. It was extremely naïve of me to think that I could produce a neutral statement that would not become politically controversial simply because it chose not to take sides.

You are always taking a side, Libra, even when you perform the dance of hesitancy. The life you want to live, a life that thrives on beautiful risk and Amazon idealism, it needs you to choose it and keep choosing it even when it feels impossible. The storm clouds are gathering and something mighty comes, you can bring the scales if you want, but you can’t stay still.


SCORPIO

Outside, for the third time today running errands for someone you love, you wonder what drives you toward service and what is it about you anyway that makes your kind of caretaking pass invisible under the radar of those you do it for? Is it to your credit that the work blends in with daily life? Not bold or showy but, rather, small adjustments attending to the foreseen needs of others. And are you really so kind, so generous with your time, so attentive to the lives of others, or are you simply wandering through the world trying to prove to yourself that you can be of use?

Nevermind, the coffee shop you set out towards to get the espresso you want is not serving espresso, do you want hot chocolate? No, you don’t want hot chocolate or tea or regular coffee besides this isn’t for you it’s for someone else and someone else is back at the apt waiting for a latte. You find the next coffee shop. The line is long. It’s ok, you can wait. You’re very good at waiting. You’re waiting for the coffee, you’re waiting for your life to change into a life you love a little bit more. Just a little bit, you’re not unrealistic.

Ok. You have the coffee, you got yourself one too—you’re not inhuman—make sure not to get them mixed up, some people like to complain when you get mixed up and if they complain you’ll take it personally. Do you take things too personally? Maybe it’s just that you’re spending all your time and energy and sweetness on everybody else. And then, when you’re alone with yourself, you’re too tired to check in and take care of the one person you keep forgetting about—yourself. So, take care of yourself. All these tiny gestures, all these small ways you try to soften yourself for the sake of others, are you telling me you can’t devote at least one act of love to yourself every day?


SAGITTARIUS

At one of the last surviving diners in Manhattan, in the very back behind scattered tourist families, upper west side morning joggers, and wayward teenagers clearly cutting class, I wait for you. We’re a sight for sure, you suffering from what appears to be the direst cold known the mankind and me, hungover with period cramps. We groan toward our food, order omlettes with “home fries” and “cheese” and are of course rewarded with ambiguous orange goo and browned mashed potatoes. Water comes about halfway through the meal and we’re basically guzzling coffee to survive. Still, through our individual pain, I can feel the soft relief of company. What is it about communal suffering? Is it the act of witnessing? You recognize my pain and allow me the opportunity to move beyond claiming it.

Alright, so to suffer best we must suffer communally. Red tent, Shiva, or two girls eating unnameable cheese at noon on a Thursday. But what about the general malaise we have no rituals for? The “I’m a directionless, poor, woman who is moderately depressed” malaise, the “Sure, I’m in love with my husband but that is literally the only sure thing in my life” malaise, the “I don’t know how to be in a relationship with anyone, probably because I have no idea how to be honest with myself about what I need, do I need something?” malaise.

In lieu of Dayquil for the Soul, which will—you know—not be made in this lifetime, it is up to you to come up with rituals for obtuse suffering. What I mean is, build a community around you that recognizes your sadness and your joy both, allow people to see your full spectrum of emotions, allow yourself to feel them. And who knows? Maybe in the blue tent where we just listen to sad songs for a few hours every week, a voice (a song? a story? a friend?) might embolden you  to discovering your own cure.


CAPRICORN

The first time I heard the song “Wild is the Wind,” it was a recording of Ellison Glenn made for a cd of poems. The recording was not a poem. It was a drawling, crying, voicemail for what felt like a sweetheart but could have been a love letter to their most broken self. Love me Love me, say you do, my best friend and I sang it to each other—it was our crush language, our lost lover language. Like a leaf clings to a tree something delicate and undeniable.

When this year ended, I was with all my friends in a house in the woods. We said let’s play the dead and cued up George Michael, Leonard Cohen, Bowie, and Prince. And then something happened to me, it happened to the room. David Bowie came on the screen singing “Wild is the Wind.” My heart stopped. Because it was aching, it made me ache. The words from his mouth were not words but whole ghosts springing from his face like cast off masks. And it was tense, one string in his throat about to break.

