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living in the twilight zone, the poet searches for her marbles

March 3, 2010

Find the hole from which the marbles are escaping.

This isn’t hard to do if you’re brutally honest. Be brutally honest. Your only true quest is to be happy. You’re no good to anyone without it. Identify the slipping points. It’s probably clear where the edges crumble, causing massive hemorrhage into the gully. Do not judge your responses in these moments. Do not, for example, judge yourself if you can’t spell hemorrhage correctly on the first, or even the fifth, attempt.

Patch the hole.

Though this task presents more of a challenge, try not to over-think it. Tackle this work with all of your creativity. Consider every angle no matter how unconventional. Do not dismiss even the craziest options. To give yourself proper time to investigate the best long-term approach, give these quick fix steps a try: (1) Stuff cotton in your ears. (2) Wad up a sock and place it in your mouth. (3) Wear a blindfold. (4) Now that you are ready, wrap your entire head in duct tape. Just in case. There are similar methods for securing hearts, but duct tape is not recommended for internal organs. Consult your pharmacist.

Lower yourself to your hands and knees and search the floor for the marbles that have already spilled.

If you have implemented the quick fix above (see blindfold), this will be somewhat difficult. However, the aptitude of the fingers for discovering what’s lost is greatly underestimated.


So, yes, I’m missing some of my marbles. (This post on being over-committed is still relevant.) I haven’t written a poem in nearly two weeks, and I haven’t even tried for most of that time.

It’s been a strange, twilight zone period. I can almost hear the marbles dropping out one at a time and tap, tap, tapping on the tile before they sssssssss-circle and roll off to places — under the bookcases, behind the TV, beneath the couch — where my fat hands can’t fit. I worry that a cat or a child will try to eat them and choke. I worry, too, that even if my loose marbles don’t kill anyone, I’ll never get them back.

Part of me says, “What’s lost is lost. Get some new marbles.”

Another part of me says to my fellow adventurers, “Let’s go on a mission and steal us all some new marbles.”


So, yes, the twilight zone. Last night, I heard radio sounds, like many voices talking at once and classic rock songs playing over one another. I went through the house a couple times and couldn’t find the source. I did learn that if I rolled over in bed, left ear facing down, that the sounds came from the pillow. My ear has been plugged. In the daytime I know this, but at night, struggling to stay with sleep, I get confused. It’s just fluid in my ear. Fluid that talks to me when I’m lying in bed and can’t sort out what’s real and what’s not.

The night before, I had a dream in which I heard the sound of a car crash. You know the all-at-once sounds that our brains are too slow to spread out over a time line: the squeal, the deep thud of the collision, the higher-pitched scraping and shattering. I believed my son Jack was in one of the cars. I called out to him many times, and he didn’t answer. I feared the worst. But I woke, and I looked at the clock: 1:44 a.m. Sixteen minutes later, I hear him: “Mommy.” He repeats it. He’s calling to me. Is it from the car wreck? Am I sleeping? No, he’s at my bedside. I am awake. He’s having trouble sleeping. He needs me. I’m glad he is here, not in a dream, but what if I weren’t there?

Previous nights were this: Davin head-butting me (on accident) while we were both in deep sleep and sharing a bed in a hotel at the Cape; an evening as featured poet in which I both wanted to embrace myself as poet and recoil from her; a night out carousing and trouble-making; a different night out during which some of my most frightening memories were triggered. In the last few days, I have also wrapped up and submitted a chapbook manuscript which is — ssssss-circling back to the beginning of this post — brutally honest. And that sort of thing makes life tricky.

And tricky lives make tunnels, through which marbles may wander. They need space and air and light just like the rest of us.

  1. March 3, 2010 5:03 pm

    (Another option is to just let the marbles go, and trust that there’s plenty more where they came from.)

    Marvelous post, Carolee.

  2. March 3, 2010 6:06 pm

    Effing marvelous. Hugs and more of them. And a shipment of glorious marbles, artsy-fartsy and cat-eyes, too.

  3. March 4, 2010 9:47 am

    plenty more marbles? why did no one ever tell me this before now?

  4. March 7, 2010 5:47 pm

    I think this post is your poem.

    Being over committed is not pleasant, especially when you’re a mom. If anyone can gather up all her marbles, it’s you.

  5. March 7, 2010 7:34 pm

    I’ve gotten that radio-in-the-head thing — didn’t realize it was marble-related. How does one tune it?

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