I have some poems I’d like to share with you.

I wrote the latter two nights ago when I couldn’t sleep after strolling the city at dusk. The title is taken from an epic phrase coined by Jocelyn Zorn. I’ve been working with the former for a few months. Both are night poems and engage this simple Mary Oliver quote that I ritually return to.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
– Mary Oliver

His Name is Disaster

He drives a road curved along the hinterlands.
The night is dry. The doe’s white tail
flicks through the headlights and her body
uncurls beneath the wheels. The thump is solid. His knuckles
blanch across the steering wheel. The pine air
freshener waves and waves even after the car
stops and when he finds the doe’s body
heaped on the pavement, steam
puffs from her wound.

He feels comforted. He drapes the doe’s sloped
neck in his lap, rests a hand in the warm
gash at her stomach and weeps. You can feel his hand,
inside of you, slowly bring you back. When you wake,
the knotted fear in your throat unfurls like the white
ropes of fat loosened across the road. The man beside you
traces the pale slopes of your ribs, the doe’s
blood still wet in his eyes.

His Body Does Not Call to Me

There are many pink nights in the Bay, blue nights, nights
illuminated by headlight constellations along Folsom and rows of street lamps
quietly pittering to life down sidewalks.

I take the evening 12 where a passenger has discarded a chicken bone.
If I could take the fat from that bone and feed it to the pigeons
I wouldn’t because there are fewer pigeons here.

Perhaps the white pigeons still coo on the olive branches
in Spain, coupled at dawn in the Plaza of a mountain pueblo.
I will never know.

I am here instead, remembering bodies I’ve never known, constellations
my mouth will never trace along milky forearms and how,
years later, I still wake groping a phantom space in my bed.

Across the Atlantic ocean his body does not call to me.
All that I recognize is pink smog, how night hides a world
and admit that it is beautiful.

– E.D. 

Remembering the Night

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Heaven was originally precisely that: the starry sky, dating back to the earliest Egyptian texts, which include magic spells that enable the soul to be sewn in the body of the great mother, Nut, literally “night,” like the seed of a plant, which is also a jewel and a star. The Greek Elysian fields derive from the same celestial topography: the Egyptian “Field of Rushes,” the eastern stars at dawn where the soul goes to be purified. That there is another, mirror world, a world of light, and that this world is simply the sky—and a step further, the breath of the sky, the weather, the very air—is a formative belief of great antiquity that has continued to the present day with the godhead becoming brightness itself
—Susan Brind Morrow, Wolves and Honey

 

So this is embarrassing…

I’ve procrastinated this post because basically, I feel like a jerk. I’ve made QUITE a show of my travel plans to the point of creating a blog to document them and now I have to own up: I’m not going to Spain.

Let me tell you a story. 3 months ago I walked in to a anarcho-hippie coffee shop in SE Portland to meet my psychic. I don’t usually frequent crusty coffee shops nor Southeast PDX nor psychics but I was in desperate need of some guidance. I call Raven my psychic because, amidst her piles of cotton candy hair, blue eyeliner, rainbow crystals and runes; I recognize a nurturing and staggeringly thorough empath and at that moment in my life, I frantically sought insight.

2 weeks earlier my existing concepts about life and how it works had crumbled. Stephen A. Person, a close friend, was killed in a drunk driving collision. Life felt surreal. Slumped in a vinyl hospital chair under fluorescent lights all I could do was blink and wait and as I floated through the next week of memorial service, preschool shifts, and teary gatherings with friends I felt an underlying urgency in my gut that screamed RUN. I felt the immediacy of my youth and as I looked around at my friends’ ghosted faces I was scared. I stopped drinking, committed to yoga and accepted a position to teach in Spain as soon as it was offered.

Spain acted as a mechanism to transition out of a life that had stagnated.  I was also aching to get out of my business but it was so difficult to walk away from all of the painstaking time and passion I had invested in to Backtalk. I felt like I was abandoning a child but I had to accept that the business had developed in to something  that I ethically no longer wanted to be a part of. One day last Spring I walked in to the store and the playlist was exactly adapted from Urban Outfitters playlist. This seems trite but it was an a-ha moment for me. I realized Backtalk had largely deviated from the original business plan I had written and what it was becoming was in opposition to what I wanted it to be. I never wanted to be the next Urban Outfitters, I sincerely wanted to do something altogether different and innovative that contributed positive vibes to the Portland design scene, not mass-produced trends.

Stephen’s death put all of this all in to a tail spin. I freaked out.

And I went to see my psychic. She told me, as every intuitive has told me before, that I would travel wide and far. She told me that I felt voiceless and trapped. She told me that the village in Spain could use my help and that a return to education was the best possible decision for me and that I should leave my business for the sake of my head and heart. I drank my iced chai, blinked and made my decision. I was going to Spain as quickly as possible.

Raven’s statements were all accurate but I took them perhaps too literally. Spain seemed like the most accessible mechanism for transitioning out of Backtalk and away from the palpable grief surrounding Stephen’s death. I greedily took the opportunity to escape.

Costa Rica was out of my control but I have chosen to not go to Spain. The acquisition of a job there allowed me to find freedom here: I purged belongings, sold Backtalk, travelled the West Coast and felt a powerful surge of happiness in San Francisco.

But I realized in my travels that now is not the moment to move to a tiny village, isolated from my family, friends and identity. However, the process of preparing for this life change was fruitful. I will always be infinitely grateful for the kindness and guidance of Maury, my former Ubriqueno yoga teacher, whose friendship and wisdom over the past few months has been monumentally important to me. This would not have blossomed without my tentative Spain plans.

There are, of course, a multitude of other factors in my decision that are too personal to share on the world wide web. Maybe I can tell you over a tall glass of whiskey.

Ultimately, Spain did not serve the purpose I had intended but in retrospect, it served a purpose in the evolution of my next steps. A week from today I fly to San Francisco for interviews and hope to transition to the Bay over the next month. I guess I’m still running, just not as far from home and in to the warm arms of dear friends.

I feel somewhat very foolish about my boasting over grand international travels but I have been meditating on this phrase all week: Shit happens. The best that I can do is handle that shit as honestly and graciously as possible.

I’ll end with this, a picture of Stephen from a photo shoot Megan facilitated at our house this past winter. Wherever I go, whether Spain or San Francisco, I will carry his adventuring spirit with me.

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By Matthew Houlemard

I will also try to base life decisions on tarot less and deal with reality a little more effectively.

So here goes, next step, a day at a time.

All My Love Everywhere and Infinitely,

xo, E.D.

Back to Portland

I journeyed the entire 12-hour stretch home yesterday and carried so much in my mind and in my heart along the way. I have a lot to say but prefer to remain silent in Portland for a bit longer. So here are a few photos from the past week accompanied by a word or phrase. 

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Sunset at Sibley

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Drake Bay Oysters at Point Reyes

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Backyard Palm Tree

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Beautiful Grace Kim

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One of the many free box gems from Liz’s estate

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Meg among posters

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Me and my sweet, sweet lady. Thanks for the good times.

xo, E