Sunday, November 1, 2009


(Trail through grass, photo by R. Planck -- my current desktop image.)

In the house of long life
there I wander.
In the house of happyness,
there I wander.
Beauty before me,
with it I wander.
Beauty behind me,
with it I wander.
Beauty below me,
with it I wander.
Beauty above me,
with it I wander.
Beauty all arround me,
with it I wander.
In old age traveling,
with it I wander.
On the beautiful trail I am,
with it I wander.

In the culture of the majority of my ancestors (Scots, Welsh, Irish), today is the New Year. Here in Central Texas, it is Dia de Los Muertos. Since I am bound and cannot go even to Friends Meeting, I am repeating the Dine morning prayer to myself and contemplating the treat of a bagel for brex. If they'll let me have it and if it comes with a schmear. Onion or garlic if I'm very lucky.

I was at Shungopovi for the Antelope Dances the last time I spoke with my mother. I camped on Second Mesa and had to drive a ways to find a phone to call her. Something unexplainable happened that day at the dances; I try to write about it but can't tell it right. The next day I went to Canyon de Chelly, and the following afternoon she died in the blink of an eye, finally having escaped my tether.

I don't know the connection yet, but since awakening that old Alix Dobkin song "OKOY" has been playing in my head:

Maybe time alone will soothe our bones
And clo-o-ose the wounds

I'm angry that I don't have the language of my ancestors, maybe Gaelic has tenses or vocabulary to tell the stories lodged in me. I'm angry at how far the the edge I slid, toward my mama and brother's path despite swearing to myself (and Martha) that I would not. I'm angry that my values and choices mean poverty in this culture, and that poverty is not simply limiting but interpreted by institutions and much of Christianity (founded by a man who chose poverty) as dishonorable.

I'm angry about Steve Gilliard's death on a whole new level, as if he were my little brother.

I'm right at the edge of being able to go home and fend for myself. A man with whom I sat in Friends Meeting here for decades, Sean Carroll, contacted Jesse to help me in town. He has been shopping for the DME, household supplies, and good food I'll need to return home -- using money y'all sent. He doesn't own a vehicle but keeps borrowing one or arranging for CarShare to run errands, and has offered to be my ride home when I am discharged. He is bedrock that arose from the waves. He keeps thanking me and Jesse for the opportunity to be of service.

I know how he feels, that's the thing.

I'm terrified about how hard the next two months of recovery will be, even as time and good will closes the ruptures of this year. The only way to face it, this new year, is to remember I walk in beauty and to rest in the altered manner taught to me yesterday by Heather the PT -- who also grew up poor and decisively called me on what Mama always said: "Use it up / Wear it out / Make it do / Or do without." A bad adage when it comes to bodies, although the poor and working classes often have no choice about it.

I just stopped to order breakfast -- yes to the toasted bagel with cream cheese.

I am the only person left to tell the stories of my people in a way so they quilt together with your own stories. I was born and raised to do this. I'm not done yet. Narrative may be our most persistent delusion, but it's how we recognize one another in the dark and this introvert really does want to be with you all, as long as I can have a room of my own too. More to come.

[Cross-posted at Meta Watershed and Group News Blog.]


Anonymous said...

Good news for the new year. Thanks for keeping on, Maggie.


Anonymous said...

I wondered about the New Year reference in your tweet early this AM. I thought it had something to do with setting the clocks back one hour. Thanks for the explanation.


Jesse Wendel said...


Oh, it's so damn GOOD to see you writing again, to read your words on the page and hear your voice speaking them -- admittedly with a titch of a rasp at the moment but speaking them -- clearly in my listening.

*is happy*

Happy, happy, happy.

Now back to watch how i met your mother till I fall back asleep. (I'm only awake to check on 'how YOU doin'?', to set my clocks back one hour -- Spring Forward; Fall Back -- and of course, as three hours have gone by, to do what I do every goddamn three hours, yeah, I'm awake to take my fracking pain meds. *sighs*

So... back to watching comedy and smiling (with an occasional laugh) till I fall asleep. And then to wake up again in 85 minutes at noon, 3 pm, 6 pm and so on, so on, on and on and every three hours for freaking fracking forever. Till Death do us part.


kat said...


I'm also very glad you're writing.

I watched a seriously depressing documentary on hoarding last night (I needed to unwind after rehearsal, but I don't think I needed to unwind THAT far!), in which one of the interviewees said that she didn't like being beholden to people.

And I thought, "Wow, beholden. I bet that word is some seriously OLD English."

And then I thought, "I bet Maggie would know."

(I swear that this comment relates to your post my head at least....)