Photo by Gene
Associate nonfiction editor Ryan Kauffman on today’s bonus essay: My first experience with flight came on a family vacation to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. At dawn, my mother took me hiking on the sand dunes there, told me about the Wright brothers’ first flight. All I could imagine was two men my father’s age–one with stubble on his sunburnt cheeks, the other with a reseeding hairline and dry palms–pushing a rickety contraption with canvas wings down one of the great dunes, tripping over themselves as they transferred their energy from running to jumping to sitting to steering. To this day, that’s still what I see when I board a flight at the airport. And now, this…
CLEAR! Seven Theories of Space
“Man does not have a choice between war and peace; the only choice is about the level of the warrior’s struggle.” –Krishna to Arjuna, The Bhagavad Gita
1. Fixed Wings
My father, too, spent his youth upside-down, pushing for a way out, probing for the way in. He learned his lazy-eights and barrel rolls, his inside loops and spirals from the barnstormers whose flying circus he joined at fifteen, preferring ticket-taking to algebra, wing-walking to Latin—his brand of breaking free from Southern social restraint. His sights flitted from an early Taylorcraft—“That wing was held on by one bolt!”—to Pipers, then Cessnas. A quiet warrior, a charged curiosity shot out of him like a downed wire on a wet street.
As a child, I flew with him.
“Clear!” he shouts out his window. From the co-pilot’s seat, I stretch to see out to make sure we’re not rolling over the mechanic who pulled out the blocks. The engine screams, he checks the windsock, and we taxi toward the runway. Aviator glasses like mirrors sit high on his nose, his mouth’s a straight line, his checklist hangs from a magnetized clip. He checks the ailerons and rudder. “Flight controls—free,” he half-shouts, precise, disciplined. “Trim—set. Parking brake—off.” At the end of the runway, “Flaps—check.” Finally, “Instruments—check.” He opens the throttle, pulls back on the yoke (“It’s not called a steering wheel,” he tells me), and we bump along the Greenville, North Carolina runway—part asphalt, part wiregrass—picking up speed. Easing into three dimensions, our bodies push at the seatbacks. The instruments on the control panel—all I can see when I settle back—say where we are and how we’re doing.
Aloft, he places my hands on the yoke. My arms reach it long before my feet will find the pedals. I feel in my body those natural forces: thrust and drag, lift and weight.
I demand barrel rolls and another couple thousand feet of climb. “Always in a hurry,” he says, “Never satisfied.”
I am twenty-five, hungry for exploits, looking for what’s missing and filling every space with story. Other risk-takers show up like they smell the need for action on me. One co-worker, a lab-pale electronics engineer and avocational pilot who knows his physics, reads my face. From his workbench—a mess of Taco Bell wrappers, pinging oscilloscopes, ashtrays filled with Parliament butts, and a snake’s nest of cables—he slips me a note with scribbled diagrams: snap rolls, outside loops, spirals, lazy-eights, inside loops, stalls. He flicks his mechanical pencil.
“Aerobatics,” he says, “You interested?”
I tell him I know all about aerobatics.
He’s not a fact checker. “When would you like to go?”
“Now works for me.”
An hour later at McClellan Field north of San Diego, smells are as familiar and sweet as longing—hot tarmac, engine lubricant, cockpit leather, the dusty stir of unruly air—smells I take so deep my lungs ache. We snap on body straps—him in the front seat, me in the back—and take off into a yellow headwind in his modified Cessna 150. Cirrus clouds feather a hard blue dome. He shouts code into the high-pitched whine of the single engine and gives me my first barrel roll. The happy scream I hear is mine. Flying is not overrated. I wish I could ask birds if they are grateful.
Then, a roaring nose-up into a tight arc—those Gs!—and there we are: flying bottom-side up, hanging from straps with the earth 3,000 feet below, hair on end, the crinkled Sawtooth Range chasing the glossy blue Pacific over, over, over the mist-rim of the planet, organs sloshing inside human body bags, weighing zero for seconds.
Out of a full 360 spiral, the horizon levels, and I experience a still space in the hollow cup of an outbreath, a hint of calm, of light and warmth. What I have not expected, I will not forget. I could write about it. I save it for later, whole.
I demand more. He responds, and we hurtle into another maneuver invented by warriors. I’m not claiming I’ve made the best choice here: I hardly know the guy. Not my type, but what a sweet machine!
