hello kitty

hello kittyRossella Vasta, an Italian artist visiting Montana tells us words create space for silence. She listens to the silence words achieve before she begins to paint. Kenosis: to empty one’s self, to willingly make room for  . . . what? The act of emptying.

Weather balloons are measured for their bursting diameters. They are meant to burst. There is no lid to this earth, yet we daily live as though we have limits. Weather balloons are also known as sounding balloons. To probe, explore: sounding.

My father slows the shutter speed when he shoots his sunrise photos. This is what it takes to let enough light in, letting colors deepen, as though readying a landscape for tea. Steeping.

When there aren’t mountains around, it’s easy to get mixed up and not know which way is up. Up, meaning north. Says the lady in the prairie store, admitting she hasn’t learned her left from her right, her east from her west. She didn’t grow up with the sun. She doesn’t know what to be afraid of first, living now on the prairie. Rattlesnake or coyote? To find her way back to calm, to center herself she recites Mount Everest.

Accidentally, I eat tacos with a former in-law. How can I not when we end up  in line together at the tiny taco hut? He searches for something to say to me, sounding like my former husband. Astounding, really, to witness the genetic hand-toss, the fingers fluttering in the air to indicate “whatever, whatever” when words escape all meaning. He dictates, flips through his soundbites, the speeches he has prepared to cover any topic. He’s half union, half white collar. He wants to tell me about a place twenty-five minutes from nowhere. I want to rescue him from his discomfort as he realizes he meant to say miles but said minutes instead, but I’m running out of rescues. And also short on caves.

Rossella Vasta’s art speaks the language of French cave paintings. We assume animals drawn on walls are kill drawings. See, this is what I took down. But when we rid ourselves of that notion, we make room for imagining the spirit of an animal captured when drawn on limestone walls. Maybe that’s why we empty, why we sound. Twenty-five minutes from nowhere birds sing through the timeline. Dogs howl in such cadence the path of an ambulance winding through the river valley is tallied. The more distant the howl, the further away the trauma. Wind rattles the cottonwood leaves in my neighbor’s yard, a hundred students clicking their tongues to the beat of a conductor’s baton.

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About redmitten

author of Cracking Geodes Open, Making Good Use of August, and The Peppermint Bottle. poetry editor for IthacaLit and YB Poetry Journal. website: https://toomuchaugust.wordpress.com

8 responses to “hello kitty

  1. amandasummer10

    Silence speaks, but are heads are already too full to listen. Love that word – kenosis. I will remember that one, and the need to empty ourselves. We are emotional hoarders, I think, preferring to feel full with all our stuff rather than allowing ourselves to become empty to allow in spirit.

    I love following your story, from the steeping shutter to the howling of ambulances and dogs. I think the cave painters weren’t tallying kill but marveling at life.

    An observation: how interesting the leg in the drawing goes all the way up to the neck. I’d like to think the artist was knowingly connecting the ground chakra with the throat. Let’s hear it for women’s voices!

    • redmitten

      Amanda, See, this is why I love blogs. One thought shared leads to an entire world anew and asking to be explored by way of your comments and responses. You would have liked listening to Vasta. She was asked about a series of paintings she was showing us. “How do you know when you are done doing a series?” She replied that she doesn’t start out thinking she will do five or seven paintings for a series, but that she will know when she is done once the space inside her is completely/empty. And empty doesn’t mean shriveled, but expanded. Happy sigh. What a great observation about the sidewalk artist’s drawing. It does connect the ground chakra to the throat. I’ll have to see if I can figure out who the young artist is. No doubt she’s a little girl. 🙂

  2. What you’ve written here is so full, you must have really emptied yourself in preparation.

    Truly wonderful!!

    • redmitten

      Kass- Oh gosh, how good to hear this. I almost didn’t post it, thinking I wasn’t making sense. Happy to share that emptying with you!

  3. You always, everything I’ve ever read of yours, make the kind of sense I can follow. In me I think of them as synaptical leaps and see feet sprint across chasms. If everything, as I believe it is, is connected, do we need to know precisely in what way or can we trust either in what is unseen or trust that within us is the way to know and follow where the lines are not straight. The woman who didn’t grow up with the sun, how we chart what we hope will be a reliable course through all this, meanwhile, as I was thinking today, hurtling around the sun. We reach for whatever may steady us for such a tumult-filled ride. Stillness, emptiness, finding truth in its secret nests. You help connect my chakras. xo

    • redmitten

      marylinn, oh my, you are so eloquent in your words. it’s taken me (how many decades?!) to reach this point where i give in now to these leaps and chasms, the sprints and hurtling. as a little girl i’d take a rock and an elephant (so to speak) and set them in a basket together, feeling entirely gathered. others would peer in and tell me, well you have to take the elephant out of the basket, it doesn’t fit. reactions like that stunned me, but i left the basket as it was. now you come and say yes to all this. xo xo, s

  4. I’ve been meeting those elephant-doesn’t-belong people all my life, married one of them. In the 7th grade, Sandy Lansdale told me I couldn’t wear the two different colors of blue I had on. The shades of blue, the elephant and the rock (so to speak) were friends and belonged together. It is not all matching necktie and hankie. Let us leap on together. xo

  5. In the eighth grade a craft teacher told me green and blue don’t go together. I was making a green and blue belt. I brought in the sewing-class dress I was making the belt for. It had blue flowers with green leaves. She said okay. I think of her, sometimes, when I’m looking at a line of green trees against a blue sky.

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