Being more human, not more perfect can be so tacky: I have to mind the gap between the uncomfortably real and the idealized. Just now that means grief and anguish.
MIND THE GAP: I have always loved this sign that populates the London Underground, warning against a misstep between platform and train. The GAP I most need to MIND these days is the one between my Idealized, cleaned-up version of healing and awakening, and the Real Thing. I misstep daily, often without realizing it, as this rare dream illuminated for me a few nights ago:
I was in a cavernous, empty building, industriously erecting a sweet human-sized structure, well-proportioned, using high quality materials – there were four sturdy corner posts of well-turned and polished wood, a roof of shimmery colorful fabric overhead, some ethereal walls that left it open to a welcoming entry on all sides, until….
It abruptly collapsed…
And I found myself in the same cavernous, empty building, erecting – all higgledy-piggledy – a tacky little structure, a jumble of unidentifiable discarded materials, where everything was askew but managed to stand serviceably enough.
As I woke with these two images in mind, I could only shake my head at myself, recognizing the small structures were, respectively, my idealized image of a healed and awakened Sara, and the actual harum-scarum, raggle-taggle, hobson-jobson (to borrow again from the British), healing-awakening hot mess that I am.
As I woke, I was saying to myself: this is so tacky. Being more human and not perfect can be so tacky.
My dream was reminding me to be real, to reconcile myself one more time to my imperfect humanity.
Being real right now means I am awash in grief and anguish. It means…
my cells are weeping
my nose is snotty
my sleep and defenses are shot
my invisibility cloak is inoperative
my frozen interior is melting
my fasciae are gaining in tensile strength and fluidity
my own hand resting on my thigh is penetrating comfort itself
anybody could find me and kill me off with a bit of kindness
I am finally, deeply, feeling a healing version of vaporous unseen and unnamed forces that have shaped every relationship, my very view of the world. Have propelled my movements through life, at times inflicting on others the very same neglect from which I suffered.
It is almost four years since I wrote the first drafts of these poems out of the shape of the relationship with my mother that I could sense kinesthetically with my whole body: a difficult yet mentally idealized picture. Now these poems are more vivid and alive: salty, wet, and full of feeling.
So this healing and awakening is truly tacky, built of all manner of imperfections, mine and my mother’s. Uncomfortably real. But sturdy and not prone to abrupt collapse.
language is on my face
by Sara Eisenberg
language is on my face, Mother is un-lettered, i, an apple fallen close to her trunk, just beneath her tree, flat, looking up at her, a moon circling in a distant galaxy
by Sara Eisenberg
i am a world suspended upon
launch myself on the wind
of my own arid breath,
mingle materially with
tract upon barren tract
against cloth black against darkness:
the shape of my mother,
a mirror covered
For more poetry: