Sunday, June 09, 2013

Aroostook County, Maine

Ann Armstrong, in the fabric studio

And just like that, it's gone. So fast the time passes, even if I was able to accomplish much of what I wanted at Haystack: even flax paper haiku. I wrote almost every day with Betsy Sholl, former Maine poet laureate, an absolute gift—she is an astonishing wordsmith—and now have friends dotted around the hemispheres: in Grand Rapids and Poland and Capetown and Austin and Providence. And the best thing about spending two weeks with a community of artists is the new beauty I find in the world.

These people see all material as a substance to be crafted, to be shaped according to the muse, to be made more beautiful at all costs. Maybe some people think that's unimportant. But those people are wrong.

I came home (you know with what effort I type that word) yesterday, limping in the Volvo, praying the whole way, and using Deepak Chopra-style visualization along with deep breathing and a light touch on the gas. Within in ten minutes of being here, K. had the engine cover off and discovered oil leaking into my spark-plug wells. Which means he had the problem fixed in another twenty, but it also means I could have lit my engine on fire during the twenty-minute drive home. Allegedly. Thank goodness for small mercies.

I even assisted: bringing a tool as requested without having to figure out what the word meant. And I cleaned some receptors with alcohol, q-tips, and paper towels. I'll be a mechanic yet.

The bridge off Deer Isle, though. The thing is a blue behemoth, with a 25-mile-per-hour speed limit, and all week I stalled every time I dropped down to a low speed and climbed a high hill. No shoulder—only ocean—on the bridge. All I could think was that I'd stall at the top, which panicked me, so I imagined instead the relief I'd feel on the other side. Or the relief I'd feel, pulling into the white trailer, with its dim traces of mold, and my Shadow, and the partridge nesting, and the jerusalem artichoke as high as an elephant's eye. Saying: I didn't stall once!

So: I didn't stall once. I left my haikumobile as ephemera, a minor tragedy, but only a minor one. And now the bell no longer tolls my hours and my meals—I am responsible for myself again. The respite is over.

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