Thursday, April 30, 2009
Friday, April 24, 2009
Thursday, April 16, 2009
This scientist, who understands that Ireland is but an hour away, is named Tom or Dick or Harry, and he taught me how to distinguish scents.
He brought me into his garden. All gardens are Eden and no garden has a snake that will tempt you further than you are capable of going. There never has been such a one but unless you have at least once joined in the hallucinations of your dying father, you will never know this.
Tom, Dick or Harry, the scientist, has studied chemistry at Yale and in Findhorn, which is in Scotland, where they keep the magic.
Every day, for a month, he escorted me to a seat at the center of his circular garden. There he blindfolded me and stepped away, leaving me to listen for the rustle of a nameless snake. And to use my nose.
From a short distance he sent one fragrance at a time in my direction, sometimes using carrier bees. He usually removed their stingers but not always and I often wonder if the twitch I experience in upscale restaurants isn’t due to our lessons with rosemary and dill.
As I said, he would send the scent of basil my way. First a leaf. Then a crushed leaf. Then a flowering sprig. Then a Neapolitan pizza.
“Find and describe the basil,” he would say.
Because I’d once owned a small dog, I understood that to find with the nose is to hurry some, inhaling small, quick doses, the nose, as it were, to the ground. Sniff sniff sniff, nostril flare, something else there? No? Stay focused. To distinguish is to find one from all the rest.
“It smells broad and green,” I said. I did not hear the snake, also green, but narrow, insidious. You can’t blame snakes for being snakes. Snakes do not blame you and if they do, they are not snakes and can be dealt with accordingly. Know this. Sniff it out.
Then he would send the oregano. A leaf. A crushed leaf fresh; a crushed leaf dry. “Compare and contrast.”
“The fresh contains water. It runs along the sides of my tongue where bitter kisses hide and unshed tears reside,”
“Ah,” he said. The air so still I could feel his nod. “And the dry?”
“The dry smells of history and of the day I left WNEW for life in the desert. It smells of a song already sung.”
“Yes,” he agreed. “Dry oregano smells of opera heard on the radio. It catches in the ears, not the mouth, but how? Now think this through.”
How, I wondered then and wonder still. How? How does scent infiltrate memory if not through song?
What I did not learn from science is this: How do you distinguish the scent of memory from the smell of regret?
“…in the throat?”
The whiff of longing from the odor of living?
“…in the eye?”
He would not say. Always, the answers were to come from me. Is it any wonder the experiment lasted only one month. Seasons require reciprocity. And seasons pass.
They say the heart is the only center, but I am not so sure. Maybe I will buy another dog and go home. Or invite the snake home for dinner. Those bright-eyed charmers with their double tongues, inhaling and tasting both at once…
What I will do is leave this desert, step over the circumference of this circle and grow another garden, snake-free and illuminated.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
I started making artomat pieces back in 2002 when after complaining that there were no venues for very small art, a friend sent me the link to Clark Whittington's Artists in Cellophane project. (http://www.artomat.org/).
I'd be looking for a way to combine poetry and images, and, more important, a way to get my work out among the real people and circumvent editors of literary magazines (and I'd been one so I know whereof I speak). I hated, dreaded and feared the whole incestuous process of choosing and mailing off 3-5 pieces, waiting for the rejection and doing it again. That's 20% of a day gone. I knew from experience (Black Warrior Review, 1987-91) that most writers are not familiar with the magazines they send work to and even fewer people actually read them.
What a thrill it's been vending poems. I've sold the same half dozen over and over to hundreds of readers, one line of a poem at a time. And they get this absolutely nifty block of wood and plexiglas with a painted print to boot (and a copy of the entire poem, too) And I get to manufacture the whole thing. Since I also included contact info, I'd sometimes hear from a collector.
Our checks come with a list of places where the pieces were sold: Asheville, Atlanta, Indianapolis, Los Angeles...museums, Whole Foods, festivals, coffee shops (Mary's, Of Course).
Once, probably in 2002 or 2003, I received a request for a whole poem and delighted in creating the set. I often wondered how the buyer displayed my artomats. Today, I found out:
Monday, April 13, 2009
The afternoon had morphed into an oddly warm evening smelling of earthworms. One open window led to another and another until I’d spread them all wide, even the sliding screen door. I stacked box after box in the unused dining room, listening with pleasure to the sounds of residents, I guess I could call them neighbors now, arriving home from their holidays.
When the doorbell rang, I answered it to find Mrs. Mason ordering me to dinner, a bottle of wine in one hand, metaphoric gun held to my head in the other. She and Mr. Lowe had news to share. Of course, I joined her and ate with them the slow-cooked pot roast, green beans and mashed potatoes, she’d been cooking all day.
“We wanted you to be the first to know,” said Mr. Lowe when the last of the roast had been divided into foil-wrapped doggie bags. One for him and the other for me. He poured three glasses of champagne. Mrs. Mason sliced into a chocolate cheesecake. I withdrew an eager smile from my purse and slapped it on.
