A very long, very full, and very good first day of training. No matter how many times I experience it, I am always amazed at how the act of writing together can bring people closer to each other (and to themselves). I always feel more alive, more human, after writing, even when it’s difficult. And I feel the same when listening to others’ writing. Heart food.
I leave you with some images of my dorm hallway, and the lovely origami crane installation hanging in the stairwell. Please forgive the one darker photo–it was the only way to capture the glow.
This morning, I’m boarding an early train to Philadelphia, where Amherst Writers & Artists is holding one of their Workshop Leadership Trainings. It’s an amazing opportunity to learn new ways of leading writing workshops in ways that are supportive, intimate, and positive. And I’m looking forward to returning to Pendle Hill Retreat Center, a beautiful Quaker community just outside of Philly.
If I can, I’ll post some updates while I’m there (the day will be super-packed!)
Welcome to my new website and blog. This will be where I post news of my upcoming readings and workshops, poems-in-progress, and periodic musings on writing (check out the sidebar to follow me). So to christen this blog, here’s a recent poem for you. Thanks for visiting!
Search and Rescue
When you wander in the unlit woods,
when you stray too far
from your own path,
remember the knapsack of history
that lives on your back,
the stories that are yours and yours alone to carry—
your father’s ashy, crooked feet, bowed by poverty,
your first fresh peach after dry apple days,
your uncle’s dried blood on your mother’s
porch, his bottles of piss in the attic,
your new husband in your mouth,
the taste like first summer sweat—
they are flint and tinder to spark fire,
iodine tablets to treat foul water,
as light and warm as silver space blankets.
These joys, these disasters,
these wild hurricanes of love and relief,
they are Swiss Army knives with millions of blades,
hatchets and fishing line, field guides to
the plants of your soul, to distinguish
between the poisonous and the medicinal.
A first aid kit. A flashlight.
A flare gun, to signal
the rescuers who are yourself,
a helicopter on the third day of being lost,
rope dangling in the whipping wind, a voice
crying out—grab it,
you’re safe now, we’ll pull
and up and up,
past the old trees into
the new, white light.
Note: “the knapsack of history that lives on your back” is a reworking of a phrase from Jen Cross: “I am writing directly out of that history—and history is what lives at my back.” This is from her Writing Ourselves Whole November 7, 2012 blog post, “what’s at our backs?” Thank you, Jen, for your inspiration.