Heyiya

I picked up Ursula K Le Guin’s Always Coming Home again this weekend. This quote is from text at the very end, in a chapter called “Living on the Coast, Energy, and Dancing”, it describes the meaning behind a greeting, “Heyiya“:

The first element of this word, hey- or heya-, is the untranslatable statement of praise/greeting/holiness/being sacred.
The second is the word iya. This means a hinge: the piece of hardware or leather that connects a door to the opening it closes and opens. Connotations and metaphors cluster thick to this image. Iya is the center of a spiral, the source of a gyring motion; hence a source of change, as well as connection. Iya is the eternal beginning, the process of energy arising and continuing. The word for energy is iye.
Energy manifests itself in three principal forms: cosmic, social, and personal.
The cosmos, the universe, was usually referred to rather casually in Kesh as rruwey, “all this.” There was a more formal and philosophical word, em, meaning extent-and-duration, or space-time. Energy in the physicist’s sense, the fundamental power incontrovertible with matter, was emiye.
Ostouud described weaving or the weave of a fabric, bringing together, relating, and so was used to mean society, the community of being, the fabric of interdependent existences. The energy of relationship, including both politics and ecology, was ostouudiye.
Finally personal energy, selfhood of the individual, was sheiye.
The energy of these three forms of energy throughout the universe was what the Kesh called “the dancing.”
The last of the three, selfhood or personal energy, ramified into another set of concepts, which I shall treat very summarily: relating to sex, mind, movement, work, and play, each with an inward-coming and outward-going aspect…..
1.Lamaye, sexual energy. Lamawoiye, the energy that goes into sex (libido?)
2.Yaiya, extraverted thought. Yaioye, introverted thought.
3.Daoye is kinetic energy proper. Shevdaoye is energy expressed in athletics, traveling, all bodily skills, labors, activities. Shevdaowoye, personal movement, is the body itself.
4. Ayaye, playing, learning, teaching, Ayawoye seems best translated as “learning with out a teacher.”
5. Sheiye, personal energy, considered as work: the basic activities of staying alive – getting and preparing food, housekeeping, the arts and work of life. Shewoiye, work directed inward, work towards personhood or selfhood, might be translated as soul-making.

To be alive was to choose and use, consciously or not, well or ill, these energies, in a manner appropriate to one’s stage of life, state of health, moral ideas, and so on. The deployment of iye was really the principal subject of education in the Valley, in the home and in the heyimas, from infancy till death.
Personal energy was of course a personal matter; the individual made the choices, and the choosing, wise or foolish, mindful or careless, was the person. But no choice could be made independent of the superpersonal and impersonal energies, the cosmic/social/self-relatedness of all existences. Another word, very important in Kesh thinking, tuuvyai, mindfulness, might be described as intelligent awareness of this interdependence of energies and beings, a sense of one’s place and part in the whole.

Love

There are six Kesh words which can be translated as “love,” or conversely, one can say that there is no Kesh word for love, but there are six words for different kinds of love. At first I thought the Kesh distinctions were similar to the Islandian – that subtle and useful trilogy of ania, apia, alia – but the overlap of meaning is only partial. The following list is the best I can do.

1. wenun: noun and verb, to want, desire, covet (“I love apples.”)

2. lamawenun: noun and verb, sexual desire, lust, passion (“I love you!”)

3. kwaiyo – woi dad, heart goes to -: to like, to feel an impulse of warmth toward (“I like him very much.”)

4. unne: noun and verb, trust, friendship, affection, lasting warmth (“I love my brother.” “I love her like a sister.”)

5. iyakwun: noun and verb, mutual connection, interdependence, filial or parental love, love of place, love of one’s people, cosmic love (“I love you mother.” “I love my country.”)

6. baho: as a verb, to please, to give pleasure or delight (“I love to dance.”)

The principal distinction between 3 and 4 is one of duration – 3 is brief, or a beginning, 4 is lasting or continuing. The distinction between 4 and 5 is more difficult. Unne implies mutuality, iyakwun asserts it; unne is lovingkindness, iyakwun is passion; unne is rational, moderate, social love, iyakwun is the love that moves the sun and other stars.

Surrendering

To what, exactly, did I raise this flag? There was no end of freedom in sight, and while I thought at first that freedom was the ultimate goal, I found it mostly to be an excuse.

