My Yard, My Body
She is an instrument,
split tree in my yard,
her center cracked and crinkled branches
falling outward, toward the carpet of blades,
green sprouting from the between tawny brown.
That old tree is a massive flower blooming,
and looking at her, at the yard before me,
knowing its lushness-to-be,
I feel my cold bare toes on the ground,
and think how what is mine is not mine
until I water it.
A dispatch from yours truly
For me, making
art isn’t scary. Making origami penguins and photo albums, baking cakes and
knitting hats and writing stories is always therapeutic and pleasant. But
sharing those things with others gives me a lump in my throat the size of Texas,
so that often after I send a story out for review, I need to take a yoga break
or turn on my meditation app so I can listen to the voice of an Australian
Buddhist who will tell me to sit in my chair under my weighted blanket for ten
minutes which is usually enough time for me to remember how to breathe.
I was in the
public library yesterday, browsing through books in the new nonfiction section
at the far corner of the front room. The room is primarily filled with DVD’s
and has these big windows above the shelves through which cold February sunlight
graced me and handful of other patrons with its presence. A title caught my eye.
It was a tiny tan book on the bottom display shelf. Art and Fear. What could art have to do with fear? Probably a lot,
given that someone had gone and written a book and that book had probably been
sent out to many editors, and one editor had chosen to spend their precious
budget money to publish it. Then a good amount of people, including this
library had gone out and bought it so the general public could enjoy it for
free, and at their convenience.
I want to know
that what I sit down to make every day is good, that some people somewhere in
the world will see it and pay attention and find some new life after having
seen it. But here’s the catch: I’d rather spend time making art than preparing
for shows or scrolling through Submittable. And so I keep sitting down at my
desk to write stories and make origami penguins for myself.
I sat down at
the circular wooden table to open the book which had set off these thoughts and
turned to a segment on “Higher Education.” Art
and Fear discredited higher education so bitterly that I couldn’t help but
question my decision to attend grad school, one I’d made while living at home
with my parents and working at a public library for pay equal to that of a
cashier at Walmart and feeling quite directionless and also kind of like a
failure. The authors of the book claimed grad school would offer you a false
sense of security, but it wouldn’t help you become any better at art. In fact,
most people who went to grad school had to “recover” from it. I couldn’t stop
reading the book which was addictive in the manner of bad sex or cigarettes. The
authors claimed that most people who go to grad school never make art again. So
cynical! But there was some truth to it. Not everyone gets famous. Most people
don’t have the shape of their ass publicly broadcasted on CSPAN. Me and all my
peers will very likely be relegated to making our art during our shift at the
gas station at 2am when truckers buying soda and muffins are the only customers.
I think the authors of Art and Fear
would say that’s failing, and so would my eighteen-year old self, ranked 3rd
in my tiny high school class. I thought I was destined to become something
I didn’t read
far enough into the book to see if the authors even came to a conclusion about
art and fear. To be honest, I was pissed at them, whoever they were. For me,
the link is between fear and sharing art, not fear and making art. It’s a fear
I am practicing inviting in. I invite it to sit with me and help me fold my
origami on Sunday afternoons when the tea is just about to boil.
“The ravings of a madwoman.” That is an insult unless you are like me and aspire to be regarded as mad….not mad in the unstable and manic way, but mad for believing dreams can become real. Mad for seeking out all the possible realities, for creating disturbance and watching the particles settle again. Everyone is just the right shape for defiance.
Between Tucson and Sonoita
Earlier in this series of posts, I mentioned meeting the landscape photographer who led me to Las Cienegas Conservation Area. These are his photos. This is his website.
Warm weather flicker
where the rain met my skin,
her last daughter goodbye,
on my lips
so last night
a thrill spilling
Fingers flowing electric
out to dance
Today after lunch
arrived at my door.
Listen here, the coffee’s brewed.
“Home sounds like the water in the shower my son is taking. It is the laughter and comfort of he and his brothers voices, musings and their lives winding and weaving away and then back again”
‘From the Lake’ by Georgia O’Keefe
Sun Prairie, Wisconsin
Check out the rest of the Sound-Bites project.
I can always rely on the sound of the bells jingling from her collar as we run the trail, and later, when I get tired and stop, only the sound of her panting as she sits 10 feet ahead, waiting for me to run again.
Lake Mills, Wisconsin