The first day that Mercury went retrograde, I saw the Sun Ra Arkestra. Space is the place, but I almost didn’t go. It was a Saturday. I had spent the whole week twisting my love and heartbreak into poetry. They are really all the same thing. You always always always gotta break.
Only a little bit of me was in my body. It’s funny how a lot of people won’t notice when you’re not in your body. I think my friend noticed, but he didn’t say anything. He’s not the type to coerce or coddle. We ate food and smiled and he was a safe place for me to be not all the way in my body with.
The show was at the Music Box, wonderland of aural architecture. Wind and lights. I’m small and haunted, so the wind blows right through me. I stood in the front, orange hair and smoke soaked leather, not so much like the other girls. No glitter. No booze. Not a babe.
The men in the Arkestra were avant garde in the 1970s. Now they have babies and their babies have babies and for some it must go further than that. The band leader is 94 years old. So much cosmos. He cajoles and chides his band like infant constellations. Sometimes they rebel, beat at the wrong time and sometimes they line up, dots connecting. Even if you have no ears to hear, you can see they’re family.
The Arkestra spaceship always lands over there, where you know it is but cannot see. The aliens file out into you, syncopated and erratically melodious. The sky changes when they come, barometric cloud play and even if you never believed in space and magic you would then. And I did. They conjured me into my body. I became grateful and danced for it.
I danced the way you dance when you’re with a lot of someones but you have to pretend solitude so you can feel all your pores swelling. What are heartbreak and poetry to throbbing gristle? Only shivers in a body teeming with pulses. Time is not real. Not always.
I was real again. So very. I danced and the music swaddled me like a fog. They argued and wailed and traveled us all back and forth between time zones, but together. It’s like that sometimes. You can all go together and you can all stay right here.
The band aliens moved through and around. A horn player paused in front of me, Martian and beautiful. He blew to the sky. The birds hustled. I danced. Our eyes were tractor beams for each other. He horned, kept my gaze, held me so tight I felt his breath in my heart with no hands. I danced, snuggled closer in the air between us. We couldn’t stop smiling. We couldn’t and we didn’t and we just could not stop and everyone was watching.
He put his horn down to be with me, moved it away from his lips, an achey salute. Nothing stopped. Don’t worry, it was nothing like that. Space twirled, a kiss so wild at being born. He stopped for me and I for him and we laughed, in love. There was no moment for that love to begin and there was no moment for it to end. There was no kiss but cosmos.
But then he blew. And then I danced.
Time is not always real. Sometimes you can all go together and you can all stay right here. It’s like that.
That is, in fact, exactly how it is.
I spent a week thinking what is love but it took space to know. I spent vast lifetimes chasing the tractor beam, lingering backstage screaming.
I am the one don’t you know we’re in love.
But chasing stars is nobody’s business. Shamans have no truck with promises, it’s a charlatan’s ruse. Naming the planets only breaks them for you. You must break your own name instead.
You can spend all the years before and after your own real death wondering who will be the one to love you. It will be the one you stand before denuded, submitting, and clothed only in hustling birds. You will know only when the beam shivers around you, peels you into stardust and leaves you standing just the same, bodied.
Then maybe you will stop trying to name the planets.
It is right to mourn the loss of your names. Cry out in the void, tongueless with grief, but be ecstatic with void.
This is what love means.
Space is the place.