Here I know the names of trees. The magnolias / bloom like babies faces opening / and I only dare touch the petals / already fallen. The eastern hemlock / its white lines running down each needle belly / the one safe hemlock / tastes like bad spearmint or tea / too steepled. I keep sprigs under / my tongue and feel I am defying / something. In general don’t eat / wild red plants but see the teaberry / looks like Christmas and tastes / like shit but sure, you can eat it. / it’s good to be able to name things / you love or maybe I love what I can name / either way this forest or field or growth / in between two highways looks like home. / I am nostalgic about nearly everything / if you haven’t tried it / don’t. it’s exhausting and unfair to everyone / else. I’m depressed by the familiarity. / the dog-hobble grabs my ankles and holds.
(Playing off of a stanza that I wrote on Day 2.)
the eastern hemlock is not poisonous.
honeyed spoon, hot water
swallow the steam.
it is identifiable by parallel stripes on needles’ underbelly.
strip them from the branch,
mash by molars.
the needles come in threes.
they forget to come at all.
i do not check for the parallel stripes.
pockets full of pinecones,
mouth full of needles.
I have been legitimately terrible about posting anything on here in the last two weeks. Normally, I would be beating myself up over this a little bit. Constantly reminding myself that I need to be writing, I need to be creating, I need to be keeping up with my commitments (like this blog).
But I really haven’t been this time, for some reason. I think it is because I have given myself permission to relax, to turn my brain off for a while. I’ve been keeping myself busy doing art, journaling, being more social than usual, and watching the Olympics. Oh. And packing to move into my new house Tuesday. That too. I’m not sure I give myself permission to fully mentally relax as often as I should – these past two weeks have been really rejuvenating. I think I will keep that in mind for the coming semester. With 18 credits, it is going to be more important that ever to allow myself mental breaks.
This past week, I had a free afternoon where my best friend and I trekked up to the mountains for some chill adventuring time. We saw a beautiful water snake sunning itself on a rock in the middle of the river, and a bunch of giant (and terrifying) water spiders. We also found a beautiful little waterfall, and almost got swept away in the river trying to get to it. Here are a couple pictures from that afternoon.
Tomorrow morning I set out for Wisconsin again. In some ways, I really don’t feel ready to go back to Wisconsin. – I like being at home. I love my family, I love Knoxville, I love being so close to the Mountains. But I also start to feel the need to resume my own life. Im excited to get back to Wisconsin, get back in the flow of things, and see some people who I have missed a lot over this wonderful summer.
Yesterday I took the afternoon and went up to the mountains with one of my best friends that I have been close with for a long time. We don’t get to see each other often, so having a whole day together was really wonderful.
We drove up into the mountains in search of a river that was fairly accessible, and didn’t require too much work to find a good area to climb on river rocks and wade around a bit. After some initial exploration to find somewhere without any people around, we found a lovely little spot to spend the afternoon.
This was one of the highlights of the afternoon – we found a hellbender salamander! These are the biggest Salamanders that live down here – over a foot long! This guy just crawled up right next to us while we were hanging out on a rock. I picked him up and he was the squirmiest, gooshiest thing I have ever felt. That is the face of pure joy.
I swear mandolins sound better in the mountains.
there are ways to see him that do not involve his hands.
the soft bones in his wrists, the invitation of his veins.
The sharp points of his grin, the way continual
expansion feels inevitable, but the vaults in his cheeks
pick up the slack.
The cusps of the toes he rises to, catching
the note he’s aiming for between his teeth,
falling back on the haunches of the breeze.
There are ways to hear him without imagining him naked,
but not many.
The tension of skin over bone or a flesh painted skeleton
with dried heaps of acrylics in eye sockets.
The space that connects his thighs and pelvis
where I imagine my nose would fit well.
I am again imagining him naked.
There are ways to feel his body without the use of my hands.
when i kick him beneath the conference room table
i can feel his bareness.
when i lick his condensed sweat off the walls
of the hallway, i am reminded of
unsweetened coffee and melting plastic.
It has been quite a while that I have posted anything. Last time I wrote, I was sitting on my Grandma’s couch in Junction City, Kansas. Since then I’ve been back to Tennessee, then up to Wisconsin, and now back down to Tennessee (and I am leaving for North Carolina for two weeks, tomorrow). As a result, I haven’t had all that much time to write, either on here or inside my journal.
Even with the ongoing feeling of being constantly in motion this summer, the past two weeks or so have been great. In Wisconsin, I was able to go to two nights of Dead and Company at Alpine Valley. I hadn’t seen Dead and Co before, but they really were excellent. As someone who has listened to a fair amount of Dead for my age, I had some things I really liked about John Mayer as lead guitar and some things I wasn’t as fond of. Regardless, they were great shows. I had a ton of fun being surrounded by people who made me feel comfortable, eye-balling everyone’s outfits, and dancing my butt off. It felt good. Also in Wisconsin, I was able to go sailing for the second time. I love being out on the water – the hot sun, Wisconsin-cool lake – time disappears.
Since I have been home, I have been doing typical “Knoxville” things. In July, there is a wildlife/park where there are just fields and fields of blooming sunflowers. I spent some time there, goofing around in between the rows, taking silly pictures with my best friend. I ran around downtown, looking around all the little shops and having lunch with my Dad. Knoxville still really feels like home.
I’m a big fan of the Farmer’s Market in Knoxville, and I usually try to go as often as possible when I’m home. The market goes from May – November, but during the winter season they host the Winter Market in a church near downtown. I wasn’t sure what to expect since I had never visited the winter market before, but I was pleasantly surprised!