Carefully weave thorn-covered vines through the memories that you don’t want, let your fingers bleed, let them cry for your stupidity
I used to look at your sleeping face and imagine a child that I’d never wanted before
Shove the memories down your throat and swallow, may you bleed internally and suffer for months, may you smile widely at your dearest friends.
Don’t compromise yourself again.
A week ago, she asked me:
What does your golden hour look like?
Tell me about the first time that you looked into a downpour and found that you wanted to hold an individual droplet on your fingertip and watch it melt into your skin because that process of not-quite-involuntary-return was so beautiful-
so beautiful that you either wanted to fall in love with or fight and scream at the next stranger who passed you- so beautiful when you see all of those tiny links in the world like bright slashes of starlight- so beautiful when you realise that you’re all alone and unimportant-
A week ago, it seemed vital to respond:
My golden hour looks medical.
I tell her about the first time it seemed like truth had been warped but people still wanted to chop it up into tiny black and white pieces and separate them into old newspaper to be sold for a dollar- buy a wrong, buy a right-
the confusing thing was that nobody knew what right was and what right really was was arbitrary- particularly when it’s the last hour of your life and it’s crucial to stop the bleeding but all of the photo frames in your home are dripping- the nurse sighs and rolls up her sleeves because she’s seen this all before-
I looked back at her. She was disinterested. It began to rain when she left.
He tells me to prise open white bone/ take an axe to an edge of jagged cut snow/ burrow into the ground to hibernate and live
within that line.
His sentences are disjointed/ he’s a rabbit with it’s foot stuck in a trap/ fever’s grip: “I feel like I’m running out of time- I feel like
Can’t physically reach him through a receiver/ but he knows that now we’re looking down the barrel of the same gun/ I can’t speak his enemy’s language,
and he won’t translate.
(This rant should only be imagined under the following hypothetical circumstances: my chemical romance plays in the background, it’s an average college party someone decided to get cheeky with the throwbacks, drunk dude is nodding at what you’re saying but not really listening, you’re on your third cigarette and counting)
Recently, I’ve been looking into natural capital, or our ecosystems, and how we can better include them within today’s economy in order for us to assign value to ecosystems and therefore encourage us, as people, to value them more than we do now.
How we perceive value under capitalism is probably one of our greatest problems. What we value and what we see as ‘useful’ and ‘useless’ defines what is given respect and allowed to thrive. When something is ‘useful’ or valuable to us it is seen as something that can be turned into money, which can be turned into food/clothing/shelter/amassing stuff. An example being, my attempt to learn some te reo Māori (Māori language of New Zealand) by some of my white pākehā/European family members has been seen as a useless attempt/a language that will not be useful for me or anyone else going forward as, in their eyes, it’s not valuable (and will not create cash inflow).
In this way, the way that we value culture, societal groups and our environment (even down to little things like certain food crops) is all linked within this ‘useful = something that brings foreseeable book/monetary value to us’ line of thought. Pre-Christianity and pre-industrialisation, indigenous and/or pagan thought valued the earth, community and family. There was an understanding that in order to keep balance and harmony we needed to listen/pay attention to the tangible and intangible things around us (the seasons, our social bonds) to best create a system that benefits these. However now, we’ve started from the other way. We’ve created a system, that purposefully comes across deeply coded and difficult to understand, that informs how we all live and how our earth reacts to it.
So maybe, ‘natural capital’ needs to not be seen within ‘books’ or economic systems. Our ecosystems should be informing us on how to view value, not the other way around. It is obvious that the shift toward a more sustainable economic system needs to come from within ‘developed’/OECD nations (seeing as we are both: the biggest polluters, ones with the most internationally recognised power (soft & hard) and the nations who drive ‘value’ and ‘capital’ in other nations). But how do you break down a system that the most powerful still believes is working? How do you bring a conversation about valuing ‘being eco friendly’ to people who are working well over 40 hour weeks and just trying to get by? Who is going to create a new acceptable system that will work for our booming populations? Does is start with protest? Does it start with small grassroots communities? Or does it have to begin with policy makers and structural change?
There was a day handed to us:
-glass cup filled up to it’s brim with red dust/black soil/pink corals/silver fleck-
we drank it and we were fine.
We looked at each other laughing-
“the world will be ending tomorrow. It will:
spit out a flame tipped soprano to sing you into sleep;
gush poison into your child’s open mouth
with the fish they will drown;
gently wrap our bones in sweating palm fronds;
leave us alone to suck at our wealth from underneath the soil.”
