IF ONE HAS died already, it’s easier to speculate on the sacred context of witnessing the stars explode, slightly fanned out, slightly bow-legged, first a tree, then a river, then a star. It’s as good a time as any to die, to die again, to imagine in death that feeling of ants crawling up and down your skin, as good a time as any to remember to forget and to remember to remember. If you’ve died already, you’d understand that it’s important to remember what has been lost. If you’ve died already, you’d know that one thread is not strong enough and that’s why there are so many ants, and that the border between your skin and the ant is illusory. One ant enters your skin, permeable, another one enters, widening, and another: this is the one you must work with.
Sink into the feeling of ants, that multiplicity of many tiny beings, many tiny legs. I don’t mean the feeling of ants crawling on your skin. I don’t mean the feeling of being one among many. But the aspecting between individual and collective: you are the ocean, and you also the wave; you are the entire forest connected by the mychorrizal network below your feet, and you are also the lone pine tree, reaching for connection, listening, ants scurrying up and down the bark while millions of miles away, stars explode, disappear, are born again. The action of the star is the same action of the ants, and when you feel the heat against your skin, that sticky sweat you wipe off and try to hide from your peers, imagine: what is the relationship of that moisture, of your discomfort, to the rest of the entire world?
Drinking my tea in the morning: trees push up and imagine life on the brink. We’re past the brink already.
Waking up to check the news: the moss is resurrected after the rain, proliferates despite the fact that I don’t always mind my own business.
Are the daffodils blooming too early? Does my concern show compassion for their well-being? As if the daffodils don’t know better, as if they need advice from me, as if my concern is what would save them, as if they need saving. As if this is a viable relationship structure. Adjoining. To be a daffodil. To be an entire world. To be in death. Again and again. To be with the stars in simultaneity. To be and to want to be.
JANICE LEE is a Korean-American writer, editor, publisher, and shamanic healer. She is the author of 7 books of fiction, creative nonfiction & poetry: KEROTAKIS (Dog Horn Press, 2010), Daughter (Jaded Ibis, 2011), Damnation(Penny-Ante Editions, 2013), Reconsolidation (Penny-Ante Editions, 2015), The Sky Isn’t Blue (Civil Coping Mechanisms, 2016), Imagine a Death (The Operating System, 2021), and Separation Anxiety (CLASH Books, 2022). She writes about interspecies communication, plants & personhood, the filmic long take, slowness, the apocalypse, architectural spaces, inherited trauma, and the concept of han in Korean culture, and asks the question, how do we hold space open while maintaining intimacy? She combines shamanic and energetic healing with plant & animal medicine and teaches workshops on inherited trauma, healing, and writing. She is Founder & Executive Editor of Entropy, Co-Publisher at Civil Coping Mechanisms, Contributing Editor at Fanzine, and Co-Founder of The Accomplices LLC. She currently lives in Portland, OR where she is an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Portland State University.
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