Sometimes I see us women as a flitting fleeting school of fish. The net snares the unlucky some, I watch my sisters snatched and stolen around me, I keep swimming. On the cover of USA Today, peering out from the narrow newspaper machine window the headline: Is Dating______? Dot dot dot. I couldn’t see the last word hiding below but could make out the hint of a D and the length of the word popped “Deadly” into my circuitry. Yes. Dating is deadly. Walking is deadly, especially but not limited to at night. When you’re a woman, speaking is deadly. Choosing is deadly. Breathing is deadly. Sleeping is deadly. In some places, reading is deadly. Loving other women can be very deadly.
We are an old-growth forest, the whistle and whine of industrial saws dropping the silent terrified cries of our sisters for acres and acres amen around us. A dropping. A dropping off. I drop off when I read magazine articles about the Christian Patriarchy Movement–an actual movement, not a metaphor–that calls for stay-at-home daughters and absolute authority of father and brothers, which transfers to husbands. We’re skidding backwards. We’re gripped by the ankles and being dragged backwards. Ditto for my queers. Women are rising like hundred-year spruces, women are ripped out like saplings, women are networking their roots underground, deep underground, with the help of mycorrhizae, with the help of magical fungus that carries nutrients from root-end to root-end, this is how we survive the dry times. Did you know mushrooms are moon-fed? Living off of lunar light. I eat them on my knees in the dark, elbows dirty, smelling leaf decay, smelling transformation. I am of the moon, I am of the moon, I am of the moon.
Let us bring our roots above ground! Let us wrap the kudzu vines that would strangle us, would deprive us of nourishment, deprive us of the light–let us wrap the kudzu vines around our shoulders like ropework, stitching together our shield, our vitality! Let us remake the web. Let us love one another.
And I know some loving-righteous-radical folks don’t seem to like talking about gender in this way, woman/man, but WOMEN ARE STILL being dragged by the hair! Every single day there is onslaught! Bring me my sistercups. Let me drink deep. Not go into fisticuffs, but rip thumbnails from grief. We are not at a point where woman can be taken off the table. We are not at a point where woman experience can be taken off the table. We are not in vacuum void–the deck is stacked the climb is steep I grip boulders and rock chunks and cling bloodied and beat.
Every time I see a rainbow, a woman is getting her wings. Every time I hear a train whistle, a woman is getting her wings. Every time I see a stoplight, a woman is getting her wings. Every time I hear a goodnight, a woman is getting her wings. But I don’t wish for flight! I want to stay and rebuild with you! I want to spread out a horizontal landscape of justice and squashvine, things that put down runners, stitching the ground, repairing the wombs of our hearts.
Writing is playing. The writer writes. This morning as I stood, back to the rail, waiting for the 594 express bus to Tacoma and read words about grieving and healing by god-love-her-Inga Muscio and I looked up once in awhile to watch the serious-looking people hustle by and folks whizz by on bikes and pigeons flutterflap down to the oily street in search of crumbs, I knew a small buzzing through my body. An emergence, little tongues licking at the air, a rumbling mountain cooking up a fabulous explosion! I felt spring stirring within me!
I feel my writing like a great bird on the rise, feel it stirring, feel it birthing and burgeoning. I know myself as a writer. I am knowing. And the lyre I am strumming and the writer and word weaver I’m becoming is yummy and I know now! Courage to play! To step out of the fray of a busy bay of sharks gnashing teeth a dream out of reach an old shutting down. Repudiating my crown.
And Jill Scott says “I am not afraid to create my Queendom.” Queendom as in a physical, geographically defined space or Queendom as in the state of being a Queen (always capitalized)?. The state of being. I prefer the state of being.
I’m forgiving myself for still being broken. I’m letting the anger come, letting the grief come, forgiving myself for the trauma still stitched so hot and tight along the underside of my skin, that pokes out when I cough or sneeze or sweat or bleed–it’s in the fluids. It’s okay it’s okay it’s okay it’s okay I’m rocking against the rails I’m held by the rails my eyes burn I am stinger
a finger learning to point away from my own chest and toward the poverty misogyny and racism and fear and dread and alcoholism that is really responsible for all this. The violence. Violence in my dad’s line, violence in my mom’s line, violence all across the arc of history — this was really just a template I stepped into.
Paper dolls and candy cigarettes and ringlets of sweet tarts and the biggest treat of all a double bacon cheeseburger I fell upon with love in my eyes, how it girded me from the inside.