The New Everything

It was one year after my father died. I was walking my aged miniature beagle on the most perfect of summer days: bright sun, cool breeze, with one small cloud looking over things. Then – Bam! – there he was. The younger man with full beard. The torch bearer with charming eyes and half-cocked smile walked past, our eyes locked for a whiff of a second.  A moment later, a return glance – Bam! Lighting up the life in me that had been laid to rest with Dad. I found myself wondering who he was, where he was, if I would see him again. It was exactly what this grieving daughter, this wife of an exhausted marriage, this nearly empty nester wanted. It was the last thing she needed. Her wounds so deep, she was unsteady, unrooted, unlookingforwardtoeverything.

The second point of contact came. One afternoon at the public library I turned a corner and fate landed him right in front of me – Bam! We said hello, exchanged some playful words. This scene would repeat often. Within weeks he would be at my doorstep asking to borrow a needle and thread to patch a hole in his jeans. It was an hour of conversation, an hour of assessment. Looking back, I could say – I do say – I knew all along what he was up to. I say this so I can live with myself, but I don’t know if it is true.

The self-help books and websites call him “gaslighter.” Today is Tuesday, so I call him “asshole” for wearing my microexpressions to embody me, to learn my wounds and weaknesses, then slice right through me. Today is Wednesday, so I call him “fucker” for shining his dusk through the cracks of my very own #MeToo. Today is Thursday, so I now call him “my suicide note,” which is shorthand for Friday’s “I willingly welcomed his dirty, burning, diesel-fueled torch into my home,” or Saturday’s “I have lost all hope in life and death as it was and forever will be.” This is how I fill my week now.

Sundays are different, as they are meant to be. Typically, I recall his carefully curated notes shared through Spotify, his symphonic forms of orchestrated courtship swoon. I dive back into my “Tunnel I am Going Through” playlist. This summer’s blue sky is cloudless, and I walk my German Shepherd as Leonard Cohn, The Villagers, and Keaton Henson play. Their lyrics of mixed meanings remind me of this mind of mine, this orphaned self’s half-baked cult-mind that begs all the hims to make it up for me. 

Now it is Sunday night. I am here, I am alive, living back where I should be. I say grace: “You did not set your version of me free!” 

“This is great progress,” my support group leader would remind me. Want to know the best part? Tomorrow is Monday. I have nothing on my schedule. Nothing but poetry. Poetry, my new everything.

This piece of creative nonfiction is the preface to Hokis’s debut collection “OnBecoming: Aesthetic Evolution of this Rising Ancestor.” Out fall 2020.

Hokis is Founder & Senior Editor of Headline Poetry & Press, a regular contributor of Reclamation Magazineand writing coach with Root to Rise. In her remote location, she assists the founder of a local Moth-inspired community storytelling series. Her twisty worded work is most recently homed with Laurel & Bells, littledeath, and Heron Clan IV.  Visit her personal workspace to find out what Hokis means, read current works, et al. + TW | IG | FB

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