Queen of Knives
Queen of Knives
Mother has been weeping for three days. Each time I go outside to
pick blackberries for supper, or even to take a dip in the pond, she looks at me as though she’s seeing me for the last time. She thinks I don’t notice – just tells me not to catch cold – but I see her wiping her eyes. I hear her at night. She always turns her back.
Mother, why are you crying?
I’m not crying my love, I have something in my eye. Allergies.
(laughs, brushing it off)
(shivering)It’s cold in here. Why is it so cold?
Autumn must be coming.
What is Autumn?
(sighs deeply) You don’t remember, do you?
It is like this every time. Always like it was the first time.
The first time?
You’re going back to your husband, my love.
Husband? I don’t have…
But then something stops me, because I remember…something…someone. I remember being afraid and I remember dark kisses and promises…I remember dead people and six pomegranate seeds laid out carefully
before me. I remember a choice…
She turns around to look at me and in her eyes I can see the memories that flood back are not simply dreams but the truth.
Your duties my dear. As a queen.
Queen? But I’m just…
More memories…darkness. It’s dark there, but not without its majesty. Rooms…caverns? Tunnels, and…ghosts. Parades and parades of ghosts, and I, next to my dark paramour on my throne…
He wants me back, doesn’t he?
He always does. As I’ve said, you and I, we have our duties.
You have your throne.
Autumn. Go dress yourself in something warm. The messenger will
be here soon.
It’s only while I’m in transit that I remember everything, and the memories build. When I reach either destination, I have no memory of the other place. I get there and it’s like I’ve never left…and my memories of the other place become cloudy and disappear and my time int hat place is untainted…until I’m travelling again and everything comes flooding back, is put into context.
Every six months, I do this. Follow the messenger up, or follow the messenger down. I am a rope, a sinewy, knotted rope, growing frayed with age as millennia pass. A rope in an ancient tug-of-war between stubborn and unyielding siblings. My mother. My husband. Six months here; six months there.
Neither of them has every asked me what I prefer.
He’s formidable, my husband, and the air perceptibly changes as I spiral closer and closer to where he is. Each time I see him, it’s like the first time, and he takes my breath away – why anyone would ever want to be blond and hale when dark and gaunt has such a profound sway –
My love. (breathing)
And my life up there starts to disappear again. There’s something so intoxicating and present about being here, being with him that it makes everything up there seem like a dream as I deal with the ever-present reality of the state of things here: The truth of the matter is, the dead pester me with their attentions. As though I could do something for them.
Queen! They call me, as they prostrate themselves at my feet. Mistress!
And it all comes flooding back to me, all the many names they have called me for millennia and my little life with my mother in our cottage by the pond is laughable, trivial and so very innocent!
Mistress of the Damned! Snow Queen. Spirit of Winter. Lady Ice. I slip my mantle on and the ice, like a thousand tiny knives settles back inside me as I hold court for the legions of ghosts who are my subjects with my dark lord by my side…and the tug-of-war begins again.
So...it begins again: the daily hawking and harrassment of all my friends, colleagues and acquaintances via Facebook, Twitter and email to pledge to this latest worthy campaign. The opening of the campaign page on Kickstarter to see where we're at and the disappointment as it slogs through sluggish slowness or elation when it begins to pick up momentum. And that wonderful, joyful feeling in the center of my chest when people pledge, which signifies not just a dollar amount (which in and of itself is important and the goal and all that) but something even bigger and more significant: this person believes and supports what I'm doing as an artist and human being.
Kickstarter is an interesting and fabulous animal - it works something like this, in the case of artists: you (or your group) creates an online fundraising campaign for a particular project. You must have a goal in mind, and there is a deadline. If you do not reach your goal by the deadline, you don't get ANY of the money. This is great, actually - it raises the stakes and creates a sense of urgency. And the beauty, for would-be backers is that you can pretty much donate any amount of money you want to, as little as a BUCK, or as much as you want. I, personally, am pretty strapped for cash at the moment, barely have two sticks to rub together, but somehow, have still been able to back projects in a small way...I like to call it "microphilanthropy".
Also, it works through word-of-mouth, via social media, email, newsletters and your actual MOUTH! The more people involved, the more people there are to get the word out, and if their people tell people and those people tell people...well, you get the idea. It has the potential to be very wide-reaching, and it can spread like wildfire when the momentum hits.
In running a Kickstarter, however, you have to be a little mindful. More than one per year and people get Kickstarter burnout. Didn't you just ask me for money for that other thing? My first two were two years apart. I worry now that my 2nd and third are not far apart enough, and perhaps my people are all experiencing the aforementioned burnout, despite the fact that it's for a completely different theatre company.
(On a side note (and this is MY blog, so I can rant if I want to), I always find it interesting that most extended family members are always right there when it comes to shelling out $$ for wedding gifts, or a child's birthday or what not, but when it comes to something like this, it's like crickets. It's more the principle of the thing, really, since I'm not the greatest when it comes to sending out gifts/thank you's etc - mostly has to do with being broke. I tried the handmade gift thing for awhile, but am never sure if those are appreciated, though they actually take more time, thought and effort than going to the store and plunking down a credit card. But whatever. I'm fairly certain that even if I was someone who sent out cards and presents to everyone's birthdays and weddings, these Kickstarters would still be overlooked by most of my family. It's just my weird art thing I do. They don't understand that each project is actually like one of my children, because that's just ABSURD. How could art be as important to someone as a CHILD or getting MARRIED for heaven's sake? Anyway. Rant over.)
This is the third campaign I've been directly involved with promoting. The first one, for Stings Like Acid by New Amerikan Theatre (of which I was one of the writers/produers) was an amazing, eye-opening experience that garnered us several hundred dollars beyond our original goal. The 2nd, for the Double XX Festival at Stone Soup Theatre started out similarly, had tremendous momentum behind it...and then I got fired over it - mostly due to a difference of opinion about how it was to be used (BAD, EVIL Carolynne for wanting to give each of the productions a little $$). Since a number of my personal friends had backed the project, many of them pulled their money after this occurred, and I saw the campaign lose momentum. It floundered and floundered...and then got "rescued" in the final week.
So now I'm helping run a campaign for eSe Teatro for the upcoming Oedipus El Rey at ACT's Eulalie Scanduzzi space in December. It started somewhat sluggishly, but now is beginning to build a little steam. The first few days were a little disappointing, and I felt personally responsible, but I guess this particular rollercoaster just started out with a straight and only slightly curvy track instead of a scary, upwards climb. It's only the beginning...
Essence of Purple
This is the next chapter of my life,
Comfortingly familiar yet so, so wrong.
It is miraculous and at the same time just plain truth:
The dead pester me with their attentions
There might be any opportunity one could dream about
The wine has made me courageous and bold
I float inside the spaces between molecules
Am I a ghost?
The night listens
There is surrender
I have done nothing to forgive.
Dreams aren’t logical the way real life is
I am wind, and I uncover things – I stir things up.
What is the essence of purple?
He tries to cajole me from within my block of ice
the dead are all around him
Is he merely hiding?
I thought if his wings were big enough, he could fly high enough
It was nothing like that at all
I cannot help but follow the breadcrumbs dropped for me into this mystery
It swallows every other tiny tragedy:
Forced to swing back and forth, like a demi-goddess pendulum
All I have to do is surrender:
There are pieces of his shrapnel embedded throughout my body.
I have survived him.
I just want to be a part of life.
Day to day thoughts, rants and mental detritus.