Saturday, February 21, 2009

Sunday Scribbling #151: Trust


Letter from a mother to her son, in an old novel fragment of mine, entitled Ignes Fatui:

My Son Not Son: Not son not through any inconstancy of your own, but entirely through mine. If there were inconstancy on your part, why not – a son abandoned to fragments, to tattered remnants of a mother and a father, why expect anything but a shriveled, inconstant, boyish heart? Not son because I can claim nothing more, can in fact claim nothing at all. So, why write, I who have no sovereignty in your heart? I do not pretend to have the right to such, much less the right to words of wisdom. I can bequeath no such thing. And yet, here I sit, amidst the quiet of a pine forest, above the soft murmur of a green river, on the day I have chosen to die, and my mind turns – as often it did not turn, this I admit – to a boy I carried for nine months in my swollen belly, who for at least the first year of his life sucked upon my breasts, until I thought I would die from the crushing brutality of a body gone to waste and a spirit following close upon its heels. Not from you, but from phantoms in my mind I ran, though what difference would that distinction make to a boy abandoned by the face of the only world he had known? Still, if you have not yet done so, make the distinction, not for my sake, but for your own.

Odd, you might think, that I should choose to die in this place of quiet, of peace, when so much of my life was a shattering blitz of noisy demolition. Why so far from the jungle of bars, casinos, flophouse beds two floors up from the reek of rancid food in basement diners, greasy fuck of Choctaw cunt the only currency between me and starvation? Why not starve, you might ask, but to ask means you’ve never been there. The body will endure all manner of destruction, but it will not starve itself – only at the hand of Fate or someone else do you see the swollen bloat of belly that has known no food. Given an inch of volition, the body will fuck the murderer of its own child for gruel, all this I know, though it was I who murdered a lone son, leaving just smaller and smaller approximations of myself to the flophouse pigs in need of a fuck for their greasy charity. Smaller and smaller bits, but never a last thrust to push me over into oblivion. That shove left to me.

Why so far indeed? Two days ago the story would have been yet another pissed off fat bubba, his pants around his ankles, hounding me into these woods, torrential rain, sheets of it, outraged cuff to my head because I had the temerity to accept his offer of diner food, but spit on rather than suck his later offer – his quid pro quo – of a bloated cock beneath the wheel of his pickup, pointed boot in my lower back staggering me into the woods, at least out of reach of further harm, the rain my ally, though I had plenty of time through the night to think otherwise as a lifetime’s worth of rage in me seemed to howl in echo to the monsoon that thundered down.

More than spent I was the next day, a day breaking blue, bright blue into a piney world the likes of which I’d not seen since I was the girl before my own holocaust my life. Blue breaking into pines and – down by the water – cypress, the knees lit in dewy prayer, low green feathers upon my skin my face, blue breaking into the very heart of me, a heart of me blue in green like the very water rushing by, bluedgreen greenedblue, the nightmare before but a portal now into life after, life after, life after what? I was too old to think that walking back out of these woods would be anything but a return to carnage: shedding clothes in the warm sun, greening my aching body in the emerald water, rushing my oblivion into its own, down down down all the dark, drying in the warm dusk of lanterned woods, it came to me that the night had been my death, that all around me was an invitation to new life, new life beckoning. In the second night a beautiful light the size of a mere firefly drew me as with light fingers upon my wrist drew me not once but four times across the now dark waters to this tree beneath which I now sit, whispered again and again ‘you needn’t you needn’t you needn’t you needn’t.’ You needn’t what, I whispered back, not angry, but as to a lover in the dark. ‘Return. You needn’t return.’ In a voice so loving, a voice I knew years ago cooing over your sleeping face upon my breast. Down through the dark years I’ve known plenty of voices hissing into the roils of my oblivion, hounding me to its edge, but this was the voice of Mother Earth herself, light fingers upon my brow, my head upon her green breast, her voice a poem a prayer her very heartbeat you needn’t you needn’t you needn’t. Another day beneath her tree, seated in her palm crying a life’s worth of rivers into the green sister that rushes by preparing to take up life on this side where all but the loneliest parts of me have made their journey. I sing to them now, as Mother did me, the promise of new life beyond the deliverance offered by the strong arm of the oak I lean into. All is here, all is provided: deserted cabin in the woods back up behind me, sturdy rope, paper and pen to write these final prayers to you. Mother promises me I will be as fruit upon the limb, flowered into new life, and there is a peace in my belly, the very peace the very knowledge I felt when your father sparked your soul into the depths of me.

I know enough about you through the years to know none of this will come easy to you, that peace in my death will not come from me – most assuredly not me – nor from the cherished books in which you hide. All I can leave is a last prayer and one to hold it, hold it for the time you will most need it. For two days now, brother heron has stood in the shallows downriver, the very eye of his attention upon me even as he spears the fish that slip into his shadow. He assures me my prayer is safe, that he and all his brothers know you, will watch over you, this great blue brother I long ago – in an odd moment of clarity – had tattooed on my left shoulder blade, my wing, your great grandmother’s voice whispering across the ages down into my craziness ‘find your brother, find your brother, find your brother’ and waking from the nightmare of a crosscountry trip in the bed of a pickup beside the jade green waters of Chuckanut Bay in the nowhere of Bellingham, Washington, waves scuttling and polishing stones and beach glass bright colors and out of my fog stumbling upon, stumbling over the dead carcass of a great blue. Weeping in that strange cold land as if it were a lover I had missed. I took a handful of feathers and gently cut his plume to wear in my hair until it wore away to nothing. The feathers I tossed to the winds, crossing Puget Sound in the shadow of Rainier – Mother of All Waters – and on Vashon Island in the greydawn fog I submitted to the pain of my brother’s portrait on my back.