Wheels down, some vast, nameless disappointment gnaws. Not crippling, not at this heedless age, but perceptible somewhere in my belly. I admit this. Something seen—yes, by chance—is now missing again.
The pilot hears the voice of the instructor in her head until she hears her own. What’s come down to me from my dad, reformed from fragments, shaped by each decade of experience, and reshaped with retelling is what I report now. Pay attention, he told me. There’s space in front and behind, to your left and right—but it’s vertical space you need to see. Learn to love emptiness. Sort out distraction. When you master your instruments, you’ll find the slot where thrust equals drag, and lift equals weight. Only experience will make it yours. You’ll recognize it when you see it. Ask hard questions, but you don’t need to know all the answers. And don’t fly anywhere your mind didn’t get to five minutes before.
Until we hear the voice of our own Instructor, I suspect what we hear are the weavings of our own Storyteller—the conjurer who seeks novelty, the weaver who turns insight into believable tales, patches up the unacceptable, and talks all the time. The mystery’s how she gets so good at it.
2. Looking Out
In the years before Star Trek, before NASA’s Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo, before a moon lander named Eagle and a science fiction warship named Hawk, before a space telescope named Kepler, before Joss Whedon’s Firefly and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, I read. My Heinleins, Clarkes, and Asimovs—dog-eared, milk-ringed, spine-torn, peanut butter-smeared—promised space travel within a decade or two. I figured to be the first human off the planet.
Dew on summer grass. A mix of intention and curiosity as I pack a mesh bag with a Philips Planisphere, binoculars, a pimento cheese sandwich on white bread, a Co’Cola, and a sweater for cold nights in space. Point of departure: my North Carolina backyard. Destination: Venus. The vehicle: a spaceship of rag-tag construction, wobble-stacked wooden boxes and 2x4s, bailing wire and duct tape, and a pointy tin nosecone for piercing through layers of atmosphere I’ve memorized the names of. Troposphere. Stratosphere. Ionosphere. Exosphere. Layers dense down here, light up there.
My invention climbs a good fifteen feet above the backyard. On top perches the cockpit, protected from neighbors and meteorites by a shower curtain with a cutout window. What I want is a clear view into space. The control panel I fix with levers and dials to measure heading, pitch, yaw, roll, velocity—those instruments I copy from the Cessna.
The young dreamer’s icons: Johannes Kepler, whose Second Law of Planetary Motion I’ve plotted on a yellowed bed sheet; Wonder Woman, whose glass airplane comes when she calls; and National Geographic artists, whose images of the solar system I tear out and stick to the control panel with more duct tape. My spaceship is a collage of disparate, shoved-together components that come together at the edges, but only just.
My dad eyeballs my getaway ship. “What you need is a lighter tool.”
“Can I take the flashlight?”
“Do you have an alternate flight plan?”
I tell him no.
“How will you communicate with the ground?”
I hadn’t given that a thought.
“Do you have a checklist?”
I make one. Mine mimics his.
He points at what I’m hiding behind my back. “What’re those for?”
I tell him matches from the kitchen. Near the base of the ship sit two red five-gallon cans of his lawnmower gasoline, marked FLAMMABLE.
“Put the cans back in the garage,” he says, “and the matches back in the kitchen.”
The fuel in my mind catches fire and lifts me, pulling hard against gravity, into black space. Magical thinking powers my ship across the space between my backyard and the friendly planet that rises above the piney woods and beyond my world of tobacco fields. Wonder Woman flies co-pilot. Kepler provides the trajectory. Escape velocity reached—a persuasive 25,000 miles per hour—and me strapped down to a wooden box by a red cincher belt, me breaking free. The horizon bends into a convex blue-white line, the stars hold steady and unblinking. I’m not sure what to look at so I look at everything. Upon landing on Venus, whatever has been missing in my young life will show up. What it is, exactly, I don’t know. I’ll recognize it when I see it.
3. Thrust and Drag, Life and Weight
Summer arrives in New England late and hot. On these humid afternoons, long-awaited reminders of the South, heat rises off Abbott Run Valley Road and sweeps up our hill, delivering the scent of turned field and pine grove. Good flying weather. The resident red-tailed hawks take their children out to the thermals to learn flight from the grown-ups. The eyases, with long feather and hollow bone, learn how to lift their small bodies off a limb in the canopy and execute the tight bank, the high stall. How to ride the updraft and soar on wings that look fixed but aren’t at all. How to search for maneuvering altitude. How to dive for chipmunks that aren’t paying attention to the space above them. How to be birds of prey.