I looked at Bowie face and thought to myself—this—this is what a Capricorn is—a soft sweet howling through ancient trees, a determination to enter the room of love and divine worship no matter how steep the cost or how difficult the journey. There was something patient in the ghosts that flew from him, something vulnerable and unable to forgive itself. And maybe there are things in this world that Bowie will never have forgiveness, he’s just a star now—a dead star. But you, Capricorn, you who are still here, still wind howling through trees, still a leaf clinging to this life—forgiveness is something you can learn. How to give it, yes, but mostly how to receive it.

 

 

Galactic Rabbit May 2016!

Dear Rabbits in Galaxies Far and Wide,

I’m writing you beside a bouquet of dying flowers in an apartment that is not mine. This bouquet has peonies in it and lilacs too, which are my favorites, which are the flowers I ordered for my mother on Mother’s Day although she was not speaking to me. I wanted to show her that despite her inability to be the mother I want and despite my resistance to ease up my boundaries around her carelessness, I would not forget about her and I would always offer her beauty. This month, I spent a great deal of time think about mothers my birth mother and “the many gendered mothers of my heart” a la Maggie Nelson.

There are those of us who have always felt alone in the world, intrepid, aliens in every community we find ourselves in. We have had to learn our love language from strangers and take it on as if it is natural to us. Which it became. Then there are those of us who have been loved well our whole lives—and now must learn how to love others generously, without fear of loss. No matter what love planet we hail from, whether it is a planet where no life thrives or a planet full of mysteries, it is our job to take care of ourselves and each other as best we can when what the world offers is not enough.

In these letters, I aim to be your champion, a kind of mother, or lover
or anything that lets us touch each other.

 

Yours,
Galactic Rabbit

Thank you to Claire Skinner, as always, for being my Clairvoyant Friend.
If you’d like to donate to the making of those love letter scopes you can visit my PayPal! XO

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Aquarius

Recently, my dear friend Angela Watrous (Aquarius), who is an empathy-centered healer, shared this a quote from Gertrude Stein (Aquarius) about writing and creating: After all everybody, that is, everybody who writes is interested in living inside themselves in order to tell what is inside themselves. That is why writers have to have two countries, the one where they belong and the one in which they live really. – Gertrude Stein, “Paris, France.”

Despite my reluctance to hold Gertrude Stein in my mind for too long, lest she rises from the dead and decides to write MY autobiography, I couldn’t help but find it timely. There’s something about spring, about the promise of new life and new adventures, that brings out the wanderlust in all of us. And if we are lucky, or privileged, or very particular about how we spend our money, we can have what we want. We can trade apartments with friends in foreign countries, make money under the table picking weed in California with the new loves of our lives, travel all along the old Eastern Bloc and redefine who we are as artists and makers.

You can do any of those things as long as you remember, my dear Aquarius, you are someone who lives in two countries. The one you rise into everyday, weaving in and out of the life you’ve built—your accomplishments, your obligations, your loved ones—and the country that only your spirit knows by name. No matter where you go, no matter how far you’d like to be, it is your task to take your spirit with and tend to the home inside yourself. There is no else and no other place that will do this for you. Knowing can be both a kind of freedom and a kind of weight, practice recognizing it as the former.

Pisces 

When I met you, at a dinner party full of strangers, it was as if we had known each other all along. Something about your face, the shape of it, your unruly hair and the way you danced—stomping almost. Something about your mouth against my mouth, not perfect but young-hearted, it made me want to see you again. I imagined our affection like two wild ponies from separate herds necking in the dark.

And, even though it took you months to write back to me, I wanted to take that walk with you in the rain. I liked the way we cut through April, the spring in our hearts babbling and strewing flowers. I liked that we wanted to eat at the same place, that we took bites from each other’s plates. I liked, too, the bookstore after, with that horrible open mic and the ridiculous lesbian erotica. I said I’m free unto the world, but you have someone waiting. You said There’s no one waiting and we went to a bar where you held my knee between your knees for a long time before kissing me.

I want to write this here because in our texts since then, the pony in my heart has walked through an evasive fog. I want to tell you that I know how to let beautiful things alone. This spring, I’ve walked by dozens of Magnolia trees and never took a petal for myself. Pisces, whomever you open yourself to next, whatever door you come to, it might do you good to figure out what you want before you knock and how best to say it plain.

