This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.

What falls away is always. And is near.


At a resort spa in the mountains of southern Utah once, a woman I’d never met before named Betina told me I was tired of fighting.

She lay me down on a bed of furs and wrapped a blanket around me. She held crystals over my body and struck them. The sound was meant to be a healing vibration.

I don’t really buy into this stuff.

But earlier, when we sat facing each other, she told me to close my eyes and think of the person who held all my questions. She pulled a small stone buffalo from her basket of animal talisman and said, “Is this him?”

And it was.



As for me, many small hands

issuing from a waterfall

means silence

mothered me.


I spent the better part of my twenties in a town defined by water. I let myself soak in the thunderous silence, the cavern of falling, the unbelievable liberation of not being able to hear or speak. I reached out my small hands to touch the cool stream, spooned water into my mouth, let it dribble out. Silent.

I did not swallow a drop because I knew the water was my mother and the silence was teaching me something. Something about how to be full. Something about how to put down the sword I’d been handed as a child and walk forward, full and silent, born again from my new mother, the water.



the evidence of damage

worn by salt and sway into this threadbare beauty

the ribs of the disaster

curving their assertion

among the tentative haunters.


But still. These past disasters circle around me, holding me in that infuriating, loose embrace. I am always conscious of the evidence of disaster, just there in the periphery.

I know if I move too greatly, shake too violently, let myself go, my waving arms will crash against those tentative haunters. The wreck is waiting to bruise me if I try to move beyond.

But I am diving. Am I diving? I want to crack and splinter. I want to be the great show of force, bursting forth from the wreck. I am diving. I am diving. I am diving.



You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.


My body is a soft animal.

A gazelle – leaping and furtive. Or,

A kitten, curled up around your hips, purring and contented or sometimes a

Snapping weasel.

Trying to bite with tiny tenacious teeth

The skin it loves so

But still

A thing with fur.



They say if you fill your mouth with gold

and chew raw meat like bubble gum

you will be both seen

                               and heard.


I went seven years without meat. Without the tough chewy sinew. Without the fight of flesh and teeth.

But after awhile, I longed for that struggle.

I           remembered the taste.

The way the juice leaked in and stained my tongue.

The succulence. The sucking. My cheeks pulled in against the loss.

The slight ache in my jaw.

I missed          trying that hard. To eat.

Bubblegum wasn’t enough anymore.



Suddenly I realize

That if I stepped out of my body I would break

Into blossom


The moment immediately before my orgasm, when I feel I have to hold my breath to make sure it happens but then I look at you, both of us frozen unblinking and it’s like someone’s opened the door of a plane and all the air rushes out and pulls us both along with it off a rushing silent cliff.



Those angels burden and unbalance us.

Those fucking angels ride us piggyback.

Those angels, forever falling, snare us

And haul us, prey and praying, into dust.


When I leapt from the sky it wasn’t so I could fall, plummeting in endless gravity toward the ground.

I leapt so I could hit something.

I leapt because I wanted to barrel through space until I crashed into another falling body, so our limbs could tangle and bruise and break, so our skulls could knock against each other, so I could remember how to breathe.

I suppose I didn’t really think of this, but I knew the risk. I know two falling bodies would be inherently unbalanced. I knew falling is a kind of prayer and I knew I might get snagged or battered.

But you are the dust angel.

If you are the dust angel, if you are falling too, if we are forever falling…

I will haul you up. Hit the ground first. I am ready.

But when we jump again, it’s your turn.



Last week, I came in from the early evening, where it was bone-shaking cold, bitter, without snow, and when I left the door open, a chickadee flew into my kitchen.


somewhere I have never traveled, gladly beyond

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MARISSA LANDRIGAN teaches writing at the University of Pittsburgh - Johnstown in Pennsylvania, which is the eighth state and fourth time zone she's called home in the last seven years. She received her MFA in Creative Writing & Environment from Iowa State University, where she completed a food memoir tentatively titled The Vegetarian's Guide to Eating Meat. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Creative Nonfiction, The Rumpus, Orion, Guernica, Diagram, Fringe, and elsewhere. She blogs about becoming un-vegetarian at wemeatagain.com

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