Issue 228, Spring 2019
I used to be interested in mountains.
They moved at a speed I could deal with. They waited for me to catch up.
It was like that all my life.
Then we moved to California, and after eight years of earthquakes I began to doubt my ability to put things in order. I began to distrust the very idea of order. The mountains were no longer guiding me.
On the acupuncture table, waiting for the doctor to return and take my pulse again, I think, I need to write one scene at a time. I can make a list, and then just go scene by scene. It seems like such a great idea, and when I get home and sit down quickly before I need to pick up my son from school, I realize I no longer want to build something incrementally. I want to build it oceanically.
So I try to build it that way even though it sickens me to loll about in the wet, dimensionless chaos.
My teacher used to say that by the time he wrote a poem down on paper, he’d already done, in his head, most of the revision the poem needed, and that not much happened after it moved onto the paper. I admired this skill, and once I learned how to do it, it started to own me.
The ocean churns and changes and is never still. It’s formless but not timeless. It used to cover the mountains of Utah, and now it doesn’t. Just the other day, East Island, in the French Frigate Shoals, was erased.
The ocean is like mountains, just much faster.
The ocean’s form is mutable and its volume is increasing, its movement increasingly violent. The biggest thing in the world is getting bigger.
My body contains me, but inside my body is the capacity to dream, which is the biggest form of all. Maybe it is trying to save me from the corner I’ve written myself into.