Aries

In the month since you’ve been far from me, we’ve relied on the phone to keep us close. You at a residency in the middle of nowhere trying to generate new work, me juggling two new jobs on top of my old ones, time is difficult and ceaseless. Running back and forth between obligations, I’ve carried two voices with me: yours and Elena Ferrante. Of course, I have no idea what Elena’s sign is or what her real name is… or anything else for that matter. What I know for sure is this: there is something radical inside her work, something so brave that the woman who writes it can’t stand to be compared to the women she creates.

There is a violence in her books I understand. The kind that calls a girl down to her knees, the kind that makes you think brute force would be better than nothing. You close a chapter and stand still as if seeing your own adolescence again: Wasn’t I just as cruel to myself? Wasn’t I just as selfish in the face of suffering?

Since finishing the second book of her Neopolitan series, I’ve felt the force of her absence and yours simultaneously. Which is really the trouble with distances and finding books to live in. Your presence and her language a kind of call toward opening in me, I want to bring you to that place and show you to each other. In lieu of impossible things, I will tell you this: whatever you are making in this world, if you are brave, if you go beyond what feels good and toward pain, then you will find an opening. You must know what it takes to lower yourself in without getting lost. You must bring the necessary tools to get out.

 

Taurus

In the New Yorker, Claudia Rankine wrote a reflection on the work of Adrienne Rich. It’s titled “Adrienne Rich’s Poetic Transformations,” but reading the essay (which is pulled from a forthcoming introduction to collection of Rich’s work), you might find that the one who’s transformed is Rankine. Over and over she recalls a young version of herself, a writer and activist coming into her own and looking for voices that could keep her company. We see her at the table of her youth, pouring over Baldwin and Rich and Lorde, trying to understand what art is for.

Rankine shows us the poems, draws lines between where Rich’s craft began and what it grew into. She also shows us her political letters, including this one regarding her decline of the National Medal from the Clinton Administration and the NEA:

There is no simple formula for the relationship of art to justice. But I do know that art—in my own case the art of poetry—means nothing if it simply decorates the dinner table of power which holds it hostage.

Re-reading these words, which I have read many times before in a state of admiration and awe, I imagined I might bring them to you. Taurus, does your work, your beautiful energy and commitment, decorate a dinner table that you would rather not sit at? Do you wake feeling like you have given away so much of your creative force, that you barely have any left for yourself? If there is a power that holds your best-self hostage, learn to recognize it. If your boundaries are being crossed, it’s your job to maintain them.

Gemini

It’s close to eight when my brother (Gemini) calls me. I’ve spent the day cleaning my apt, visiting my friend who is injured, babysitting an infant, and moving to the West Village to housesit for ten days. His phone call finds me finally beginning to write. I don’t want to pick up, to interrupt the solitary space I’ve carved out, but I do it anyway. My brother doesn’t call me often, if at all. We talk about work, I tell him how I spend my days, how hard it is to make ends meet. And, even though he replies in kind—detailing how little he gets paid, how long his workdays are, how little he sees his kids—he lets me know that if I need any money he’s got me.

Because it’s embarrassing, I’ll admit that I treasured those stories we read as children, the ones where the girl and her brother go off bravely into the woods and find a way to survive. They aren’t brave at first, just lost. And yes the girl is clever. She feeds the wild cat and knows what lights the dark heart of the forest witch. But her brother is her champion. Not because he is bigger or stronger—and he might be—but because he sees in her a great power and vows to protect it.

In my heart, my brother and I are those children. In this world, I know he doesn’t have me, can’t protect me, can’t champion me in any way I’d understand. When he makes his offer, I want to say just call me more, just try to know me but I don’t. I thank him; I ask him if he’s happy, if he likes what he does. “Listen,” he pauses, sighs. “It’s been a rough few years, you know? It’s like I’m being born again. I’m new, I’m re-building my life.” This admission, hopefulness, it catches me. With those few words, I realize that in this story, I must be the champion. Gemini, if you move bravely toward your new life, I will be your champion.

Cancer

You wrote me a letter and every day since its arrival, I’ve looked it over and considered you. Considered the night I gave you my hand and you led me through a forest so dark the moon could barely do its work, the coral ring you bought me on a cruise with the girlfriend you said you were leaving. The month my family rejected me and you showed up drunk. How the car swerved and my heart lurched with disappointment.

