Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Guest Writer: Grey Johnson

Requiring a Swift and Precise Adjustment

We exchange several evocative emails in the beginning, and your quick responses when we write leave me sputtering to keep up. Everything I say seems to come out of me distorted, stretching and twisting, pausing and leaving gaps. Already you influence something as basic and personal as my speech, and you have rendered me incomprehensible, at least to myself. I feel as heavy and sodden as the earth. My wits are covered with a crust that is miles in depth. Wishing to tell you my thoughts, I feel as though I am trying to explain to a cloud what it is like to be lava, buried.
You seem to think I am a brilliant writer, and claim to be seduced by me. This makes my legs feel shaky when I pass near my computer, and you know it. I lean on door jambs, tables, desks. Chairs are not stable enough. If I could find a giant oak, I would press my face into its mossy bark and cry, for I know already you will show me no mercy, because I will not admit to needing it. I am a child on a swing, and while I watch the sky, your spirit widens in it like a thunderhead. There is lightening sparking from you, and the majesty of you leaves me blinded to the small world on the ground, where my feet are supposed to go. I ignore the fact that all of this is occurring electronically.
My imagination creates a house for us, and we seldom venture outdoors, since you don't know you live here. You spoon me and I become a gate, loose on its hinges, feeling as if I clang when touched. You rock me, and the clanging in me builds with a dangerous resonant frequency. Inside, my heart shakes like thin vibrating metal, making rattled offstage storm sounds. When we do go outside the little house I made for us, you want to be chased. On my favorite chase, you ran along the entire clothesline, snatching each item off with a hearty snap. Clothes pins shattered and flew like popcorn. We ran laughing, but I was afraid that something was about to happen, perhaps the line itself would snap, and sting, and leave a mark for others to see. I stopped chasing after you, and crouched, sweating, in a tumble of beautifully scratchy leaves. Feeling them crumble against my cheek, I found that the only item I had been able to grab was an intimate one, and sadly worn. It took four days, but I wrote a kind of poem about the evolution of this singular, imaginary garment. I even know what it tastes like, and how it feels in my mouth.
I know approximately one person in the physical world. He begins to look at me oddly, I think. To me, it feels as if you and I are a heavy, ponderous thing, with one eye trying to see two, or even three, worlds. Are we a storm? Do we live in the wild center of it for a moment? Are we to become a refreshing shower, still and settled afterward? I think of my skin as our barometer, but it does not say what kind of weather we are.
In what is my own actual home, I lurk and worry like a doubtful guest. While fiddling mindlessly with the hose, pretending to tend the garden, and ignoring the soft clash of the pots in the kitchen, I pull the collar of my coat up to my ears, turn my back to the wind, and wait. Soon, my hair, as I knew all along it would, is whipping the sides of my face. It is suddenly long and black, and enters my lips. It spanks my eyelashes.
I do not recognize myself. I have become a different person. My real person does not recognize me, either. We make a trip to the doctor. Adjustments to my medication are executed with swift precision.
Someone is faintly calling me home, and it is not you. There are sirens, gaining and receding. You do not understand these alarms. There are stinging nettles of rain, and their speed is such that they make me bleed. My lips bleed first, where I have spoken too much. I feel punished. So, like a good girl, I run inside and throw myself against the door, pushing hard, pushing against the very same air that I breathe in order to live. Suddenly, the wind stops, sucking all the air out and away, snatching the door shut fast, tight, and hard. I find myself, in a kind of relieved brokenness, with my hand on the doorknob, looking through the window. I am watching for me, and I see myself alone and quiet. In a few days, I will put on my worn and muddy garden boots, and apologize to the weeds as I pull them. In a few weeks, I will relearn how to sleep, and be unable to recall how any of this felt.

© Grey Johnson 2010

Grey Johnson lives in a small town in northeastern South Carolina. Her garden is very important to her, and so are her dogs. She reads and knits rectangles, but seldom knows what to do with them. She doesn’t have a blog or website, but writes some on the Six Sentence Social Network. You can also check out a brilliant little collection called Your Pajamas by Grey on Issuu.

19 comments:

  1. This reveals you, Grey, I could read a hundred of them. Call them "Conversations I Had With Me."

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  2. Fantastic piece Grey! The gulf between the person you feel yousrelf to be and the person you feel the rest of the world sees is beuatifully delineated here, love it.

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  3. Grey, what an easy flow of words! I enjoyed your work.