This flag, this bright banner of independent words, this standard stood for my own irrevocable pride of mind. I flew assertions overhead and dared people to disagree.

I could not help but go to war, once I had a stance in mind. And each interaction became a skirmish, not full fledged, but hedged in the possibility of battle, every time.

I waged my freedom over each encounter, or took the liberty of backing out, blowing off, staying home. My special circumstances, calling for emergency measures.

So serious, this business of freedom. And it is true, if you set no standards then someone else will impose them upon you. Yet still, to use an ideal as excuse to bully reality

is cowardice. I refused to work with anyone, where they were. If they could not meet me in the elevated space, then I would not let them engage me at all. Or remind them

of their tendency to disappoint. What use is this? None at all. My freedom spoiled me. Other realms of being exist than freedom. Exist without flags, without notice given,

without the need to inflict or insist. So what if I surrender my right to freedom, and let the world as it is impose its needs upon me? What if I give up the flag of my own self

and hope to become a part, a piece, one bit of a whole ecosystem, that isn’t insisting on freedom, but working toward symbiosis instead? This kind of surrender, calls us all.

Take Surrender

So  here is Sasha’s Take for Muse. The next one we are working with is :Surrender. Enjoy, please play along if’n you like.

Fire for One

Red wine in a plastic cup, red beans and rice in a paper cup, hot coals burrowed beneath a struggling fire, warm late August evening on the peninsula.
I’m camped along the wild coast of Washington, solo, beneath the coral reef of stars on the eve of the full moon eclipse. I awoke early this morn and began unexpectedly carting camping gear out to my car: sleeping bag, tent, water jug, stove, fuel, sleeping pad, fleece jacket, pants, wool hat, pillows, books, and my journal. On the ferry ride across the Sound to the Olympic Peninsula I saw five Orcas playing, fins of black rising and cutting through the surface in the blue rutted waters just beyond the vessel that carried us to land.
I was brought to the coast- the one from my dreams with the green waves under a darkening gray sky- by a silent guide, much like the tug of the moon on the tides of the ocean. I forgot what it is like to be wild, to be free. I forgot how wildness makes me soar because nothing is fabricated out here. I had even forgotten my dream where, without fear, I dove head first into the skin of the arc of repose of a wave far larger than me.
As the fire gasps and sputters in front of me, I follow the wand of smoke up among the trees. This smoky spiral opposes gravity in an upward dance that dissipates into the transparent darkness. There exists in nature an invisible current of energy that rustles, curls and deposits a free formed mark that alters the original static state: dried fallen leaves randomly scattered beneath a forest, the design in a patch of long blade grasses bent or flattened, or fingers of sea water slapping the rock as the tide comes in. Also the muse that forces action in our own bodies.
The heaving of the Ocean sprays the night air with the sound of breath. A full moon eclipse will darken the sky in a couple of hours, a marriage of celestial bodies and earth clearly marking the passage of time. Movement is life, the web suspending by the light; the muse a shadow illuminated by the initiation of movement.

Takes

Not been talking to the world for a while now, bout time to start up again.

A few Novembers back, after Charlie and Joel and I had an incredible experience of thanksgiving on Lake Titicaca, we each reflected on it in our own fashion and started to do a writing practice called Triple Take. I found it to be a challenging and simple exercise: to take a word, and to express myself around it, with image or other words. The three of us eventually fell off the wagon. I still want to do this practice. And while it’s alright to do by myself, I’d rather do it with others. I’d like to re-learn about playing. So I’ll invite you, in the spirit of Miranda July’s Learning to Love You More assignments for art, to join in when you see a Word posted that sends a little fire shiver to the creative spark in you. For this week, I’d like to request your Take on: Muse

Last month’s Take was on: Acolyte, if you’d like to play catch up. Visit tripletake.org for examples that Charlie and Joel and I played with last year. I wrote up another version of our Thanksgiving Day experience, it’s on your right in the Pages area.

Send me your takes by posting a comment with your email – I’ll not publish without your permission. But if you’d like to, I’ll create pages for the ones that get responses.

I think this is what I’ll do with this site for a while. That, and I’ve got some quotes from Liz Gilbert’s book Eat Pray Love excerpted, please visit that book – if only for a minute!

Send friends this way if they are looking for a writing practice to visit?