In Bluets, Maggie Nelson quotes (a beloved song of mine) Emmylou Harris’ Red Dirt Girl:

  1. One thing they don’t tell you ’bout the blues when you got ’em, you keep on fallin’ ’cause there ain’t no bottom,’ sings Emmylou Harris, and she may be right. Perhaps it would help to be told that there is no bottom, save, as they say, wherever and whenever you stop digging. You have to stand there, spade in hand, cold whiskey sweat beaded on your brow, eyes misshapen and wild, some sorry-ass grave digger grown bone-tired of the trade. You have to stand there in the dirty rut you dug, alone in the darkness, in all its pulsing quiet, surrounded by the scandal of corpses.

I’ve read Bluets over and over for years. I read it when I moved across the country and away from my homophobic family; I read it when my father died and when my partner and I separated for good. When I read it, I never thought of you. Not because you didn’t break my heart—you did. I didn’t think of you because I let you go. Dear Lover, You were so beautiful, with your perfect mouth and square palms. We built a world with our love. We were covered in dirt and smelled like fire. We were water animals who felt too much and there was a time when time did not matter.

Time matters now and there is only going forward from here. You can’t be who you were, can’t raise the dead. Put the spade down and climb out of the hole, dear heart. Like the moon, love is never gone. It just keeps changing shape.

Leo

There is a string that ties us to each other, this much I know and not much more. A decade ago, in a small bookstore-turned-punk hovel that I sometimes treated as my home, you chanted your poems and they settled in me. Years later, we were at the edge of a dock, pouring honey into Seneca Lake, singing. I sent you a package made of art scraps, things that I thought might please you. You sent me your lover’s book, bound by metal bolts, picture of a girl against naked trees—furtive—you note scribbled at the edge.

The taxi ride in Oregon, our friend’s writer’s retreat in NY you demanded I attend—even if it meant paying for it yourself. A moment when, gently against the wall, you touched me as if in all those years of sailing past we’d made a lover’s cartography.

The last time we saw each other, backstage at a small show, your chair was so close to mine I thought there was only one chair. You bit into an apple and I felt your teeth, the apple’s flesh sprayed against my arm. You handed me the apple and I, knowing where your eyes were, dragged my tongue slow along the bite. A map is not a life, Leo, only a handful of coordinates that show us where we might have ventured and boundary monuments that keep shifting despite our best efforts. There’ll always be great loves that barely happen to us, an apple for each paring knife, each mouth. Look to the stars, Leo, the sea that carries you—even if this particular journey feels done, your lessons are not done.

Virgo

Tonight the sky darkens in what feels like slow motion. We’re sitting on bleachers packed tight with bodies, waiting for awe. There is a structure on the river that’s part Navy vessel part pigeon coop. We’re preparing for Duke Riley’s Fly By Night, birds affixed with LEDs brushing the sky. The bird-themed music cuts off and the streetlights dim, a recording of pigeons chirruping, cooing, wings beating, comes on and it’s a little overwhelming, the way these sounds are here and not here.

The birds murmur quietly at the edges of their roosts until the recording cuts off and they’re beckoned to take flight. What if they shit on us? You ask. What if I never feel awe? I wonder. They don’t shit on us and I marvel at how peaceful it is to watch these creatures weave in and around the night, clusters forming and breaking apart against oncoming clusters. The sky begins where ground ends and we are not so separate from them. You keep pointing to a bird that flies a little too high, a little too far—that one is not coming back. But they do. They come back because their power is not solitary. If love is anything for these pigeons, it flickers above us illuminated: submission, shared language, the desire to touch freedom and then return to the hand that knows you.

What if I’m powerless? You ask as we walk home slowly, after the birds have returned to their boat. We’re talking about our families, wanting to change things that seem utterly unchangeable. You have power, our friend replies, the joy you bring to others is a kind of power. I think about the birds, their luminescent dance, the way Prince’s When Doves Cry came on and how you pulled us all in for a group hug. She’s right about you, about the kind of love you have for this world, its potential like hundreds of beating wings.

