Here is a man whose mother died so long ago that he has a lot saved to
tell her. Here is a woman who has not been able to give anything to her
father since she was two: she has a lot to tell him, a lot to show him.
Both of these people know how far they can fall. They know they can be felled.
They can fall apart. They are children who can't help laying open their
hearts. They are not sure grief won't kill them if they are betrayed. They
are in a terrific balance together. Neither is providing the safety of refusing.
The word 'courage' means that they are going together toward always deeper
risk that can never be other than individual. It can happen that either
of them will come to a moment where it seems they must choose between dying
and betraying. At that moment they may find help, or they may not. It could
be accidental. They could fail at the same time and then one would have
to be betrayer and the other betrayed. Or the one being betrayed could save
the betrayer just in time. It could be that there are points of danger that
can be passed. Or it could be that failure is written into their structures,
each set for its own time, its own limit of capability, so no blame should
come to the one whose limit arrives first. Or these are two people whose
longing to give and show and tell is so great that once released and once
accepted it will carry them through every fear.
There's something I have to figure out, what to do when he's in that
overriding insisting formulaic state, which most of the time on the phone
he is. What happens to me is I feel I'm being shut down, shut up, held down.
I hear myself sound girlish trying to break in on it. I heard myself silly
last night. I go away and talk to Louie or Rob and hear myself warm and
smart expanding in the space they hold open for me, and then there's Tom,
who says he's my man, not holding even a crack of space open for me, in
fact thrusting at me with sentences so hard and fast with so little present
in them - they are so long prepared - that I feel battered. I go away lonely.
You are insisting because for some reason you have to. What is your reason?
- My heart warms this way as soon as I place myself on your side. When my
heart warms I'm not lonely. This is a key.
When I see the way you're desperate and I'm not seeing it, the wind comes
suddenly from another direction. In this one thing I don't learn fast. I
have to learn the same thing again and again. But every time I learn it
shining love comes into me.
There is something we aren't used to, don't name, almost don't notice,
about the way some of us are shape-shifters. That I can shift into that
black thicknecked gorgon-philosopher is a power I've worked for, only, as
always was, I worry if I move too far away from love woman. That's who I
want to look like, that's who I look like in states of body love. Gorgon
philosopher doesn't care what she looks like. She's satisfied with the precision
of her fine control over a landscape of ultraviolet detail.
So here it is: how do I get ready to move back and forth, daily maybe,
between the twenty-five year old woman hotly in love with a man who's delicious,
abrupt and bossy, and the helicopter empress-monster who is in complete
The reason I like to see you smoking, I thought as I came up the wild
area path with the wheelbarrow, is that a fire in your hand is a magic coincidence
of you and your emblem.
So you'll sit smoking looking at the pond, and I'll be in my plots seeing
you through the multiflora whips and against the water's glitter. You'll
be surveying what's there in a spirit I can predict exactly - but can I
say it. You have a way of being pleased that is particular to you. It's
quiet. It's complete satisfaction. You sit back. It's quiet but it's quiet
in a way that's something else banked. "I was a happy dog." It's
satisfaction but it's beyond satisfaction into joy - but it's too quiet
to be joy - calling up each of these words to scrutinize its emotional tone.
There's no one word for what you particularly are - but you've always been
that, you've always come back to being that - you've been that since you
were a baby. It's your way of feeling fortune smile on you.
What angel comes when I crash, a shining black angel with black iridescence.
Not a mean angel, an angel that looks into my eyes with nothing but compassion,
the angel Agony who says, Be clear. Not for him. For another reason. Accept
the stake through the heart. Don't run. Stand in your place which is just
precisely this one, where you let yourself hear what the youngest one in
you gave up on. Feel it as if it's true - feel it. Be as unsafe as that.
Know it is false. See who is saying it and why. Don't run. You can't know
what you are building.
I am in despair - that is the name of it - I'm in despair not in pride
- my heart is trembling. I am not strong enough. I am panting with pain.
He is not able to support me to support him. The life of a woman with a
man is unbearable to me and it has also been unbearable to me to be without
I don't trust him. He is asking me to give him unearned trust so he can
feel he's trustworthy. I don't trust him. That's the fact. I'm in unbearable
Last night a lifetime's perfect half hour, Rowen Luke and I on the floor
playing boules with marbles on the blue blanket. I'd fed them toast, Luke
had a good day and brought me money he owes, the San Diego lamp shone beautifully
on the beautiful floor, we were all winning.
"Have that superiority talk to heart." "You're a pretty
girl but you can't take care of yourself." "Perfect," Joyce
says. "Now be heart and speak to that superior one. Really be heart."
I was kneeling holding the superior one.
Is there time in this life for marriage, I ask. This life is marriage,
she says. Okay, but ...? Relationships are about work, she says, you hold
the space for me while I bring my junk and then I hold the space for you
while you ... . And you pick the person according to whether they can do
Louie says, It has been such a luxury to be completely sure of someone's
essence, I don't think I'll ever have that again. We were thanking each
other. I said I wouldn't have been able to get to him if I hadn't fought
with her about men. You had to compete with me, she says. I say it was more
than that: I had to be able to say no to her understanding, support, warmth.
A good story, well fought. We found someone we could do it with and we did
it. Seven years. Her persistence. My mercilessness. We had what the other
lacked and we plunged each other into trouble. She's tempered through and
through. She says I am - I don't know in what way but I think maybe the
confidence I have in - something - my working assessment. My intimacy. She
heard me out. I heard her out.