performed for Fast And Furious at The Tank on 5/7/2019
I took down the fence along the edge of our backyard. It was ugly and rotting and not doing much to keep the deer from eating our garden so it had to go. I planted a few beautiful forsythia bushes where it was – picked them up from Menard’s on Saturday, patted the dirt in place around their roots and gave them a nice long drink from the hose.
I can see them now when I look out our dining room window, their yellow spring blooms are so pretty against the lawn and the apple tree – and they say deer don’t like them so here’s hoping!
Just past our property line there’s a beautiful lake and – a short walk away – this old eroded rock formation. They say that people used to walk through our yard, right through where I planted the line of forsythia, every year to gather around the sandstone spire and eat and talk and sing at the edge of the lake. They say the lake used to be so clear that you could see straight to the bottom, and that the rock formation was so tall you could see it from miles away – jutting out like a castle turret or the sail of a ship above a sea of tallgrass prairie. Well, now it’s so eroded you wouldn’t even know it was there until you stumbled upon it – its melted over time into a pool of its own sandy sediment but they still insist that this is somehow sacred land. They call us squatters.
They’re saying the lake used to have a different name, some even insist that its always had another name and that the rest of us have just been, I don’t know, pretending?
Well, my parents built this house and I was born on this “sacred land.” I grew up on vegetables from this soil, I prune the apple tree every year, spray the crabgrass, fertilize the lawn, and I planted those forsythia and where have these people been? Of course this land is sacred, it’s my backyard and I’ve been its steward but nobody walks through my yard without my permission and no one gathers at that mucky green lake anyway but the neighborhood kids so the way I see it I can call it by whatever name I want.
They say that wolves and coyotes used to roam through the area, that they kept the deer population at bay before we got rid of them. I’ll try my luck with the forsythia, but I’d take the deer over the wolves any day
I’m lying in our bed.
I feel so heavy pressed up against him, like my body is a thin envelope filled with water and I can feel it pressing on me from the inside. I think about how much energy I spend to keep liquid moving around me, how even when I am still and sleepy there are rivers and lakes and waterfalls swelling inside me.
The air is moist and heavy, dew collects on our skin and I’m breathing him in and out of me like I’m half underwater. His chest is warm, I can both feel and hear his heart pumping against my cheek and I want to melt into him?
Like, split the thin covering of my skin and flow out of myself infiltrating through his pores and seep slowly down together until our bodies dissolve, until we forget our name and identity, until we reach the aquifer deep in our belly where there isn’t a him or a me, just blood and water and soil.
the sliding glass door quietly behind me, sneak across the patio and through our backyard. The grass is cool and wet on my bare feet and the neighbor’s security light flicks on as I slip behind a row of flowering shrubs. I pick my way through the trees, careful to avoid sharp twigs, and trot across the asphalt of the empty street to the park.
In the lamplight I can see “white power” graffitied on the sign in pale pink. My feet tell me grass, grass, grass, and then sand. A breeze comes over the water and the earth gives away, sand coming up around my heels and sneaking between my toes, as I root myself at this border.
Does the lake have its own name? Something it whispers so quietly that only the diatoms can hear? Does the lake know the limits we’ve assigned it? The ripples go in and out around my ankles and the water in my head slips through my fingers when faced with the physical reality of the body.
The lake is a black hole in my vision, a reflection of the empty sky, ringed by burning streetlights. The hair on my legs is standing on end, the water around my ankles is much cooler than the night air and I curl my toes under, digging deeper into the lake bed.
The lake slips outside of itself, travels underground through the channels of the water table, flees in the body of a tree and a fish and a deer. The river changes course over years and the only thing left behind is the erratic of our own memory and those of the ones who stood at a similar shore before us – wet by different water.
In the wind and the rain the monument erodes away, the water washes away, the glacier scrapes away and then melts and drains away beneath our feet the white earth gives away.