A dodge dart never dies, it just fades away.
I cleaned the studio today, it was cathartic. I took everything out, more or less, and rearranged things, sweeping out the old cobwebs, mopping, scrubbing. I washed the shelves by the windows and put away some old things and put up some new things; but always, on the shelves, now for over 20 years the old bottles that my friend Marty gave me back when I worked in Rochester. I lost touch with Marty when Morgan was little, I am not sure why, I have always felt it was because I had offended him, somehow. I tried to call him about five or six years ago, but only was able to speak to his husband, who played interference so he wouldn’t have to speak to me. I think of him all the time and wonder what he is doing, I miss his laughter, his cheer, his fun loving nature.
I am disappointed in the work I have been doing, at least as far as painting goes, for the last handful of years. I come back to it always, just not always with new ideas. It is sometimes a challenge for me to move beyond the metaphors that have repeated themselves in my work. It is time for new metaphors, for something fresh.
I sat for a while on the old chair that was one of our kitchen chairs in the trailer, the home I lived in until I was nine. It has so many memories attached to it, ephemeral and hard to grasp. The swamp, the goose, the chokecherry tree, the old cherry in the back that I liked to climb, the tall pine with sticky pitch dripping down it. Memories of Ada Perry and her one armed husband Dick, of old donuts molding in a glass jar on a metal cabinet in their kitchen, the smell of cowslips cooking in a pot on the stove, the little black spiders that lived in their bathtub drain, and of sledding down the hill towards their house, climbing the steep hill that is now just a small bump on the land. Who knows how big it really was back then when I was so much smaller, it seemed so large.
A cardinal came and sat on a branch of the sycamore, I whistled at it, it stopped and watched me curious, eventually flying low over the awning of the side porch where I was sitting.
I hang many of my favorite paintings on the walls. Paintings that have meaning deep, like the print I did in college, the painting I did while my Dad was in the hospital, newly diagnosed with lung cancer, which had metasticized to his brain. The one that I copied from one my great Aunt Anne had done on cardboard, copied when the acid in the paper had begun to eat away at the paint, and the picture was no longer what it was when it was first done, someplace in the southwest. My Mom’s favorite painting that she has always maintained makes her think of dragons. She calls it the dragon painting. One of those things the viewer makes their own, separate from the intention of the painter.
As I sweep and scrub and clean, I feel as though the last bits of resentment and anger are being swept out too. Although I still stubbornly leave the hammock hanging in the rain, almost out of spite. There is a breeze that is blowing through, I do not know if it carries love on it or not. I let all the dust circle down the drain, like some detritus tossed onto a still pond, it splashes and ripples, rocks on the surface and then floating until it is sodden, it settles where it replenishes the wellspring of the earth. I let you drift slowly down onto the bed of this pond, and wait until you are absorbed by the deep layer of muck.
I am uncertain where I will go from here. I take it one day at a time, one page turned after another until the story will one day be done. Like a story by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, both epic and ordinary in its telling, but here a bit of magic comes in, like a pinch of chili in dark chocolate, drifting across the land until it intoxicates the nostrils of one who will be a long draw, like rovings pinched and twisted on the great wheel of life. I feel confused and feel that I need nothing but time to tell me what will be. I cannot even begin to see what is next. Have I ever been able to? Has anyone truly ever been able to?
I am at least hopeful. I watch from afar as you drift off into the distance, and after a moment, I turn to face the new ship at port, there is much to be done. I am thrilled for all the new adventures that may come my way, even if they are ordinary. Somehow though, I have this notion that all this is in this life is magical, both bright and dark. And all is really in God’s hands anyway. I spy through my glass, a pirate, standing on this new boat. I wonder, as I make my way to the dock, skirt sashaying, eyes bright, and smile like the morning sun, I wonder if he might possibly be looking for a new first mate, and if there might be someway, he will let me come aboard.
You know what screw that, I have my own boat.