Ida Ekblad sculpture at the Museo Tamayo.

More Beautiful Things

A series of personal reflections from a rowdy priestess

Greetings. As I type this it is still dark, the moon full, five am. The black cat watches from where she curls on top of the printer half-snoozing. It is dark and silent, the stars hot, world like a blinking sign left on for the evening.

Open, but no one there.

My feet are raw and blistered. My legs stupid aching things. I’ve walked for hours this week as though in doing so there is something I can erase, a numbing maybe. I am most happy here, traipsing along the road that takes me to the coffee shop in five minutes by car but in order to walk there and back takes me two hours in the blistering sun. Yet when I return I feel cleansed, finally earning whatever it is that makes a day full. It makes sense to me this reversal of time, this slowing.

There is no other way to begin.

I meet my lover at the theater to see a punk cabaret. I walk there from my new apartment a few blocks away, a home I am glad to have but nonetheless another room to remain until I find somewhere else that is my own.

We are invited to gather on the stage where rugs are laid out and Munir, or what I can see of his elegant legs, explains what he is attempting with the performances planned this evening. I don’t remember a thing. Off in the wings, a local experimental band performs a droning set, constructing elaborate electric circles, intent and serious, over-performed art at its best. My bones creak as the set extends. I look around instead at all the faces, seeking beauty and becoming bored. Fidget with a bottle cap.

At one point I am pulled back into the jumble of sounds distorting, smoothing out, coming together again. One man lifts a glittering mass of tubes to the microphone but what its everyday function might be when it’s not moonlighting as an accidental instrument is hard to glean. He holds it so we can hear and makes slithering, sickening sounds. We are bathed in red from a single bulb, the band obscured. I squint, trying to parse its details into an image I can place. I can’t decide whether it is more appropriate to scream or vomit. I feel the immediate and awful urge towards both.

Munir dances like a fragrant bird, all light bones in motion, muscles enclosing and cupping curving limbs. He skirts a white bulb with bare feet, stops and shudders, collects and returns. I’m reminded of a moth bending toward fire’s soft flicker, luminous wings and their dust, suspended before death in mid-air.

Beating, beating.

Munir’s movements mirror an old way of being, of explaining. His dance is the transcendent stalking of a fabled beast, an ancient entity, a warrior prowl. The dance, like all dances, tells a story. Of his body and how it came into the world carrying blood from before time. Of the ones before it each circling the fire describing to the rest what they have encountered and seen. Of what we are to finally behold. This is not a lesson for it can’t be transmuted into words.

Instead, what he transmits: an act of witness. Brutality in a sacred space. The beauty of being broken. Our attraction to what is about to rupture. Afterwards, it seems that his dance is the body’s dream about approaching this schism, inflamed.

There is the last gasp of sound (a death) and then I leave, fractured from the floor. I walk in the dark to my house finally able to breathe. Art leaves me angry these days. It leaves me with questions that I can’t seem to address on my own. It leaves me screaming. All week I have been screaming silently. I’m not sure what to say although I sense it growing, unfolding.

Standing on the porch later my lover and I look at the moon swelling in space a perfect circle as we talk. Lately I feel as though my wings are extending, brushing too close to the light, half-hazard in my actions. I think about how much of me goes un-witnessed and the rattling restlessness I can’t explain nor contain. I rim the void. Days bleed endless. Something large is overflowing underneath. Seething. I rip at the guts of the world wanting what’s real to fall out. I fall endless. My hands are flames.

Do you see me now?

I am eclipsed by a face closing against my entrance. I stretch toward the vortex, whirl of collapse, lapsing edge of my container.

Do you see me now?

I call out all the names for gold. Note electric in the night. Name the places you have not touched. Exposed, I give it without asking.

Know this.

I am throbbing with the cosmic now. I become a circle in my dreams. I want to show you everything steaming from me. I bleed it fresh for you. The moon is full. I watch it now as it leaves the world, fickle orange, ripe and gleaming. A wound. How he describes the opening with so much light streaming through a bullet hole in the sky, white invisible on the other side, the light almost shivering. Like a poem, I break into more beautiful things.

Breathing, breathing.


Katharine Hargreaves is a writer, facilitator, and culture alchemist living and playing in California. A translator of tectonic patterns of transformation, Katharine invents interactive experiences and social rituals for a new humanity. She is the founder of ARKO, a culture lab for human connection and AWAKYN, a card game changing the world one magic moment at a time. Find more of her writing at The Fearless Experiment: a way to evolve your world through adventure or get on her monthly mailing list for raps from a real life wizard.

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Magic. Transformation. Shenanigans.

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