“Almost the first,” she said. “We had to let Judith know immediately and didn’t want to interrupt your time with Susan. By the way, I hope she paid you. Cleaning out an apartment is not easy.”
“She did,” I said. “The Aaron Rent people are coming tomorrow.”
“Are you keeping that little desk? You should.”
“I think so. I’ll be moving into an apartment Abigail’s husband helped me find so I’m not sure. It might remind him of her.”
“You could always keep it in the bedroom. He’s unlikely to find it there.”
“Well, I don’t know. He might decide he’d like to marry again.”
They exchanged wise and worried looks over this. I grinned.
“It may be a moot point, my dear,” said Mr. Invalid. “We have a little proposition for you.” He held his glass up for a toast. “How would you like to stay right here and keep on managing this complex?”
“What do you mean?” I wasn’t actually sure I would, having moved into the future already.
“We’ve managed to cut Ken Eberhard out of the sale,” he said. “Arborgate is mine again.”
“And mine,” said Mrs. Mason, taking in a hefty swig of champagne.
“I couldn’t let it happen,” said Richard. “Not after what he did to that poor girl.”
“How did you cut him out?” I asked.
He winked. “Let’s just say I’ve known George Truesdale since he was a little boy.”
“Isn’t he chivalrous?” laughed Mrs. Mason. “A little land in Buckhead will not be a bad thing.” She was right. In three years, she would flip the property, turning it into condos.
“Not me,” said Mr. Long. “I just know the people. It’s your money.”
“You own Arborgate?”
“I’m your new boss, Honey.”
My smile fell. “Judith fired me.”
“She fired you because Eberhard couldn’t,” said Mr. Lowe.
“And,” said Mrs. Mason, “I happen to know she hasn’t decided what she wants to do yet. Eberhard has offered her a job managing his latest property but it’s in Birmingham.”
“I don’t understand,” I said. “I thought he’d already bought Arborgate.”
“Not quite,” said Mr. Invalid. “I’ll admit it was close and if I hadn’t know little George Truesdale all his life and his daddy before him–“
“And his mamma,” said Mrs. Mason.
“And his whole family, I probably wouldn’t have managed it. George couldn’t have just stopped a sale because of that scoundrel, but he did have a buyer and we sent that–
“Back where he came from.”
“Back to the drawing board, dear. Don’t be so literal. He’s not going to mess around with any more Atlanta girls for awhile. I took the liberty of telling him so just this afternoon,” said Mrs. Mason. “He knows how he lost this property and why.”
“It was the least we could do,” said Mr. Lowe.
“It was the most we could do,” she said. “The SOB didn’t break any laws but he broke that girl’s heart and her spirit too. She’ll never get a chance to smarten up and find her own way. Like you and Judith.”
Like me and Judith. But was I any smarter or just one step further into the unknown. I didn’t know what I wanted beyond a little desk set against an upstairs window. A small dog. A sidewalk leading to Peachtree Street. The list would grow.
After dinner we took a walk in the last stray warmth to find Tim bent purposefully over the open hood of Abigail’s MG. Susan had practically given it away, whispered Mrs. Mason. Obviously, I should have spent more time this week with her.
To my surprise, Judith and Michael were sauntering around the pool deck, following Nicholas on his Christmas bike. They were laughing and though not holding hands, appeared closer than I’d ever seen them.
“There’s all kinds of love,” said Mrs. Mason, her arm linked through Mr. Lowe’s.
“And all of it real,” he said.
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Today people with pencils, paints and sketchbooks met in groups for a day of sketching in their city. One of the Atlanta groups met for breakfast at Ria's Bluebird Cafe and then...shivering...crossed Memorial Blvd. to deploy throughout Oakland Cemetery, arguably one of the prettiest spots in Atlanta.
Friday, April 10, 2009
It's been two years Good Friday since I joined my sister-in-law in deciding to unleash David from the machines that were keeping him "alive." I can't remember any more the names of the machines or their functions, except the kidney machine.
We've made it such a point to live life since then that the time seems somehow longer. Yet I miss him as much as ever and find myself thinking to tell him some random idea.
I haven't looked at the DVD a friend of his made for his memorial service since the day we played it over and over. a lovely party he would have enjoyed so much. But I know which pictures are on it and they are all like this one here. From beginning to end, at every holiday, there was a picture of us together. This one was from the last Thanksgiving. The last one. I might wish I wasn't so obviously fat, but I still love it because it's real.
We decided on Good Friday. Told my mother on Holy Saturday and let him go on Easter. The Knuckle always did think he was the second coming. who knows...
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Friday, April 3, 2009
Even this timid little corporate courtyard is a nosegay of dazzlingly damp green.
green green green
welcome welcome welcome
more than a bed for white dog