242: “Where To Go” (Jennifer Hayden)

“It was Friday, and I had no idea where to go with my emotions.”
                -Jennifer Hayden, Underwire

                In recent years, I’ve gotten more and more interested in short, immediate art—not quite “unedited,” but less rehearsed. That brings me into “short order poems,” which respond to a word or phrase someone gives me, and into flash fiction. It helps when I’m feeling stuck. It helps when I don’t know where to go, because I am somewhere, I’m feeling something, and when I listen that pushes toward somewhere. What happens when I’m quiet for a moment? What happens when I’m inside the confusion, or exhaustion, or excitement, or gratitude, or relief—or inside the mix I’ve found? What if you let it be weird, or sharp, or you?
                In my case, it’s often something wild. In my case, it’s sometimes something new. Once, it was something like this:


                It undressed itself, sometimes, took off its skin, washed its muscles away in the rain, laid out its tendons on low bushes and its bones in the ground, and slipped, soaked down, slept its way into the aquifers it remembered, breathed itself out with a last sigh past old teeth to a sky—it went somewhere it didn’t know how to say and didn’t need to name, and sometimes, too, it came back, it walked up from the ground, a wisp of shape, collecting minerals, layering them, breathing earth and gathering breath and reaching out with its hands to see how it was held by hills and clouds and the tree that leaned out over the creek and the stardust that, listening, it could see.
                A he, for a moment.
                A she. 
                A they.
                A them.
                A we.
                And he, and she, and they, and them, and we, we danced a little while, and then went home, unbuttoning knuckles, unknotting skin, whispering marrow to what it’d been.

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