This was our last conversation on earth. We went out laughing. We went out talking about ghosts, the shadows we leave behind. The body is gone. It was organic, composed of carbon molecules. But there are trees that live thousands of years. How do they do this? In Tasmania, there is a grove of King’s Holly that is thought to be 43,000 years old. They’ve survived by growing up, falling over, and starting again. A group of 47,000 Quaking Aspen in Utah, nicknamed the “Pando,” are all connected by a single root system. Scientists say, according to the trees’ genetic makeup, they could be a million years old.
On the red couch, I sip my coffee, I smoke a cigarette. He chops up Adderall, which is blue, which he takes with Zofran and Dilaudid. Next, enzymes and precise shot in his belly for clotting. Jessie Girl (as he calls her), his CN, arrives at 11:00 a.m. and runs the vacuum in the living room, the hallway, and his bedroom. He sells her an automatic weapon he built in his man cave, he sells it for $600 which he uses to pay off his funeral. He and Jessie Girl have a special bond. He can talk to her when he can’t talk to me.
And I can’t say that I love crows, in the same way, that I love a flock of starlings or a blue jay. I have more respect for crows. They’re like the Merlin of the magician’s world. You don’t fuck with them, and you don’t laugh at them. They aren’t really your friend, and certainly are not here for your amusement. They are smarter and more powerful than you. So be humble. Not everything in this life is hearts and flowers. Better make room for your shadow, and honor your ancestors. Be ready at all times to travel. This is the message from the crow.
EB: I love the brilliant and playful way your feminist deconstruction of A Streetcar Named Desire approaches these questions. What are your ways of thinking about autobiography versus fiction, “real” versus imaginary or invented? How do you use yourself in your work? How does your work change and shape your life?
I liked the idea, metaphorically, of an interplanetary being. The whole star man ethos was definitely in the air for us. I was reading Edgar Cayce, the American mystic, at the time, and my boyfriend was practicing to see if he could astral project in his sleep at night. I wrote poetry about Bozling, and Kathy sketched pictures of him; a spaceman with antenna, alone, on a cold planet, not unlike the hero in Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince.
On Groundhog Day, I read that the movie, Groundhog Day, is considered a Buddhist meditation. My brother talked about it in the weeks before he died. He liked watching it, and liked comparing himself to the hero.
People called me Mrs. David Bowie. I had my hair cut short just like his. I wore slinky pants, and platform shoes. I cross-dressed at gay bars in Chicago and Milwaukee. Was I a boy or a girl? He gave me a non-binary system of identity, and also poetry. And if he was from outer space, then so was I.
Everything is green, too green. Even Demeter is dying. Here in Westchester, 20 years after the marriage ended, there’s a heat wave, and thunderheads in the still, blue sky. There’s a different kind of stink, not like the city, but still sweet. Things rot in this heat. Only yesterday, I finally took out the garbage, it was starting to ferment. This is the apotheosis of high summer. It is that space, where the wheel of the seasons is on the brink of shifting again. You can stand the heat, because the smell of things rotting is also the first sign of re-growth. Wallace Stevens wasn’t wrong, because the quiet death of all green things, in high summer, late July, is sweet.
I have big plans to wash clothes and bedding, and mop the hardwood floors. Instead I roll a joint on the desk in the large empty living room. It’s the only piece of furniture in this room; not counting the kitchen chair where I’ve propped a large framed photo of the Rolling Stones at Altamont–a gift from my late brother. The very same picture that fell off the wall the first day here, and completely shattered a glass topped coffee table. I didn’t have a broom, never mind a dust pan. It happened at five in the morning, still dark out. My first thought; I’m taking this fucking picture and throwing it in the river. Because once I started to let go of things, it was hard to stop.