From the instructor hawk, a dad-like checklist of the instinctive kind is delivered in hawk-talk kee-eeeee-arrr and can be heard for miles. The hawks take their time: show and tell for the instructor, experience for the instructed. Shrieking goes on for days. When they find their balance—thrust against drag, lift against weight—the eyases find the natural slot in the air.
The children are curious and brave, cool raptors in the making. Follow the wide circumferences of their orbits, their teacher their center of mass, and then, later in the long week of learning, them alone.
We live in a house high among the trees. On summer mornings, the sun pops my eyes open at 4:30 when the brown wood thrush begins his song. The woods on the south side are deep and lush in countless greens and morning fog. The bird’s tee-tee-tee-tee-twee-churr-ti-ti-ti, a call more graceful expression than demand, is the flute section of the Abbott Run Valley Bird Orchestra, liquid and ringing.
It is a little known fact that a bird announces the three dimensions of his space with his call: the arc at the top of his range, his lowest reach, and his circumference, centered at his perch. “Come listen to this,” I say to my husband, whom I met forty years ago in a La Jolla, California laundromat, and we stand in the kitchen window.
The thrush’s variable tee-tee-tee-tee we take to mean this: I inhabit the space fifty feet below. Then the high, piping variable ti-ti-ti: Add the vertical space fifty feet above me. But it is the roiling twee-churr, sweeping around, clearing a full 360 that identifies this individual male as himself, unique, reclusive and resolute.
“Wonder how they work around our noise,” my husband says. “Fire trucks. Chain saws. Airplane engines. Fox News.” He’s a musician. He’s learned to consider interference.
I long ago abandoned a desire to beat my way through the woods to find the thrush in the green camouflage of his sky-house. He’s not like the hawks, seizing space, making the country day all about themselves, plucking up chipmunks and changing life on the ground forever. The thrush’s instrument for announcing his space—direct, immediate, clear—seems an effortless effort. In the silence of morning, the solitary bird calls: I am, and I am here.
Our annual thrashing escape to calm comes round again. After two days on I-95 South, with an overnight in a motel in Virginia, we are met a mile from the bridge to the Outer Banks with the murmur of surf and the scent of salt. Now, we sit on the south-facing beach of our beloved Bogue Bank, watching clouds ride the currents, feeling a good sou’-by-sou’easter, softly salt-laden, blow our hair wild and take the damp heat off our slick bodies. Between quiet sessions with storybooks, hauled in book bags to the shoreline, we sprawl in our low chairs, our feet in the water, or walk the broad beach for miles. July at last, and I am in the place of my yearlong yearning, a polynya.
One of us has climbed back up the dune for a pen, a hat, a journal, or a cool drink—“Can I get y’all something while I’m up at the house?”—and we are unspeakably happy in this storied place. We relax on day four or five—not sooner, for we have lived for a year filling up time and space with both good work and attractive clutter.
Pelicans, someone says and points west where Bogue Bank becomes undefined water, island, sky, and mist. Our heads come up as if, all year, we’ve awaited these large birds.
The flock approaches slowly, hardly visible, black spots in an informal, undulating line. We put our books aside and stand.
When we were children on this south-facing beach, building medieval sandcastles or digging our way to China, the pelicans—gliding swiftly, silently overhead, their shadows racing down the beach—numbered in the thousands. We would ask, Where does their flight begin? Where does it end? Perhaps, we said, in the land of giants and fairies. We spun stories about hitching rides on their powerful wings. Or finding an egg and growing our own pelican who would eat minnows from our sticky fingers. We believed these stories, so similar were they to fairy tales our mothers read to us when ceilings disappeared up into night, the ocean whispered, and bugs batted at rusty screens. Ancient, primal, hardwired—stories from which we make meaning still.
These days, fewer pelicans fly the beaches—three to fifteen birds in a fly-by, maybe a half-dozen flights a day—and we stop what we’re doing, follow them all, like the call to a homecoming. As adults, we know their habits: They fly east in the early morning to feed on Shackleford Banks, and west in the late afternoon to roost on Bear Island. Still, their flight touches on alchemy.
