I am writing with both hands
I seen a new bird and I talk to myself. No surprises, just suggestions, plus a poem by Franz Wright.
This morning I heard a bird I never heard before, and learned it was the evening grosbeak. There were thirty, maybe forty of them in the cottonwood across the cul-de-sac, singing loudly about who knows what, not me. Never spoke a word of bird a day in my life. My bird app tells me their populations are declining. My news app tells me our population is in peril.
We can’t quit destroying the land and each other.
We can’t quit The Market, mass hunger or oil, two-day delivery or accommodating billionaires or Big Mean Virulently Stupid Strong Men or self-loathing.
We can’t quit spending all our money on weapons, too little on care or unhelping ourselves into spiritual death and there are thirty or forty evening grosbeaks in the sleeping tree behind the house singing.
I talk to myself all the time, rehearsing my thoughts out loud. I speak to me to practice speaking, yes, and listening. Thinking too. I write down most of what I do. Spend two minutes, maybe three every day thinking about the day before, how it felt to be me then. What did I hold in my hands all day. Where did my time go, my attention. How did it shape how the day felt. How did it shape what I said, and to whom. What I made, what I shared, what I need.
I keep track of my life to keep track of myself. I give myself language to know my own mind, my habits and stories, make a map of what it’s like to be in this body, this particular life, this time. It helps me know what makes me feel alive, or despairing or full of fury, what makes a day full, what to do next and what to let go, what to try and what to ask for.
Helps me know what birds I’ve seen.
Here’s what I’m saying is write it down.
Say it out loud. Tell how it is, what it can be. Everything or a little bit, however it makes sense for you, and of you. Make shapes from magazine pictures of it. Paste them into a chaotic collage that looks a bit like your mind.
Write a poem, who cares, anyone can do it. It’s still legal. Organize your books to tell you a story. Say three things you did yesterday, say it to you out loud, or sing it. I don’t mind. Ask you how you felt about it then, what you think about it now, if it mattered, if it brought you or anyone joy, or calm, a new, better question, comfort or connection. Pay attention to what you pay attention to—what you read, and see, and listen to, how it shapes your thoughts, how your thoughts shape your days, how your days are your life. Make a list of birds you’ve seen in a single tree. Make a map of your mind. You might need it.
Or don’t. It’s your life.
Here’s a poem.
I close my eyes and see
a seagull in the desert,
high, against unbearably blue sky.
There is hope in the past.
I am writing to you
all the time, I am writing
with both hands,
day and night.
the animal eats and talks to itself. so what.