Treason – Shana Ross
“This is the treason of the artist; a refusal to admit the banality of evil and the terrible boredom of pain.” – Ursula LeGuin
When I studied the middle ages, I absorbed a belief in saints:
Those who could perform miracles – a lower bar back then.
Dominic, who fixed a shattered tray, Homobonus, who did the ordinary
With supernatural earnesty. I whisper pleas to my prophets.
To Ursula and Octavia, give me hope, give me ideas
Give me words, give me worlds – a single prayer.
Every writer wants to be a saint – our miracles performed in life
Recorded as deeds until we are dead and in hindsight
They become divine. Scour each text for weapons
In the fight against evil, and dear mothers of words, I find
You have pinned joy to the page, hopeful futures imagined so confidently
I can become cartographer when yesterday I could not
See destination nor path. I search for the word I wish to become
Not witch, not conjurer, not seer, visionary, prophet, grandmother
Not woman, old woman, weird woman
Though I have tried all these on. I swallow my intentions
Compacted into a heavy stone and fall into the gravity well of
Desperate hope: make me a crone, in the right season at the right time this rain
Washes away my reason – what sane person could live in this world and not go crazy?
Ursula, Patron saint of fluidity, who understood the world floats
On tidal reality, constantly recalibrating towards greater truth
Whispers: Pain against Joy is a false duality.
We can’t hurry the journey. I am still mired
In fears and uncertainties embedded like shrapnel in the telling
Of my own story. I was once in a room with a guru
Who sat beside a fireplace and said one answer
Is to tell the story of your traumas over and over until
They become threadbare, the pain will be worn down to nothing, and you
Will be able to move to the next thing. I wanted
To swallow the advice, to consume wisdom, to take
A straightforward path through trees and say
I made it through the forest. What would I do
If my demons did not need to be fed, served,
Pounds of flesh, deep heart tissue, fresh cut daily.
And lo, my pain has become boring, my pain has become dear.
I am worn tissue thin, fragile and transparent.
Once, Groucho rode past Hitler’s last bunker
He stopped his limo, and got out,
Danced mirthlessly on the grave for minutes so long
Each contained infinities. Then he drove away. Pour salt
Into water to create a solution. Hard science is always a metaphor
For words that can be elusive. I found myself
Crying in the evening commute with the rain
Heavy enough to blur the lights and soften the edges of reality.
Until the moment I silence the engine and exit the car,
I am pickled in the same suspension of certainty that we are passing
From day to night during this universal grey under storm cover, the universe
We trust to keep its rhythms even when we are unable to distinguish
The two states as they mingle, exchanging control over the realm.
I am struggling in these interesting times.
In my mind, where the right word has gone missing.
Existential dread bubbles through the hole
Where the idea took shape in language.
Joy, Joy, I scream, though there is fear in the dance,
Joy, I insist, in defiance,
Joy, I whisper, in words like sparkleponyfarts, at inappropriate times
Directly into the ear of a child as I tuck the blanket on each side of his small body.
When I was small, I put myself to sleep for nearly a month, by closing
My eyes and visualizing dimensions unfolding. blooming
Until they convinced me I was no genius.
Shana Ross is a poet and playwright with a BA and MBA from Yale University. She bought her first computer working the graveyard shift in a windchime factory, and now pays her bills as a consultant and leadership expert. Since resuming her writing career in 2018, she has accumulated over twenty publication credits, including Anapest Journal, Chautauqua Journal, Ghost City Review, Mad Scientist Journal, The Sunlight Press, and Writers Resist. She is the recipient of a 2019 Parent-Writer Fellowship to Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing, and serves as an editor for Luna Station Quarterly.