Monday, October 4, 2010

It may seem...

I know that it looks like nothing is going on. The field of the future orchard is now full with above waist-high rye, and I don't seem to be doing anything about it. I wrote all summer, but still have not found the voice I'm looking for. Stories that I think are funny came out "sort of sad." Therefore, I'm still searching for just the right heirloom peach trees to plant, and eating peaches now is kind of disappointing to be honest. Where they were sweet and juicy a month and more ago, they now show up in the markets hard as rocks and then turn to meal in your mouth. Therefore, a delay seems to be in order.

Ack! I hate the notion that I may be procrastinating. However, doesn't procrastination require some full-fledged plan that one is avoiding? In writing a person has to have a story to tell, right? A peach grower has to have peach trees to plant. It may be that I have too many, or not enough, but whatever it is, I feel totally stymied.

If you've been reading here, you know that I had surgery a mere three weeks ago to take out an actual organ and bizarre growths from my belly. That should be my ticket to rest, but as it turns out for most moms, as soon as I was well enough to walk around one of my children had a virus. So, I just jumped back into activity-ville and sort of feel like I might as well keep on going. I don't feel like I can excuse myself from forging on because of a little bit of cramping. Sigh.

The purpose of this rye cover crop (writing only for voice) in my imaginary future orchard (writing for production) was to nurture the soil, because I guess it draws some nutrients up through its roots. Then also it is meant to crowd out weeds (which in a writer's mind would be all of the distractions that come along). My rye crop has been sort of anemic on these points. Here is what I nurtured my mind with over the course of months: several short stories, a cosmological essay, reading the Tao te Ching.

Still weeds got into the area. Some of the weeds were terrific nettles with their gorgeous purple flowers protected by sharp, minuscule thorns. Nettles reach even deeper into the earth for nutrition than rye, and so I can't resent their presence because they did get me in touch with concepts I'd forgotten to keep forward in my thinking - namely the Goddess, and her many faces. Having to deal with my feminine health and a hysterectomy took up most of my thoughts for months. It was both a beautiful and thorny focus. The richness it brought back to the surface is rare and will feed my writing for years to come.

I had this super high tech surgery that took a pound of flesh out of me through four holes less than an inch wide. I've been thinking of "The Merchant of Venice" and what Shylock might make of the fact that I survived losing a pound of flesh, so well. I've been thinking what my pound of flesh is paying off, balancing out. In "The Merchant of Venice" Shylock, the Jewish money-lender, is a wounded individual on many levels and he's often played on the most evil of terms, but years ago I saw a sympathetic Shylock at the Barbican in London, and since I'm half Jewish myself I've always sympathized with his character somehow. The only control over the world he has is his Jewish faith and money lending, and in this play he loses control of both. Clearly, he hopes for revenge and the death of his tormentor, Antonio, by making a pound of his flesh the payment of an unmet loan. Meanwhile, meanwhile, the women in this play, who have even less power over their world than a Jew, manage to take things into their own clever plans. Though Antonio and his "team" in the end get everything they want, nothing goes as they planned. This play touches on revenge, betrayal, faith, desperation, love and justice.

In "The Merchant of Venice", Portia must dress like a male law clerk to met out justice and save Antonio's life, but the audience is well aware she is an intelligent woman. I wonder if hidden in this message that Shylock may take the pound of flesh but no blood, is a subtle understanding that women understand the loss of blood better than any man can. Between puberty and menopause a woman loses a lot of blood. I figured out that I had had approximately 400 periods in my life. That's a lot of blood, and yet we live. A man as powerful as Antonio cannot lose blood like that and survive. Yet Portia can slip in and out of his world by simply changing clothes.

I offered my over-abundant womb as a sacrifice to Ereshkigal, the dark, underworld Goddess of Sumeria. Though the pathological lab wouldn't give me the actual remains I trust that intention carried the day. Why would I do this? Ereshkigal is both the underworld itself, and its judge and mistress. The desire by all living beings is to transmute the "unproductive cycle" that we understand as winter, and which is associated with death. So to escape my own death perhaps in part, I dedicated my surgery to Ereshkigal. But, it wasn't physical death I was thinking of, it was the death of what I could create on earth.

My children came out of me, 8 and 9 lbs of flesh, due to the womb I once had. They are without a doubt my greatest contributions. Since my son was born each year I had lost more and more blood, which turned out to be actually vitality. This surgery was a bargain with my body, to give it more blood, more vitality, to give up the potential of creating another life to go out into the world and make wonders. Since I paid the fee up front, I am hopeful that now I will have the energy to produce smaller, less important works that can somehow, someday sustain me.

I have all fall, which just started a week after my surgery, and early spring in which to plant my peach saplings. I want to fulfill my end of the bargain of giving up my physical fertility in favor of the fertility of my mind. We're still having 80 degree days, and haven't experienced our first frost yet. So, I will be soothed somewhat by acknowledging there is an honest delay, but I haven't forgotten my commitment. Patience is my practice. Cheers to an extended Indian Summer!

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