Libra

Last week, as we walked slowly around pillows stitched with images of Stone Butch Blues and maps of ye olde lesbiane textes at an exhibit called “Queering the Bibliobject,” we wondered aloud at what makes a distinctly Libra poem. Is it the quest for beauty? I ventured, a poem like a crow pecking around for jewels. Does it have something to do with balance? You replied a little sidewise, as if balance wasn’t something one could achieve with a poem.

For a long time, we shared this city and did not know each other. The lovers who bridged us were bridges on fire or bridges under construction or an ex with whom one of us was in love and one of us was a pillar of salt. So, no, we never met at a park or poetry reading or late night café to talk about the many kinds of pain we are capable of enduring for love. But, we were tied by it and If our bodies were not capable of such destruction, they could be beautiful.

 

Tonight I’m thinking about beauty as the ultimate balancing act. A Libra poem about the gorgeous ways our bodies are bridges and how we cross them and how we burn trying. And, there is the water rushing through trying to teach us something about what we’re scared to lose. And, here, the mysterious boats we board so that we might sail under the shadows of what we’ve built and destroyed, into wild worlds yet unknown to us.

 

Scorpio

In another universe where we live seaside lives, you are always shucking oysters. Here it is, another crustacean, another tight-lipped little treasure box and you with your perfect knife. You were born to open what wants opening, to tip it just so, and suck the secret out. But in this life, Scorpio, your job is not so clear-cut (unless, of course, you truly work in the sea and even then there are limits to what you know of the secret life of oysters). In this universe, you can’t force a secret out, can’t demand trust and surrender at knife point.

Even if you are gentle, even if you practice the oft-cited golden rule “do unto others,” no one owes you intimacy—no one has to do unto you what you do unto them. Intrinsically, you know this. You’re perceptive; you hold reverence for the hard protective shell and the pearl all at once.

Why waste your time with prying open what wants to stay shut? Could it be that this time, like many times before, you’re looking for intimacy in all the wrong places? What you’re drawn to is a kind of shadow work—you are the hand and the shore where closed things wash up at dusk. But, it’s not your job to pry out everyone’s truth and show it to them, not your place to lick sorrow from a tight mouth. Sometimes, you just have to cup what comes to you in your good strong hand, and give it right back to the sea.

Sagittarius

We’re on a road trip together to a place neither of us has travelled. New Mexico, maybe. Your dog is with us, napping in the back seat. Or, for some reason, you haven’t brought her. We spend our pit stops watching videos of her casually slinking over to her drinking bowl or staring solemnly out a window. On the road, every song is a song we reinvent to suit our nostalgia, every snack break a guilty pleasure waiting to happen

For however long this lasts, a few days or a week, we write the story of our lives. We call on the energies of the great Sagittarians and channel their powers. Tonight, in a desert dive bar, we are meticulous as Joan Didion. We suck up local phrases like water, quietly leaning toward the other tables—nosy anthropologists. Tomorrow, we’ll be all passion and sunrise, Cisneros-brilliant, building a new language out of marks in the sand.

 

What I’m saying is, there is a possible world, a moment forthcoming, when you will have the chance to feel easy. Open and flowing toward the great river of being, nothing to live up to, owing your goodness to no one. You’ll be treated as good because you’ll say you are good. Your love and attention and care will be more than enough—it will be vital to the any shared journey. You will ask for what you need and, darling, you will get it.

Capricorn

It’s over 70, I’ve got a baby strapped to my chest in a wrap so thick I’m afraid he’ll overheat and I’ll never be allowed to nanny again. I pull his wibbly head out and support it on my arm. He’s so relaxed. Why not go to the library? In the main lobby, two separate women look me over and say, “Bless you” very matter-of-factly. “Bless you!” I reply, wondering if we’re all talking about Jesus or what. I wait at the fiction reference desk until a librarian appears and asks, “do you need help?” Like standing by the desk glancing from side to side is not indicative. I’m looking for Tell My Horse, by Zora Neale Hurston. “It’s upstairs in History,” she looks it up and writes down the number.

At the history reference desk upstairs, I ask for directions. He points me to a bookcase; the book’s missing. “I was sent here,” I explain. He apologizes, walks me over to a collection of travel books. “This can’t be right,” I conclude as if I’m the librarian. He looks the book up again. It’s available. Do I want to put it on hold for when it turns up? Possibly in a week? Maybe it’s on display. I guess May is Voodoo month. He calls the Voodoo display woman. She doesn’t pick up. I go down to the main lobby and there, in a glass case with a smudging bowl, I find Zora.

