womanness is a/an:

visual exploration
poetic investigation
personal essay
intimate practice
erotic expression
performance of self-authorship
visual-verbal love song1
pursuit of a new archetype
living metaphor
nocturnal poem2
archive of female overflow
map of intuition


1Mann, Sally. Hold Still, Little Brown and Company, 2015, pp. 208. 2Paz, Octavio. “The Kingdoms of Pan.” Translated by Helen Lane. The Double Flame: Love and Eroticism, Harcourt, Inc., 1995, pp. 18.
CHAPTER 15: RECLAMATION







1Murphy, Heather. “Idaho Senate Approves Bill to Kill 90 Percent of State’s Wolves.” New York Times, 22 April 2021.


2Bennett, Guy and Paul Vangelisti, editors. Signs/ & Signals: The Daybooks of Robert Crosson. Otis Books/Seismicity Editions, 2008.

3(outpouring, extremity, plenitude)

4(when I want nothing but its rhythms)

5(when I want nothing but its wisdom)

6Tramontana, Mary Katharine. “Women Who Said No to Motherhood.” New York Times, 3 May 2021.

7Carolee’s: “Anti-Demeter (The More I Give the More You Steal/The More You Give the More I Need)”

8Nelson, Maggie. “The Reënchantment of Carolee Schneemann.” The New Yorker, 15 Mar. 2019, newyorker.com/books/page-turner/the-re-enchantment-of-carolee-schneemann. Accessed 3 May 2021.

The wolves are being hunted again.1 A sick feeling in my stomach and I think, this can’t be a good sign.

Grey skies and high heat. The art supply store off of Sunset. The manual for a new camera. Taping out new shapes. Seeking new sight. New, new, new. New the way I want them all removed from my body consciousness. New the desire to orient my day along the axis of a fresh intentionality. A drive to the beach in morning light. The streets opening again. Doors opening again. Seeing people again but I don’t want to, not yet, maybe not ever. A book that leaps out at me from a back corner shelf: Signs/ & Signals2. Self-referential, its own kind of sign, it’s own clear signal. $6.95 and a coffee stain darkening the front pages. His poet address less than a mile from my own and forty years past: a spot of winding canyon road where twice I’ve gotten stuck while speaking my woman-tales through the live wires.

Page 123: “…what I was (am) doing in Daybook, is exactly what you say: ‘publishing’ my own book, in pencil… which is not to say it’s hot-stuff, but what I daily do to make ‘sense’ of what’s otherwise—‘making a living’: which is what we all do anyway—. I guess that’s maybe (all) any poet can do?”

My own Daybook is overflow, this meandering archive, my own poet sense-making, life-making. And what are the obstacles of female overflow3? It’s different for everyone and I can only speak my own sight. But here is what I know of these obstacles, and intimately:
   
    nature beyond my reach4
    my body beyond my knowing5,
    the lie of domesticity, 
    the infinite distraction of Other.

And the greatest obstacle of all, the unceasing message that my very existence is only for the feasting of that Other. Daily I unwind myself from this false prophecy. Such as: we’re sitting street-side over soup and it doesn’t matter how long he’s been my friend, I can’t bear it, the way he understands womanness as only a thing of comfort, a source of his pleasure. You disarm me, he says, the moment I feel you walk up beside me. Stop, I want to scream. I feel as if he’s sucking the very breath from my body. I can’t eat then nor for two days following, appetite its own kind of representational vitality. “People wonder why women are still raging. We don’t have autonomy over our own bodies, that’s why.“6 I have never been greedier of that very autonomy because I have never felt it being drained more rapidly. Never, never, never. Never before have I felt my own waters so low. But where are the leaks? Feasted upon, that’s what I say to him. I cannot bear to be feasted upon any longer. He tries to understand but can’t. I watch the confusion cloud his eyes, me slipping far and further away. Me racing far and further away, as quickly as possible from anything that wants to claim me, drain me, slice me up for comfort. Anti-Demeter.7 I have nothing left to give so please just leave me be, just for a little while. I told you, the wolves are being hunted again and the metaphors mirror unceasingly. Once we climbed trees and said we would be naturalists. Naturalists! I was nine and knew nothing of the word’s meaning only the sound of its shape. I remember this now and think of Thoreau’s communion with the woods. Anywhere, so long as one might finally think clearly, feel freshly, give of nothing that one still needs to hold close. To be a “part of nature that just keeps pouring and pouring.”8 Overflow.

What might it look like to reclaim the generative, healing energy inherent in a woman’s body for a woman’s body? Or for nature! Unapologetically self/centered. I think about this constantly and how different the world might look as a result. What new inventions. What fresh philosophies. Imagine if we didn’t all think we were here just to sustain another, what might we do instead? I want paint beneath my nails, scribbles on my walls. Sometimes dawn. Walks for miles. Poetry, always. Music, always. Eroticism & on my own terms. Unpurposed! Wild overgrowth. Dirty floors. So many books stacked beside the bed they could be stairs stepping straight into the sky. I fill my satchel with a toothbrush for the road. Take my second coffee of the morning. A revolution of one, quietly unspooling.