Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Please Support CounterPunch’s Annual Fund Drive
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We only ask you once a year, but when we ask we mean it. So, please, help as much as you can. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. All contributions are tax-deductible.
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:
October 15, 2018
Rob Urie
Climate Crisis is Upon Us
Conn Hallinan
Syria’s Chessboard
Patrick Cockburn
The Saudi Atrocities in Yemen are a Worse Story Than the Disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi
Sheldon Richman
Trump’s Middle East Delusions Persist
Justin T. McPhee
Uberrima Fides? Witness K, East Timor and the Economy of Espionage
Tom Gill
Spain’s Left Turn?
Jeff Cohen
Few Democrats Offer Alternatives to War-Weary Voters
Dean Baker
Corporate Debt Scares
Gary Leupp
The Khashoggi Affair and and the Anti-Iran Axis
Russell Mokhiber
Sarah Chayes Calls on West Virginians to Write In No More Manchins
Clark T. Scott
Acclimated Behaviorisms
Kary Love
Evolution of Religion
Colin Todhunter
From GM Potatoes to Glyphosate: Regulatory Delinquency and Toxic Agriculture
Binoy Kampmark
Evacuating Nauru: Médecins Sans Frontières and Australia’s Refugee Dilemma
Marvin Kitman
The Kitman Plan for Peace in the Middle East: Two Proposals
Weekend Edition
October 12, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Becky Grant
My History with Alexander Cockburn and The Financial Future of CounterPunch
Paul Street
For Popular Sovereignty, Beyond Absurdity
Nick Pemberton
The Colonial Pantsuit: What We Didn’t Want to Know About Africa
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Summer of No Return
Jeff Halper
Choices Made: From Zionist Settler Colonialism to Decolonization
Gary Leupp
The Khashoggi Incident: Trump’s Special Relationship With the Saudi Monarchy
Andrew Levine
Democrats: Boost, Knock, Enthuse
Barbara Kantz
The Deportation Crisis: Report From Long Island
Doug Johnson
Nate Silver and 538’s Measurable 3.5% Democratic Bias and the 2018 House Race
Gwen Carr
This Stops Today: Seeking Justice for My Son Eric Garner
Robert Hunziker
Peak Carbon Emissions By 2020, or Else!
Arshad Khan
Is There Hope on a World Warming at 1.5 Degrees Celsius?
David Rosen
Packing the Supreme Court in the 21stCentury
Brian Cloughley
Trump’s Threats of Death and Destruction
Joel A. Harrison
The Case for a Non-Profit Single-Payer Healthcare System
Ramzy Baroud
That Single Line of Blood: Nassir al-Mosabeh and Mohammed al-Durrah
Zhivko Illeieff
Addiction and Microtargeting: How “Social” Networks Expose us to Manipulation
ADRIAN KUZMINSKI
What is Truth?
Michael Doliner
Were the Constitution and the Bill of Rights a Mistake?
Victor Grossman
Cassandra Calls
Ralph E. Shaffer
Could Kavanaugh’s Confirmation Hearing Ended Differently?
Vanessa Cid
Our Everyday Family Separations
Walaa Al Ghussein
The Risks of Being a Journalist in Gaza
Ron Jacobs
Betrayal and Treachery—The Extremism of Moderates
James Munson
Identity Politics and the Ruling Class
P. Sainath
The Floods of Kerala: the Bank That Went Under…Almost
Ariel Dorfman
How We Roasted Donald Duck, Disney’s Agent of Imperialism
Joe Emersberger
Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno’s Assault on Human Rights and Judicial Independence
Ed Meek
White Victimhood: Brett Kavanaugh and the New GOP Brand
Andrew McLean, MD
A Call for “Open Space”
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail