First Woman: Introduction Katja

When I realized

When I realized I could no longer find the words I needed, I was flying out of myself with the regularity of breathing. There was music on the stereo and I rose thinking I might dance, and it was ink on tracing paper, it was hypertext clicked and swallowed, it was the chill and moving letters of the signs in Times Square on a tiny screen. My ideas fled and separated, groups of bright sophisticated girls smoking and half-smiling in the after midnight streets of the college town where I lived, who suddenly were half my age, wearing absurd costumes and then spookily wearing just exactly what I wore when I was 14, 15, 16.

Poetry flying out of my head like the rhythm of water in the shower, the calm desert sun of California and the uncanny farcical figure of St Francis rendered at the Serra retreat out of something halfway between plaster and Holiday Inn plastic. When I was a kid the mall in Kokomo, Indiana had the largest cow in the world, made of a similar substance, ironically exactly the opposite of what was happening to me as I became less and less solid, thoughts blending dissolving as if stunned by hot dry air.

The chemicals of my mind my body the dynamic pattern itself surely evanescent, clear like liqueur, like the Chambord in a twisted James Bond glass, drunk at one of those bars that is like someone’s cool basement party, and can you believe I thought I was pregnant? It is too small and pitiful, the shape of my personal and sentimental tragedy, the way the hurts and losses are buried inside like the treasures we had in metal boxes when we were six, imagine looking in one of those now! Dirty toy figures smelling of saliva.

Cling to them, there’s nothing to do but cling, under knotted sentences, cellophane, unsatisfying, let what I mean to say come right to you, I think that all this grasping after material things is just fear of change and what is honesty except for the biggest change of all? After all like Plato said our carpets hallways hairbrushes signs and trunk lights that flicker as the headlights go on, you have to slam it to make sure it will stay closed, bring me the cigarettes before you get back in, illicit borrowed keys, booty of my youth, all this is elusive, shadow, reality standing behind it like the parent or therapist who we always, but always damn it, find out is right after all. I am afraid of this change, this process toward honesty, I want to hold onto the poems I wrote when I thought about intrigue, flirtation, danger, thought it was the center of me, when I still thought I was hard sufficient and capable, capable of anything.

Thin like tracing paper, words that turn and dissolve, animation that can’t be kept in the face of the advancing years, that fades till they are indistinguishable from the light that faded them, that comes from within, light we can’t escape, light that comes from everywhere.

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February 2002 2River