First performed at the Catweazle Club in Oxford.
Heart Real Estate
“You’re taking up too much real estate in my mind,” she said.
I overheard her say it,
and thought about the minefield of my own mind,
where there are no manicured lawns
and never any For sale signs,
but just rusting barbed wire with attached placards
that read: No trespassing.
But my heart, somehow, is a separate landscape,
as if the neural highway between the two
somehow spanned an ocean—
broke up the Pangea of this body,
and in the heartland, there is different foliage,
fauna that frolics freely
over endless fields
skies that rarely cloud over.
There are no For sale signs here either,
but not for lack of beauty or space
but because there is no need to buy
where every stranger can holiday
…or even have a home.
And in fact,
there are doormats everywhere
that read Welcome
but not to worry if you don’t wipe your feet
because plenty have tracked shit all over this heart before.
It’s just good fertilizer for the next growth.
You can come and go too--
whenever you please
the space is limitless
and there are no gates
no security guard to turn you away.
All I want is for you to enjoy your stay—
maybe follow some of the paths
that wind through birch groves and back
or trails that follow scents to the sea,
where there is ancient rock
that can tell you something about the strange nature of impermanence.
Or maybe take the tracks that tell you all the stories
Stories like this one:
When people ask us how we met,
there is always a pause, a look between us,
a strange laugh and the nodding of the head that says
I will once again
be the one to tell the story.
I am always the one telling the stories.
And maybe that’s because
like Leslie Marmon Silko, Native-American poet and writer,
I believe they are all we have
to fight off illness and death.
We met in Tanzania—
I was about to turn nineteen and he was twenty-five
changing his life almost like it was suicide prevention—
he needed it to mean something—his life
--something more than corporations,
more than money that his Chinese family always told him to make.
He wasn’t a doctor, but he could save lives…
and he did—probably even mine
In Tanzania, we enjoyed our mutual sense of humor,
tea on nights when the moon looked backward
and card games that I always won.
Six months later,
after we left this place,
cancer found my neck,
and he was an ocean away,
but nearer than anyone else—
sending cards that sent me into morphine-induced fits of laughter
offering sardonic words over telephone lines:
Words like: “You can’t have cancer now! I’m going to Japan tomorrow.”
Three years into our friendship that existed curtesy of telecommunication,
our dispositions changed and flirtation entered the text.