Home (or On Permanence)

“Home is elusive,” per the Day 1 assignment of Photo 101. The featured image is the view from my office. I have been looking out on these buildings for 11 years. Over these 11 years, I have been in four different offices but all along the same corridor. This view is my favorite view yet.

I reflected throughout the day on that statement: “Home is elusive.” I had to look up the definition of home: (n) the place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household. I have a wonderful place where I live as a member of a beautiful little family. But, the concept that “home is elusive,” drew out something else that I have been exploring lately. Something not quite shiny and bright. Something that I perhaps wish was not so.

Maybe home is elusive because permanence is elusive. When we first moved into our current fairy tale cottage of a home, our master bedroom was arranged in a way where you saw about eight or ten of our approximately thirty very old very tall trees. We did not have blinds for the first two years because we did not need them from that vantage point. Every morning and every night our son, who was a toddler then, would look on these majestic trees, rooted still and a permanent sight for us. He told us after a year or so of what must have become a ritual for him that his guardian angel was a tree, a tall and strong one. He had started to struggle with the concept of death and this is how he consoled himself.

Is love permanent? The love that binds together a family or a household, perhaps that is the permanence the definition of home refers to. There is love in every family even in the worst of circumstances.

When we first moved to the United States in 1984, we packed pretty light. I remember people coming to our apartment in Bogota. I assume the advertisement was something like: “Leaving the country! Everything must go!” I remember mothers going into my bedroom to pick through my toys. My mother suggested I stay away, that it would be too hard. I got to take one toy with me: a Barbie Skipper doll. That doll, for better or worse, became my security object from there on out. I collected Barbies. I was crazy for Barbies as a kid and even older.

I remember driving at night in the back seat of my aunt’s car in Oklahoma City. I remember seeing the big American houses with big front lawns and porch lights. I would see soft yellow lights inside the houses and I would think, “They are happy in there. If I was in there, I would be happy too.”

The thing with Barbies was that I could dress them up, pose them perfectly, and they would not move. I would line them up in my Barbie closet, adjusting their outfits, their stances, their furniture in their house, their pool, their car, all their things, and just sit down and admire how everything was just right. I would close the door and come back later, and they were just the same as I had last left them.

Today, when I was considering the elusiveness of home and the idea of permanence, I realized that my office is my grown up Barbie closet. It feels so safe to me because all its physical aspects are under my dominion. It gives me a sense of false permanence. Meanwhile, at my real home, I have real live baby dolls who pull the house down between the hours of 9 and 5 p.m. And, that house is full of love.

ÔĽŅÔĽŅ

Detritus: Lost and Found

In search of found poetry, I took a cue from Cheri Lucas Rowlands’ Fragments on Time: Found Poetry in My Dashboard and picked five lines from five different drafts of my own detritus. The featured image is my found poem.

Even a small child can recount to you the various happenings – the assassination of so and so that led to the assassination of so and so.

He remembered beds without headboards, covered with sheets.

She was in a large beautiful room like in a palace.

Bad things happened.

As he watched his son being born, he believed.

She remembers running in her neighborhood at night under the stars and seeing real beauty again in the sky, in the man-made cottages in the re-planted trees in front of the man-made cottages. And, she thought, “It’s good that I am alive.” And, she thought, “I am okay.”

Then, they lived happily ever after because they deserved it.


In response to Writing 201’s found poetry assignment. This is the second to last assignment for Writing 201. I’ve learned so much and tried to not be too uncomfortable being out of my comfort zone. I cheated a little because I newly created (did not find) the 3rd and 5th rows of the poem in the featured image. Lastly, one small complaint: the Twenty Twelve theme does not lend itself to poetry. I seem to have no control whatsoever over spacing!

Ode to Index Cards

Index cards
Large or small
White or bright
The thicker ones are better.

I pull one out of its plastic sheath.
The things that could happen
Big things mountains of words Organized into thoughts could happen.

I write one idea per card and then shuffle,
Look at them in different orders.
If I can just write on them things will be clearer. I’ll be able to sort it out.

Not just things about dolphins, like their body parts and types,
But maybe something deeper. That question I can’t formulate but whose disembodiedness hovers around me hiding from me so I think I see it in my periphery.

When the index cards come out my unease loses a little bit of its doubt.
I still wait and hope that my thoughts like a billowing haystack won’t crumple under my very small writing,

That one day I will be able to string together the right words that will undo the crease between my brows.

Response to Writing 201 drawer/ode assignment. The featured image is “Portrait of a Philosopher” painted by Lyubov Popova in 1918. All works by Popova (1889-1924) are in the public domain

Phantoms and Foreigners (Divergence)

Limbs are limbs,
We think. But, I 
Don’t.¬†

When a 
Phantom 
Can hurt,
A foreigner demand 
removal,
How? 
The common element is paralysis not motion.

Oppressed 
By arms and legs:
“They don’t belong¬†
To me but keep 
Clinging to 
My Torso.”¬†
Tracking
The first 21 Days 
Of life, vindicates
The immediacy and
The primacy of
The Torso.

You can trick 
The phantom limb 
Out of its 
Limbo and its 
Pain, with sight.

When I was 15, 
I was Very sick 
in Spain. In my
Fever dreams I 
Tumble flipped down 
A mat: a gymnast. 
For many days. 
My mind could 
Sweat the disease 
Out this 
Way.

I built my 
Future life this 
Way.

This poem is in response to the Writing 201 fingers/prose poem/assonance assignment AND to the Blacklight Candelabra Divergence Challenge. The post was also inspired by VS Ramachandran’s TED Talk from October 2007 entitled “3 clues to understanding your brain.” The featured image is “Corridor in the asylum” by Vincent Van Gogh painted in 1889. The original can be found in the Museum of Modern Art, New York. All works by Van Gogh (1853-1890) are in the public domain.