From a distance, the brown pelican is an old C-130: wings high-mounted, fuselage low and full. Throwbacks to Pterodactyls, and noble, they carry their ancient heads with intention, five or ten degrees to starboard or port, depending on the angle of the prevailing wind. They approach in silence, their fingered wingtips embracing the wind in an earthbound hug. The lead bird works hard against new, moist air. Those following—wingbirds—fly at the four o’clock position, two bird-lengths behind. Fifty years ago, my dad, the old barnstormer, called it the slot.
Mirrored on the water inches beneath their big bodies, they ride the uplift of a wave face. In this place of calm support, they are grounded, as if they have let their weight down. A crest of white wavebreak beneath signals the lead bird the need to rediscover the vertical, and as a single snaking body, the wingbirds follow, soaring upward out of turbulence. The synchronized flapping of many wings is soundless. Weight equals lift, and thrust equals drag. Energy used only when needed—efficient, imperturbable, calm.
They ground us. We are the more silent because of them. Then they are gone, having settled into us like prayer.
4. The Warrior’s Struggle
The wind has moved around to the southwest, pushing the ocean into a froth.
“You know how waves form?”
“No,” says my husband, “tell me.” A calm and thoughtful man, he likes to say that marrying me has been worth the drama.
“Water molecules hold their stubborn places,” I say. “They themselves don’t move forward with the wave. They just push the molecule in front of them. Like a Slinky, except wet.”
When the wave approaches the shallows, the molecules at the bottom of the wave column laze, dragging along the rising shoal like they have all day. Those at the top are taken by the wind, exuberant, in a hurry like they want more. They push, push until the surface of the wave overreaches, can’t hold. Seawater thrusts, flies, plunges. Waves interfere with each other, stir stuff up, cross boundaries, break things on the surface, and fill in empty spaces every time they get half the chance.
“There’s confusion in it, even violence,” I say, “like noisy thought stirred up.” Like tension held too long in the muscle of the sea. “I don’t like it when they do that.”
“What’s happening beneath?” he offers.
For a moment, the surface of the sea calms. Perhaps I might look beneath the surface of things, follow the finger of sunlight where it penetrates the blue lens of water and traces pattern on the sandy bottom. The water is so clear I might relax this relentless concern with the surface and see a message written on the seafloor—a flash of insight—before the chaos of waves obscures.
Do we believe that moments of clarity are under our governance? No, I think not. Do we believe that what is missing can be seen if we commit to the work of seeing? Yes, I think so.
But night moves in and the Milky Way spirals us slowly forward and away from the moment. What insight might we receive if with divine curiosity we could tune the instrument of an inner eye to that space where we will be in the next moment? It’s a space as yet unknown to me, but knowable. I have come to believe that it is grace.
5. Hand-Held Space
A whelk, as gray and rough as raw clay, fired into its spiral by Nature herself, lies in a backwash pool. Its geometric shape, lyria, is a summons to poetry and to music. It rests among unbroken ice-cream-cone augers and scallops—pink-striped, calico-winged. I scoop it up. It turns easily in my palm. Near the aperture, a jagged wound has opened. Once I bought a nautilus at Emerald Isle Shells and Gifts—one shipped perhaps from New Caledonia in a box of straw, one whose perfection obscures its internal chambers, the laborious, unseen work of the creature on itself.
An older me—pitted, cracked open by experience—smiles at last at imperfection.
“Ah, a Mary Oliver whelk,” I say to my husband.
He squints into the sun: “Which is?”
“‘All my life I have been restless,’” I quote her poem, “‘I have felt there is something more wonderful than gloss … I have not been sure what it is.’”
He touches the hair at my neck. “My curious warrior with the big questions,” he says, and moves on down the beach, his eyes scanning the shell bed.
To sit on a beach is to ponder. I turn the whelk over in my hands and see how its shell has been pushed and pulled by the sea, gnawed by the hunger of those creatures that attached to its body. How it collided with a force that opened its frightful scar, leaving it changed. How the spiral accretes, then opens and turns outward. How the bruised human heart might, in time, open to succor others with compassion. The way out.
But it’s not just that. Its symmetry pulls me as if what is ordained is the way in. I have considered the design of exterior space—flight of Cessnas, movement of seas, scan of galaxies, flight of birds—but have I contemplated the vastness of interior space? The mother-of-pearl path plunges under the whelk’s lip, quickly winding down and out of sight, and gathers around a hidden center of mass where a small gastropod anchored its developing life.
