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.
You might want to make sure you’re sitting down while reading her.
AFLW East Coast Salon at KGB on May 30th.Writers: Jennifer Baker, Alison Kinney, Ysabel Y. Gonzalez, Michael J Seidlinger, Tobias Carroll, and Marnie Goodfriend. Also in attendance, Rosanna Arquette and friends.
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.
She arrives after a twenty-five-year absence in our brother’s life; a seeker, a philosopher, convinced she can carry the weight of his impending death, that she could, in fact, be his angel of death. Like Charon, she has the gold piece for passage in her teeth at all times. She is both midwife and doula for the dying. Our first night together, at the all-night grocery store, Mark wears flannel pajama bottoms, white socks, flip-flops. His eye sockets are purple under the canopy of fluorescent lights. She’s Martha Stewart on crack.
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.