My priest surprised me last Tuesday, as I was digging in my garden
while the ground was still soft
after all the rains we'd had. He brought a magazine to show me, with an article about a poet we both love. We sat with my wife and talked about healing and poetry and short stories, about Mary Oliver and Flannery O'Connor- the sort of spiritual direction even a doubter can use. When he left, we stopped on the porch, looked out over the town. "That is lovely," he said, "That is marvelous," as we stood together in that happy place before he was gone.
Some days, you can’t see far, maybe half-way
down the block, but you know the bakery is still down there, and you know the
way before you see it. When you get close, you can smell the bread.
Some days, you don’t see much past the page
you’re writing, so you write that one, and by the time you’ve finished, the
next one emerges. Today, on page 129, Marjorie is writing a story, Schroeder is
making an omelet. Ray is in Arizona, talking to Mattie at Standing
Stone Gallery. Jane McCarson just fell down a well. It sounds worse than it is,
probably saved her from a worse fate.
No telling where we’ll all be tomorrow.
Life goes on, and if we’re lucky, takes us with it. Meanwhile, here we are. We
could do a lot worse.
My cousin in Bowdoinham (that other Henry Mitchell
writer) who visited us in Tsaludiyi a couple of weeks back, sent us
this splendid book of poems by Gary Lawless. Lean and clean, spare and
sharp, muscular and musical, redolent and rooted. It will resonate with
any youns who live close to the ground. Maybe when I grow up, I might
learn to write poems like that.
It is impossible to accept that climate shift is a myth when every
time I walk out into an April day, I see things flowering on the
mountain four or five weeks ahead of their bloom-time when I first lived
here forty years ago. I'm not a scientist, but I have eyes to see with.
People swallow the anti-earth propaganda of the Trumpites because,
inexplicably, they find it easier to believe the Fox News app on their
i-phone than the testimony of the planet that sustains them.
That's what happens when you don't pay attention to your life.
Clarence takes his regular morning walk through the neighborhood, meets an old friend he doesn't recognize...
Rain has chased me out of the garden as many days as not over the past week, given me excuse and time to start more short stories. When I have about a dozen, I'll let them sprout and go back and grow them out. It's like starting seed for transplant. They'll know when they're ready.
Driving a lot less these days; walking is safer for me and everybody along my way. And the more I walk, the less I want to drive.
Life on wheels is too loud and fast to see much beyond our intention to to get somewhere we are not. Traveling afoot, you don't move faster than you can see. The world deepens and expands. Adventures multiply. Everywhere you go, you get ambushed by quiet joys and small glories.
Money is green, and the Atlantic in a storm. So are Granny Smith apples and fresh spinach. I've seen the sky glow green at dusk in winter. Then there is the woods' April Green. We only have it for a week or so, until it lifts in a morning mist and is changed into another green entirely.
Summer's green is lovely and rich, but April's green is delicate, tart, infinitely variable, and sublime.
Whenever we are frightened or discouraged by all
the horrific nonsense going on in our country and our world, it might steady us
to recall that these old mountains sheltering our wee place were greening in
the spring eons before we ever came to them, and they will be greening still
long after all of us are gone and forgot. People come and go, but the earth
remains and the seasons roll on in their appointed order. The creeks rise and
fall with the rains that come when they will, and the laurel blooms without our
The first Word was not ours, and we will not have the last
word, either. Our lives were never up to us, and that is reason enough to be
glad in these interesting times.
Walking up Church Street on a recent Saturday night with my favorite
brother-in-law, I tripped over an idea for a short story. I let it simmer in my head for a week until the next Saturday, during a
hour's wait in Asheville, I started writing it down. The working title
is Donnie and Frank. Donnie Brookshire opens the story with, "I never
meant to hurt nobody. We was friends. The pistol was all I had on me so I
shot him. Frank dying was up to God."
Been writing in the summer office lately. Letting the novel rest for a couple of
weeks while I work on some little stories. All my completed short story
manuscripts are dancing in the dragon's mouth, i.e. submitted to
editors. I need to have a couple in the chamber should I be obligated to
fire off a round on short notice.
father and I never got along. I don't think he ever guessed how much we
had in common. One day I told him I just didn't like him. He said, "If
somebody doesn't like me, I consider that a serious flaw in their
It sounded like good advice at the time, and nothing has happened since to change my mind about it.
On Palm Sunday, we gathered here and shouted "Crucify him" and prayed for Donald Trump. James, our priest read to us poetry by Mary Oliver and told us, "Leave some room in your life for the unimaginable."