Vonnegut got it right,
like really right, like
Bokonon himself I, too
am enchanted by the mystery
of coming ashore naked on an unfamiliar island.
Enticed to life by these
sandy toes, sand that’s slid
down my salty knees, peppering
abundance of purple tulips
knowing nothing, I see we are endless–
Resolved to see just how far
man might go.
Before the world began, I bit my tongue in three places
Before the world began, the blood beaded down my chin, a hot air balloon upside down
Before the world began, electric hedgehogs blew hot air in my face
Before the world began, I dipped a quill in the blood of my mouth and wrote you a poem.
As the world began, we fell apart on the trampoline, leaping against autumnal leaf-crunch, listen, you bounced high I flipped you off
As the world began, we put in U2 and Runrig and Tommy and pulled faces in the paragon of pearls
As the world began, we held pinky fingers and salsa-danced across a magnet floor, wide echoed resonance
As the world began, we tipped over salt shaker after shaker to develop chestal flight.
After the world began, the steel-dipped creatures took you away, you, sad haunched haughty mirror shards you wore it like armour
After the world began, you cut your skin on discarded trash cans we cast it all to the wind dust
After the world began, gritty beads of dark red ganache shivered down your forearm
After the world began, you dipped a shard in the blood of your blood and wrote me a poem.
The rooms throughout my life have always been wallpapered with maps; road maps, trail maps, world maps, street maps. Free ones, vintage ones, handmade ones.
There are heaps of us with that intrinsic fascination with maps, the calm and grounding comfort feeling they provide. Much like stepping into an overstuffed used bookstore.
Here, they both whisper, here are countless ideas for you. Take a look.
Maps are simple. They are pure and unlimited in such simplicity; and when I mean simple I really mean without judgment. A map isn’t peppered with fear or anxiety, it’s not going to look at you sternly and say, “Ayy mate, better not go there, too dangerous.” It’s not factoring in the emotionally-laced news, the temporary weather, the political unrest.
It simply unfolds itself, end to end.
A map trusts you to trust yourself. It says, all right, here’s the lot, here’s where you could go. Go anywhere. It’s all there.
A map doesn’t care what kind of passport you have, what visas you might have to buy with casual bribes of rupiahs and rupees and baht. Not a lick about your own financial situation or what you should pack. It doesn’t give you a to-do list.
This is where adventure should begin—with a map.
Start with an idea, an immature whiff of a thing with which to present to others, and the adventurer is frequently met with hesitation, reserve and fear. Human stuff.
“How will you feed yourself?”
“Where will you stay?”
“How will you communicate?”
“How will you fend off creeps?”
“How can you afford this?”
“Won’t you get lonely? Hungry? Cold? Hot? Sore? Sad?”
As if those questions don’t already rage within us, as if the adventurer doesn’t have those same worries squeezing her vision at the corners.
You see, a map doesn’t believe in you, and it doesn’t not believe in you. Which is an essential quality to adventure: true, true true adventure is not about other people believing you can do it.
The map simply extends a question: will you choose to believe in yourself?
As we left,
we murmured our lives away.
The ceremonious cork against
the bobbing she-queen, Queen of the Nile
we stood taller and eager
for the red shores of
Africa. Ours were lives
of bubbles; great wads of the stuff
tacky and sweet, stretched taunt
they could take us places
After we left,
we saw it wasn’t a matter of up
we were bound.
I don’t get a say in these sorts of things.
We begin together, of course,
but quickly am
I kicked off the page ; dismissed
for being, quote–distracting and
unneeded–I stand to the side
my lips in a pout, and watch
sullenly, in heavy squints
the ragged flow of the pen on the page.
It feels funny to be wearing a rain coat :
the beckoning dawn counts my steps
as I walk, stiff in the hips from a restless
night, empty in places, shuffling along dark streets
opened by a cloudy moon and the distant bellow
of early ships coming in to port. It’s funny because
it’s raining–little kisses from clouds
cast patchy against the moon, this morning shaped
into an extended tear drop; a droplet
elongated against a pane of glass, dripped at the edges
and curled by gravity– it’s raining, and here I am
wearing a rain coat, on my way for a swim.
It’s as if I didn’t want to get wet
from something less holy than the salty unkissed
Not a moment goes by
that I see you proper :
befit in tropical fern cloak ; a royal sunset
from purple streak’d Ranganui ;
peaks alight with unfathomable age
drifts and shades of wisdom ; a thousand mirror
words that instinct rise but I do not understand
my mind too full, my heart too far.
I am freshly washed
do not feel up for sale.
I pass a table of soaps
lined like soldiers against a creamy cloth
shapes of ice cream cones and tea
cups smelling like
oatmeal pumpkin and honeydew
I write to you next to a cup of tea.
It rests against a sliding glass door, which opens to the patio vineyard; lolling grapes drape down in the prime of their season, timeless and delicious, at nighttime we eat them like popcorn in the sunroom and put the extra bunches in a bowl of water in the fridge for tomorrow. At the top of the South Island, the early evening is just chill enough, the tea steaming just enough, that a breath creeps up from the lip of the mug, up the sliding glass door like a dance.
I haven’t written to you in months.
I’m delighted by the brave women and men
who fall asleep in public library chairs.
Sometimes bold to go for the window seats,
the ones commanding view of the civic square, full shine
of lunchtime yogis and sushi advocates.
I take my lunchtime time to doze, thank you,
they seem to say
in endless gape of mouth, a stream of
hands nestled snug in armpits
the way top hatted Brits of lore
used to punch around in nippy London winters.
Helene and Andrew, who I worked for as a chef at Il Forno, offered their daughter’s spare mattress for my sleeping purposes for the time between the end of my au pair contract, on the 21st of December, and when my parents would rock into the Auckland airport on January 3rd.
Thus I spent my Christmas in a kiwi fashion, with barbecued pizzas, snowflake decorations, and 23 degree sunny skies. The company was lively and wore shorts and I couldn’t have asked for a better game of Monopoly, whereupon I dominated and had at least five hotels on green and yellow properties.
As well as a hotel on Park Avenue.
And a couple scattered here and there who’s counting really. All I remember was the gratification of hearing cries of relief when the thimble landed on “go to jail.”
and not all find the surface.
stay here, get lower,
go deeper, let it sink, let the mind anchor
let the breath work and the heart beat
and the music swell and the words which form
beneath your fingers swell as well and the words and jazz
and night breeze and occasional mosquito, there’s life force in there, too—