I let the things I need to say sit in my throat because I think I can cough them out. I let the words I meant to give sit on my lips because I think I can kiss them away.
I let the things I think about build up, until the pile is something I can only sift through haphazardly.
My skin does the sifting, and my worries pop out in a rivet of a hives.
If we were having coffee, you’d see them. They can look like zits, in which case you probably wouldn’t mention it. Yesterday, I had one that looked like I bumped my head on something.
When people asked, that’s what I told them.
I bumped my head on something.
I didn’t mention it was a metaphorical bump, and that I lay all my worries like bricks, and that the stick of unsaid things hold them together, and that I make walls for myself. I didn’t mention that my life is spent breaking down those walls with my own body, and peeking through to the other side for brief moments of clear air.
“Also,” I’ll say, and then I’ll tell you something seemingly unrelated to what we were just discussing.
What I mean is, I broke through for a little bit, and there is a light, and I know we are talking about hives and bricks and worries right now, but also.
Let me say this now, while I can. Let me say this thing that will help me say this other thing that is harnessed to it somehow, and maybe we’ll eventually get to what I really need to say. Also.
Also, have you ever thought about what this conversation would look like if it were a garden, and every laugh were a daisy, and every absurdity were a rose, and every shared sorrow a bluebell.
I think I can see it, but what are the tulips? And how does the ivy grow?
And, also. Did I tell you about the dream I’ve been having? I would have mentioned it before but it was stuck in my throat and I’ve been choking on it this whole time, but I slammed my head against the metaphor and ripped a gap right through the brick, and on the other side, I see the dream.
I think it means something. In it, I’ve dredged a mudkissed stone out of something. The something is different in every dream– a pond, a fountain, a bookshelf, a city street– but the stone is the same. It is not a stone. It is some kind of bulb.
I hold it up to my ear and say, “I think there’s a tulip in here. I had one once before.”
I brush the dirt away and I put it in my breast-pocket, which is really the wildest part of the dream every time because I’ve never owned a piece of clothing with a breast-pocket.
I did have tulips once, though. A dozen violet and red and orange ones, growing in my garden next to the daffodils. The orange ones were streaked with color and the farmers called them broken tulips, with affection.
When they were about to wilt away, I would pluck out the stamen and crush up the sepals and I would use them as dye.
I never painted anything worthwhile, not with tulips, or fancy art supplies even, but I remember being so very charmed by how brightly the color streaked across skin and paper and tree stumps.
Even just thinking about it reminds me of the smell, inky and sweet, and the soil, cold and dense, and the oranges ones, the broken tulips, and the farmers who harvest them on purpose.
Even just thinking about it reminds me of the farm, and a clear view straight to Venus, and a sky with more stars than streaks. It reminds me of horses eagerly nudging at your pockets as you walk by, and picking a grape straight off the vine and rubbing it between your fingers to shine it up, and crushing walnuts under your work boots on your way around the tree. It reminds me of fresh cream in coffee.
If we were having coffee, I’d ask if you’ve ever had fresh cream. If you’ve ever milked a cow. If you’ve ever sifted anything.
Also, in the dream, someone I love is dead.
That’s why it’s so important I don’t let the tulip go unprotected. That’s why I pick it up in the first place.
But then, honestly,
that’s probably why I am here having coffee with you right now, in the wider stretch of things.
A lot of someones I love died, and my life shifted, and my life sifted, and I could say it’s the reason I do everything I do now, so maybe that’s not the most important part of the dream, and maybe the dream is not the most important thing I need to tell you, but my body is bursting out of my skin.
I have so much to say, and I needed to start somewhere.