18 Notes on Space
Editor’s Note: The following piece was composed for an evening of Poetic Alchemy held in Boulder, Colorado, in the spring of 2019. The brainstorming/description/invocation proposed for the event read as follows:
“What if we do a salon kind of thing, which could include a poetry component but also would be open to anything else anyone wants to share, e.g., a collective inquiry, a personal story, a meditation, music, etc. Something like an evening of alchemy… I would like to explore the relationship between aesthetic experience and gnostic community.”
“All participants are welcome to share whatever they feel like, which could include (but need not be limited to) poetry, spoken word, comedy, music, personal story, improv inquiry, freestyle hip-hop mind-jam, post-metaphysical puppet theater, etc. Let form follow spirit—and give attention to the combination of energies and soul of the mix. Nobody is required to perform. *Active listening will be welcome as divine. There will be time for audience response if so desired.”—Marco V Morelli, personal correspondence, 09 March 2019
The recording was made a few weeks later, in the same, yet a different, space. What does Space mean to you? Do you have enough of it? Too little, too much? How do you make space…for Space? Please share your responses in the discussion space below.
18 Notes on Space
- My back went out last week, a week after a relationship that didn’t work the first time around found its second end. He used to think I needed too much space back in 2012. I see plangent circles under his dark eyes, still in my mind.
- NPR had a special on about Supermax prisons a few days ago—the featured author was saying that women can’t handle solitary confinement. A high percentage of them exit the system, after max confinement, he said, with psychological difficulties and aren’t prepared for reentry to society. He concluded that women are social creatures who need community for rehabilitation.
- One of the signs of an alcoholic family system is rigidity. Another is isolation. Still another, denial. And, then, there’s silence.
- To rehabilitate my back, I got a massage. As the therapist poked careful fingers into my lower back, I squirmed. After, she tells me, apply only cold. No heat on the muscles. For how long, I say? Hmmm… A week from next Sunday, she says and smiles sweetly, trying to shove a glass of water at me that I clearly do not need with my full water bottle in my hand. That’s a lot of cold. I wonder if she knows what’s she’s talking about. She probably does.
- I have noticed that when I don’t have enough interior space, I feel the near, jagged edges of violence forming as potential in my body. It also touches my mind. That thought brings me as close to compassion for abusers as I have ever been.
- While on the massage table, I notice how dissociated I have become in a few short months, how little I can feel myself this semester. I have no idea sometimes if I am sad, frustrated, tense. Because those are not part of what is expected of me in the confines of 16 weeks of classes and grading and meetings. I am a big contracted muscle, pulled tight around a Self, so tight it can hardly move. I just know I have more things to do than my scattered attention can absolve me from, my undisciplined attention being at least part of the problem. I feel helpless in the face of what is expected. I think of my colleagues who appear in each other’s doorways to talk, the ones who have their grades done on time and who look well rested. I duck when I walk by. No time for that.
- Speaking of which, where is my breath?
- Step on a crack, break your mother’s back.
- e.e. cummings wrote:
somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond
any experience, your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near
- I tell the students I am meeting with that part of the job of the writer is to make space for other writers and for writing in the world. We have to organize readings and events (like this one) where writing is shared, give feedback, build community, teach classes, sponsor clubs. All while getting writing done too, right?
- I imagine the space of the house and living room we’d be in tonight. I imagined blue couches with pink floral print, amber carpets, dim lighting, inviting food smells, a feeling of at-home-ness, and a murky indigo cloud filling the room.
- I wrote this in the summer of 2017 when we were asked to write one long run-on sentence:
alchemy takes up space
/saw the journals on the shelf lined up smiling spines neatly arranged except for that first semester the volumes were slender then filled in erratic bursts of momentum spiced with doubts and silences one notebook then another entries weaving in one and out in another raw before distillation of the practice the value not known the inside of the animated world is immediate somehow true demandingly so and gradual we trust it more of it so that it loses its tight grip I wanted his hands to open the covers to see under the stories to love what hadn’t been before it was a full emptying where nothing was lost it mystified me it was hard to trust that it could be healthy to want this the merger to come so far away now/
- I spend inordinate amounts of time moving shit around my apartment when I’m in the midst of this draft, like so many words on a page—slow to take shape. Then, I spend 20 minutes emptying a dozen near empty boxes, putting their contents on shelves, consolidating, collapsing them after.
- Ann and Barry Ulanov, in their book Transforming Sexuality: The Archetypal World of Anima and Animus, write “The spacemaking ego offers a commodious residence for new contents—not to do to them, nor to become them, but to make room for them in consciousness. The ego expands in this much as the womb does—to house, to hold and carry what comes into it, to contemplate and enlarge with it…. Developing such a sense of space, where inner conversation can flourish is to generate new energy and arrange the parts of oneself in new patterns…. Persons who join in themselves the feminine spacemaking ego and the masculine instrumental ego know here on earth, in the ordinary events of daily life, the mystery of a concrete personal identity living over an abyss of space.” (between pages 107 & 121)
- A note on my phone reads:
Poetics is also about the transmission of something prior to language to another person. It’s a deep, nonsymbolic communication, a gestalt, some whole meanings, and truths. And this is the sort of exchange we almost never have anymore or have never had the capacity for.
- If I’m just prepared enough, enough space will be there.
- Austin Bluffs Open Space, Blodgett Peak Open Space, Bluestream Prairie Open Space, Corral Bluffs Open Space, Garden of the Gods, High Chaparral Open Space, North Cheyenne Canon, North Slope Recreation Area, Red Rock Canyon Open Space, Sinton Pond Open Space, South Slope Recreation Area, Stratton Open Space, University Park, Ute Valley Park, Palmer Park Open Space