The opening date is set! The exhibit will be at the Gayle Karch Cook Center for Public Arts and Humanities, Indiana University, Bloomington, Maxwell Hall, beginning September 22nd, and will feature a variety of artists and media formats. I'll be exhibiting one of my historical fiction poems written at Beck's Grist Mill, an Indiana landmark in Washington County, and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Some of my photography will also be displayed. More info as it arrives, but add this stop to your calendar! The exhibit will only run for one month!
We went to the river nearly every full moon, kids out and lost together, hot summer nights in West Texas. Bonfires glowed along the river's edge in Socorro as we looked to Isleta and Fabens, our views through pecans and bends grinding our thoughts along the border. I rode Calamity Jane there, wind or rain, sand or tumbleweeds, or heavy monsoons, (which I secretly loved while frightening my mother as I arrived home, soaked amid lightening strikes so strong the hawks I loved hid under the corral's metal roof.) Friendship was priceless, it was all we could afford. Free dips in the water's edge, gathered sage to scent mesquite from the hillsides, stones petrified from the dry desert air circling the flames of our future.
This partially autobiographical poem was written during a writing workshop at the Lazy Black Bear Farm (Paoli, Indiana), led by Catherine Bowman from Indiana University's Center for Rural Engagement. Guiding us through images from our childhoods and the elements, we used our personal words to create. My images were my horse, Calamity Jane, and my walking down the dirt road I lived on off Montana Ave. in El Paso through dust storms. (The first home I lived in while attending Socorro High School.) My elements were the Rio Grande River (water), a hawk (air), petrified wood (earth), and memories of bonfires in the dry washes (fire.)
The breeze takes my breath as I rock myself in grandma’s hickory chair. Sweet smell of black-eyed Susans, birds flit along powerlines on the county road. Corn and sunflowers fill farmers fields, surprise lilies blooming in a ditch. Children fuss taking off school clothes, barefoot in puddles after a steady rain. Soon harvest will end as the first winter frost halts the growing season. Soon the fields will be bedding down under a warm coat of leaves, as I pull out the tattered quilt I made back when my hands were still able. The snow will come to prepare for spring’s growth, when my grandchildren will rock in their grandma’s hickory chair.
Writing sometimes hits me at odd times. I’m a night owl, so that doesn’t help my getting to sleep, or help with slowing my mind once I’ve decided it’s time to sleep. A couple of nights ago, that happened just after I turned out the lights. A thought, an itch, and I had to turn the lights back on and write this poem that is now a song of deliverance for my soul.
She fought the tears, drowned the pain under fires as the bridges crumbled. Freedom, she whispered. Outgrown a lost soul, held back, knocked down, dark truths of flesh hidden. Freedom, she cried. Chains of passion broken, mourning cruel love, infinity does have an end. Freedom, she implored. A first flower rising through snow as January marks the journey, loving her own creation. Freedom, she shouted. Sound rises above, as spirit is set free to fly, her voice without quiver. Freedom, she whispers.
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