sentience

 

(image courtesy William Drai)

*

how many years has it been 

since I fell in love with my own reflection

if love was cold and flat as glass?

 

I’ve spent my life staring into mirrors

watching the years swim towards me

like dark & slippery shapes

that hover and expand under thin ice 

 

and even when there is no mirror i feel my eyes on me

when talking on the phone, in the shower, 

driving a car or doing dishes,

i watch myself from the corner, up above and to the right

an out-of-body awareness of what I look like now as I type this

my ghostly gargoyle, my phantom twin, my consciousness

disinterested and vaguely hostile 

an unblinking self-portrait 

framed in gilt.

 

but what if i skipped the shower, got behind the wheel, and drove north

& norther, to where pine trees fur their feet

and rocks jut like liberated vertebrae

and the river slides and sings?

i could drop my clothes and sink under the surface

break the skin and fuse with substance

i could forget myself. i could lose my corners

then pull up out onto a smooth chunk of hot granite

and lay there, like an egg cracked in the fire,

let the dirt work its way into my crannies

until hair is dreadlocked, skin is brown as dirt, hard as rock and as heavy

my hard-boiled thoughts would finally stay in place

if thoughts were hot as blood, solid as stone and as heavy

maybe then i would know how I feel.   

*

*

How are you enjoying your summer?

About these ads

About girl in the hat

aka Anna Fonté, writer of novels, short stories, personal essays, and bits about the neighborhood crows. The things I write want you to look at them.

62 comments

  1. not a lover of my own reflection but love the earthy version of you

  2. This is seriously fantastic writing. Writing with a pounding pulse.

  3. phenomenal — thoroughly enjoyed ~ and relate …. :)

  4. Gorgeous writing. Athletic. This poem is so quicksilver perfect it makes me tear up a little bit. Oh, AF, you just get better and better and better. I am so glad I know you!

    • Did I really make you tear up a little? Oho! Warms my sadistic heart! And I’m so glad I know you, too CB. Your poetry and inspires.

      • Yes, you DID! Really good work does that to me. I read this, and got that “great writing blowback” feeling. This poem amazes me.

        I am so glad I know you, AF— I have sent more readers your direction who come back to my blog (or Twitter/FB) to remark on the beauty of your work. (And thanks for the compliment, by the way! My poetry inspires you? Wow!)

  5. Awesome writing! Thank you for sharing this.
    pkc

  6. Fabulous! Your words are a magic wand. “watching the years swim towards me” That was only the first that dropped my jaw. Then came a flurry more, too numerous to list here…I’d be rewriting your poem!

  7. duncanhay

    This has some real gems in it. I too thought that, “watching the years swim towards me” was particularly brilliant.

  8. God f***ing damn. Sometimes my writer-friends just blow me away. This is one of those times.

  9. Oh, powerful. So happy I stumbled upon your poetry. Or “almost-poetry” as you call it.

  10. Beautiful writing Anna.
    So unbelievably good that Averil forgot how to spell fucking. Now that’s gotta be a first.
    As for Summer, hmmm, we’re not having that in the Land Down Under right now, although today here it is clear and sunny and 60 or so degrees in your language. Where I am I see trees but no houses, hear birds but no vehicles, and life is good.
    And your poem (1 1/2 syllables) made it even better. Thank you.

    • Hey, don’t mock. That’s what passes for good manners with me.

      • Not m***ing.
        Just using your good manners (and my terrible ones) to emphasise what a great piece of writing it was.
        One day, in a perfect future, I will come over to your island and Anna, Averil and Harry will run amok, redefining the definition of Good Manners in Bookstores.
        Or you two could just come here for holidays when you’re rich famous authors…

        • That sounds divine. I will bring my sunglasses, red lipstick, and the saltiest words I can rustle up. Averil will tell me her real name and you will probably challenge us both to a swearing contest. I wonder who’ll win?

          • Mmmmm, salty words, my favourite. I have a better idea though, re Averil’s name. We will tell HER what her name is, and she has to legally change her name to what we say. Or maybe just write some stories with that pseudonym…
            As for the swearing contest, do you remember the M.A.S.H episode where Father Mulcahy is the only one who wins when everyone is gambling on some event or other? His advice was, Whenever the money’s split between the favourites, bet the outsider. I am betting Anna can win the swearing comp under the right conditions…

            • I think the right conditions might involve tequila. I want your wife on my team. I bet she’s heard it all.

