I am a person who is fascinated by geography and how the plates and continents move. When I wrote this piece, I was influenced by a multitude of things. Having gotten out of a series of relationships that were life-changing, I was in a period where I was really noticing how important my friends were in my life. I wanted to express the idea that there are people who come into your life and you ‘plates shift,’ and there is love. I also wanted to express how wonderful it is sometimes when there is not. Friendship definitely changes us and shapes us, but there is also the truth that it’s a relationship and it’s work. Often, we look at how challenging it is and how wonderful it is when we’re in a new romantic relationships. The world is always slightly changing geographically and so are we. One of the most challenging relationships to be in, is a long-term friendship, that you work on and maintain, and you stand still together. You allow there to be growth and movement, but it doesn’t come from huge tectonic shifts. It comes in small moments, where it feels like you’re often standing still together for years. When I wrote this, I was experiencing the juxtaposition of going from being in these relationships with these huge tectonic shifts to really learning to appreciate the beauty of standing still with friends. Love comes in many forms, and I think I wanted to explore that in this poem. It was a time of huge rifts in my life. I was moving from writing school to going to school for psychology. I was trying to hang on to a lot of things that had changed, while looking desperately for one things that had not. I found a lot of comforts in the things that stayed static and that was often my relationship with long time friends.
I wanted to make literature geography for you.
I once dated a girl who, through her letters,
made it clear our bodies could be topography.
I have since had a fascination with the
elements, tectonics, and topography of relationships.
I tell you this in gusts of wind that cut our faces
and keep us erect in the light of purity, blow in
blow in straight from a Pablo Neruda poem. Neruda,
who I will admit, I tried so hard to sound like
as a young writer, that my first true love sent me
a copy of his love sonnets, complete
with a motivational inscription in the inside of the book’s cover.
I had Mono our first Valentine’s Day. “The Kissing Disease,”
who does exhaustion like none other.
I am not looking at you anymore, as I tell you,
I don’t know who I sound like anymore.
In writing this is a great triumph.
In psychology this is your ego dying.
I lay at a meridian somewhere between the two.
my own little Persephone complex.
Today I’m here not in combat gear,
not in my therapy sweaters,
no ink on my hands or significant words in my heart.
When a man writes about “bad behavior,”
he is living the mythic writer’s life. I am
coming clean. I’m not a smoker, but I do it
in all my poems. I’ve never fucked a stripper.
I have eaten brown bag lunches with them,
discussing geography. What the world feels like
to have someone lay on top of you, rub against one another,
tectonics, I guess. How that shifts and carves your ego,
your perception of the landscapes, how it shades you,
shadows you, fills your crevices with sun and joy.
There are days when I wonder how to make a woman
come to life on the page. I tell you all this
as I am about to present you the book I’ve written about us.
It’s a book about landscapes and the people who are
just beginning to understand their geography in the world.
We sit exiled in palm trees. Historically,
The world is talking about tectonics, sliding plates,
what this could mean for humanity?
It is a time of horny earth. Movement
is not a doubt; it is self-evident. My whole life,
I’ve been writing about movement.
From responding to the letters of a girl about her body’s topography,
to the way one part of ourselves slides under the plate of another
causing worlds to shift, shake, deconstruct, and reconstruct.
Sometimes love is earth shattering and explosive.
The book of us is different. It’s about the time
when the earth’s crust and mantle are still,
when there’s so little movement, we can’t feel any of it.
It’s about how complicated it is to stay in place,
when you live in a universe where things are always moving.
It’s about knowing what could happen if you move a bit too far
and how that could change our worlds.
It’s about the smiles, the small exchanges, we share.
It’s about knowing it takes an enormous amount of power
to be still and be at peace together.