Tell Me Where Did You Sleep Last Night

The Wolf

I first saw him when I painted the library black. Space Black” from Sherwinn Williams. Black lamps, black shades, black shelves, black desk and chair, black frames, black pictures. Radiohead’s A Wolf at Your Door” was playing. The only song I couldn’t stop playing. I was manic, keeping myself awake with speed and caffeine because when I shut my eyes the voices came. And when I shut my eyes during the day there was the black creature with a red eye behind my dead grandmother’s armchair long ago given away, house sold. But it was there, on that brown carpet behind the green back, watching near the outlet in the wall. Just a flash. But a flash is enough when it comes to that shit. He was hungry in my paint brush. He was angry. He was at the apex of his prowl.

Or maybe it was before that. Yes. On the rooftop in a bigger city, high on Ecstasy.
Alisha spinning around me in her magenta-red hair and Dropkick Murphy’s t-shirt, singing her love for me. The stars had heartbeats. She kissed my lips. I giggled to hide my terror of the existential leap I was imagining myself taking to the sidewalk. Still wet with cum from the guitar player, rocking on the rough shingles of the roof. This was my third trip and this time my chest was beating wild, my body electric, hers far away and too fucked up to save me.
Then after the painting extravaganza, years after the nights in the mental ward squeezing my sweaty sheets in my fists and praying the Hail Mary” over and over as fast as I could, in case that might work. In case that might save me.
And for years the beast slept. He hibernated as I read my way through brain disorders and chemistry, how-to books and my own pen scratching out my secrets on napkins and notebooks. I had all this energy building, and it came in the ink, it came in the walks I forced myself to take, the dreams I forced myself to forget, the memories I forces myself to accept.
He stirred.

I stirred.

As I started touching the world again with new fingers, something fierce swelled in my chest like a tight balloon. I adjusted and I made more space for it, and it filled my body. I saw the eyes in the mirror–mine–but his.

I met him in the form of a man constructed of straight lines, code, discipline, and the beauty of geometric figures. Cold. Ruthless. Aggressive. Wild. I saw my nature in his words. Just words but all these eloquent words, I gained my nerve, my own sharpness came into focus, my body singing alive, my brain all electric. He had become my 8-Ball. I stretched him across my chest and let myself come through it. And there I was. A woman. He had to go then. I had what I needed–validation that I was of substance.

The wolf follows my heart. My fucked up, dirty, clean, curious, submissive, dominant, angry, wild heart. I thought those things were nouns and I had to live them. I thought I was the stained bed sheets. I thought I was only the experience of leaping off the levee into the waters. I thought I was a creature giving my vulnerability in exchange for release and power. I thought I was the pills I swallowed. I thought I was the diagnosis in the bin. I thought I was an anger. I thought I was the rain that fell on my chucks when I searched for peace in the woods. I thought I was the den to the very wolf I was.
We are creatures–our geometry bottled and shaken. I am a mess. I am in love with the world in my teeth. I will keep my fangs and my instincts about me.

“My girl, my girl, don’t lie to me, tell me where did you sleep last night. In the pines, in the pines, where the sun don’t ever shine, I will shiver the whole night through…”

The Key

from prompt/share over at Real Toads

The book I am currently rereading is Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. I chose this quote from the last part I read to write this three-stanza poem:

(She’s talking about the story “Bluebeard”–the ancient foe of both genders and he represents a deeply reclusive complex that lurks on the edge of women’s lives, watching, waiting, opposing;Bluebeard is innate in all of us-it has no conscious origin. Also known as “the failed magician” related to other fairy tale figures that portray predators of the psyche: normative looking but immeasurably destructive. He desires submission, superiority, and power over others.  /the predators of the psyche and Jung’s Individuation process and Animus–the masculine strength that also appears in her dreams as specific symbols; the last initiatory step of the Profound Initiation into the Wild Woman aware…):

All creatures must learn predators exist–to understand the predator is to become a mature animal who isn’t vulnerable out of naiveté, inexperience, or foolishness.”

A woman must practice calling up or conjuring her contentious nature, her whirlwind attributes, whirling wind symbol–central force of determination (*focused, not scattered) which requires tremendous energy to her fierce attitude at the ready. She won’t lose consciousness or be interred along with the rest. She will solve, for once and for all, the Interior Woman-Killing, her loss of libido, the loss of her passion for life, while key questions provide the opening and loosening required for her liberation…without the eyes of the brothers {animus} she cannot fully succeed…masculine energy…”

“Asking the proper question is the central action of transformation-in fairy tales, in analysis, and in individuation. The key question causes germination of consciousness–the properly shaped question always emanates from an essential curiosity about what stands behind; questions are the keys that cause the secret doors of the psyche to open…if it is forbidden, it must be looked at, studied, and understood.”

It was a desperate thing–

turning towards any light offered,

as any flower turns to the sun. I thought maybe

maybe next time, the light will come from something I understand.

You smile, you nod, you agree…you keep your mouth shut and your eyes on me…

A posed doll, dreamed up like a doll and tossed and thrown about as such,

my painted salmon lips and brush-stroke lashes, trained to be tame, trained to give.

I could feel the strain and resistance in myself as I tried typing their script over

the pressed  hardwiring and design of mine. And all that I thought I had entertained grew old–

I, unchanging on the shelf. No identity to show? Then no identity to have. A nobody.
Tired, empty, but with a quiet something gnawing relentless at the corners of my guts,

when the lights went out and the room emptied, I summoned the light of the moon

and over a thousand nights I sought the question, the right wording to the question

that would open the back of the dress they stitched me up in, leading me out

and into my nudity, my body, my self. I conjured, casted, and picked apart

with the articulation of a mathematician over his favorite notebook

their script’s prescribed words in bold over the faint trace of the fonts beneath that were mine;

I chiseled, I cranked, I hammered–springs flew, nuts and bolts rolled away, in a sweaty-make-up-bleeding mess

I scraped up the first layer. My first sentence was the question.

I stood up and spoke:

“Who am I giving away when they demand to take?

and the seams came undone, the gingham falling away as I began to rewrite

over the faded words:

I scraped at their words over mine even harder.

It went on to another question. And as I read it, I felt my body growing in size.

Who am I?

and as I read it aloud, I broke through the tiny house and into the night

a thousand nights

under the moon transformed by light

and I turned towards it to bloom.





(featured pic by FotoFiction for Book Covers on Flickr)