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  4. I felt that door slam hard and want to say that there is a middle ground between locked and wide open. If you shut yourself away from the wind then you also don't feel the lightness of the breeze. Lovely writing.

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  5. An amazing meditation on the wildness of infatuation verging into obsession. The language & images here are sensual and hallucinatory. Big thumbs up for this one, Grey!

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  6. Such introspection- you dig deep into the character and then go deeper- love your words Grey

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  7. I love how this floats Grey. It is wonderfully detached from anything that makes much sense. Because infatuation doesn't make much sense, ever. And you are such a craftsman. Standing ovation. This is brilliant.

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  8. Grey, the first two paragraphs left me breathless. I didn't want to read further, for fear reality would besmirch the place you created. But you kept it up, you kept up the magic. The coming back to self was very real, as was the going away to the fantasy. Thank you.

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  9. I found it clear and concise, and also unique and interesting. I thought that the words popped like fresh paint- loved all of it and its the type of piece that is both enjoyable and thought-provoking. Someitmes writing is one or the other- not here. Great work. This is, as the editor mentioned somewhere and I agree- special in its uniqueness- only your own and one voice- amazing in fact. It also reminded me in a way though of Elizabeth Smart the author of By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept.- in that it brought to mind soulful themes of desire and longing- connection- important and universal themes. Each word seems like an important delicate but not weak brush stroke, or touch to the canvas. All in all, this was a cool and great and TALENTED write. I say bravo for sure.

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  10. You are lucky to be able to numb your feelings with adjustments to your medication. But I think you should warn your friends/lovers that you have the pharmaceutical means to get over them quite adeptly when you unilaterally decide you don't want to be friends any more. Kind of a warning label.

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  11. I felt sad at the end that she was forgetting how she'd felt. I suppose peace and "normalcy" are worth the price of forgetting the fire of infatuation, but I can't say for sure. This was a wonderful ride, beautifully written, and I'm must gonna sit with this melancholy you induced for a while...(smile)

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  12. Grey, this is layered with lust, longing, grief and a capful of psychosis. It is erotic and maddening... The writing and imagery is as gorgeous as I expected it to be... I see a beautiful metaphor here, in that, I view your cloud as contemplative, yearning to understand and deal with a burning desire buried deep within.
    lovely.

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  13. There is really a sad aspect to this story, rooted in the fact that you feel it's necessary to obliterate the emotions you felt with this person. I've never been able to do anything like that and I think, on balance, that it's for the best, if only because pain has always had something to tell me that I needed to hear, even and especially when I didn't want to listen to what it was saying. Very painful, scary stuff. This story has come a long way from the last draft I read. There's a lot of beautiful imagery rendered far more clearly than before. I'll be waiting to see where you might take this.

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  14. Unique, intriguing, scary in its inner, searching solitude, rich in language.
    For me the final two sentences are the most real and the saddest.
    Supreme work Grey.

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  15. Grey, it's all been said. Your story is easy to read, easy to love. Just like all your writing.

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  16. Grey,

    This is an incredible, intimate and vibrant portrait of the juxaposition of alienation in an overcrowded world, cyber-relationships fraught with fantasy, and self actualization. Though I do not perceive the first person narrative to BE you, it is easy to see how others have assumed it to be so. The images are strong, the feeling of free floating vivid. Bravo!
    Jenny (6S)

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  17. From frolicking beside the clothesline to the spanking of eyelashes, the imagery is splendid. This is a beautifully and intelligently scripted acid trip that both burns and soothes. It creates a euphoria, and yet leaves jagged scars. Drugs can calm those rough seas, but we all stand white-knuckled at our individual helms. When the rare lighthouse appears, I'd like to think it's sometimes best to toss the compass and steer toward the beacon's embrace.

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  18. Wow. I couldn't stop reading this. It shifted so slowly and i found myself wondering what was going on, but in a good way, mind you. This was emotional, calmly then heightened. I'm still not sure what the heck just happened, but I'll pull weeds along with you and apologize, too. !!
    Kristine 6S

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  19. I love reading the work of Grey Johnson. It is as if she tears out a little piece of her heart each time and lays it on a table for you to make of it what you will, and the delicious thing is she doesn't tell you afterward if you were correct in your assumption or otherwise. She just quietly reinserts the still-beating bit and proceeds on her personal journey, and really all one needs to know is what one perceives as her truth.

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