I always remember that blue blanket, and how from it I constructed these imaginary castles on my cot. It was starchy and like felt it could hold its shape. I couldn’t sleep. I could never sleep, and so, forced to lay quietly, how else was I to amuse myself but to create a castle from the blanket and explore it with my hand in my sock as a puppet?
The forms of that castle still haunt the margins of my notebooks. Following the lines, curves thin and delicate trellises that decorate dark deep caverns of space connected to nothingness. Loopholes in the form, passageways, creating ever more interesting adventures for my pen, and entrancing my mind. That is how I get to the place without words, where I can stop thinking and just wander.
I’m falling asleep and the image I have is of a brain in two halves. It’s composed of strings. Coils of yarn wound, twisted; smaller than the folds on the outside, not relating back to the overall form, just filling it like a container. The form comes more into focus and I see that the stem is actually central. So it’s not a brain. It’s a tree. Then I inhale and I loose the image because my face is pressed up close to my baby’s ear, and the smell which collects in the folds of skin at his baby neck is a flat and perfect ocean—its silver undulations so seamlessly pitched against an infinite horizon.
His hands are on my skin, one on my breast. The other, turned up, rests on my navel. Leaves on a rock. The weight of the one on my belly is water collecting in a small pool, carving into the stone, slowly, slowly, carving the stone away. This is not metaphor. This is the experience of falling asleep. This body knows where it has been. I can know too, if I listen closely.
I’m at the table now, head resting on my wrist and I close my eyes, trying to listen, to break free from my physicality. But all that’s there are the buzzing shapes—like an infared picture of what’s around my head: flat fingers jutting out onto soft square. Am I cheating at going deep? I cheat. Sure. Start to draw on a napkin and just like that: inner dialog shuts off. I’m a cat, eyes closely following motion. Pen darting about outside of my control, just following contours.
I went to an art therapist once, and I painted for her something like this that I am drawing. I was so excited for a diagnosis or something like a horoscope. What does it mean? She looked at it and said, “ It means nothing. It has no meaning!” She was right, of course, but her answer really threw me. I thought she meant my life has no meaning. I’ve been trying to have meaning for so long it was like a slap in the face. The drawing has no meaning. It is like a leaf on a rock. My life has no meaning either, in that context. My life has meaning in the context of human history, but not in nature. They are separate. The brain. The tree. Filled with string.