the unbidden

July 24, 2012

Photograph by Martha Cooper

I have an entire vocabulary of words few have ever heard. Spoken word, rare to be written. I can string them along in a sentence, no problem. Usually tho, it’s just a word here and there. Some would call it a sound but I know it is deeper than that. It is the creation of my own language. My friends, they know me for it and they understand exactly what I am saying.

I learned it from The Cat. Because I speak with her, she speaks with me at great length and often with intensity like she insists I know exactly what she needs. She has a wide range of tones, of intonations, of intent. But more than this, she has a full array of vocalizations. Far more than miaos, she has chirps, whines, prayers, hymns, banter, and good lawd, she loves herself some small talk. She doesn’t scrowl, like the Tom in the garden because she hasn’t learned the language of the prowl, so I dig there are more words to the language of the Cat that have yet to be heard.

It can be overwhelming, this need she has to speak to me. To tell me things, and seriously, sometimes she yells at me. We do that. We argue. It’s my own fault for teaching her this but damn if I thought she was a beta cat. I neva seen her back down from one argument yet. Sometimes, though, she’s just chatting to chat. She’s a girl and we know, girls love to chat. But sometimes it’s clear she needs to have a heart to heart. We can go back and forth, me imitating her so that I can feel her words. Still, it is hard. I know she’s learned some basic English, you know how cats do, they disregard. Felines, females, I dig the vibe. But two of us talking, sometimes we miss the point.

My point, yes, I do arrive. There are words never written, only vocalized. It would do no good to try to set them down now unless they ask to be told. They appear only in context and I cannot summon them on my own. But I thought of this as I read Day Seventeen: Which genre of writing is your forte? Why?

And me with my one word answer :: euhhlehchk.

I’m walking somewhere, the sun is shining, my shoulders are golden brown against a hot pink bra. My hair is down, curls spiraling through the air, my stride is long, my hips swing whpshh whpshh whpshh as the clouds go round. Words float through my mind, real words that is, and as I’m putting them together in a sentence, my heart breaks open.

I have no background, zero, zip. Writing is self-taught. Mr. Ex comments how he’s like a musician who can’t read music. I’m digging that. I have no idea what I’m doing. I never do. I’m from the school of dive on in, then once you in the deep end, betta learn to swim. That’s not for everyone. Some people are prudent. Some people plan. Prepare. Consider consequences. Me, nope, I am a creature, for better or for worse, of instinct, impulse, and faith in the universe.

Especially when it comes to Love. Love. My muse, my heart. If I ever stopped to think for a minute, good lawd, would I have ever done anything at all? Sometimes I feel like the most conservative person in the world but I’m also hell bent for leather, so you do the math on that one. Maybe the thing is equilibrium exists in the modulation of (seemingly) opposing forces. Sometimes I call it fusion. It is also balance.

I used to do cartwheels on the beam. Never cared if I fell off. Was too into all that drag queen walking back and forth. All those arms thrown overhead, all that posing and voguing, way up above everyone’s heads. Fall down ten times, get up eleven.

Still doin that. A tiger got her stripes. I’m learning how to write through risk and failure and putting my soul on the line. Except there is no line. And there is no risk. Only risk is to never go for mine.

But. Day Seventeen (mmrghhh). This is deep because this is what’s been on my mind, rockinn hard since I saw Mr. Johnson and walking through Brooklyn in a hot pink bra. Here’s what I got, those words in that sentence that I no longer recall. Those words that broke my heart open and returned to the ether. Those words, whatever they were, they spit game.

I’m in my own damn way. It’s ego residue. I’m all over my writing and it is muck. It confuses and weakens and it’s just not good. Not bad. But not good. And whas that song I can’t remember, but it’s got the refrain, Hot Damn I”m Great. Maybe not today. Or rather, maybe not at every moment, but when I strike that chord and my entire being vibrates…

A girl gotta have aspirations. Because what is life with limits? But to touch the sky you can’t be scared of falling. This ain’t no Icarus. I’m not coming for God. But I am seeking communion. I’m not scared of failing and falling to earth, cause I am gonna die for my passions. Know your category. Took me a long time to own who I am.

But to get there, there in that pure and simple state. To write as life and to live as art, I gotta gitthafuckouttamahway. Because. There are so many genres of writing. There are so many voices. So many styles. So many stories. So many ideas. So many connections. So much to release and the question is not Which, but How to make this happen?

Were I to say I excel in any genre I’d be, umm, a liar. I don’t know what I’m good at. It’s just begun like Jimmy Castor told the world. How about: I have no forte. I hope to never be an expert. I hope to never know something so well that I become the face for anything other than myself. I hope that each time I sit down to write, I can discover something I never knew until the words tumbled out.

Speak with your hands, your fingers, your body, your heart. Speak with your soul, which uses no words, how strange that is. Speak the untold, the unknown, the secret, the hidden, the brilliant, the glowing, and, yes, speak the unbidden.

All I know, that is to say the best I can do to answer today’s question, is to try to pull apart the strands and purify them so that when they are as they are, I can write what has been written. Because it’s like this. I used to write by hand and sometimes, wow, I felt like that I was tracing the outline of words already there, unseen until my pen touched paper and returned them to this earth.

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