Skip to content

Posts from the ‘all things are subject to eternal love’ Category


He’s home.

He’s home!

I am delirious with happiness and exhaustion (I picked him up last night and we drove back together and sleep after that proved hopeless; we were up until dawn stunned-but-not-speechless at this sudden freedom and dizzying reversal of seemingly unalterable circumstance) but, for the first time in months, feel whole.

Love makes life so very tenuous, and so achingly worthwhile, and I am merely grateful that both he and my heart survived.


I do not believe in God, but I believe in the suffering that knotted the Rosary above into being. It came into my fingers from the more skillful fingers of someone indefinitely detained in the slow-grinding cogs of the fragmented machine that is the US immigration system; it came into my hand from the hands of someone who deserves just as much to be free; it was delicately braided from scraps into meaning by a man for whom sunlight is a fading memory, and who is waiting, patiently, for relief.

The past few weeks have been harrowing, and disheartening, and eye-opening, and more. The past few weeks saw my beloved–a green card holder and lawful US resident since the early 90s–detained by ICE upon returning from a conference in Europe, and held without a hearing (or alternatives or freedom or sunlight) since. One of the detainees in his block wove the Rosary above; I cannot believe in God, but I wear it.

My beloved will be released. Unlike the majority of immigrant detainees, we can afford legal counsel, and with such an obvious case, and his repatriation is just a matter of time. But there are tens of thousands of others–the Rosary-maker among them–being held indefinitely and in deplorable conditions, guilty only of being pilgrims too late.

I am guilty of being a citizen of a country that would cage people so cruelly. I believe the latter is worse.


Does writing–or any expressive art–grow more challenging with age? It seems to me that the older one gets, the heavier the weight of experience that saddles each word, each brushstroke, each note. How can any sentence avoid the force of the existence that gave it birth? How is this not overwhelming?

All I want to offer the world is beauty, and yet I feel so incapable. Beauty is a terrible and cruel force, and I am too timid, and uncertain.

(I wish I did not so abhor the tangible; I wish I did not so love it.)

I lost track of the miles I walked today, and what I saw. Today was sunny, but in a minor chord–a sunshine tempered through cloud–and this among more made me want to cry. I walked along the Sound–that strange body of water that is both ocean and not ocean,  somehow partialled from the Pacific, and of it–until my soles blistered and my shins stabbed, and until, in the lowing light, I stumbled home.

These words are weighted, and these words will never be heavy enough.


At the end of today’s walk I stopped in at wineshop a mile or two from home. I’d never noticed it before. The sign out front offered tastings on Saturdays, and who am I to decline a gift of fate?

The bespectacled old man behind the counter–the owner, as it turned out–was a wizened caricature of Frenchness; his heavy accent was accented not only by a beret, but a black and white striped shirt. He poured as generously as he talked.

I left with two bottles, both old and storied. Walking back, the bag balanced precariously on my hip, I wondered into whose bellies–or cellars–the rest of each Italian barrel had been tipped. (I wondered this at yesterday’s dinner, too, over a plate of veal: who had the rest of the calf fed? Who else had it become?) It is strange what connects us.


What does one do with wonder?

I walked for miles today through a city misted over by ocean and fall, past girls running in high black boots and bearded men singing in riddles, and all beneath a low and smoke-grey sky. The leaves were dying in auburns and golds, and the air pulled my breath from me, and I walked. The dark and the coming cold shoved me stubbornly home; I did not want to go.

How does one translate beauty? What does one do with something so perfect that description is ruinous and cruel?

October has fled so quickly.


I have a hard time trusting people who don’t evidence some sort of tendency toward self-destruction, if only because it is a flaw so deeply knitted in my own being that I have a hard time understanding what it would mean to exist without the drive. And this is a problem, because I know full-well that self-destructive sorts are impossible to fully trust; if anyone would–either willfully or helplessly–commit injury after unnecessary injury upon themselves, it seems foolish to expect they could be trusted to care and protect another. And yet.

It’s been nearly a year since the last time I was CPRed out of an unwitting suicide (only a year, and already) and that episode was certainly not the first. I do not know whether the number of times I’ve slipped into the welcoming purgatory between my life and something else, and then returned, is evidence of a snarling attachment to this world, or a carelessness about it; I seem prone to a clumsy and sweet unwariness toward fatality, and yet… I am still here.

In any case, I find more comfortable the presence of others who hold themselves warily, and those who know what it’s like to carry inside oneself an easily-triggered grenade–be it one of depression or starvation or addiction or abuse–and who are used to the inner extremes of kid-glove and cruelty. Sometimes I think this is everybody, though. I find it easy, inevitably, to trust.