Midnight is alive. White surf, white moon, crickets sawing in the water oaks. Powered by a humming energy deep in my belly, I lift off from the dune. Surfy air sweeps over and under my arms, outstretched, and I climb, bank, soar. How did I discover this? What convergence of propensities, abilities, wishes birthed this flight—like Cessnas, like hawks, like pelicans—but without wings. I visit the green, blue, white world, and when at last I return at dawn, I fear to land. How will I find this capability again? With regret, I awaken in the morning. It’s Freudian, some will say—sexual really—these dreams of flying. No, I say. It’s freedom, powered from some interior space that needs to be uncovered. I now suspect this may be birthright.
What chief illusion, what blindness halts us at the door of seeing? Is it the aimless wanderer, circling forever out of habit, abstracted and fugitive, who searches for an external home? Or is it the seeker who, with curiosity, senses that something authentic is missing in herself? I don’t know why I have not asked these questions before now.
6. Interior Space
Thin and without airs, the potter is a crone. Her name isn’t pronounced as it is written. She has the sinew of hands and fingers an artist might beg to draw. Her near-silence is unstudied, as is her smile. Something of herself is saved for herself.
In each of our palms, she slaps a lump of clay. I give mine a story: Of ground-up granite, it has traveled by downhill chute from the roof of the world, washed into meandering riverbeds by seasonal rains, spread out across an alluvial plain where ancient lakes tamped it down.
“Pay attention,” she says. She thrusts a thumb into her ball of clay. “Now, with yours,” she says, “but with your eyes closed.”
I shut my eyes to a circle of six faces, those I have come to know by sight since I hauled myself to this late summer week of spiritual retreat in upstate New York. Enlightenment shopping on a woodsy porch.
Feel the sun through your eyelids and, with your fingertips, the weathered grain of a worktable eroded by harsh winters. Smell the kicked-up dust from the warm road. Hear the murmur of woodlands. A wood thrush, that liquid tee-tee-tee-tee-twee-churr-ti-ti-ti. A pushy hawk on a thermal kee-eeeee-arrr. A rhythmic ax.
During childhood summers, we shaped our external world. Mud-pie afternoons, endless and steamy, stretched to suppertime. We cousins patted out mud-bowls and mud-plates, studded them with augers, winged coquinas, and the egg sacks of whelks, and set them out on planks to dry. At sunset, we offered them to aunts and grandmothers who nodded from slat-backed rockers, shelled butterbeans, and fanned themselves in the wet heat. They were gifts we expected them to use.
Where was I? Oh. My thumbs work the tiny interior landscape—the high cirque, the yawning crevasse, the tossed-up boulder—and the space inside my ball of clay expands. When you come in close like this, your fingers working alone, you begin to grasp the calculus: The base must be stable—gravity will have its way—but not so bulky as to hinder lift. “Observe the quality of your judgment here,” she says. When lift comes, released from below, the sides inform the way—a gift of the base. “The pushing out must balance the holding in,” she says. Vertical, I am thinking—the natural preference of growing things. A push from below. A pull from above.
“The inside is more important than the outside,” she says, “and the quality of your attention defines this space.”
The lip of my vessel begins to push out, to bend over and down. I think of Old World roses taking a country ditch, unruly and ready for the bee business. For a moment, the interior, opened toward the west, fills up with sunlight. “With the rim—how you open to the world—you can afford to be generous,” she says.
My Storyteller sees with my eyes, speaks in my head: Look at the useful and beautiful object you’ve created here—a new vase to hold your Cross pen. Your Bick highlighters. Your sterling Reposé letter opener. You need this.
Yes, yes, and I will take my vase with me on Sunday and it will sit on my writing table, near my Mary Oliver whelk, my Phillips Planisphere, my Wonder Woman poster (“Thrill to the astonishing story of Wonder Woman’s rescue of ‘The Girl from Yesterday!’”), books climbing three walls, the photo of my dad and his Taylorcraft, pelicans poised above a crest on Bogue Bank, and an orange-robed Buddhist monk who watches concentric circles on a jade sea. Yes, and no one will be allowed to use my vase but me. I search the porch for glaze, and the yard, out to the sunny rim of the woods, for a kiln. Will there be time to fire my blue pen vase before Sunday morning?
I believe my stories. Fiction or nonfiction, at least I know them.
“Who is not attached to their bowl?” the potter asks.
