One of my favorite memories from the road trip Fred and I took to New Mexico was the little town we found up in the mountains, Cloudcroft. The air was so cold, and after driving around White Sands it seemed impossible to see pine needles and need sweatshirts. We had a camp fire and that night wolves killed something, an animal tried to burrow under our tent and a bird hit the side in the early morning. Still, it was amazing.
Looking through the Library of Congress to find a possible cover image for my chapbook, I ran across a whole bunch of pictures from Cloudcroft.
While I was out in Seattle I had the chance to flip through a book by/about the work of Andrew Goldsworthy that my aunt had taken out of the library. Not only does he write with incredible eloquence, but I fell for the temporal quality of his instillations. Ice shadows, hand-prints that melt away, leaves plastered onto trees only to blow away as they dry…. There’s something appealing about creating something just to let it disintegrate. I used to do a lot of sculpture work, but I’ve since transitioned into pen and ink and words. Still, I have plaster bodies about the house, and they are beginning to get dusty and forgotten, as well as become an obstacle for cleaning. I still can’t throw them out, but I can take them outside and let nature run her course with them. The back patio has long ceased being a usable patio, so I used the pile of rocks to create a wall and a Goldsworthy inspired pattern. I’m not sure how long it will last, but it was fun to do regardless.
There’s nothing like picking cherry tomatoes and basil by the light of a (pungent) kerosene lamp. Though it was really a bit bright; small sun encased in glass. Tomatoes, fresh basil and mozzarella on bread for dinner with my mum as it starts to storm. Sometimes home is exactly where I ought to be.
Though I feel like I haven’t read fairy tales in a long time, I forget how well they are embedded into my memory. In helping a friend with her manuscript (The Ravenous Audience, by the lovely Kate Durbin, published by Black Goat sometime next year! So proud of her!) I realized how familiar fairy tales are. Many emerge throughout her pages, and it was the biblical stories that threw me off.
Stories are so important. I searched into everything I didn’t know, and realized it was only the names I’d forgotten; I knew the actions, the heart of the stories. I thought I knew nothing of mythology, but the same is true- I just forget the names. I can’t remember names for the life of me. Perhaps that’s why many of my projects have dealt with re-learning names, I’m trying to complete the fragments.
But this isn’t about names (though everything, really, is). This is about wishes. Fairy tales often begin with wishes, and then deal with the idea that what we wish for is already what we possess or is exactly the opposite of what we really want. The king who turns his daughter into gold. The woman spewing gems from her mouth. Or the burning away of perfection because of jealousy; someone else’s wish. Tallow on a shirt and the prince gone. A empty hillside where the palace once stood.
Wishes are dangerous things, slippery as fishes. (An irresistible rhyme, that’s for Nicelle.) Still, I continue to do it. I can’t help it. Shooting stars, of course. The moment I see a clock with the minutes and hour aligned. A hay truck, though only if it’s in motion. In the right weather, dandelion puffs. Wishing is an escape, a moment to enter into fairy tale. A good wish, too, finds a truth that perhaps can’t be voiced aloud, because wishes are secrets. The secrets we might bury from ourselves, the secrets we’re sure not to tell anyone else. Because everyone knows, a wish once voiced isn’t going to come true. And we want it to come true. I’ve slipped, the casual inclusion of you into me; into we. I don’t know what you want. So I claim my wishes and I will keep them secret until they turn into gems and gold and disaster.