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QUINTESSENCE

Rhapsody

I am so busy among
Shelley's long poems, Plato. Godwin's
Enquiry, Carlyle concerning
the failed revolution that bloody sorrow, and,
as always, Emerson.

Now and again, of course, I look up; a person must.
Maybe I eat an apple or a pear.
Maybe I walk out with the happy dogs.
Maybe I come back into the house, calling your name.

Or maybe you whisper mine.
- from "Rhapsody," Stanza 3, Mary Oliver

I am leaving for the wilds of northern Idaho this weekend, for a luxury of days, a long desired vacation at the lake. Accompanied by my books, notebooks, sketch pad and pen, running shoes for the forest trails, trusty Macallan. And yes, the dog McDuff, and happily, a daughter flying in from the east coast. When I read this excerpt of Mary Oliver's "Rhapsody," a poem that weaves between exquisite small joys of the heart, in and amongst moments, ordinary and fabulous, abundant in nature, I think of how much I love this summer sojourn out of the city. Up to the lake - cold clear waters, inky lavender skies empty of all but the glittering stars, the dark, silent forests shouldered against the shore. Distant from the quotidian, the endless chores and errands. Far away from the brick-colored walls of my office: the stacks of work lined in tilted stanchions at the foot of bookshelves, the mysterious glinting new ideas already gathering dust under the sharp, evocative photographs by Sexton and Caponegro of glassy, rippled brooks, of mist in black trees. And the Don Worth trio - selenium black and whites - the cactus, the beach rock, rain drops on glass. I know that feeling in the center of my chest. The urge to breathe. Once again it is necessary to re-infuse what has become image with the sensory alphabet of the objects themselves. The feel of round stones under bare feet along the beach, the rough cracked bark on the windward tree, the tap-tap drumming of rain on the mossy roof.

It seems as though work and ideas will only once more begin their pirouette across my consciousness after I empty my thoughts in the quiet woods. The lap of lake waves smoothes the sand. The stress and detritus drains from my soul, leaving a blank canvas for creativity to scrawl large.

I am so busy, as Oliver notes. Maybe I will walk out with the happy dogs. Maybe I will come back into the house, calling your name.

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