So there I was, walking with the dog along the river, watching the red-wings do their thing, thinking of nothing much, when it suddenly occurred to me
is to aspire
to the spark,
and the fire.
What human wouldn't want to know
the solitary crow,
I've recently finished a commission of several paintings for a doctor's office over in Junction. Large pieces. The daunting substrate and the big ol paintbrush sat there for weeks before I could bring myself to begin. Somehow the stakes feel so ridiculously high, they dwarf the sky. In general, I'm comfortable working small: small poems, small paintings, small gardens, small dwellings. This works well for someone with OCC, (Obsessive Creative Compulsion), as I can have several projects firing at once. Spark, spark, spark. And by the way,
If not for the dark,
Do you see those seven little words above? They have been selected to appear in a college textbook due out next year entitled: Literature: An introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama, (17th edition, ed Goia and XJKennedy). I suspect those seven little words will appear in a section called Really Really Really Short Poems.
But in recent years, lo, and be almost whole, the scale has begun to change. The hole in the wall has begun to grow. We bought a larger home, and with it, assumed a larger relationship to mountain, valley, sky, and critter. Such living nurtures the hermit soul in me, and starves my inner hobbit, who is most comfortable bumbling about in the small. In any event, it is difficult to leave home. Impossible to leave at dusk, just as the Bookcliffs and the Mesa begin lighting up and softening like melted pastels. (The painted desert ain't just a park in Arizona). So I suppose it makes sense that I've been writing longer lines in verse and plenty of prose since chucking the noisy cottage in town and moving out into open, quiet space.
What I didn't expect was that the impulse to know the nature of story, particularly local story, was going to force me to see, (in everything), what we call competing narratives.
I have learned nothing but that the phrase seems to be all wrong.
Dear Tomas, who taught me to enter the classroom and teach with a child's song in my heart, may you rest deep, and may you rest in peace.
Dear Timothy Tim, who tested my patience and tested our friendship and tested the waters and tested your own vast capacities each day of the week, may you rest in the arms of the trees and the prophets, and may you rest in peace.
Dear Jackie, two springs you've rested in peace, and visited me in dream. Fully refreshed, wholly woke, may you emerge in the form of the doe, the flick of the fish, or a slender stalk of wheat.
Dear Andrea, dark star, white witch, tiny little warrior, you who changed your name and changed your face and changed your name again only to vanish in the mist, may you be a neighboring star, moon-soaked, earth kissed. The road was hardly paved in gold, but I think I'll miss you most, sister crow.
So many deaths, so little time.
Not to mention the deaths of three friends' dear husbands this past year.
Well, we are certainly of the age when one begins losing count of their dead. Instead, it seems everything's a memento mori, and everything an affirmation. Although in truth, it's probably always been like that. Poets, they say, are notoriously death obsessed.
Poems, another friend often says, do not contain meaning, but they are meaningful.
I've come to believe the same is true of story. Perhaps competing narratives are not in competition, but in conversation. Of course there are those who believe conversation is a competition.
I'm told in shaman cultures, the word death is akin to the word, cure.
The word hospice originally meant: a resting place for travelers.
Essence, Guddjieff tells us, is a child.
And gratitude is a grandmother.
Still, it is difficult to sleep, or wake during times of drought, and grief.
Replied the garden, the wilderness and the word,
I never promised otherwise.
Timor mortis conturbat me.
Wrote a recently fatherless friend who had borrowed a shawl to wrap round her shoulders as the night moved in,
Thank you for draping me.
I have been trying to learn the meaning of shelter.
I have been trying to learn to breathe.
I suppose I have been trying to learn to make peace.