spiral dance

She looked just like a gypsy herself as she told me she learned to read Tarot from a drunk gypsy. She said the cards know more than the querant. Then she examined the deck and my aura and picked out four signifiers. How she knew which to select I don’t know, she didn’t know me from Adam, but they couldn’t have been more spot on. I asked her about this and she told me that she doesn’t pick them, the cards tell her. They have a mind of their own, or at least know the mind that is unknown.IMG_9077
After a fascinatingly accurate while, she said I could ask a specific question of the cards. So I did. She pulled two new cards off the top of the deck and laid them side by side. Without a bit of hedging she shook her head emphatically and said No . . . as in Hell No.IMG_9078I had to smile because I already knew Hell No and this was actually a trick question. Her confidence and competence was disarming. Since I already knew the answer to this question, it might have been smarter to ask for the winning lottery numbers.
spiral dance



a friend around the table

tells a story: a woman

with a vicious desire–

coming made her  angry–

died an hour after.

Odd word, stroke, the tenderness

of a hand running its length

over a surface. The opposite

of strike, a field of flaming poppies

rising on a cheek.


No one wants to die,

but no one wants to live forever,

so how not love the thief

who favors us with the end?

We don’t know our lives

face to face but from behind.

From a distance,

shape and meaning.

In the middle, the picture pulses,

pinwheels of color.

We’re showered, struck

and dumbstruck.


~ Jacqueline Berger, excerpted from Ruin Porn


these are “the people who can hear the river”

dancing shoesThat’s what Nottawaseppi means in English. This tribe has lived in the Michigamme (the place where food grows on water–a reference to wild rice) since forever . . . at least those who were not forcibly “removed” during the last 200 years that is.
storytalkerShe has a spirit name that isn’t appropriate to make public, and she is a jingle dancer.
jingle Every bangle on her dress represents a day in the year it was sewn into her costume.
jingledancer dancing
He sings in a way that recalls forests primeval and shapeshifting animals. I listen with my lenses.
The Nottawaseppi Huron are a band of the Potawatami tribe. They live on a reservation near here, and they’re letting me take pictures of them this summer as long as I don’t refer to it as “shooting Indians.” We all laughed kind of nervously over that attempt at humor.

Are we lost I arsked tenderly. Shut up he explained.

IMG_8947“You had better be there,” was the last adamant text from Charlotte (not her real name) I read, but it wasn’t necessary. I was already in the car finding my way back to a pretty, flowery place I’d never been to, at least not since the summer I turned 18. Decades of “whatever happened to her” and “did she ever cut her hair” curiosity was put to rest when I showed up at the weekend-on-the-water getaway with some of my best BFFs from high school.
Elaine singsIMG_8930
Charlotte, Genifer (also not her real name—each got to pick the one she wanted for this story) and I stirred frosty adult beverages with a finger as a fog of years began to clear and we started to see one another again. So much we didn’t know but felt, too many things that we wouldn’t be able to explain; it was overwhelming. I felt the need to set an agenda, “OK, let’s just clarify what is not on the table for discussion.” A few rounds and hours later, we had come up with an embarrassingly expository list. Suffice it to say, we would avoid sharing our . . .

  • Disappointment in our childhood
  • Disappointment in our children
  • Disappointment in men
  • Disappointment in ourselves

IMG_8968got my legs back

You’d be surprised how much was left on the table. It was 1:38am when I replayed the Greatest Hits CD for the third time. Genifer was dealing the cards . . . we all won as much as we lost. Elton John started singing something. “It was so tragic what happened to that guy,” G said. Charlotte and I traded a quick, bemused look that asked drunkenness or early onset dementia? “Ummm, nothing happened to him,” Charlotte pointed out gently. It took all our remaining brain cells to sort out the Jim Croce confusion before we collapsed into our beds.

As soon as we could launch ourselves, we were out on the boat the next morning. A few hours on the water washed out the boundaries and there we were without any more make-up, pretenses or defenses. No more flinching . . . everything we couldn’t say got said. Yes, we knew the difference between fucking and making love. We knew our mothers and genuinely forgave them; we knew ourselves and accepted our fates. We covered the rubric of all our expectations, gave each other an A in every subject, especially the ones we failed.

© Liana 7/14

(title quote by Ring Lardner in The Young Immigrants)


what’s the story


My friend B and her man are doing their professorial gig in Mongolia this summer. They are being treated grandly, and recently were taken to a place where for 25 yuan (about $4.30) she could dip her feet for 20 minutes in a bowl of tiny fish that exfoliate her toes to make them “radiant.”

I can hear the delight in her words emailed from thousands of miles away. YES, yes, they took lots of pictures, she assures me, and in every photo, she is laughing so big that her tonsils are showing.