I want so much to write. I’d like to be still for a day or two; to draw. To draw at a rate more like I was in October— daily. Or nearly so. To have space for things to percolate and bubble to the surface from below.
Instead, I’ve been kept moving, pulled in multiple directions— and good ones. I’m feeling positive and interested in both the work and other pursuits I’ve been drawn to lately. But I miss the drawing, and its attendant writing.
I look forward to my week upstate at Christmastide, to be still some. And of course to time spent with my family and the animals. Wanders around the Farm to say hi to the Dudes*, take photos, and listen to the quiet of winter up there. Walk the fields. Watch murder mysteries with Mom; talk books and politics with Dad; see a movie with the brothers, sisters-in-law, nieces and nephews. (Probably the odd game of euchre or gin rummy.)
Some quiet nights in the second floor with a big orange cat lying on the bed as I read or type away on my laptop. Maybe he and I will get lost in the attic for minute, time traveling through old things, cast aways in an uninsulated room where the occasional bird finds her way in but not out— leaving behind, at length, a pile of airy bones in the low-ceilinged space beneath the pitched roof. A room mostly neglected and filled with the memories of several generations. (My kind of room)
All these things will make me feel rested and calm; remind me that no one is ever at the helm in this world. Not for long, anyway, and there is a comfort in that. Just as there is comfort in watching slow snow falling on the grass, gone brown in the fall in preparation for the long winter’s sleep.
I’ve been on a new trajectory. It’s great; it’s weird, It’s new. I love new.
I also love Old. That’s neither here nor there. I’ve been feeling like a teenager again, lately. In the sense where I’m acutely aware how temporary so many people in one’s life tend to be. It’s not a judgement call; only acknowledgement of reality.
Most folks are temporary. There’s a time during which you overlap. It ends.
The thing to always remember is that you’re permanent. Be permanent to yourself. A solid. And recognize those who exhibit permanent qualities in return— they’re your rocks. Will help get you to your True North. The Keepers.
In summer my fingernails
grow like weeds—
just grow and grow and there’s
no stopping them.
All that vitamin d; sunlight
so I have to clip, trim,
file. Sand down the edges
that snag on my shirt or a
They’re long now, but instead of
cutting, clipping, reigning in, I
have the urge to paint them.
The brightest color I can find.
I’ve no patience for that
occupation. Always I ruin
the lacquer, a fidgeting sitter,
and even when I don’t, the color
soon chips away. My hands
are tools; these nails are daggers,
But I chafe at practicality
in back-to-school season.
So I’ll color instead of clip
and wait for them to chip—
a reminder that nothing lasts
forever, not even lacquer, or
fingernails, and definitely
The wires are a connective element; a conduit of civilizing electricity, yet there is an insistence on isolation inherent in the design of some of the houses here. Beyond an eye toward privacy, they sometimes feel fortress-like, extending a feeling of invitation only to those already familiar; only to those whose homes they are.
On a grey day, after the season has come to a close, these intimations feel exaggerated, thrown into relief, creating a different sense of drama— the sunny delights of summer recede, leave behind arresting silhouettes along the shore and among the stands of trees.
There is a hum in the wires. It’s faint but if you close your eyes it’ll find you. It was there before the wires were strung, but in them it found a conduit. It’s elemental, but not the way you may think. It’s not the wind, either. Those forces are altogether different to what sings along these undulating lines.
There is a room full of young women lounging in or at the edges of inviting pools of water. The room has an otherworldly atmosphere, with dim, colored lighting and biomorphic curves in the walls and ceilings. It feels, looks like a grotto; like some ethereal rendering of a subterranean brothel. On low ledges all around there are sleek bowls containing delicate and beautiful shapes that look at first inspection as if they are made of glass, but they feel gelatinous. There’s liquid or water in the bowls. The shapes float like jellyfish.
They are ornamented in impossibly-detailed patterns. I ask one of the women what they are, pointing to one near her; bell-shaped, and small. She informs me that this particular model is for cutting off one’s arm. I ask “Why on earth would anyone want to do that?” She doesn’t answer, but nearby I suddenly notice a bowl of fingers, small and red; transforming the liquid like ink blooming in water.
Insistent with my inquiry, I ask her how such a thing could possibly cut through an arm, or anything at all, as I lift one of the instruments out of a bowl and display its gelatinous quality, how soft and malleable. It has only enough density to hold its intended shape. This seems to interest her, and she looks at the object as I hold it, but doesn’t answer this either. I wonder if there’s some quality about the material of which I’m unaware— if sudden pressure is applied, perhaps it becomes more rigid, like quicksand, but maybe fine or sharp.
It remained a mystery, as did the nature or reason for the room itself, the girls, and the the other instruments. It struck me that some of the glass tools looked vaguely like those long-ago diminutive shoes for the footbound.
One of the reasons I enjoy poetry is because it comprises all of my favorite ways of making. It’s creating images with words, yes; a kind of storytelling. But it’s about so muchmore than just the correct or precise words —more than denotation or connotation— it’s also about design.
It’s about how the words interact with the space around them; make a composition, make aural and visual rhythms; remainders as important as omissions.
As in any kind of composition, the negative space is crucial.