Wrote this on the plane to Houston, on my way to Guatemala…

I like to pretend sometimes,
that I got this hunching spine
from working so meticulously at my craft.
Each day carefully placing my toolbox on the table,
unfolding the lid and curling my soft pink fingers into their positions
to forge these words into some kind of weapon,
to whittle at these ideas until they pierce the chest.

I like to pretend sometimes
that this glow is a kiln,
I wipe my brow, and it makes no matter
that my hand comes away dry.
Because this feels like the work of a workman,
and I make like I’m adjusting my spectacles
and gripping my tweezers
as I deftly shift another syllable.

I like to pretend sometimes
that I’m just like that man I watched
crack firewood with ballet strokes,
cut grass finely with a dull machete,
coax coffeebeans to fall with massaging fingers,
like the spider spindling the fly.

I like to pretend sometimes,
because I’m good at it.
Because that is what carefree little boys do.

Because what fun is it to recognize
that this squirming bad posture
comes from all the slouching,
as I remove a handful of Doritoes from the bag,
and gently wipe the orange dust on my bedsheets,
so as not to sully my controller?
What adventure is there in the truth
about all the books I never wrote,
all the marches and meetings I left early
because I didn’t want to miss my shows?
How do I look at Don Mario’s picture,
and remember wincing at the sunburn from swimming,
that day when he planted all day and then collapsed?

I like to pretend sometimes,
not because I feel guilty or inadequate,
but because this is what I know how to do.
Because, don’t you understand my part in this whole thing?
My actual craft, at which I excel?
My calling is to escape, over and over again,
Using all the fine instruments that more calloused people make for me.

My emotional resonance was tuned early to Skywalker,
my first loyalties were to the autobots.
And so all the grandeur and dedication of art and revolution,
gets tiresome after a half hour with no breaks.

However, my pretending didn’t prepare me
for marriage,
family,
and so much loss.
I didn’t expect the toll on my artisanship,
as the loom with which I textured my fantasies
broke apart in my arms.
All the posing and posturing feels awkward,
when the people next to you in the picture
are the real deal.

Now, at least for a moment,
this writer is not content with pretending.
I open this toolbox again,
and the glow this time feels like nothing more,
and nothing less,
than what it is.
I unearth old notes and plans and blueprints,
search for my sharpest and most effective verbal implements.
I hunch here and stare into these white spaces
and I feel driven to fill them.
Because now I don’t want to be a craftsman,
but instead, there’s something I need to craft.
These soft pink fingers need to come up with something,
that can stab and tear,
that can motivate and heal,
that can take on just a piece of the fighting work
that so often falls to more calloused hands.

Currently Reading:

-Dispersing Power by Raul Zibechi

2 comments

As an aspiring revolutionary

and an aspiring writer

who sometimes feels that being a writer

is a cop-out, an indulgence, and a waste of time,

this is one of the most encouraging pieces

I could have read today, or any day.

Thank you for these healing words, comrade.

love,
katie