“chi” — a chapter from my feminist memoir “whitegirrrl”

The moon will make a return every 28 years to the place it started.  Yours sits in a house of love and death, otherworldly, filament, strand of some kind of held chi of the feminine.  There will be yogis who teach you how to hold chi like a thread of light in a world of darkness.  There will be palmists who trace the lines along your palm and you go to them when you are lost, like you cast cards that can foretell everything.

It’s on one of those days when the clouds are brash in the sky that you venture back into places locked shut for years.  Driving by the apartment years and years and years later.  The clouds look layered as they move along the currents in the jetstream.  A layering like life, or years, or time.

Or what his hands did.

You have learned to keep the vault sealed.  You have learned to keep quiet about the atrocity that he was, until the moon moves round to her rightful place once again.

“Let’s get our palms read,” he says.  “We’ll go together.”

On the wharf where he photographs you the most the palmist looks at you with dark gypsy eyes and shakes her head, clucking.  She can see what is going to happen long before you can, and she tells you in a series of little sounds and nods and shakes of her head.

A forewarning.

“In December.”

He’s laughing because there is so much light and the two of you are so in love having eaten baskets of fried shrimp and having drunk ice cold beer and he’s carved your initials again on the table, or some tree and he sends you postcards of these things to prove it.

You drive by the door to the apartment where you waited for him standing in a vintage kimono.

The palmist shakes her head at you, and traces the lifeline in your hand.  She holds your hand for the longest time until she reads his.

That was a season of summer and of light and of two lives that entertwined on old silks where he arrived to fuck you and nothing more and he was your art teacher down in Santa Monica at some little city college and you were taking Photo 101, because you were an artist too.

That wasn’t something that mattered to him though.

What he saw was a fuckable object in you.

“What goes around always comes around,” your mother whispers.

It’s Mother’s Day, many years later and you think you see her face looking down from the clouds at you.

He tells you Prine is one of his favorites and he gives you the orange album so you can try and understand whatever it was he encountered in Vietnam or something and he gives you a photo of himself at nineteen all dressed up in his uniform and it’s not that many years after the whole conflict ended, is it?

He used you.

He used you like you were a shaft of light.

“I always drop some before I have to make important decisions,” he says.

And you realize years later that he had nothing inside.  He wasn’t even human at all.

“Do you realize how sick he was?” your therapist asks you years later.

She is trying to help you get over what happened and you sit in the nude before your fireplace after the session that night surrounded by little white candles in a ring and you burn every single grey filament of him out of your life and out of your heart and out of your soul.  Every picture he ever took of you, every postcard, every cheap little shot.  The edges curl in the flames as the smoke drifts.  It takes hours to erase him.

Years later, the year your mother passes you see another palmist.

“There will be a man coming,” she says.  A card reader draws a spread for you that year, too.

“He will be holding the red thread.”

Red like centuries of spilled wisdom.  Red like wombs that weep.  Red like tears.  Red like life, recaptured, as the moon spins back in her sky in a slow dance of years to the same place she inhabited that was black and white as the gypsy on the pier told you truths about Decembers.

There is a mudra that you learn to hold that clasps the red string of time between your forefinger and your thumb.

There is a mudra you learn to sit with on yoga mats as you stare into the inner sky and sea of contemplation.

There is time, and there is the thing that happened on Red Rose Way that December in 1981 and there is all that silence that you had to live with until now when it spills ruby red from vein onto pages.

“chi” — by Valentine Bonnaire — copyright 2011 — all rights reserved


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