At the end of a long day

I have lost the poetry of dealing with today. A day spent taut and sparring within and without. I am done. Weary and restless and knowing that tomorrow will leap at me again. I wonder what I’m doing. Not here. Amid the cherry blossoms I am home. But I cannot find the voice of my imaginary companions. And overheard conversations no longer amuse. I grow shrill and shouty in the re-telling. So we sit in silence, vying for distraction.

I was acerbic, angry, and anxious. All at the front of the alphabet crowding out the rest of my time. Avoiding later adjectives as if they might implode against the pounding of fingertips. The aversion to sleep hums at grasshopper pitch. Though, of course, I am far away from grasshoppers and have to remember frog song in the evening.

Today is without sense. Without structure. Without song. I miss former lives, former loves, former dreams. These years are my reality. And I can’t bring them into order.

Letters home

My dear friend,

I am always intending to write you of large and small things. The words I horde in treasure boxes and the secret phrases of magnolias in bud. The world moves in ways I don’t accept, and so I’ve moved my heart into Victorian England, hoping for more than it can give. These barriers of time and place make no difference to a sentence, though perhaps I don’t connect it to the subtleties of dialogue. Streams only flow into larger rivers and can’t receive anything back. The mechanics of tributaries stretched into wispy metaphors.

Because it’s late, and in honour of the occasion, I’ve made myself a cup of camomile tea. And in my impatience, I will burn my tongue, unless some thought hangs on its expression until the steam subsides. The weather has been moody, bearing the burden of peevishness for me. I find myself opening in the lateness of March, the promise of a slow climb into warm weather. The smell of dampness has changed, and though I have stepped to spring attire just a touch too early, the morning chill remains less penetrating than it was. So my heart eases into the new green that lies just beyond the cherry blossoms.

I do not apologize for the opacity of this letter. I think you, of all people, know the meaning of these turnings of my mind. The chaotic sacrifice of sense on the altar of sound. Because this is me at some hours, just as the woman you knew once upon a time is me, and the uncertainty of tomorrow is also me. However you are, whatever you wish you knew, may your journey bring you occasions of peace. And always remember with love this woman with a pocketful of whimsy at the ready. I am yours faithfully,

Jessica

Off the Cuff: Surrealism

We were at the art gallery tonight, in what turned out to be a semi-insane attempt to attend a gallery talk on Surrealism and Science. Because two or three hundred other people seemed to have the same idea (go figure: Tuesdays are pay-what-you-will). So there we were crammed into the nooks of a gallery exhibit. Hot and crushed and part of a very real swarm of art enthusiasts. But once the lecture started, it all faded away.

Surrealism may be my favourite artistic movement. The subversion of it. Reinvention and reordering. Disorder and absurdity that isn’t nonsense. It turns sense on its elbow and I like that. Although I’ve tried out cultivating order, rationality, and logic in my daily interactions, they aren’t my native tongues. I feel at home in the images of Surrealist works. Bizarre and unsettling and chaotic as they sometimes seem, they remind me that not everything is understood scientific or rational terms.

That’s where it all began to resonate; the Surrealists movement was a reaction to the rationality and scientific emphasis they had been raised with in the context of dealing with World War I. These concepts were (to them) inadequate tools for deciphering the psychological aftermath of the war. So they pushed into myth and subconscious and attempted to recreate understanding by reassembling the known and unknown outside of reason.

In listening to the talk, I realized I often place too much emphasis on making sense of the world using tools that are mostly foreign to me. Like handing a mitre box to a weaver and expecting a brilliant charcoal sketch. I try to use reason to process and communicate my world; I don’t intend to dismiss reason and logic, but I need to recognize that I don’t live in those spaces. I live in the soaring rustle of crows’ wings, the crunch of gravel under bicycle tires. In rain falling through the trees outside my front window. In the sweep of colour against a stranger’s skin. A laugh, a phrase, a perfectly timed exchange passing through my hearing. Goldfish in all the wrong-but-right places.

I knew this. But I had forgotten. I will likely forget again. And this is ultimately what art is for: to come inside and kick around the furniture we thought we had placed so perfectly. Remind us of all the cubby holes where we tucked ourselves away.