I go to the reference table. “Can I borrow a book being used in the display?” I ask but I know the answer’s no. The baby stirs. “You can put it on hold and have it in a few…” she starts to suggest but then “O it’s on hold.” “Shit,” I say and leave the library. I cross the street, settle on a nice patch of grass in Prospect Park. Then, I think about you, about Zora, about doing what needs to get done even when it’s hard—even when it makes you uncomfortable. I think about the baby in my arms that would prefer I be walking, rocking him with my stride. The baby begins to cry but I need to rest. Sha sha I whisper in his ear and download a pdf of Tell My Horse. Accept what you can’t change, Capricorn, and don’t spend too much time trying to make a thruway out of a dead-end street.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SEPTEMBER HOROSCOPES

Dear Autumnal Rabbits,

It’s hard to say goodbye to summer, to days when lying still under the hot sun can count as an activity. It’s hard to find time for ourselves, for stillness, for thinking about each and every little part of our bodies so that we might send it love. I love you fingertip, I love you tiny toe. It’s harder still, to cater to such small concerns when faced with the enormity of this world and it’s failure to care for the people in it.

Someone has, once again, reposted the photo of a Syrian child washed up dead on the shore. An interview with his father reveals a second son and a wife lost to the ocean. You look. You repeat their names in your mind, under your breath. You think about the bodies; were these bodies that you could have loved? I love you fingertip, I love you tiny toe. You can’t bear any more looking.

Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement in the Jewish calendar, is September 23. Forty-two years ago, Syria and Israel were at war. Now Israel has the chance to practice forgiveness. This month, when I light a candle for my dead, I will count a country of strangers among them. I will remember every time I have not been brave enough to forgive, not compassionate enough to be generous in the face of scarcity.

A tiny drop in an ocean of nations, I will vow to be better. What if you joined me?

xo G

P.S. Thank you, Claire Skinner, for all your help. <3
P.P.S. If you’d like to donate to the making of these horoscopes, there’s a PayPal link located on the sidebar of the site. I appreciate you and adore you.

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Aquarius

Here we are on earth, you wrote, terra / my name / your name / all that cannot.

I am thinking about all that cannot today. About what it means to live on this planet with it’s endless war and factory line. It’s 40% off at the Banana Republic. I am thinking about what it means to be complicit in our own suffering and how that suffering rises to a pitch so high only bats can hear it.

This month, Germany opened its arms and took in thousands upon thousands of Syrian refugees. A big move for a small country but Germany, for reasons mostly rooted in historical ignorance, has taken on almost the entirety of blame for the Holocaust. While I cannot speak to the inner working of national leaders, I dare say that in doing so Germany has shifted its image in the world.

There are many ways to change, Aquarius, many ways to shift how the world sees you. How do you suffer? What ghosts and worldly wounds have you taken on as your own? To become lighter, you can’t be afraid to give more of yourself.

 

Pisces

In the beginning of this month, under the full Pisces moon, I gathered with a few sweet friends by the beach. What I love about the night ocean, what I look for in most things I love, is the moment when darkness is a lens that unifies what lies separate. What I mean is the sky and the moon and the water, all one. What I mean is you, Pisces, and the moon you are: wound, healer, and the keeper of precious things.

The water crests and crashes over itself, slapping the rocks and sucking at the shore. The lunar light is brilliant and white like a hole in the universe.

What is made there, what is birthed and destroyed beneath the water’s cloak, is what lives in us. Feminine divine. Uncountable stories. In some parallel universe, you know them all by heart. In this one, they come to you, in dreams and in heartbreak. In the sparkling night, we’d come to honor your power, to charge our crystals and stones beneath you. I held a rock quartz to my third eye and felt an immense clarity, an opening that vibrated deep into my bones. I knew this was your gift and I felt you with me. You have come so far; you’re stronger than you’ve ever been.

 

Aries

“Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

Aries, when I remembered The Velveteen Rabbit—written by a Cancer, I thought of you. I thought of you because the Lunar Eclipse will fall in Aries (Decan 1) this late September, and because Cancer is the star in the sky that understands your drive and devotion more than most. I thought of your young heart and how the world betrays it.

