Monday, May 23, 2011


May 23, 2011

Dear Andrea,

Fatigue has set up permanent housekeeping in my bones.  Sits on the sofa, turns on the television, and watches talk shows and reality tv all day and all night.  Fatigue is heavy.  It feeds on itself.

Though really, I am beyond fatigue.

I am purposeful in pursuit of that condition.  Total immersion in constant activity that engages my brain—that is what I strive for.  If my brain is full of everything else, there is no room for memory.  I trick myself into peace then.  I ignore your death as if it did not happen.  As if it were not the core of me.

Even though I have a full time job and already have two degrees, I enrolled in a class at Evergreen winter quarter.  It has been something I have wanted to do for a long time.  I was in such a hurry when I was going through college with you two girls, I never got a chance to study what I wanted to.  I always had to take classes towards my major.  I saw there was a class called “Autobiography”.  I had to take it.  I have always wanted to be a writer.  And writing about my life--I had plenty of material.  Taking that class was the best thing I have done for myself in years. I found writing just for the joy of it releases me.  There is space to let you in. 

This quarter I am taking a class called “Writing in the Wild.”  Wednesday (my birthday) is the last class.  I am trying to get the last of the reading and analytical responses to them done.  I have one more to go.  But first, I am still ruminating on the reading assignment for our seventh week.  I was so taken with Leslie Marmon Silko’s essay Landscape, History and Pueblo Imagination I read it three times to myself.  I was not just reading though, I was absorbing her words.  Something in clusters of cells subtly awakened to the elemental truths held in the sentences and paragraphs typed on paper. 

It was as if my brain went to the cells “Ah Ha! I hear you now.  I understand.”  

After reading the essay three times to myself, I asked Steve if I could read it to him.  He looked up from the computer, where he was working and said “Sure.”

Conscious of this opportunity to perform the work as well as read it, I carefully enunciated every word and found the poet’s voice in every string of sentences.  I did not look up as I read.  I was aware of Steve’s attention.  He was listening carefully.  At the end of the sixth paragraph I stopped, kept my head bowed over the page, closed my eyes and took in a deep breath.  I could hear Steve take in a big breath too. 

“Wow.”  He said.

I looked at him.  He had tears in his eyes. 

“I know.”  I said.

I wanted to call you.  I always sent you books I’d read—and you always loved them.  Then you started bringing me books.  We talked about the characters like they were family.  Sometimes, when we were together, we would read to one another.  I wanted to read the passages I chose from Silko's essay to focus on in my assignment to you.   I wanted to see what you thought.  After I wrote my paper for class, I decided to send it with this letter.
I am going to bed early tonight.  Perhaps we can meet in a dream?  You can let me know what you think.

Response Paper 7

            Leslie Marmon Silko,  Landscape, History and the Pueblo Imagination

            I am so moved by Silko’s Essays I do not know what to say.  I wish I had taken more time to learn about indigenous peoples, their beliefs and traditions.  I wish I had a spirit guide, a medicine man, that I could turn to for guidance.  I wish that I was a part of a community of tribal women.  I know that they would cover me with pine branches and sing me out of the wilderness when I got lost there.  I am lost a lot these days.  They would tell me stories of forest animals and celestial beings that comforted the wounded animal searching for a quiet place to heal in my veins.      
            Through the Stories We Hear Who We Are.  I pondered the title before reading the text below it.  It is one of those sentences that bears reading over and over. 
“..the ancient people perceived the world and themselves within that world as a part of an ancient continuous story composed of innumerable bundles of stories.”  From this, I am formulating the answer to my own question—what is the universe, where does it all come from?  Where does it end?  Lately I have been spending a great deal of time thinking about that. 
The universe is self contained.  It does not end.  Nature is the great recycler.  Ashes to ashes.  Dust to dust.  When my body can no longer contain me, I will return to the earth.
            But my energy, where does that go?  The thoughts, the images I have stored, the stories carried inside--where will all that end up?  There is something I feel in the rustle of a curtain, a flicker of a candle, the shrill notes of the teakettle.  There is energy all around us.
           Then I read From a High Arid Plateau in New Mexico.. 
            “The dead become dust, and in this becoming they are once more joined with the Mother.”
            I am stunned by that sentence.  Right now you are sitting in a corner of my closet.  Bone and ashes in an urn.  Stored inside a velvet bag.  Wrapped in the blanket that covered you as a baby.
            Refusing to give you back to the Mother Earth, I have selfishly kept you for myself.  She can have you when she gets me.  Not one minute before.
            Surrender.  I have to surrender to this. 
            I hear a whisper.
            Mt. Rainer.  The meadow above Paradise.  Where dark gingerbread colored bears dig for the corms of glacier lilies. Where purple lupine, magenta Indian paintbrush and avalanche lilies bloom.  Where marmots sing to one another across the valley, and deer seek the new green leaves of trees fattening themselves for winter. Where streams flow from headlands like breast milk when a baby cries.  There is where I will welcome and embrace her.”
              Mother Earth, she knows how hard this is for me. 
            “I cannot do this yet.  I cannot acknowledge this.”
            “I am patient.” She answers.  “Take your time.”
                                                                                            Catch you later,

Mt. Rainier