Here’s my offering for Muse:

Take Muse

What does call to us, like that
ineffably? From within the everyday notes
of living, the rhythms of routine
there is sometimes a bass line
repeating, a few simple low tones
that we feel bone deep.
The hips know what to do with this
they move.

And then there is a morning
on that gentle cusp of fall
when the hills are socked in fog
and the ripening corn nestles
tight still in its husks
and the mind which has been so busy
thinking, always, of lists and possibilities
stills down quiet
and the wonder creeps in.

We could waver like this
between movement and wonder
without words ever reaching
the page, without song ever
bursting out between the lips,
and nothing would be lost
of the living – it would remain
contained within the skin husk
intact, inert.

But then some Other comes along
steps in, says: What?
And we rise to the occasion
called forth to present ourselves
ready for connection.

[illumination, Because of the fog –
sometimes that happens with people too,
you scratch a little and you get a lot]

when you wish upon a star, it takes a while sometimes.

What happens to those fervent wishes sent out into the ethersphere, unspoken perhaps, but backed by powerful feeling? Sometimes they come round, like a delayed reaction, After you don’t need it anymore, what you once wished so hard for…

Year or so ago, I left Washington for a while, moved to Portland to find a job, and wrote out some big chunks of words that had lodged in my head. And once I had books worth, I started sending the manuscripts out into the ether, where nothing much happened. It felt like practice, like training, like a good faith exercise in reconciling poetic nature in a tangible world.

I looked for jobs, too. All year long. Temp jobs, freelance gigs, part-time positions, work for friends – all of these came my way and passed again like snow flurries, where nothing white sticks to the ground. Nothing green stayed in my bank account for long. My plan upon arrival had been to land a produce job at one of Portland’s many and fine grocery stores. Applications and job fairs came and went and again, I heard very little in return. One of those bewildering episodes, where things Should be proceeding smoothly, and for some reason, don’t.

Strengthening. And ultimately frustrating enough to say “Enough with this.” And I picked up some old threads and followed them back to Washington, to put down some roots in this potato patch in Skagit. Round about when I was packing up the uhaul, the tail end of a poetry wish came true, and this poem I wrote a few years back about an afternoon dip in the waters off Teddy Bear Cove, was accepted for publication in an anthology of Portland Women Writers called Voicecatcher. It’s a beautiful book, with poems and short stories arranged elementally, and Starfish Time anchors the water section. You can order it online at www.Lulu.com, which is a fine independent publishing site.

And after some months of good faith barista-ing in Everett for Tully’s coffee, I just accepted a produce position at the lovely Skagit Valley Food Co-op, so that wish came true too. A little delayed, and me gone a little raggedy in the interim, but pleased nonetheless. So come visit me and the vegetables in Mt Vernon, and here’s the published poem:

Starfish Time

Up close in the summer
riding the backs of the sandstone boulders
as the waters rise slow in the cove,
the starfish seem sewn like patches
overlapping the barnacles
leaking salt in the long wait
from tide to tide.

We placed our last things
on a hump of stone
and wandered out thigh deep
in the Sound. At our feet
the water clear, a colony
of orange and purple, fresh submerged
stirring to life.

So many fingers
I wanted to lay my body down
above them, float on my back
in the sun-warm shallows
taking in the shoreline upside down
the sky a blue bowl
rimmed in gold and green.

I wanted the ocean moving beneath me
rocking my limbs in a salty lullaby.
I asked if you were ready
and you wanted to be so you said yes,
but it wasn’t true yet, what you wanted;
you were still straddling the shore.

In an underwater movie with sped-up time
the starfish move in teeming hordes
they cover ground like colonies of ants on land.
Our short immersion into their time zone
was only a sea breath, a cilial possibility
the beginnings of grace.

There’s a man in Costabel
on a coast that calls shipwrecks
who steps out into the early low tide
and plucks stranded starfish from the rocks
where they cling, pitching them
through the waves into the hurling sea.

Have you been him?
Have you too, longed to enter the inter-tidal zones
with your heart pumping
and your limbs working
on some inexplicable urge
to save whatever life moves you?

You can watch it all; see it very clearly,
but without that spark of irrational love
– the one that asks you to shift speeds and feel
from beyond your particular time –
without that urge to submerge yourself
in the world, don’t hope to know it yet.