I want to tell you about how much I loved The Velveteen Rabbit as a child new to this country, how it made me feel optimistic about being accepted and loved. I desperately wanted to become “real,” whatever that was. I wish someone could have told me that we are always real. That there is no amount of love or ruining that can deem us worthy of each other. As far as reality goes, we can be wild rabbits in a field or stuffed horses with missing parts. It doesn’t matter. We are in this book, this room, together. We are for each other, beautiful and real, even in our separateness.

 

Taurus

Once my friend L called me out of nowhere. We hadn’t spoken in what felt like years. GALI! She exclaimed over the phone, I have some questions for you. L had just begun a graduate program in mathematics. She was one of the few women admitted and the isolation of her experience had catapulted her into re-thinking her identification with feminism. What L wanted to know was: could she be a feminist and still prepare dinner for her husband?

Such an absurd question came out of her desire to make things black and white, this or that. It didn’t matter that the question was absurd, or that she left her husband shortly after our phone call, moved across the country and began to date women exclusively.

What mattered (then and still) is the way life has a way of teaching you over and over that if you are stuck in a quandary (career path, relationship, friendship, etc.) and looking for an easy answer—you are probably searching for the way out. Which is, in many ways, the easiest answer of them all.

 

Gemini

I have known two kinds of Gemini, the kind whose every love was their Big Great Love, and the kind who wandered from lover to lover indifferently casting their affections. Even as I write this I know that each of these Gemini was one half of the other. Still, I remember my friend J, whose journal spilled out with crosshatch sketches of every boy she kissed. And, I remember S, who never talked about desire, who to this day rises up in photographs alone and beautiful on tropical beaches.

When the moon sails out / the waters cover the earth / and the heart feels it is / a little island in the infinite*

Today, I am thinking of this Gemini dichotomy, the great lover in you and the butterfly flitting from flower to flower. I want to ask each of those twins how they thrive. How do you, Gemini, make space for the one who wants in you? The one who is curious about everything in the world? Where do you rest, winged one, when all the flowers fall asleep? This month, imagine the little island in the infinite that is your heart, let it be home to both Gemini in you.

*Federico Garcia Lorca

 

Cancer

On car rides to Mount St. Helens, over Dar Williams cds, we would hash out the meaning of feminine and masculine, human and animal, Christians and Pagans, non-violence and self-defense. We would talk over one another, interrupt, reach for answers where there were clearly none to be found. We didn’t care. If my girlfriend was in the car with us, she would come to me later and say, “All you two do is fight. Doesn’t it exhaust you?” No, I would tell her, quite the opposite. Our arguing invigorated us, made us respect each other, made us close.

It also made us sensitive to one another. Perhaps that’s why when my girlfriend and I broke up, you were the first person I thought of. I needed your expansive mind, your strong logic to guide me toward every truth I had forgotten about myself.

My sweet friend, my partner in feminist praxis, who is asking you the tough questions now that we live so far apart? The ruby of your great mind is in full effect, do you feel as if you’ve honored its capacity? Don’t be afraid to go it alone, Cancer, to figure it out for yourself. Be brave. The people who love you cast a wide net and they’ll be there to catch you if you fall. But, dear heart, I know that you won’t.

 

Leo

On your back on a rooftop in Brooklyn, under a night sky that is not without stars, you can feel the world pulse on. Cars honk and skyscrapers blink. There is the faint sound of music. You pulse too but it’s a soft pulse. A sad song, I hear it, have heard it for months. What balm could you rub on that strong chest of yours? What more can you do than what you’ve done? For years you’ve built a damn around your heart but life rivers through, erodes the land. That’s the nature of rivers. Your heart aches but it won’t break. Hearts are unfathomable in their fortitude. No matter their weight, their darkness, their hard jacket with the collar turned up, they go on.

You have been dead a long season / And have less than desire / Who were lover with lover; / And I have life—that old reason / To wait for what comes, / To leave what is over. * 

Life—that old reason. It’s not shallow, not a small feat, to look at the person you’ve become and take her hand. I want to give you something powerful: a crown of black onyx and rose quartz, a tea to soothe your beautiful lion heart. I wish that it were possible to know just the right thing, but there is no right thing. Do whatever you need to do to live in this world, to leave what is over and begin again.

