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  • Aram Mitchell

what's the mud


Today I feel adrift. I can sense the presence of unmoored grief. So I scan my heart for an anchor of insight, for wisdom that I’ve tried before and know to be true. I land, as I often do when adrift, on Audre Lorde. She knew hardship like I never will. She knew survival. Hers was the deepest wisdom, the wildest soul, the most honest hope I know.

In her book called A Burst of Light, Audre Lorde wrote: “My days are a thirsty atonal combination of the mundane and the apocalyptic.”

Apocalyptic is from the Greek apokalupsis, meaning uncover and reveal, like a ripped curtain or a broken vessel or a cracked shell.

Everyday I walk near the sea. Seagulls sit at the edges of receding tides and pluck shut clams from the salty mud. To open a clam the gull pinches it with the grip of her beak, hoists into the air to a calculated height, and then she lets the clam drop. If the clam hits the mud too soft, the gull repeats. Until, on one of the drops, the clam hits a rock or hits the mud just right and cracks open and spills its tender insides.

I am beginning to heed my heartache over little losses. The projects I was working on, stopped short. The expectations I had for the days ahead, emptied. Proximity to friends replaced with the poorly lit parlor of pixels.

Tending to heartache, no matter its severity, is rugged work. Rugged and messy and grueling.

I’ve been carrying the seagull analogy with me for days unsure of where to apply it. Am I the gull and the clam my grief? Or is my grief the gull and the clam my heart? And what are the rocks? And what’s the mud? I don’t know.

An image resonates without an explanation, and I rest there. And I think how, at high tide, the clams will have relief. And when the coastline ebbs again toward another unveiling, the gulls will get their meal. And I still don’t know, but it’s soothing to listen to the waves.

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