FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

A Woman’s Life Offered Unto Itself

I wrote. When all was said and done, when I had known it was over, when I had barred the door behind my love, when I had burned his last letter, the one in which he diagnosed me as permanently broken and lost; when dust radio broadcast no more, and the word “much” meant only a great deal, then on a silver-gray day I wrote.

I wrote because to do otherwise was to negate the slab of juniper tucked in a niche below the porch roof of my little cabin. The wood was golden. A red prayer ribbon from a Tibetan nun looped through a crack in the juniper. A few weeks before my love (Code name: Monkey) had come to visit the first time, I wrote She Writes on the juniper in black marker. I wondered why I felt compelled to declare the ordinary. There had not been a day for two decades in which I hadn’t written.

A year later Monkey arrived to live in a cabin near me. A few weeks later, he began to die in front of my gaze. His ghost was hungry to move in — not to occupy Monkey’s cabin, but to seep into Monkey’s flesh, to live behind his eyes, to stare out, un-seeing and unseeable.

I watched. There was nothing to be done. No spell. No banishing. As Monkey’s possession continued, I understood
I was in peril — not from any outer phantom, but from an inner murmuring, “Give yourself away. Give yourself away. If you give enough, the real Monkey will return.”

She Writes mocked me every time I returned from his cabin to mine. I hadn’t written a word since Monkey had arrived. A woman who is busy giving herself away, or a man, a terrified child, a wife, a desperate father — we cup ourselves in our own hands as an offering. There is no strength to hold a pen, a brush, a flute, a principle, a shield, our Work.

I found myself in a kaleidoscope of obsession. And still, my friends persisted. They held up mirrors. They shone the fierce beams of their love on me. There was an old Way, taking a step at a time, a breath at a time — until there was strength enough to think about holding a pen. There was medicine in all of this, and in the journal I had kept from the first moment Monkey and I had locked gazes — and in his presence, abandoned. I saw how the ghost had stalked him from that bright beginning; and how I had cupped my hands around a torrent of offerings, an avalanche of far too easy love — and in that swept us apart.

I understood that if Monkey and I pretended to continue, the writing would not. I said the necessary words. “It’s over.” And, it was.

I made myself touch the splinters left after our shattering. The edges were as sharp as obsidian blades. I bled, and
as I made myself be patient with the splinters, I saw which ones shone. I knew that they were offerings — not to the ghost of love, not to me. They were offerings only to the work. I began again to write.

*           *           *

Now, seven years later, I no longer live in the little cabin. The wooden sign that once hung over the door of that place is no longer golden. The red ribbon is gone. The words have fainted to shadows. The sign sits on my old roll-top desk. I write. This new book is called Tourmaline Road. Imagine gleaming shards gathered not into their original form, but into a future reflection of possibility, of a woman’s life offered to itself.

Note: Look up tourmaline and see its radiance.

Mary Sojourner is the author of the novel Going Through Ghosts (University of Nevada Press, 2010) and the memoir She Bets Her Life (Seal Press, 2009), among her many books.

More articles by:

Weekend Edition
January 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Star Wars Revisited: One More Nightmare From Trump
John Davis
“Weather Terrorism:” a National Emergency
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Sometimes an Establishment Hack is Just What You Need
Joshua Frank
Montana Public Schools Block Pro-LGBTQ Websites
Louisa Willcox
Sky Bears, Earth Bears: Finding and Losing True North
Robert Fisk
Bernie Sanders, Israel and the Middle East
Robert Fantina
Pompeo, the U.S. and Iran
David Rosen
The Biden Band-Aid: Will Democrats Contain the Insurgency?
Nick Pemberton
Human Trafficking Should Be Illegal
Steve Early - Suzanne Gordon
Did Donald Get The Memo? Trump’s VA Secretary Denounces ‘Veteran as Victim’ Stereotyping
Andrew Levine
The Tulsi Gabbard Factor
John W. Whitehead
The Danger Within: Border Patrol is Turning America into a Constitution-Free Zone
Dana E. Abizaid
Kafka’s Grave: a Pilgrimage in Prague
Rebecca Lee
Punishment Through Humiliation: Justice For Sexual Assault Survivors
Dahr Jamail
A Planet in Crisis: The Heat’s On Us
John Feffer
Trump Punts on Syria: The Forever War is Far From Over
Dave Lindorff
Shut Down the War Machine!
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: Student Voices of the Los Angeles Education Revolt  
Mark Ashwill
The Metamorphosis of International Students Into Honorary US Nationalists: a View from Viet Nam
Ramzy Baroud
The Moral Travesty of Israel Seeking Arab, Iranian Money for its Alleged Nakba
Ron Jacobs
Allen Ginsberg Takes a Trip
Jake Johnston
Haiti by the Numbers
Binoy Kampmark
No-Confidence Survivor: Theresa May and Brexit
Victor Grossman
Red Flowers for Rosa and Karl
Cesar Chelala
President Donald Trump’s “Magical Realism”
Christopher Brauchli
An Education in Fraud
Paul Bentley
The Death Penalty for Canada’s Foreign Policy?
David Swanson
Top 10 Reasons Not to Love NATO
Louis Proyect
Breaking the Left’s Gay Taboo
Kani Xulam
A Saudi Teen and Freedom’s Shining Moment
Ralph Nader
Bar Barr or Regret this Dictatorial Attorney General
Jessicah Pierre
A Dream Deferred: MLK’s Dream of Economic Justice is Far From Reality
Edward J. Martin
Glossip v. Gross, the Eighth Amendment and the Torture Court of the United States
Chuck Collins
Shutdown Expands the Ranks of the “Underwater Nation”
Paul Edwards
War Whores
Peter Crowley
Outsourcing Still Affects Us: This and AI Worker Displacement Need Not be Inevitable
Alycee Lane
Trump’s Federal Government Shutdown and Unpaid Dishwashers
Martha Rosenberg
New Questions About Ritual Slaughter as Belgium Bans the Practice
Nicky Reid
Panarchy as Full Spectrum Intersectionality
Jill Richardson
Hollywood’s Fat Shaming is Getting Old
Nyla Ali Khan
A Woman’s Wide Sphere of Influence Within Folklore and Social Practices
Richard Klin
Dial Israel: Amos Oz, 1939-2018
David Rovics
Of Triggers and Bullets
David Yearsley
Bass on Top: the Genius of Paul Chambers
Elliot Sperber
Eddie Spaghetti’s Alphabet
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail