kate frank

poet, performer, & amateur lepidopterist

Breakfast with Snowflakes

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(Photos, from top to bottom: The view from the porch // Snowy early-christmas-present elephant necklace // My joyful snow face // My early morning boots&sweatpants combo, & the evidence of my celebration dance)

Today, I woke up to snow. It was a complete surprise. I hadn’t heard anything about the weather from meteorologists or facebook friends, who are the first people, usually, to alert me to predicted precipitation. So I woke up this morning, saw how white the sky was through the window, and through my sleepy fog, sat up to look outside. Snow! A beautiful, thin layer of snow coating everything, and some still falling flakily from the sky!

After I immediately ran outside to appreciate the snow/take photos to make my family in Oregon jealous, I ran inside to put on Christmas music and make oatmeal. It has been a lovely, peaceful morning here. I’m so grateful I went to the Lighting of the Merry Maple yesterday, a big event in the town common of Amherst where the UMass marching band plays holiday tunes. That + a snowy morning definitely = December at its finest. I also had fun yesterday going to dinner with Milo before the festivities, at Fresh Side (“a little eatery and tea place”). I warmed myself up with a whole pot of ginger & honey tea. Milo described its flavor as “watered down carrots & brown sugar,” which sounds like a glowing endorsement to me, but they weren’t having it.

After the Merry Maple, I went to a concert of a different variety (aka, in a basement). It was inspiring to see the art that so many of my friends are working on. A good reminder (because I do sometimes forget) that making stuff is a really meaningful, wonderful thing to do on this earth, & it can be FUN.

And then, when I got home, I made the best popcorn ever.

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I try not to catch it

you open your mouth & it’s red inside
like a furnace. you stay home sick.
your skin is red, like a burn.
red & shining, surface of a red balloon,
static. so much static between us
the spoon shocks me every time
I bring soup to your chapped lips.
you apologize for the illness, lick
your lips red as the rest of you.

I throw ice packs at you
through the field of static.
you press the cold against
forehead, the backs of your knees.
you put a pack’s corner in your mouth.
I tell you not to bite down,
something about poison.
I’m thinking about white sheets,
white skin flushed red, blue dye
in the ice packs, how it adds up.
I’m thinking you are the united states
of america’s rumpled, nauseated flag.

you fall asleep with your lips
around the ice pack & I pull it out,
afraid of your teeth. I read you a story
out of a cardboard book. there’s not much
to say. you breathe deeply while you sleep
& I watch the blue ice pack on your stomach
move up & down, like cardboard waves
in a school play, a suggested ocean.

I am a terrible nursemaid.
I throw ice packs at myself
in punishment. I learn to juggle,
catch all the ice I throw.
I’m a better clown than I am
a caretaker. I crawl under the bed
& try to fit into your shadow.
The only shadow under the bed
is the rectangle of the bed.
I think you’ve gone missing
until I crawl out & you are
still there. I’m no use
to either of us like this.

when you exhale, the furnace
I made up in your mouth glows
like a candle. your breathing
is a strobe light. on & off
goes the candle. I have to look
away. it starts to seem you
will sleep forever. the static
I made up around your body
starts to seep inside.
you make a quiet roaring
like an empty TV station.
the ice packs are melting.
you’ll wake up floating.
I fall asleep, finally,
you are still sleeping.
I dream you’re a fish.

my daily bread, attempt one

This bread is the JAM, y’all. That recipe is seriously magical. I am encouraging you to make this, if you have the resources. This is the first bread I have ever made by myself & it has such a beautiful, chewy crumb! I know why people talk about ‘the crumb’ of bread! Because it can be like this. & it’s only going to get better.

morning meditation

blueberry sourdough quartetblueberry sourdough sololast bite

The other day I made these blueberry sourdough muffins, a veganized, what-I-had-on-hand riff of these blackberry muffins, to use up some old bananas.

The morning after I made them, I woke up (a little late) to an empty house.

I’ve been thinking about meditation & the benefits it could have, especially in the wake of my weird health problems, for a long time. As my health weirdness intensifies, it’s an idea that keeps coming back to me.

