i showed you
you called me a liar
and a thief
screaming your colorful
banshee derision and demanding
the return of your soul
i had no way
to make you understand
i’d given up my science
walked away from theory
left behind explanation
i wanted to show you
i wanted to offer
i wanted to light
with new stars
and share the pattern
as it races
through the night
Hippolyte Baraduc (1850–1909) was a French physician and parapsychologist. He believed that the soul could be captured with a camera, and made the capture of those images his life’s work.
Today I am honored to be hosting over at dVerse Poets with a prompt to write as a member of the opposite gender (hope you’ll join us!). I chose to be Hippolyte in love, where none of those pictures could ever be enough.
Photo (entitled The Signature of Mental Sadness) from Baraduc’s book The Human Soul, Its Movements, Its Lights, and the Iconography of the Fluidic Invisible.
And happy to be there, settling in finally, after all these years.
You have to know your limitations and work them
into the fabric of your life.
Pick them apart and darn them back together.
You have to go in circles to get to the center.
All of life is only ever held together by a thread anyway,
no matter how much you want to think otherwise.
It’s a trap you construct to keep yourself alive,
even if you must begin anew each day.
You do it because survival is a never-ending puzzle,
a labyrinth, a fibonacci dream,
and you are always listening
for the sound beneath the sea.
You do it because everything beautiful
is woven of dark’s lightest threads and
every negative space holds eternity.
You do it because you’re thirsty,
and even dew on the edge of a crooked-silver web
will sustain you.
and it’s always accidental, the discovery of light and hope and love in the midst of deep shadow. we want to be cooler than that, less trite, or at the very least, sharp-edged and angled, dressed in hard shells that cover our scars. we think that’s how to stay safe, how to survive, how to win. we think there’s an answer, when all the food is in the questions, hanging low and heavy with overripe nectar. if we’re lucky, one of them will drop just as we walk by, leaving splatters of wisdom on our long black cave of coat, and for a moment we’ll remember what it’s like to be alive (or at least we’ll forget what it’s like to be less than). the bloom is the destination and the growing is the map. have you ever seen what a tangle of thorn the rose tumbles from?
eventually it all falls down, rotten with seed and ancient mirror.
you must look
for the glimmer
because even the light can trap you if morning
comes too soon and each tiny thread
is a miracle of meaning
drawn tight through the fabric
of pattern’s dedication
with all the patience of temporary
everything we build is false and
ruins prove nothing but existence
which is why the sky
is always the only witness
held captive in stuffy hotel rooms
and protected by a new name
but i tell you
the earth keeps turning and we are all
just figments of gravity’s imagination
built of stone and empty vessel
carved raw in the likeness of star and spider
held together by shiny bits of belief
Alice stood in the corner wondering why she’d come to this place filled with masks and math and prettied-up people.
Packages. That’s the word that kept winding through her mind, down dark hallways and out open windows. Packages.
She wanted to tear into them, rip through printed paper and agendas and falsehoods. She wanted to see their eyes, what they were made of, what lived below the surface. She wanted awkward honesty, or shy (mis)demeanor.
But no one ever tells the truth at a party, and secrets echoed through the room like a barely-there smell, perfume left behind from a visit three days ago, or mold climbing the wall in one corner. Fear, perhaps, and history, closed up too long in a closet of possibility.
She held her breath for a moment and stepped inside the circle.
There were cookies.
fourteen years later
that’s what we call it
not nine eleven oh one
not September 11, 2001
or where were you’s
just whole hearts
in odd numbers
the only necessary
I wrote this for the 10-year anniversary
of this tragic, horrid event.
I am re-posting it again today, in honor of all those hearts.
Maizey knew secrets about everybody. She wasn’t the town gossip, quite, because she only ever listened—no one’s deepest fears ever passed her lips. Instead, she was a sponge, and felt herself grow heavy with whispers and confessions, felt herself expanding with fertile wish and hopeless error. Some days her head tilted to one side with the weight of it all.
But that never stopped her, never kept her from patting a shoulder and asking all the right questions. This was her purpose, her role in life, and she’d never once questioned the wisdom or the burden of her gift. At night, she planted these secrets like seeds, and then she waited. And every morning there were flowers. Morning glory and nasturtium, rose and daisy, snapdragon and alyssum.
In her mind she knew their real names, Fred and Ruth, Shannon and Cindy, Brittany and Brian, but she liked to think of them as blooms, growing up through life’s soil.
She liked to water them with tears and open them with sunshine. She was happy to keep their truths hidden underground.
She was happy to be the gardener.