Week 7. Muscle memory

When words fall away and the body takes over. The automatic motion of hands, leg muscles, shoulders pulling mud from the bottom of the lake. An archive like a book with pages stuffed full of fossils instead of text. The smell of dirt or sulfur.  The grit of sand when you lick the sediment or the smooth slide of silt. The way dawn lights the trees from below. A fire rising, but instead of smoke comes the flat blue of day. The way water is tool cold than a relief and then too cold again at dusk.  A peanut butter sandwich eaten with muddy hands. The bell tolls as metal tools and rods strike each other on the wood deck.

Materials: Ink and coffee

A teen at the bus stop, drumming his fingers on his knees. I thought he was nervous, but then, my hands wanted to do what his were doing, and I knew: Beethoven’s 19th piano sonata. I had to ball up my fingers to keep from following along. When I play the piano after time away, I need the score to be there, but I don’t need to look at it. My hands just go. Part of it is repetition stored: where to go and when, force, volume, tendon stretch, extension leap. And I become multiples: 12-year-old Natalie in a dark house with Beethoven’s 17th, or 15-year-old Natalie in an old church with a Chopin Nocturne. It’s all there in the memory of old movement. I keep thinking of those old maps of the Mississippi, the ones that show its former paths. I love that there’s always an underneath to things no matter how many layers you peel up. I love that our bodies give us ways to be libraries of our infinite selves.

Materials: Ink and those Pigma Micron pens that are thin as needles


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