{a love that rocked the whole damn world}

Last night
The earth started shaking
Where she lives
Though it was steady here
literally
If not metaphorically
Or steady enough
At least
That I didn’t feel movement
In the ground
Beneath my own feet
Thought it must have moved
I think
At least the smallest imperceptible amount.
Because if the earth moves somewhere
Mustn't it also be moving everywhere?
How can that not be true?

And I thought about saying
In that exact moment
You know – I once fell into a love
With a Cajun snake charmer
She tied bones in her hair and smoke rose from her skirts
when she walked through a room, bewitching all who came near.
And that love, I tell you now
Well, it rocked the whole damn world
So that everyone, the whole earth over
felt the vibrations
Though they named
Them all sorts of
Different things,
Depending on their circumstances
And location
And who is to say if they were right or wrong
Except me,
and I know that that I fell into a love
That rocked the whole damn world

Or maybe it’s more true
To say that that love fell into me.

Not fell in the way that buildings crumble in
The epicenter of the quake
But fell
In some other way
Some more etheric and mysterious way
And I didn’t say that
Not then
But I thought then about how
There are so many damn ways
To fall
And so many different ways
To tell a particular story

It’s just that some of those ways
Are more true

And more true doesn't mean
Not necessarily
More factual.
No, stories aren't all
Simple and clean like that.
Can’t be measured
By the same standards
Of veracity
As science or mathematics

In fact
Some of the truest stories
I’ve ever told
I haven’t even lived
Not yet
Or if I have lived them
It’s been a thousand times and
Only when brought together
Do they create
The symphony of words that will
Hit you in the gut
Hard enough
That you'll name them holy

Just like a story about
The day my heart
Broke
Is not just a story of that one day
But really a story of all the days
And all the hearts
And all the breaking
That there ever has been.
And in order to write of my particular break
I conjured a spell
and the words gathered force
And called in all the stories
Living in the air around me
And in the corners of my heart
And tucked under the roots
Of a willow tree
Halfway around the globe.
That’s where the richness is, you see
It is the collective
In this case
That makes the singular more true.

Did you know that once I traveled
The entire world?
I wore a faded yellow sundress
With soft red roses
And a slightly torn hem.
In those days I woke up every morning
And washed my face
With dewdrops
And tucked flowers in my hair
I sang on street corners
And was hailed for the otherworldly
Beauty of my voice
One night I danced the tango with a sorceress
Under the light of a blood red hunters moon in a town so ancient it didn't have a name.
She bewitched me and stole my voice and whispered in my ear that in exchange she would gift me an infinite stream of words but that I would only be able to write
If I promised to never abandon my own heart
It wasn't black magic, she said, just the honest kind.
And that people often got the two confused but that
I could always tell the difference
If I listened with my bones
After that I could no longer sing
So I took handsome lovers in exchange
For a steady supply of ink
With which to write the truth

One day I left my sandals behind
On the hot cobblestones
Of a village square
Because my feet right then,
They needed to feel the ground
With nothing in the way
I left those sandals in a country the language was not mine
where I spoke to nobody and only smiled
And yet there I told more true stories than i’ve ever told you.

For a short while
Back in those days
I joined a traveling circus
Can you imagine?
I became
In just a short time
An expert at the flying trapeze
And every night
After the show
I slept next to the lion tamer.
No, it wasn’t like that
Not like you’d think.
I had enough ink by then
To last a lifetime
But he yearned for home
He hadn’t slept
not a wink
for three long years
Because he missed the sound
Of a mother's heartbeat.

I only left because I woke up one day
And I had forgotten why i was there
Which is, I believe
The best reason for leaving
So I stole off that night during the tightrope routine
and ran straight
For the ocean
In my bare feet.
And I stripped off my sundress
With its faded red roses and slightly torn hem
And I left it there on the rocks in case
Some mermaid thought to try her luck on land
and I walked into the water naked and
Swam all the way home

And who are you to say if that was true
Or false
Or metaphor
Or prophesy
Any more than you could
Tell my friend
The truths
Her body knew last night
When it stood outside
In the rain while
The earth shook
Beneath her feet

Or to say that the stories
From the epicenter are
More true or important
Than the ones from the margins
That the buildings that crumble
Cry harder than the ones
That just crack

But either way, did you know
That I once fell into a love that rocked the whole damn world
Or maybe, as I said before
It would be more accurate to say
That the whole damn world fell into me
because I loved
And if you believe in the truth of that, and I swear
That it is so.
Then let me tell you my stories
And know in your bones
that I write
The truth

No. I have not flown through the air on a flying trapeze
Or experienced the earth dancing beneath my feet.
But the world is wide open before me
And I might,
I might.