To imagine something better, to live with the subjunctive what if is to either be in heaven or hell. Would we accomplish very much if we didn't daydream and plan for something more? Or would we be more satisfied if we just accepted what is?
Sitting in my third-story perch, the bright green of tree leaves waving in front of the sun, covering, uncovering the light, I consider our move a little east into a house whose ground-floor won't offer me this kind of floating above humanity feeling.
It is what I've asked for, needed for a long time, a home, solid ground beneath us. Yet knowing all along that it's an illusion, a temporary salve for a restlessness I've never fully understood.
I dream of ravens incessantly
demanding water from an
empty metal bowl, their beaks
clanging against the lip.
This is a verse from my latest poem, To Change a River's Course is to Never Be Satisfied. The poem is about diverting waterways, messing with what should be left to itself. But the ravens came in overhead, as they often do, and landed in the poem with their demand to be heard. I've used the verse as a refrain in order to give it import, and imagine the reader questioning its inclusion.
Like the ravens, I often bang my beak against things, and like the ravens, sometimes I find the bowl empty and dry.
Of late, the writing has been my metal bowl. The lack of water the lack of creative flow that used to appear without thought. I expect its return. I ask myself what if it returns. And what if it doesn't. Either way I am accepting, because I can look out the window and recognize grace. For this moment in time, there is nothing more beautiful that this green mass of quivering leaves growing darker as the sun drops behind the Rockies.
The boxes are piling up, bankers boxes, the best invention for saving our backs, and much-used U-Haul boxes, broken down and re-enlivened with muscle and packing tape. My winter sweaters, fuzzy scarves, ski caps and gloves are packed. Magazines are sorted, toys and picture books, notebooks, folders, and more notebooks are boxed. In an attempt to leave out only what is necessary for the next few months, I've hesitated to tape some boxes.
I told my daughter that we dream of a particular home, and yet it is getting into that home that will bring us face to face with our daily life, all of the problems and joys we had in our previous dwelling. We live a certain way in any house we inhabit. It isn't magic, it never was. But the subjunctive what if I lived in a bigger, nicer, better place haunts us. We move and move again, sometimes only metaphorically.
I, like most writers, need space around me to create. Physical as well as emotional space. I look forward to the designated office, to the sun porch right outside my office, but these trees out the window, the sound of them layered from near to far, rustling in harmony, these will only be a memory.
Never would I have considered missing anything about this apartment. And yet I will. I will miss the sound of these trees, their delicate pointed leaves, and I will miss their unexpected shelter.
My writing often deals with the environment, my poetry filled with allusions to natural and man-made disasters. I have unlimited hope though; there is just too much wonder in this world to become a defeatist. To quote Margaret J. Wheatley, '"Hopelessness has surprised me with patience."