. . .

Tonight it rained here, sleeting and thick. Tonight, on the way home from a distressed post-midnight walk, I had to traverse the tarp-covered bodies of dozens of sleeping homeless; on the sidewalks outside a nearby foundation, hundreds of people had huddled to protest, with the warmth and weight of their breathing selves, the closure of a dozen local shelters. The night was cold but the heat from their staggered stillness warmed the air, and I breathed it with an open mouth as the rain fell hard and I picked my way around them. Tonight I am warm, and I cannot sleep; tonight on the sidewalk others dream. Is suffering so comfortable? Is comfort not? I will never understand the world.


I do not remember my first sauna.

I may have been a newborn, or perhaps it was months later; I know only that I was young. Before I was born my father built saunas–peculiar, coopered structures that resembled iron-hooped winebarrels–in the Adirondacks, so their occurrence and use was normal not only for our family, but for our relatives and neighbors as well. Saunas were a staple of my childhood, and more. They served as substitute baths, excuses for gatherings, and especially as buttresses against the cruelty of bitter upstate winters. I remember crouching on the floor to stay cool while the sweat seeped from the grim and glistening dimly-lit adults above me, and I remember jealously guarding the wooden pail of melting snow (the result was meant to be poured on the hot stones atop the cast-iron stove, an event I hated, as it would turn the air inside to scalding steam), and I remember the extremes of intolerable cold and intolerable heat and the happy thrill of shrieking naked through the night between them.

I do not own a sauna–and these days realize how still-unusual they are in this country–but I love them with that sweet familiar love that comes from a memory writ large in a body much smaller than the one I have now.

But this is all merely to introduce the Russian bath house within walking distance of our apartment here, a bath house which, until today, the summer had conspired to dissuade me from. I had last been there this spring, when, possessed of a hacking cough and an aversion toward hospitals, I decided to huddle in a steam room until I could breath freely again. Anticipating a lengthy recuperation, I had bought a half-dozen visits. I ended up needing only one.

Today I remembered my remaining passes, and wandered over in the early afternoon. The interior–chambered and stony and still–was empty save for a trio of heavily tattooed Russians, muscled and paunchy and clad in battered swimsuits and felted Soviet sauna caps. (They had seen fit–in the absence of any objection–to stoke the sauna to a comfortable 240° F, something I didn’t realize until the skin on my extremities started mottling into peculiar red-and-white leopard patterns. The air was so hot I ended up soaking my towel so I could breath through it occasionally; the air was so hot that deep inhalations were otherwise painful. I was grateful for the cold plunge outside.)

I spent the next few hours sweating in the dark, all the while being subjected to a bizarrely interrogative still-birth of a conversation. The three men spoke Russian between each other, but every so often one would bark a question–in affectless and heavily accented English–in my direction:





I am sure they were merely trying to include me in the group, or, more likely–given that my answers would result in their returning to a quiet Russian murmur–simply supplementing the boredom of their own familiar conversation with some additional material. Still, given the flickering darkness of the room, my heat-dazed state, and the spit of their rough accents, the experience was one of a surreal purgatory.

It felt strangely and sweetly like home.

kalla graphia.

for A.

Ravens and writing desks
have nothing in common

but the quill. I imagine it yours.
I imagine the feathers

of hope as ink-dipped as one tip
of the magpie’s, but both–

I imagine the line that draws
us all together, and leaves

nothing aside. I imagine the line:
all lines are imaginary,

even this one. But hope is not
an imagined thing; hope

unfolded this past year dark
and slowly through your pen,

as through others. I hope it opens
still, and bird by bird, until



I walk here, daily, along various paths and flimsy purposes. Some routes are less avoidable than others.

A few blocks from our building, north and canted, there is a crumbling car park. It seems as victimized by the plants forcing themselves upwards to dissever its foundations as by the attrition of the rain, as though it has inconveniently found itself lodged between a forest of ambitious seedings and the wet sky, two lovers whose meeting matters more than anything unfortunate enough to interfere. It is always, and beautifully, empty.

A week ago or so someone dropped a watermelon (or perhaps, confusing itself with a raindrop, a watermelon hurled itself from the sky; I admit I can only guess how its pale striated half-dome came to rest, partial and split) against one of the concrete posts approaching the sidewalk. It’s been grinning there since, a demented pink-fleshed jack-o’-lantern with two raven-pecked eyes and a broken jaw, and its crazed face has become so familiar I imagine I will miss it when it finally melts away.