We drank red dust together and we laughed
-you had started to tear your hair out because you’d always wanted
to shave it all off-
and we were fine.
Hi, how are you doing? You’re probably doing well, you’re probably doing some good things out there. Fighting the good fight. Good on you.
I know why you’ve reached out to me. You probably do believe I’m a good friend and I do think that you’d like to see me as your equal. You’re all for fighting for gender equality anyway- teaching boys that they can have emotions, teaching them not to call women sluts (in public). I’ve seen you participating in numerous feminist discussions and brazenly announcing yourself as feminist in the right public setting (the RIGHT one, mind you).
However, my friend, we both know that there are a few reasons at the core of why you may have contacted me today:
- Validation. You want your feminist efforts to go noticed. You want to comment on how ‘terrible’ that guy was who commented on my status (because he had blatantly sexist views as well as hidden, learned behaviours). You want to tell me about all of the micro-aggressions you stopped happening today by being the macho man and stepping in for us. You want to send me a feminist article and say ‘thought you might like this’ (an hour later I see you tag your friend in a racist meme). Tell me about all the good things you’ve done for us poor women so that I can pour that well earned validation on you.
- Emotional Labour. After I’ve validated your brave efforts to keep the patriarchy at bay while simultaneously benefitting from it (thank you again), I’ll listen to you talk about all the issues you can’t discuss with ‘the boys’. I’m like a bottomless jar for your shit talk apparently, and I have no emotions or interests or life of my own. Fill ‘er up bud!
- Pity. You’re such a nice guy, why are bad things happening to you? Why aren’t you getting laid? Why is work so shit? Why aren’t you getting that promotion you deserve? Why didn’t she text you back? Why did she go home with Brad and not you??? Well, I could break down the fact that women aren’t actually here to repay your kindness (basic human decency…) with sex (why else would you try and be nice to a woman right? they’re not actually fun to talk to) but… the friend-zone myth it is.
- To subconsciously remind me that I’m inferior to you. Your dreams are bigger, your aspirations matter more, you take up more space in the world, you know more than me about well, let’s face it, everything! But, of course, women should get as many opportunities as they can- as long as it’s under the system that still allows you all of your privileges. We’ll have a peaceful integration of equality… mostly for white women… upper/middle class white women… upper/middle class white women that you find fuck-able.
- So that you can eventually fuck me (my personal favourite). Ooooh the ol’ does he actually care about women or does he just wanna get laid conundrum. I can see right through you and I know what you’re doing. Stop it.
Despite our interactions pretty much constantly following the same patterns, I would like to (actually, sincerely) thank you. I know that as a cis-gendered, able-bodied, white woman, I can be a fucking irritating cis-gendered, able-bodied, white woman. I have been really irritatingly privileged in a lot of settings, particularly social media, and I know I’ve pissed people off- even if they haven’t said anything. Thinking about interactions with my friends who are liberal, feminist men and reflecting on how angry they make me- not because they’re being outwardly sexist but because they’re almost patronisingly, subconsciously holding up the patriarchy- reminds me that I need to work on how I do this every day. How I hold up my own privilege and how, when we think we’ve learned it all and we’re the perfect allies, we’re not. Perfect ally-ship does not exist, just like perfect humanity does not exist. Being an ally is not a flashy badge that you should carry around, it’s helping to effectively shift foundations without a welling of your own ego. It’s about hurting your ego. Deflating it. We need to listen and shut up more. I need to listen and shut up more.
And you- my liberal, feminist friends who are men- I love you. I appreciate what you’re doing. You have a role in this fight but this is not about you. Also, you don’t plateau in this struggle. You keep learning. You listen. You de-centralise yourself.
It’s been nice talking to you, bud.
She asks you:
What are you doing here?
Dice click, rolling over her knuckles, candle light wanes.
Learning how to love.
She lowers her hood, an unblinking bright blue eye, the colour of a summer with a girl who made you feel like you were not alone; the colour of an ocean that you nearly drowned yourself in when she left.
She asks you:
What are you doing here?
A bird preens itself; there is the smell of lavender.
Learning how to live.
She stretches out her wrist, black choked veins, the colour of a thick spew of oil and of lines in a balance sheet, the colour of a black out on a street with no signs occupied by people who have already seen apocalypse.
She asks you:
What are you doing here?
There are mirrors everywhere, refracting light from different worlds.
Learning how to die.
She stretches out into a smile, her body is a circle, the colour of the deepest winter sunset witnessed by all life upon beginning and upon ending, the colour of deep acceptance and of a battleground.