Despite this thinking, I’ve found it really difficult to make meditation a daily or otherwise regular part of my life. On the contrary, I’ve actually noticed I have been actively filling up my mind with stuff, stuff, stuff. Then I realized how difficult it’s been for me to even do one thing at a time, to watch TV without being on my computer, phone, etc. So I thought I could practice focusing on the present moment as a way to inch closer toward meditation.

On the empty house morning I decided to put almond butter & banana slices on my muffin, make a cup of coffee, & just sit there, eating. To focus completely on what I was doing, on the food & the light & sitting with myself.

I ended up taking a lot of photos, which may not have been completely the idea. It was good to notice, though, how when I stop & sit with myself, how much more I see.

Being in my body, in the present, calms a lot of the sadness & stress that exhausts me sometimes. When I’m here, when my brain is with my body, I remember to be grateful.

photograph of reasons to go on today

Reminders, reminders everywhere.

list of reasons for me to go on today

go on
1. To take place; happen: didn’t know what was going on.
2.
   a. To continue: Life must go on.
   b. To keep on doing (something): Don’t go on talking.
   c. To proceed: She went on to become a senator.
3. Informal To talk volubly: My, you do go on.

(via thefreedictionary.com)

*

sometimes after I’ve spent time reading about the world, even especially reading about the world I want to live in & be a part of, I start to experience a crushing anxiety, a sense that this world will never exist for me, & doesn’t even really exist for the people who presume to occupy it.

reading about small press publishing is an exercise in this, reading about publishers who own successful or unsuccessful publishing houses who mostly speak about how excruciatingly difficult it is to do what they are doing & it’s like–what, then? what is supposed to happen to writing?

So, to remind myself that feeling hopeless about the world is a waste, that there is more than one dimension to everything & even if small press publishing is horrible & as a writer I am supposed to be reading books all the time to make myself a better writer but when I read books I feel guilty because I’m not doing all the other things I “need” to do to become a better writer like write or tweet or learn accounting…even if all of that IS true, which at least is not a static state of things, there are things about the world that are beautiful & good. There are reasons to proceed, to take place.

& they are as follows:

1. I can be understood. I can speak & sometimes people say, “Yes!” like I’ve just put into words a feeling or idea they’ve been looking to describe for some time now, looking as if for a fallen earring in a movie theater (which is to say, with great effort).

2. The light of the world is different every day. Most likely, on every day I am alive I will be able to observe the quality of light. It might be buttery, stark, watered-down or dappled. It might defy description. Very often, it will be magical & breathtaking.

3. Humans are not the only life on this planet. There are all kinds of animals, bats & geese & elephants & beta fish. There are banana trees (alive) & irish moss (alive) & dandelions (alive & wish-on-able). Even if my own life seems overwhelming, even worthless, there are plants I can water. I can do small things to support life. Those other lives are doing small-to-big things every minute to support mine. It helps to remember. We are all in this together.

4. Speaking of which, I am not alone. Every morning, I wake up next to a person. That person is kind & generous & wants to support me. They want me to be the best human I can be, best as I define it. Then, I go for a walk with my mother, who also supports me. I am surrounded by people like this, who love & care for me, & I am surrounded by strangers. These strangers are potential-connection factories, every minute capable of changing my world for the better. What’s wonderful, too, is that I don’t have to know everyone. Sometimes it’s enough just to smile at someone and never meet them again.

5. I have time. Time to think, to write, to clean the kitchen, to wiggle my toes. The world is full of possibilities. I am endlessly thankful for the time I spend directed only by my imagination.

found instructions for an unnamed machine

I wrote a poem with this title, which was published in The Legendary last July. When I wrote it, a professor told me it might be interesting to stage as an artist’s book with one step on each page. I thought that was a brilliant & interesting concept, & have wanted to execute it for a long time.

This illustration is my first attempt at beginning to create that book. Translating my ideas into art can be so tricky. What excellent practice in gentle persistence!