Come walk with me

Come walk with me among the stones and trees, away from the distractions and we will reflect on what truly matters. . . .

Monday, March 30, 2015


This was my recurring dream:

I am walking up a road with high banks on either side; it leads farther into the mountain and there is a white farmhouse at the end. Clouds are gathering; it is going to storm. Opening the screen door, I step inside the kitchen and there is an empty chair. An overwhelming sadness washes through me, carries me as if on a tide of grief. 

"They have taken him away, they have taken him away."

The sadness is everything, everything.

* * * * *

Mama and Daddy worked second shift and I stayed with Granny and Grandpa. I slept between them at night. Grandpa always slept with his back to me, facing the night.  It was like the great wall of the Blue Ridge.

In the summer, there was a box fan in the window and the warm, pink scent of mimosa settled on us like dew. The mantle clock marked each moment, striking it into forevermore, keeping time with Grandpa's breath. The night was like a rich, velvet blanket, stitched with the song of the whippoorwill and the gentle winds in the willow.

It was everything.

* * * * * *

In winter/spring of 1960, Grandpa was taken to the sanitarium at Catawba, across the mountain. They thought he had TB. Tuberculosis. Consumption.

It did consume us, all-consuming grief. I was not yet two years old. We believed he would die, Granny believed he would die. The tears turned to snow, and it piled up, snowing every week without melting until the snow drifted over roads and porches and pushed against chimneys. A soldier was found dead in his car at Fancy Gap, buried in a drift. We passed these banks of snow, bundled in Daddy's car, the sun glittering on our sadness. Our sadness was pure, so simple, profound as the cloudless sky between the blizzards.

There are memories I only have through my aunts' and my mother's description: I pitched a fit when they had to do a TB test, though it was painless. How could I trust these foreigners who had taken my Grandpa away? Then there was Grandpa's roommate, who years after would write to him and ask about his little girl. When Grandpa wrote letters home, they were addressed to me, "Dear Debbie and All."

After weeks of breathing treatments and rest, the doctors declared Grandpa did not have tuberculosis but had lungs scarred from years in the coal mines. They also declared that he had twenty-five years more to live. And though that power was not theirs, it was true.

* * * * * *

Grandpa had his chair at the table. If someone happened to be sitting in his chair when he walked in the room, they simply rose without a word. It was a small kitchen and Granny like to rearrange furniture. Sometimes all she could do was turn the table so it went longways instead of sideways. Grandpa's chair did not move, so his place at the table sometimes changed. His chair, always, in front of the window, facing the door, facing everything for me, for us, for all of us.


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Friday, March 13, 2015

Ball of Gold

I am blessed to know inspiring souls. From my friend, artist Thom Ross, with a photograph by Dan Frick:
"A man saw a ball of gold in the sky;
He climbed for it,
And eventually he achieved it -
It was clay.
Now this is the strange part:
When the man went to the earth
And looked again,
Lo, there was the ball of gold.
Now this is the strange part:
It was a ball of gold.
Aye, by the heavens it was a ball of gold."
--Stephen Crane
I remember this poem from sophomore high-school English and, once studied I never thought about it again.....until many many years later when I began to consider the role of myth as a component of historical truth. It was then that I recalled this poem. It is like this:
Take Wyatt Earp. In the movies he is heroic and noble etc....this is Wyatt Earp the ball of gold. Yet when we actually study who he REALLY was, Wyatt Earp, the man, he's clay like the rest of us. In our disappointment we walk away; yet when we turn back to view him, lo, he is that ball of gold.
This is why all those realistic or traditional paintings that "artists" paint are always so boring to me.....regardless of talent and technique, they are ALL paintings of clay. But when the artist backs away and gets away from the pure reality of the subject, lo, it becomes gold.
This short poem by Stephen Crane is EXACTLY what I mean.

It's exactly what I mean as well.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Troubles, Bubbles

The rain falls on the just and the unjust alike. The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain. The rain in the foothills falls, soaking the ground, soaking the cardboard boxes that blew off the porch, soaking. . . .

The claw-foot tub is deep, long. I painted the outside with black enamel, covering the years of red, blue, purple, yellow, chips, scrapes, episodes. The shiny black shell comforts me while I soak. The bubbles. . . . tear drops. . . . tea pot. . . . salts.

Rain, tears, tea--the basic elements. They seep into my pores, take away the pain. A big fish, a great whale is waiting for these troubles, enough to sustain him. Yes, they will keep him floating a long, long, time.