> jumping into life.


I want to know about family.

A fetus will someday--probably--grow inside my uterus and be born into the world. Until it takes its first breath, every molecule in it is mine. Is me. Is built of my breathing, of my blood, of my body. The sperm may contribute chromosomes, but the nitrogen, the energy, and the space to replicate them all come from me. Until it is weaned, everything but oxygen still comes from me.

I come from the soil.

I come from the rain.

I come from the womb of my mother, whose blood and body built me. I come from a line of immigrants and anarchists and well-mannered women. I come from a line of conquerers and peasants, a race of kings and sharecroppers and slaveholders. I come from a place of dry hills and summer fog, sagebrush breezes and breaking waves. I come from a family so tightly spun in love that sometimes we can't stand it.

I was made of nothing but my mother for nine months; of little else for months to follow. My universe was bounded by my parents' lives, bounded by their faces and hands. For years I was mostly their daughter, and only secondarily myself. But one day I was myself only, and daughter merely one role amongst many, none of which were me. One day my daughter will become my body walking and living and loving outside myself and I will want desperately to protect her, to draw her back near.

In some ten months, my father will walk me down a path in the woods and, as they say, give me away to my beloved. He does not own me now, so I don't mind. It will be, however, one of the few and final ways that our culture tells me that I am an adult. Wife, in most reckonings, trumps daughter: the life of my choosing now dominates over the child's choices made for me. I will not be my husband's any more than I am now my father's; I will be only more my own.

And one day--probably--we will make a child, and I will build her of my body and birth her into the world. She will be made of my own flesh, but she will not belong to me.


I want to know about the edges of things.

Rain is rain, rock is rock, mountain is mountain, river is river. Alive is alive and dead is dead. Right?

One week ago I stood in the rain with grave dirt on my shoes, on my hands. The pile of earth came nearly to eye-level, the shovels profane and ordinary. The dirt tumbled onto lacquered wood with unseemly noise. The dirt gritted under patent-leather shoes, dusted onto fur coats and slowly filled the grave. We each moved a shovelful. The dirt was on all our hands.

The rain falls equally on the live and the dead. It makes its way through the dirt, nosing past coffins, stones, roots, insects of a thousand sorts. It rises to the surface with the capillary tug of sun, is turned to leaves and fruit and mice and hawks, turned to corn and beef and people, is pulled back into the sky and made rain. All blood is rain.

I want to know about blood. I want to know how many cells need be parted before the red sea is loosed. The great slosh and tide of my body kept from the thirsty world by only some few layers of skin, a thin and pervious membrane, leaking at all points. I have borrowed this much rain, and will not keep it.

I want to know about rivers.
I want to find their edges; one end in the mountains and the other end in the sea. How many rivulets must join their flows before the cartographer lowers his pen for the long and winding line? I want to know where river becomes delta, where delta slips into bay, when the bay loses itself to the ocean wide. Those are the easy questions. One end in the mountains and one in the sea; and in between? Water seeps in from all sides, dipping in and out of sight, lost to roots and wells and aquifers along the way. The river sinks down to bedrock, spreads deep into the soil on either side. It is not bounded by its banks.

Everyone said: I spoke to her only yesterday, only last week, just last month she was up and about.

Alive is alive and dead is dead.

The microscope can barely find the edge between root hair and soil, between the questing mycorrhizal hyphae and the lithic sea of nutrient surrounding. The closer you look, the more the edges disappear. The rain is corn is beef is blood; the death of beef and corn and persimmons builds my body; the death of deer and worms builds grass and sparrows. The tree spins sugar from sunlight, exhales oxygen, digs its roots into the rot of a hundred thousand years.

The breath is not air, is not you.

Rain is river; river is root; root is earth; earth is stone; stone is mountain. Alive is alive and dead is dead.



Yesterday we packed and packed and then had some wonderful people over to help us shove everything in a 14-foot U-Haul. Today we packed and packed, then I tried to get my shift tomorrow covered so I wouldn't have to drive two hours each way in a nor'easter, and then nobody would cover my shift, and then my boss bitched me out for trying, and then we had to unpack everything and take it down (or up, depending) a flight of stairs, in the snow, and I hurt my back and the stone fell out of my engagement ring. And I still have to go to work tomorrow and then clean.

But I'll have Gilly to help me.

And then it'll be over.

And then I'll have time to write something for real. It's been far too long and I'm getting cranky. Can you tell?


J has requested a few clarifications to the story.

He would like it made known that while I may have asked him to buy me a drink, he was the one who seduced me with talk of acorn mush and plant geekery, and he was the one who offered to walk me home. I was the one who invited him up, though. Otherwise, he claims he would've just gone home and that would've been that.

Not that he knew where he was at that point, mind you.

And not that I was about to let him get away.