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Unmarked Crossings: a poet and her journeys

Salon Reading and Day Five

Yesterday, Monday, was a glorious day with sunshine and some very welcome warmth, after days of snow and/or rain and cold. After breakfast and some catching up with my blog, I took a walk to North Beach. The walk was only about the equivalent of three or four city blocks, but it felt good to be active after so many days inside. It was wonderful to, once again, be close to the water. I haven’t lived in Maine for eleven years now, but once one has lived near the ocean, it’s impossible to get the salt water out of one’s veins.

When I got to the beach, I was a bit dismayed to see that there was a fairly narrow public space carved out between two properties. “Private Property” signs reared their ugly heads to each side of the area. At the time, I did not know that the beach area was still public, so I carefully stayed between the signs for my visit. It was enough to sit and breathe in the salt water and watch the waves come ashore. I could see mountains to the Northeast of where I sat and islands directly in front of me and to the West. Cormorants (some variety I was not familiar with—they had white tails and white on their heads) were poised atop some pilings to my left. Several flocks of varied types of ducks swam by and the ubiquitous gulls flew over. Some unexpected visitors were the crows—raucous and ever-present. I picked through the stones along the shore, finding a few small ones (I do have to fly back!) and a short, light piece of driftwood to take home with me as souvenirs. By the time I returned back to Kangaroo House, the combination of the walk and the bracing air got the best of me. I read for a few minutes, then fell asleep for the next two hours. My body clock is so confused!

The residents, Bibi, Liz, Kate, and I, were scheduled to read last night at a place called Fire. Laura, a visual artist, brought along a project she is working on to display and discuss with the audience, as well. Fire appeared to be closed when we drove up at 6:00, expecting to have dinner there before the reading at 7:00. So we drove back to Eastsound to a combination Mexican/Italian restaurant. Several people had the carnitas (bits of cooked pork with tortillas and all the fixings, which looked delicious); I opted for the pasta with homemade sausage and a red sauce. We had to eat hurriedly, so I’m pretty sure that I’ll be having the rest of my pasta for tonight’s dinner.

When we arrived at Fire, we learned that we could have had dinner there. The pulled pork looked fantastic, so perhaps I’ll try it before heading out on Friday. The reading venue was very nice with great sound and video equipment. Liz Langamak read first. Her poems reflect where she is in her life—engaged and about to be married to another poet. Very sweet poems, but technically amazing. No wonder her work was featured in Best New Poets a few years ago! Kate de Gutes gave an amazing reading next. She read from a manuscript that centers on being a gay female. The parts she read were hilarious, but very poignant, as she attempted to explain to her parents that their visions of a big wedding and grandchildren would never come to fruition. I can’t wait to read the rest of her book when it is published.

During the break, Laura Grossett, a printmaker and fiber artist, displayed her work-in-progress—fabric hangings with embroidered representations of various birds and birds in various stages from embryo to chick. Laura said she had never been to a poetry reading and had never spoken to people about her work (except for other artists). Laura was so excited yesterday that her husband back in Colorado had passed his firearms instruction at the police academy there.

I was first up after the break. Sometimes it’s difficult to know what to read at a particular reading. This time, I was so taken with the landscape and nature here on Orcas Island, that I felt I should read nature or nature-related poems. I opened, however, with “Shadow,” which is sort of my ars poetica. The first line is, “I want to write my poems like a dog/lives life…” I dedicated to the resident Kangaroo House pooch, Campbell, whom I have fallen deeply in love with. If he wasn’t ninety pounds and the size of a miniature horse, I would probably attempt to whisk him away to Kentucky with me. I read some other poems relating to nature and ended with my favorite poem, “This Day in Particular,” which was written on the first anniversary of 9/11.

Bibi Wien ended the reading by sharing passages from her terrific memoir, The Way Home, published by Tupelo Press. She held the audience’s attention with her tale of being lost in the woods in the Adirondacks, and having to spend the night in the wild with her husband, Bob. Again, I can’t wait to read the rest of the book.

When we returned to the B & B, no one was reading to retire, so we sat in the large living area with a roaring fire, glasses of wine, snacks, and great conversation. Everyone stayed up later than usual, so I thought I was ready to go to sleep when I climbed the stairs to the Nuthatch Room. Wrong. I tried reading the “fluffy” novel I found here in the library until I felt my eyes would close on their own. Every time I turned off the lights, however, it was as if my eyes would not close at all. I tossed and turned until well after 3:00 a.m. (which, by the way, in case you’re following the time changes, is about 6:00 a.m. back in Kentucky).

I finally went to sleep sometime after 3:00, but woke up before my alarm went off at 8:30 (breakfast is served around 9:00). Charles had baked some fantastic “Berry Crisps”(think apple crisp, but with strawberries, blueberries, and maybe raspberries in place of the apples), so it was definitely worth stumbling downstairs. I’ve spent the morning uploading photos and catching up here. I believe I deserve a nap, though. Just not a two-hour nap like yesterday, which may very well have been the problem in the dead of the night.
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