The world unfolds only as the heart learns
too, and the heart – the heart is a starfish
it covers ground without seeming
to move, sometimes.

A doozy of a day

Whilst the Pineapple Express raged its warm wet flounce on the land for a week, we tucked in close to home. The cat woke me early in the darkness, weaving insistent trails across my throat: letmeoutletmeoutletmeout.

And so I did and so he went and so the morning soaked through the last dry bits of soil and the water rose in the furrows of the fields and around the stones in the drive down to the barn, in all the low places. And it was well toward noon when I knew that if the cat was able, he would have made it back to shelter by now. There was a sort-of dreadly fear inching up through the morning rituals, and I kept opening the door and calling out into the grey, and then my calls took me down the long-puddled road to the barn and out along the perimeter of fields, scanning for specks of orange, down in the ditches where the wind’s trash floated in the reeds and thick water.

The feeling came upon me, although my mind retained its logical sense of the situation, that Tiki was not sleeping out the tail end of the storm under a particularly dense bush or tucked withing the steel circle of a pipe, that if he could have come, he would have – and the logic was what led me to the loss. And once I was at the loss, it moved into me quickly. i found myself sobbing and keening behind the windshield at an interminable light on the Burlington strip, swearing at and protesting the universe. All my old bets with God are off during these moments of test.

Until the framework shifts internally and test becomes surrender and I do, finally, give the pain up to wonder, give the love out for the universe to hold. For it constricts the breath to try to hold, to conserve myriad magnitudes of overwhelm – the revelation of feeling – in such limited form as everyday thought patterns allow.

I greeted the day’s end out at the end of the driveway, where the sun set in a clear span of sky and all the long furrows of the fallow fields reflected its final glow, row after row of long orange puddles. I made a prayer of thanks for such a trusted ally as companion during this handful of years, and I felt run clean by the day’s sobbing – my eyes new and soft, in limbo.

Any true connection makes a new love, and the more belief and softness paid, the stronger it resonates withing each partner, like a purr fed into, like a shimmy in perfect synchopation, like the movement itself will break the old form open. The universe is the only vastness that can absorb such a hum, and turn it inside out, to feed the chi that life thrums on.

The night came, and I met a new friend for a walk along the swollen creek. We squatted on the maple leaves glued to the sloping stones and watched the river pool like a slow wrath bubbling up to the surface. Moonlight muffled in the tail guard of clouds from the storm – the world gone black and white,the sound of liquid falling amplified by sheer vloume.

There are cords and there are bonds. The cords we wrap around each other’s ankles unawares, they lay out like traps only mostly you trip yourself up with the same unworkable story over and over again.

The bonds they work reciprocal, we forge them with each other through mutual effort at reconciliation, forgiveness, trust, belief, and love. The love we build to place among the stars.

We came back from out night walking and my phone was lit up with a mesage from Matthew, who was calling to tell me that Tiki had walked right up as he arrived home, was fine, would see me soon.

Just like that, the heart eases its great welling, lets the momentum check and resumes its course of grounding that current into the Other. You pour the love back in – unless the bond is interrrupted, you pay in over and over again. You choose to feel with and to be moved. A surrender, not a test – or a test of surrender. Such a ride.

A Last of Her Kind Kind of Story

Back in the, wide old open world,
back in treefelling marsh dyking days
when the wilderness was close enough
to touch each and every one of us,
A girl grew up in a new white farmhouse
born perhaps, in one of the rooms,
and grew to be a woman as her father
raised up apple trees, and chickens,
and claimed the wetland in between the bays
in the name of scythe and plow.

The island began to feel closer to shore, though
the winding track through the furrows of February mud
made the crossing seem as from one world to the next.
Samish Island to Edison must have at first
been a matter of slough waters and reed grasses plying
the sides of boat or canoe, the beaches distinct. And then,
as this Girl’s father helped to carve out a shallow,
fertile patch, it might have been a long morning’s ride
by cart and horses into town, two bends in the road,
nestled against the winding new banked slough.
And as she passed through school and the first war
was still the Only, she learned to keep a home
for her father – the ledger, the taxes, and she learned
the birds from her windows, and she taught in turn,
down at the school. And she kept books on any manner
of subjects, and she kept patterns for clothes, and curtains
and there was a drawer full of stereoscopic images
from Japan and from the West.

