Thoughts at the end of a workshop (VI)

An artifact of artifacts:




“I have a truth question” (Elizabeth)


Knowing land means knowing what is under the surface—

its parent material and how it arrived

at your field. The wind is its agent. I listened and was


amazed. I wanted to see the magic till

the end of my days too. A sunrise, the ocean, the kaleidoscope

of color cast by a prism, the ability to hold


a crayon or to dress and feed oneself. To really see. At what

cost? Beyond comfort there is something else.

Delusion. Deluge. For a while I existed in two parts: It might


be called strength, or endurance. Thresholds

are sacred places. “Exactly,” she said and with that she laughed

so hard she sounded like a good witch


in full bloom. How have we both been so loved and so lonely

this long? I mostly just listened and watched.

Still, the silence of how. Michiganders are so fucking proud


of that bridge. Someone there was having

a good day. A time when I was sick with pneumonia and I was

about to turn seven. In 1966, nice girls didn’t


have sex. We’d recite years: 1967. 1978. Ohhh 1952.

We tried on our sense of time, together,

smelled all the humanity against the metal. We talked about


a life well-lived. She smiles. “Everything.”

I love her. “This is the very stupidest present I’ve ever heard of,”

he says. Someone was holding a sign


that said “Hasting.” Dad was not a person to shower one

with praise—due or undue. / and then I am taken

the way I like to be taken / I imagine them lifting Beauregard’s body


together. Maybe not a twin flame, but a co-efficient.

Doing well in school became my plan. Building the house had

consumed him for three years. Then the fire


had consumed the house. The sap in the decadent, overgrown,

turpentine-infused Bishop pines became hot so quickly

that the trees exploded like they had been dynamited. What is it


about having someone serve you kindly that has

such a healing effect? You must be someone whose touch is

safe every time. “I still have your rake,” I add.


I wish I’d told you this. You know: sweep the shop, clean

the tools, greet the English-speaking customers

at the door and translate to Spanish if needed. I was still


coming to on a summer afternoon. I was

a little girl in love with an afternoon and the possibility of

an afternoon. Drinking summer nectar. Hum.


We stood with our bodies almost touching. “Oh, that’s right,”

she said, looking me right in the eyes. “You

can always blame this on me being crazy.” She’s a great


actress. She will make a terrific Abigail. The finely

divided blades with their high surface to volume ratio

heat through instantly at the fire’s leading


edge and flash from solid to flame, matter to energy. I drank

a lot of cherry coke Slurpees that summer.

Maybe if I didn’t walk back and forth in the same place


twice a day I wouldn’t repeat my well-worn

ruts. Our history doesn’t make us shameful, just our fear of

discovery. After exactly 75 minutes (Todd


and I both looked at our digital watches like every 40 seconds),

we left the party. Lot of vinyl. Was I too much

like the water, too far beneath? Perhaps not enough. Our field


is a moonscape. Denuded, it lies bare,

every pore and irregularity revealed. Its starkness is gripping.

Seriously. People spoke of the light. It was a story—


already—left open for me to fill in the details, or not.


–Elizabeth, Tom, Ralph, Clare, Cara, Margie, Denise, Melanie,

Bev, Karolyn, Stevie, Jonathan, Susan, & Shelley, 25 April 2012




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