Into the Woods

"The last remnants memory destroys."  ~W.G. Sebald~

Then, I ran off into the woods to find out if my words were still alive after a busy year of teaching and keeping a life, a house, a family running. We are all still here, but is the creative flow? That's always the question for me after I am away from the page in a full-on way for any period of time. I'd been writing small bits, but not with a full-on committed intensity that the work deserves. As the car wound its way up a long dirt road to a mountainside, I realized I was about to find out if my pen still held a whole universe.

 Millay Colony for the Arts, May 2017. Me, at my desk for hour after hour. Me, in workshops with Melissa Febos and Samantha Hunt. Me, watching deer out the window and listening to the chaos of birds. One night, as I read out loud to our group about screaming foxes, coyotes came down into the field and started calling, not to be outdone. My friends there said, They're encouraging you to use your voice. It rained almost every day. The rain made the whole world alive. I wandered alone over rutted gravel roads and miles of pages. There must be a way to keep this momentum going somehow, Melissa said over lunch. And, I wished there would be, but knew that (for me) once I was out of New York state, I would be back into the busy and my words would again ebb away to low-tide drifts, waiting until the next time. 

I understand that I don't have forever to figure this balancing act out. I visited Edna's grave and left her an offering in gratitude. In using her voice, she created physical and emotional space for other writers to do the same. Edna wasn't a mother, so she would likely not understand the bargains I must make in order to create--the patience it demands--the energy and mental space to hold room for everything. But, my life is the one I have chosen and would choose again and again. The words did come back to me. Full-throated. Glorious. It was easily the most productive long weekend I've ever had as a writer. I am back now three days and haven't written anything other than journal entries and these wandering words, but that doesn't reduce the impact of the time at Millay. And, the truth--the night I returned, I was awakened from my sleep just before dawn to the sound of the foxes welcoming me and I knew that I was home again.