He waits now, prays with me, turns his orange eye a degree or two more as I smoke through the pack of cigarettes I found in a drawer of the cabin. On the curls of smoke I send prayers for new life to all my relations. To my son not son I send you the peace in my belly – may you know it: these prayers on the wind – may you hear them: and my brother – may you know him when he finds you. Know that – though I did not until now – Our Mother loves you.

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18 Comments:

Blogger Devil Mood said...

What a tormented life!

11:30 AM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Indeed, DM. Welcome back!

11:49 AM  
Blogger anno said...

This is a hard confession to a brutal life. Somehow, though, you've created a character who seems to deserve much of her fate, yet who shows so much understanding and heart that by the letter's end, you have us hoping for her to find peace. Reminds me of the Jules letters Miss A wrote about earlier this week.

8:17 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Anno: I went looking for "trust" in the archives, snooping around in document titles I'd half forgotten. I remembered Ignes Fatui, but I'd forgotten its content. Stumbled on the letter, remembered her long tortured journey which ends, in its way, with trust, too.

8:54 PM  
Blogger Tumblewords: said...

Torment and trust sometimes travel hand in hand. Excellent work...

2:37 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Thank you, Tumblewords. Washing away, it seems she finally got quiet and still enough to hear and see.

2:47 PM  
Blogger alister said...

This practically killed me. Each paragraph somehow managed to hold in more of the recommended daily intake of exquisite pain and truth and love and beauty in such deadly concentrations of exquisite words playing the ear with pleasure, as pretty spies to the brain to slay. If I wasn’t so clever at shielding myself from true love, I would have been killed. With a smile on my face.
missalister

4:13 PM  
Blogger Tammie Lee said...

This life can be a brutal one, you painted all the shades of gray and darker. Yet in the green bluegreen green blue flowing waters and sunshine something essential springs to life. My heart aches, my belly knows....
Profound Sir.

8:41 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Ms A: Thank you for taking the journey into the woods with her. I'm glad, however, that you made your way back out and are still with us.

5:37 AM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Tammie: The life you have found in the bluedgreen greenedblue is certainly a gift for us all...

5:41 AM  
Blogger present said...

Paschal,
The whole is haunting and sad. And while I hoped to feel peace in letting go, at the end I am left with deep sorrow and regret.
This line stays with me, "Not from you, but from phantoms in my mind I ran, though what difference would that distinction make to a boy abandoned by the face of the only world he had known? Still, if you have not yet done so, make the distinction, not for my sake, but for your own." Yes, we all need to make that distiction for our own sake!

2:43 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

present: Admittedly, it is a tough and raw piece, and her own sense of peace notwithstanding, there's not much solace for us readers. Still, that distinction is an important one for the abandoned ones in the world, still blaming themselves for something that was not theirs at all.

3:28 PM  
Blogger Maria said...

holy! paschal!

we need to read this whole novel... sadly if it's published i won't be able to buy it here in south america...

this piece it truly alive, touchingly detailed. the descriptions of nature are so vivid and their hues managed to introduce me in a habitat unknown but so thoroughly peopled in vegetation, water, spirits!

not to mention our protagonist: the ruthlessness of a life and its ruthless echoes on its descendants, muffled by the words of the beyond, of the guiding spirit, of the only consolation afforded by the destitute.

this is such a juicy sad story, so painstakingly crafted, so atuned to detail, nuance. what i'm saying is: this is the kind of storm of a book i'd curl up in the couch with across a whole weekend--

maybe it's also because the outer environment (nature and poverty) blend so well with the internal states, but this is a universe. and you know what i mean by this: it's the universe that makes a novel tick, more than the plot.

i want more! this character might be one of many, but how preciously she evidences the unavoidable harms we do unto others when we are broken!

a gem.

8:56 AM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Maria: Thank you for your wonderful words. Worry not: I will ship any book I publish straight to you.

I guess it's been almost ten years since I was working on Ignes Fatui. It was grooving along, and then slammed to a halt at one point in the writing, just slammed, like no other longer piece of writing I've ever done. I knew I just didn't have what I needed at the time to finish the story...

It's great to have you checking in.

11:16 AM  
Blogger jsd said...

wow - that's all i can say.

6:23 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

jsd: Thanks for checking in. Happy Mardi Gras to the Fab Four!

7:16 PM  
Blogger San said...

I read this a few days ago and never made a comment!

A narration wrung from the gut, hard and ugly, that somehow lightens and ascends, prayer-like.

5:00 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

San: It was cathartic for me when written: I hope it was for her...

5:10 PM  

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