And she lived her whole life in that place and watched
the apple trees begin to turn again toward the earth
and the herons and eagles raise their fledglings
in the surrounding sky, and the track to town
became a road, and the people who came out to the island
planned to stay, and made civilized sidewalks
down along the beach, with flagpoles, and baby strollers.
And at Christmas her friends sent her letters, with
Haiku jingles about the Last War, in three line stanzas
that bubbled with a sort of frantic good cheer.
And she never married, and so she kept keeping house
for her father, as he grew old and died perhaps,
in one of the rooms. And she read all the time
about Europe and yet she never left the island.

And there is one photo of her from when the Gulf War
was still the Only, and she looks great still, in her 1970’s
suit, and I wonder what it was like to be her –
to span such a length of landtime and wartime and mindtime –
to fashion clothes with fabric from the millinery
In Edison, and to keep the old wood stove in the kitchen,
and a pot of tea ready steaming perhaps; the last of her kind
really, on an island full of old stories.

Needle Form

Heard a recent story about a group of musicians, smoking in the street outside the club before their set. Fellow came up and was giving them his story, asking for change. He was talking mostly to the overtly compassionate one [how does that radar work?], meanwhile Bill brought through some gung fu – cutting in with interrupting questions: “What do you think about blue, it’s a good color isn’t it? How about candy, do you like candy? Do you think sugar is bad for us? That kind of stuff, stalling the guy who had interrupted their pre-show chill, by flipping his energy back at him.
Gung fu practice has many forms. I been out in the studio this afternoon, sticking pins between my lips and getting the feel of fabric between my fingers, internalizing words like drape, and hang. RL Burnside and Pearl Jam on the stereo, a cup of tea, small scissors, the insistent prick of needle into the top layers of skin.

The wind picked up the last of the alder leaves on the pair of trees at the edge of the north field. Hundreds of waving yellow palms, spangled in the sunlight. I go outside in the rustle, move slowly through some qi gung, and shake my palms in joyous reply. All the way down to the ground these legs go, contained in rubber soles. Those trees have roots that might be almost reaching my feet, extending welcome in the soil that supports all of our weight.

two headed boy

“She will feed you tomatoes and radio wires, and retire to sheets safe and clean… but don’t hate her when she gets up to leave.” – Neutral Milk Hotel

My cat is again a creature of the animal kingdom. The birds have woken it in him, and so he seeks me out less and less. Gone are the extended yowls he used to greet my long day’s absence, winding in to the bathroom to trail his tail across my calves. He sits before the window by the door, extending that cat sense out across the driveway, into the trees where the many small birds sing each other songs of happy fall nibbling. The cat dreams of nibbling as well, and has little patience with the big handed affection of human creatures, who broadcast their intentions and want a sort of simplification. He is other, again, and so am I.

All this space, see. Nothing for the self to intrude upon, and nothing to enter the day but birds, circling the trailer, rising and falling through the air in a small symphony that includes us inside the windows. For a time, the potato fields are filled with morphing leaps of wings.

This evening, I did not go into town. I took a bath, sipped sailor jerry’s rum from the munchen glass, took time to be in this skin with its continuous sloughing and creasing; such a thin barrier between water and air. And danced in the dark reflection of three windows to Neko Case and Nina Simone and Neutral Milk Hotel. Sufi spinning has a centrifugal pull on the heart line, the grin comes welling up like springwater. Out beyond the windows where the birds are tucked in under feather for the night, lies a night tide and the fall fields and a quiet I haven’t heard for years. The mist holds this flat land tight between the mountains and bay. We are peeking up from a pocket of the world, that’s all.

Life is good again!

Pesto parmesan bagel and my good friend Charlie sitting next to me on the couch at Tiny’s. He’s off to Hillsboro to join in the Guniess Book attempt at the largest number of people wearing balloon hats in one place at one time. I’m off to the Pendarvis Farm for another day of the Pickathon, a fundraiser for KBOO public radio. The Wood Bros. are playing, and Kelly Joe Phelps. Last night Greg Brown sat down in a red shirt so faded it’d gone pink, and a railroad cap, and his everpresent sunglasses and sang us songs from his latest “record” while the little kids threw piles of hay up into the air and the grownups tapped their toes and nodded along. “I want my country back”, he sang. Yep, so do we all.