Please provide a 250 word personal response to the following Virginia Woolf quote, our thematic point of reference for the 2015 Retreat & Waves Discussion Series: Writing Against the Current.
“I’m fundamentally, I think, an outsider. I do my best work and feel most braced with my back to the wall. It’s an odd feeling, though, writing against the current: difficult entirely to disregard the current. Yet of course I shall.”
By sticking to the stickiness of the body, I write against the current of alcohol that flooded my family, generations generations generations momentum. I write out toward my blood-linked people who will not read me. Calloused hands, full-time food service jobs, female bodies back-bent, worn and pickled. My own left knee, the ligament torn at 17, no money for surgery, now permanently puffy. The current of currency, all downhill, away from me. To speak from salt, to write against the tide of lineage, dreams sucked and swallowed, reconstituted into weapons turned against the female self. Find the river raft of women writing, borne on blood and mucus. Writing out against and up and over waves of misogyny. I write as an unapologetic lesbian, a radical love for women. Mostly self-educated, I write out against the current of the canon with which I am largely unacquainted but which defines the establishment literary. I write into the tributaries of June Jordan, Adrienne Rich, Audre Lorde, Judy Grahn, and others.
We’ve just hiked and I’ve been gathering the smells, the feel of ferns and meadow rue brushing my legs, my rolled-up baggy jeans, which I wear every day. Hiking boots, ancient by now. Green moon-covered ribbon knotted around my left wrist. What would it be to be moon-colored? Tonight, the Super one, full moon in Aquarius. Row row row your boat…
Be at ease, as much as humanly possible. If I can’t use my anger for fuel, expel it. Dump it with the rest. There are gases coming off it–all the hot air I was saving for balloons. The scent of green and sweet soil, berries. Blood on my hands from my Diva cup, tipped into the outhouse commode and then reinserted. No water for washing.
I just wanted to ask, what is lucid like? Like this. With. What is with. What is the width of all this, a panoramic view, thorns and green, peeling bark with its bright orange underbelly. Cow parsley. The meadow drenched in sun.
Row Row Row
merrily merrily merrily merrily
All those merrily’s. Okay so yes so be alive! Be joy on the river! Even in grief, come to the mountain for panorama.
There are blanks. There are open swaths of land. What does it mean to be open? What is a swath and swaddled land? Coiled under a cap of atmosphere, fading, thinning. All the people pulled their cars to the side of the road, got out and marveled at the sparkle of the sea. In the book I’m reading the seas are all barren. The animals have died.
We stood in the ocean and it was so cold, so plunge and frost, instant. She waded out to her thighs but I just let it chomp at my ankles. Brine brewed up strong and sharp like I like. And blue blue blue under bright bright light. Even sand-dappled, our feet were white as fish. There were palm-sized tangy apples, after.
My sweat has ocean origins. Here the gift of time and health, plenty of fresh water, strong bones and skin. All the muscles, including but not limited to the heart. That lone, curving madrone tree.
Some moons are full and some are dark.
I see faces carved into the shrubbery, all that arborvitae.
I am a transplant. From a tiny little window box into a wide green field. Rootshock.
My heart did shatter. It did.
But so much has come flooding into the cracks! Lovejuice, my body.
This now, all the fir trees and airplanes. I do not own much on this earth.
Open up my jaws, wide. To swallow the ocean. One gulp. Maybe three.
“Flute or piano?”
And now I’ll eat olive bread and cheeses my childhood never could dream of. Things I did not know to like.