And so we lost ourselves in a trembling for a time, lost ourselves in the swallowing of each other’s best parts. I gave you my light and you gave me yours. We built cathedrals of New England autumn leaves and old sheets of music you kept from high school band. It was this constant quilting with us, this constant stitching of our histories together until they were almost indiscernible from one another. But it was too big and too complicated for such young hands. It slipped, went pluming through the window we kept open even in the winter because we had crushes on each other’s goosebumps.
It was warm and then it was not warm. Light swallowing light.
I could listen to this song forever.
The moth does not ask
for butterfly wings, does not
ask for mythologies.
So I wrote a book…
And you can buy it here!
Here’s a short description:
Cody Gohl spent his childhood in Texas dreaming of travelling the world. He gorged on the works of the Lost Generation, spent nights dreaming of what it would be like to escape his small suburb and set off on an adventure that would take him swerving through Europe’s great cities. He finally got the chance during his junior year at college when he left everything he knew behind to study and live in Madrid. He expected to find himself, his true self, the self of manic poetry and cathedrals, of late night drags off a communal cigarette on the steps of a shadowed metro stop. However this is not what he found. In A Slow Moving Something, Gohl explores themes of loss, frustration and alienation in order to interrogate what it truly means to be an American student living abroad. This is a memoir in flashes, snapshots, in cracks of light and bulb—the essays and poetry in this collection serve to chronicle the ways in which he unraveled his romantic conceptions of what he thought Madrid and Europe should be in order to embrace and accept the beautifully gritty realities of the life he found in Madrid.
One of those poems that simultaneously flattens me and restores my faith in so many things.
It feels familiar
and foreign, this swelling
of you in my mind.
You are too many
forget-me-nots, too many
sad songs warped by rain.
If I love you
it is geyser
is cracked tile
is the splitting
skin of a palm
to the sun
is the burn
of that sun
on the backs
of your shoulders
like a searing
like the fuse
before its explosion
I will be
if you let me
will leave your heart
will scoop flames
from your chest
and press them
to the sky
like an epiphany
like a crash
like the great swallowing
of all the world
and all its light
and all its little
I remember how much you liked Spring so I thought I’d write you this letter. The leaves are juicy with greenness. I made a crown of dandelions yesterday and tossed it into a river. I did this because you used to love the crush of dandelion powder against your cheeks, said it made you feel like you had a secret little sun trapped inside your mouth.
I think about how much you would like the blueness of this new world. The sky splits the horizon and swallows me. It feels like a blessing or maybe just a parlor trick. I wonder what it would feel like to hold your hand underneath a sky so blue. You would be sticky from the runoff of a bubblegum popsicle.
Hands should always be sticky you whispered to me in a hammock we took out of your father’s truck. Sticky with the memory of other things.
I am sticky with you so I am sending you this letter. I’ve lost your address, so I’ve tied it to the wing of a dragonfly. I expect it will find you kneeled on the gravel shore of a lake, combing for shells or bits of sea glass. I know that you will cup it in your hands like some precious gem. You care about small things and that is why I love you.
After learning my flight was detained 4 hours,
I heard the announcement:
If anyone in the vicinity of gate 4-A understands any Arabic,
Please come to the gate immediately.
Well—one pauses these days. Gate 4-A was my own gate. I went there.
An older woman in full traditional Palestinian dress,
Just like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing loudly.
Help, said the flight service person. Talk to her. What is her
Problem? we told her the flight was going to be four hours late and she
I put my arm around her and spoke to her haltingly.
Shu dow-a, shu- biduck habibti, stani stani schway, min fadlick,
Sho bit se-wee?
The minute she heard any words she knew—however poorly used—
She stopped crying.
She thought our flight had been canceled entirely.
She needed to be in El Paso for some major medical treatment the
Following day. I said no, no, we’re fine, you’ll get there, just late,
Who is picking you up? Let’s call him and tell him.
We called her son and I spoke with him in English.
I told him I would stay with his mother till we got on the plane and
Would ride next to her—Southwest.
She talked to him. Then we called her other sons just for the fun of it.
Then we called my dad and he and she spoke for a while in Arabic and
Found out of course they had ten shared friends.
Then I thought just for the heck of it why not call some Palestinian
Poets I know and let them chat with her. This all took up about 2 hours.
She was laughing a lot by then. Telling about her life. Answering
She had pulled a sack of homemade mamool cookies—little powdered
Sugar crumbly mounds stuffed with dates and nuts—out of her bag—
And was offering them to all the women at the gate.
To my amazement, not a single woman declined one. It was like a
Sacrament. The traveler from Argentina, the traveler from California,
The lovely woman from Laredo—we were all covered with the same
Powdered sugar. And smiling. There are no better cookies.
And then the airline broke out the free beverages from huge coolers—
Non-alcoholic—and the two little girls for our flight, one African
American, one Mexican American—ran around serving us all apple juice
And lemonade and they were covered with powdered sugar too.
And I noticed my new best friend—by now we were holding hands—
Had a potted plant poking out of her bag, some medicinal thing,
With green furry leaves. Such an old country traveling tradition. Always
Carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere.
And I looked around that gate of late and weary ones and thought,
This is the world I want to live in. The shared world.
Not a single person in this gate—once the crying of confusion stopped
—has seemed apprehensive about any other person.
They took the cookies. I wanted to hug all those other women too.
This can still happen anywhere.
Not everything is lost."
Naomi Shihab Nye (b. 1952), “Wandering Around an Albuquerque Airport Terminal.” I think this poem may be making the rounds, this week, but that’s as it should be. (via oliviacirce)