I ease my hands around my pen vase and push back on the bench. This small dun-colored object—the product of a little judgment, a tad of attention, a trickle of generosity—seems glued to my hand as if it’s what has been missing my whole life.
She slices others’ bowls in half with her potter’s wire—I’m taking this personally—until, gently goaded, the last to sacrifice, I hand mine over—unglazed, unfired, un-mine. When she slices me through my center, I gasp. During transitions, I forget to breathe.
She points out an imbalance in my base, inconsistencies in lift along my sides, an off-kilter center of mass, a surging mouth of a rim. I am seen.
I leave, taking with me only my relinquishing. Had I held on to this gift—glazed, fired, owned—I would have lost it.
7. Seeing In
Early fall, early morning. Venus climbs the indigo dome over Massachusetts, riding the elliptic beneath the silent movement of Cygnus and Lyre. In a sanctuary near a sunrise-facing window high in the house, I sit in half-lotus. Repeat, repeat, repeat: eyases on the thermals, whorls in the whelk, hands on a turning pot, curious in the laboratory of myself.
The Storyteller, with her tales of past and future, arrives on the cushion with me, proliferation in her very bones. She thinks she’s me: the practiced skill of the ventriloquist. Sometimes I think she’s me: the sleep of the grinning dummy. My mind, untethered, does lazy-eights and spiral rolls. What Pleistocene brains we inherit—poor things—with thoughts that do their untidy, evolved thing: scan-scan-scan, ready-fire-aim, find-the-source-judge-it-fix-it-change-it-evade-it-escape-it-bury-it. A house too small. Often, I can hardly keep my seat for my wish to flee to pen and paper.
I need a return to stillness: a place from which to see out, a place from which to see in. A more stately mansion. And where, exactly, is that? Perhaps in the small opening, potential and fragile, between the random thought and spring-loaded emotion that attracts and entangles, that creates tension in my body. Just there in that small and endless space. Can I resist the urge to build a fictional world there?
If embroidered story evolved with us, adapted for survival back when we huddled around a fire in the terrifying night—if story is hardwired, thus natural—is Arjuna’s battle a work against the natural? I think so. I suspect Krishna wasn’t suggesting that the plain of battle for self is without sacrifice. Other than my pen vase, what else am I to give up?
The Watcher is here by invitation. The she-warrior who does spirited battle. The pilot-instructor who senses the slot. The navigator who understands wind and tide, and holds fast to longitude, latitude, and magnetic center. The poet who lives in the intimate and continuous present. The one who knits together meaning, and in her own time.
Here on the cushion, the Storyteller meets the Watcher head on.
Who is there? the Watcher asks.
Wait! I say. There’s more to say about Arjuna.
Stop talking! she explains, and I hear the chuckle of the entertained but compassionate. She has a sense of humor: Thought isn’t the enemy. Rather, it’s what we add. The glue. And stillness is not silence. Rather, it’s thought without the flypaper. It’s not a better story you need, nor an enlightened storyteller. You are not the sum of your stories. Let’s have some perseverance here!
Weary of my own circular thinking, the Storyteller in me relents, and the hawkish bird of prey, the real friend of the distracted mind, swoops down and plucks the chatty narrator right off the cushion. A temporary relinquishing of airtime, the most one can expect from a lover of action when asked for uncommon patience. The Storyteller, hovering nearby with her glue pot, rustles and hints of dramas yet to come. She will not disappoint. Later, I’ll return to the comfort and safety of noisy stories and my lifelong fascination with them. I admit I’m looking forward to this.
But now, my weight settles and my head lifts. I begin to prefer an inhabited body without aerobatic thought. For now, the drag of resistance eases, and the inner thrust of attention balances me in space, like flight in the slot. For now, my own small dramas give way to the wish to see with an innocent eye sensitive to the light. My heartbeat slows and a call arises from this solitary place. Clear! Calm abides beneath waves of restlessness, calm rises above waves of noise, calm settles in the cup at the bottom of the outbreath. I am here in this place of terrible freedom with no name. For now, the body is home enough, the breath event enough, silence space enough. For now, nothing is missing.
Anne Hodges White, a nonfiction writer, has published most recently in Milk Sugar Journal and Prick of the Spindle. Her story “LuLu’s Beach House School for Wily Deceivers” was nominated for a Best of the Net Anthology 2013 award. She lives in New England with her husband and blogs at www.annehodgeswhite.com.