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
a 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 3: DUALITY AND DREAMSPACE








1Kassiane. “Troparion.” Translated by Liana Sakelliou. Women in Praise of the Sacred, edited by Jane Hirshfield, HarperPerennial, 1995, pp. 54.

2Paz, Octavio. “The Innumerable Exception.” Translated by Eliot Weinberger. An Erotic Beyond: Sade, Harcourt, Brace & Company, 1998, pp. 40.

3Paz, Octavio. “The Innumerable Exception.” Translated by Eliot Weinberger. An Erotic Beyond: Sade, Harcourt, Brace & Company, 1998, pp. 35.

4Hirshfield, Jane. “Sabina Lampadius.”
Women in Praise of the Sacred, edited by Jane Hirshfield, HarperPerennial, 1995, pp. 36.


5Gettings, Fred. “Card 17, The Star.” The Book of Tarot, Triune Books, 1973, pp. 90.

6Paz, Octavio. “The Innumerable Exception.” Translated by Eliot Weinberger. An Erotic Beyond: Sade, Harcourt, Brace & Company, 1998, pp. 35.


7Kassiane. “Troparion.” Translated by Liana Sakelliou. Women in Praise of the Sacred, edited by Jane Hirshfield, HarperPerennial, 1995, pp. 54.
Broken glass, tarot stars, ocean waters, duality, plurality, pleasure, reverence, two of me, three of them, music, islands, Nonantum, a lover from many years ago performing his music for me, the most beautiful music, and showering me with adoration, the full expression of it enveloping me like a thick cloak of privacy. “What a desperate night I’ve traveled through: extravagant the desire, dark and moonless the needs of a passionate body.”1 As I tumbled back to consciousness some voice from dreamland commanding me to pull out my record of that time, a small and half-filled notebook from my final months in Boston. A thin strip of land and ocean tides rolling centerforth from both extremes. Their sixth house suns and twin moons. Moving mirrors, moving plants, moving art, turning off the heat, turning on the lights, taking a pencil playfully to my bedroom walls, the love corners dropping old leaves, that breathless space between the disappearance of the old and the emergence of the new. Creation points.

“Nature is nothing but the union, dispersion, and reunion of elements; a perpetual combination and separation of substances. There is no life or death. Nor is there rest… nature destroys itself; destroying itself, it creates itself.”2

In the notebook I am twenty-two, newly heartbroken, newly liberated, living into that duality with the abandon of a first sweep. What does it mean to speak the narrative of female experience? Paz’s articulation of eroticism is an apt definition in that it points to breadth and changeability: “Eroticism cannot be reduced to a principle. Its kingdom is one of unrepeatable singularities: it is always escaping reason, it is a fluid domain.”3 

A fluid domain. Anti-narrative. Flow and overflow, overflow and retreat. “Wherever there is abundance, it seems, it will be accompanied by the forces of ecstatic devouring.”4 I wrote: the soul in love and in question, and it remains in my mind unceasingly, an incomplete yet unbroken intention. 2am, orange juice on my stoop after dancing all night, the faintest rain cooling the sweat from my skin, the bridge of his nose sunburned from the Colorado sun. Dressing, undressing, redressing, costuming. Falling asleep to Cocteau’s La Belle et la Bête with his body still in mine, waking at 4am to dress and walk home alone through the quiet dark. I love nothing more than to be alone at dawn after being embraced, destroyed, reawakened through the night. “Incarnation followed by a period of reintegration with the cosmic waters—that is, individuation in the human body punctuated with release into the world of spirit.”5 Floorboards bare beneath my feet. Music shaking the walls. Spring cleaning like pulling cards or casting a spell, ritualized. The bigger the freedom/the deeper the roots. She says to me angrily, “you will always be too strong for him” and a dozen years later I laugh thinking, I will always be too strong for everyone. Discovering what it felt like to separate body from heart, a kind of self-surgery, self-mutilation, unnatural, monstrous yet thrilling. Because you see: there is sex to have and men to love and words to write and a self to know. The clack of his belt buckle, the snapping closed of his shirt. Desire in reverse. I slept until the middle of the afternoon and awoke remembering the unbearable sweetness of someone whispering darling through a kiss. “If we can’t understand it, we can describe it. In search of an explanation, we will create an atlas.”6

My words, my camera, have long-sought to catalogue the residues of love as if the accumulation of their outline might, in reverse, articulate the otherwise untraceable shape of my own form.

“Remember me,’ she says, “if nothing else, as one who lived.”7