Holiday, Spirit, Material.

It’s December.

How does all this time slip past so? Christmas music is everywhere. It’s annoying. It’s beautiful, comforting. Blue lights in the bare trees downtown. The park, no longer lush, just a sort of neglected mass of land. Artifacts of structure. There are no seeds. It is the cold death settling into the land. The bareness. The longing to waken. I think we are all longing to wake up. To come alive in our skin. There are too many unhappy people. There is too much suffering. The lights are coming on in the park. It’s nearly dusk. Dusk. The in-between. I see the world as a series of grey hues. It is all blurred together: Morals. Rightness. Injury. Bruises. Sometimes I want to be hurt. I want to be beat so that I can feel alive. So that I can remember the touch. It is not a sickness. It is an exploration. The opposite of light. It’s coming awake. It’s realizing there is nowhere else. I see a terrible beauty where ever I look. The red glow of an electric sculpture against the pale blue sky. Background against background.

Where is the past?

I cannot grasp hold of it. I cannot grasp onto anything: The air. My breath. There is a desire that is closer to rage. There is a desire that can overwhelm you if you let it. Get dirty. Let yourself get filthy. I am watching beautiful people walk past the café where I am sitting and typing. I am watching lives and stories. Whole continents of information. I know nothing. How can I gleam the pages? How can I come to understand what is not given to me to know? Death. Birth. The cycles that continue despite my best efforts.

Great nothingness. Great compassion. Great forgiveness. Vanity. It leaves me breathless.

The other night my friends and I saw this amazing band of trans-men, the “HOMOTICONS”. Because the beautiful new boys, so joyful in their being. Gorgeous music. You could feel it. Their exploration, their care. Their pain and fear. I cannot know what it is like to rebel at your own body to be betrayed by your curves or your hair or your sex. I wish everywhere was like Thailand where there is tradition. Where there is a place and at least some common understanding. When I look around at this great façade, at the lights, at the shopping bags, at the lone man standing at a corner, watching women out of the corner of his eyes. The lust. The longing. The women eying women, the attraction. The pull of gravity and dark matter. All of it working in unison. What are the boundaries? What is right and wrong in a world of nuclear weapons? What is faith? What at last, is ever lasting beyond self?

Great nothingness. Great compassion. Great forgiveness. Vanity. It leaves me breathless.

Jennifer Harris

Author of PINK! and resident Poetry Editor, Jennifer Harris, is an active literary organizer and served on the Board of Trustees for the Poetry Center of Chicago. She earned her MFA in Writing from The School of The Art Institute of Chicago.

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3 comments


  • This is an absolutely lovely piece. Very poetic. Very grounded. Very real. Thank you, Jennifer! Well done.

    Susan Gabriel
    author of Seeking Sara Summers
    (a novel about falling in love with your best friend)

    7, December 2011
    • jennifer

      thanks so much you two…i really do appreciate the comments…means a lot to be “heard”…you know? love to you both. jen

      7, December 2011
  • Jane

    Once again, Jen, you give us a very emotive and thought-provoking piece that makes us stop and think.

    7, December 2011

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