“Crowd Surfing With God is a book of consistent breaking and re-fixing. I love most how the book pulls at the edges of all of Adrienne Novy’s many parts, stepping outside the binaries of love, loss, identity, genre, and all manner of things holy. There is sharp language, and palpable imagery, yes. But what works best about the book is how it grabs a reader by each arm, dragging them into many new directions, where something new and impossibly bright is waiting to be discovered.”
–Hanif Abdurraqib, author of They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us
on explaining chronic mental illness to a chronically ill parent
after Brandon Melendez, Kaveh Akbar, & Corva León
maybe it will be easier if i explain this through the history of a family blood/ what an iris needs to thrive/ my mother & i never go to synagogue/ it’s too far of a drive & her legs will go numb/ but we do garden/ which asks the knees to bend/ still/ she prays for me by asking if i’ve taken my medication/ so she can remember hers too/ the difference between my mother & her precious soil is the risk for clots could kill her/ amputate a limb/ we both understand the viscosity of an ache/ yahrzeit candle season/ my mother does not understand why i can’t just be happy/ it’s just a bad brain day, i tell her/ depression & anxiety have physical symptoms/ i don’t have any other metaphor for it but winter/ my intrusive thoughts coagulate & become a pack of teeth/ hungry for a wild/ i am so tired of being a depredated field/ i could sleep within a bed of snow/ my mother cannot quite grasp pain that does not let her point to the hurt’s origin/ lupus stole her father & her brother & one day it may be the thief of her/ when my mother miscarried, the earth swaddled my older sister & up bloomed a diagnosis for antiphospholipid syndrome/ what is giving & taking but a known act of god?/ of chronic illness’ unforgiving?/ my mother & i have different ways of surviving/ what it means to be both surviving & sick/ a grey wolf slays a rabbit in a backyard of white/ inside, i am putting an ice pack over my eyes to calm a howling brain/ the cold makes it better/ to smell the fear within the marrow
we are the bright side!!!
every teen with a guitar is quick to become a god. or an angel. depends on who breaks their snare-drum head during a concert first. band practice in Joe’s mom’s garage?—that’s church. these sharpie’d converse?—our Sunday best. the lead vocalist?—our Lord & Savior.
bless summers of black baseball tees, the ways they stuck to us like Catholic guilt.
bless learning to skateboard, RJ tuning the Holy Ghost of their bass & the way the cornfields in our patch of suburbia tilt their ears towards a genesis.
the band name came to RJ in a dream, it’s a tradition, naming a musical group this way: RJ’s father named his band from an unconscious calling. he & his friends still resurrect a stage every friday night.
i listen to Joe & RJ rehearse & breathe during the rests. when they come home from college, i bring my clarinet into Joe’s basement & i learn songs by hearing a note & then playing it.
“i have a really good feeling about this,” RJ says, about the band, & we all do too, “this will make a hell of a story one day.”
we heal & agree to meet up again tomorrow. the imaginary audience in the driveway hums,
we break into our loudest prayer.