*Louise Bogan

 

Virgo

The Solar eclipse and the sun in your eyes, dear Virgo, may the Earth be good to you. May you eat the seeds of this world, and the next, and not be held responsible for your hunger. Let yourself know desire, let your shame become the ripe fig you tongue at the edge of your longing.

This is your beautiful everything, your thick elastic flesh molded from the shapes of ancestors, survivors, lovers who dug their nails in deep and refused to let go. Or, was it you who held on too long? It doesn’t matter…

Dear Virgo, may this month be the month of clear sight, a chance to see yourself as you have been and as you are now without regret. If there is a world out there you have held yourself back from, consider yourself welcome to it. If you have convinced yourself that love must prove itself to you before you can know what it is, consider that you are already full of knowing. Autumn beckons, the garden is thick with offerings.

 

Libra

Libra you, more than anyone, know a pattern when you see it. Surely, you might have guessed by now that the frequency of Mercury’s slip into retrograde has a greater purpose than messing up our emails and delaying our flights. We can’t blame a planet for our bad habits, our tardiness and our inclination to hit send too fast. We can, however, feel some kind of way about Mercury’s insistence on forcing us to confront them.

Mercury asks us to back up our hard-drives because that is an act of care we can perform for what we produce in the world. Mercury is here to teach us about listening before we speak, thinking before we act, and knowing what we want before we say yes. It forces us to take a good hard look at the obstacles we construct to get in our own ways and asks us if we are ready to dismantle them.

Well, Libra, are you ready to dismantle them? If the answer is yes, if you know what you want, then don’t be afraid of which way the planets move. Remember that you are your strongest astral influence and the universe aches to harmonize with you.

 

Scorpio

It’s no coincidence that poetry’s sad darlings, Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton, were both Scorpios. Who else could have courted death so famously? Who else could have been so brilliant in their darkness, captured the topaz light of a dying leaf so precisely that their genius would appear almost effortless? Two night dancers defying the gravity of language, the ghosts of Sylvia and Anne have often suffered a woman’s death—where their craft takes a seat behind their surrender.

And I am aware of my heart: it opens and closes / Its bowl of red blooms out of sheer love of me. / The water I taste is warm and salt, like the sea, / And comes from a country far away as health.

Beyond bank statements and painful conversations, beyond the anxieties of getting from one day to the next, there is a world where you are very very powerful. Scorpio, forget psychic death, forgo any form of surrender that does not yield pleasure. Let health become a country where you claim citizenship, move there. No matter how estranged, no matter that you’ve forgotten the language and the customs. Start small and soon you will remember.

 

Sagittarius

In the years when my grief was deepest, when the hours between getting home and waking up ached on and on with slow hands, you were my lighthouse. Maybe it’s because you were stationed between my home and the rest of the world, maybe because I was only willing to bicycle as far as your front door, I demanded your company. And you were good to me. You welcomed me in even when you were tired; you brought out a bottle of whiskey and let me live at its bottom.

I don’t mean to suggest that I knew you then, or that I know you now. I have, little by little, figured out that there is little merit in claiming that we ever truly know anyone.

Archer, I sensed the lone animal in you, the warm live thing at the center of your solitude. I sensed and moved toward it. What contained that animal, what contained you and kept you from relief, I could only guess at. I loved you indiscriminately. Loved the good in you. How big that good was and is, like an animal’s heart beating hot under all her fur.

 

Capricorn

I know a man who is an alcoholic. He’s not a bad man, or he wasn’t, although who can say who is born bad and who becomes? This man, he has a mother. Everyday his mother wakes early in the morning and begins the arduous task of baking specialty cakes for her son’s restaurant. Everyday her son moves through the day toward his next drink. The restaurant gapes empty and the man’s wife keeps surfacing with bruises.

The mother’s heart breaks over and over. The mother can’t bear to see her son so broken; she can’t bear to witness his cruelty and his weakness. She bakes cake not knowing whether her son will pick it up or not. Not knowing if he will leave the cake in his car while he drunkenly lumbers in a haze until dawn.

What she can’t seem to put together is the way the cake is both a bribe and a form of permission. That, in preparing these cakes everyday, she is trying to establish a pattern in a world that is falling apart, to manipulate a return to normalcy. How have you, Capricorn, created relationships where your labors are lost? How have you, Capricorn, maneuvered to control what is outside your power?