Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Eating the Clouds

Near the end of her life, my mother often expressed the wish to smoke opium. She had read about in in a Leon Uris book and old Leon had described it as "eating the clouds." Can you imagine, Michelle? It would be so beautiful. My mother hadn't been much for chemicals during her life -- both her parents had been alcoholics and she feared being away from herself. But opium! Now there was something worth the risk.

My mother died relatively young, and I find myself wishing I could ask her lots of things now. Her favorite poet was William Blake, her favorite artist Paul Gauguin. She loved the extremes. I'm more a dog on a chain person myself, circling the same territory obsessively. In time, you don't even need the chains that kept you to your spot -- you become the chain. When she'd take me shopping at night as a little girl, she'd always say, Michelle, if someone tries to hurt me, you run and tell someone. Those nights were always cloudless, so black that it seemed as if morning would never come.

Michelle's Spell of the Day

"What can I say? Anything valuable is going to cost you a lot." Toni Cade Bambara, on the hardships of the writing life

The Clouds

insert your favorite food
your favorite drink
your favorite movie
your favorite everything

Benedictions and Maledictions

What Everyone Carries

Whoever delivers the body is responsible
for the baggage, says the airline employee
as I fill out a description of what I’ve lost
which looks like what everyone carries. Only
the inside is different, each dress taken off
after a night that seemed as if it would never
end and then it did. I bought some of them
at a consignment shop from a woman who
pretended to like me, saying things like, Another
dress? Surely you need slacks for work. I told
her that I was a teacher and could wear whatever
I wanted. She didn’t buy it and maybe you don’t
either. I bought many dresses there over the years,
never trying them on in the store. They all fit my
body, the worn-out curves of it, the one with all
the lost baggage that someone I don’t know assures
me will all be delivered, like magic, to my door.


Cindy said...

You are so sweet, not like a circling dog at all are you? Eating the clouds, sounds nice to me, too.


Sheila said...

I know what you mean. I too feel I am being held to the same things by some invisable chains. Maybe it's fear of the unknown. Who knows... It was a lovely poem. Sorry about losing your parents so young. It must have been a difficult thing to deal with.

paul said...


Great eating the clouds post and the several before it. I'm also sorry about your parents being taken so early, heart goes you to you,

John said...

Dear Michelle,

You look very chipper there -- is that some kind of snakeskin top? Just wondering. I hope your writing and Catholic faith help comfort you or provide some solace; that's so tragic to lose both parents so young. My heart goes out to you, as I'm sure Paul also meant to say.

Anonymous said...

Michelle, wear leather pants, like Ugis Pinka.

Anonymous said...

Aldous Huxley dropped acid on his deathbed.