              • Well ok, but you just ruined the competition.
                She edits most of the swearing out. Something about quality over quantity, and it having to have meaning when it’s used…. Still, that does put you two up against Averil and I.
                Steaming sloppy dogturds Batman, I’d better start training…

  11. :) beauteeful poem.

  12. so i read it and then i re-read it again two more times because i keep wanting to hear it with a guitar or a piano. stevie nicks singing landslide? emmy lou harris? no, marianne faithful.

    i can’t help imagining your voice to sound like one of them, singing this.

  13. Oh, Anna. Wow.

    It’s wonderful to read this now because lately I’ve been pondering who I’d be if I’d been born into the heart of a tropical jungle or some other wild place to live in real dirt where other things live besides me and I don’t give them a second thought, except for whatever my mother and the pack would have taught me about safety, grooming and judging food. Would I be more myself then?

    I’m trying to enjoy my summer and realizing that the trying will have to do.

    • Isn’t it an interesting game to play in your head? To imagine how different you’d be in different settings? I love that game, too. (I was thinking about you the other day, Re. I really admire your talent at online community building. I think WordPress should hire you to do this. I think you should write them and tell them. All of us online writing friends could write letters of rec.)

  14. I’m admiring and envious. Right now I cannot write at all.

  15. If Anna were a stilly stone statue, I’d be a crow, and I would perch on her shoulder and whisper in her ear the latest rumors.

    Anna, when you talk to yourself in your head, do you address yourself as ‘Anna’ or as ‘You’?
    Anna, where’s my treatise on the existence of ant heaven?
    Anna, if I tickle myself, will you laugh?
    Anna, do you see yonder cloud that’s almost in shape of a camelopard?

  16. Sisyphus47

    Reblogged this on Of Glass & Paper and commented:
    Summer sentience…

  17. wow, wow and treble wow.. such passion and understanding of the female self.. Rock on Anna !

    • can I add that like many women of a certain age ( a good bit older than you methinks Anna) I sometimes catch my reflection and think “when the hell did that happen” my heart is still young and my mind childlike unfortunately my body is not keeping up…

      • Helen!
        I have a friend who takes a good picture of herself every day before she goes out. A good one. She says it used to take forever to get the good one but she’s gotten really adept at it now. She says that we all have our moments and capturing them on film puts her in a chipper mood for the rest of the day. I think I just might try it!

  18. especially love the last two line–they’re an eureka for me

  19. Merging with the elements – both painful and life-affirming. Nature accepts your rebirth and is so glad you’ve returned!

    Also, it is not in my DNA to enjoy summer. Can’t wait until autumn.

    • Aubrey– move to Berkeley! We have no summer here. I have to drive 15 minutes in any direction to find it! I had to drive more than 3 hours to find the cold water and hot granite, but it was worth it.

  20. Had no idea you wrote poetry too. This is excellent!

  21. I never write poetry–almost never. But there’s something wonderful and inspiring about this. I guess that’s why we keep reading poetry–so much power in such a compressed space. It’s like rocket fuel for the soul. Thanks for this one.

  22. Awesome and honest poem. You’ve astutely noted the swimming motions of years.

  23. It’s so good I can feel the images breathing. Beautiful.

  24. Really enjoyed this :)
    “i watch myself from the corner, up above and to the right
    an out-of-body awareness of what I look like now as I type this
    my iron gargoyle, my phantom twin, my consciousness
    disinterested and vaguely hostile
    an unblinking self-portrait.”

    It’s a little haunting, this introspection. Like looking in a mirror when you’re not. I was reminded of a C.S. Lewis quote from one of his space trilogy books. Also, great imagery with the whole losing the routine and getting lost thing. I can relate to your dreadlock sentiments :)

    • Yes, dreadlocks. How can we look and not care (or not be attached to, not want to change) what we see? There’s the rub. Pleased to meet you– look forward to reading you!

      • yes, there’s the rub. Personally, I just want to live and enjoy the people around me, regardless of how I perceive myself. I think the more introspective I am (and then try to change) the less like myself I become…but then again sometimes i’m too analytic :)

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