Tuesday: a Few Miles Travelled

Eleven years ago, I drove away from Copley Hospital in Morrisville, sitting in the backseat of a car – a place I never sit. My six-year-old daughter was in the backseat, too, her infant sister between us, just days old. Although it had rained every single day in May – either a drizzle or deluge – the beginning days of June were sunny and hot. Leaving the hospital, we passed enormous corn fields where emerald shoots of corn had emerged from the dark soil in those few days I had been cloistered.

Sick through almost the entire pregnancy, by the end I was less alive, submerged in that pregnancy’s difficulty. But all that passed immediately with the birth of my second daughter. Within minutes of her birth, I felt myself returning to life.

In all the marvelous experiences of my life, those minutes driving by those June corn fields rank very near the apex: the two children I was meant to have, beside me birthed and healthy, the gloomy raininess of a long hard season dispersed, and all around us, radiant in sunlight, those fertile fields rich with life pushing upward, in those long sweeping rows of gems.

blessing the boats
(at saint mary’s)

may the tide
that is entering even now
the lip of our understanding
carry you out
beyond the face of fear
may you kiss
the wind then turn from it
certain that it will
love your back
may you
open your eyes to water
water waving forever
and may you in your innocence
sail through this to that

— Lucille Clifton


Being a Child

Later in the summer, when the gardens are overrun with weeds, and cucumbers and string beans need to be picked from sagging vines, and the days are long with children swimming, and smoke hangs in the air from cooking outside, there’s often a point in the late afternoon when the world seems just a little much: that so-called witching hour mothers of babies know. We’ll move through that hour, through dinner and dishes, and washing up, and the cool leisure of evening comes in.

But now, in the spring, the world is yet at that new place. The weeds are nowhere near knee-high, and the warmth is as welcome as a novel in my hands I want to read.

I imagine this is how childhood should feel.

…And as I was green and carefree, famous among the barns
About the happy yard and singing as the farm was home,
In the sun that is young once only,
Time let me play and be
Golden in the mercy of his means,
And green and golden I was huntsman and herdsman, the calves
Sang to my horn, the foxes on the hills barked clear and
And the sabbath rang slowly
In the pebbles of the holy streams…

– Dylan Thomas, “Fern Hill”

Montpelier, Vermont

What’s A Poem Worth?

Yesterday, someone said to me, why would people write a poems if they weren’t going to be paid for them?

That’s a gulch of perception I may never be able to cross. What is a poem worth, anyway?

This morning in Montpelier, I attended an art show, where my daughter had a painting entered. In the opening remarks by Tom Greene, president of Vermont College of Fine Arts, he said creating art widens our experience and makes us more humane. I’m not sure that sentiment would have imprinted on me as an adolescent, but as an adult, far down in the cavernously lonely well of writing a second novel, those words shone like a bright beacon far above, a place I know – a place I continue to heads towards through the arduous work of writing.

What’s art worth? A truer question, perhaps, would be: how unimaginable our world would be without art.

"This is Just to Say"

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

– William Carlos Williams

artwork by Molly S.