28 October 2010

Lyman Estate

Inside the hothouse I can count the years by looking at the bricks, webbed white with old paint or veins of mold. The glass is fogged. Vast pipes run along the floor, leaking steam into the air. Patient orchids bud and bloom in the white light of almost-rain. Muscat grapes hang from the roof. Green lemons and oranges bulge at the tips of citrus branches. I should at least have had a pencil to write all of this down.

Because the light always changes I should have had a camera or paints. It hangs, low and diffuse above the orange maples that crown the lane outside the hothouse, lighting the yellow leaves from behind. Men are raising a tent behind the mansion.

I walk the crushed stone path with words rising under my breath. If I was alone I would be singing. If I was alone I would linger longer under the beech tree that stands beside the brick wall. Its trunk is too thick to reach around, the branches spread over my path and nearly touch the ground, leaves still glossy. I pause slightly, finger the scarred bark self-consciously and fish in my bag for a pen.

Slowly I wander back. Words are gathering in me like the leaves that overflow from the hothouse gutters. The car smells like bread, just baked. I go home to my notebook.

14 October 2010

Thursdays this October

I could watch the light for hours: catching in the leaves, flickering up and down the maple trunks, scattering on the ground like the shards of some brightly-colored vase, falling in squares across my lap as I sit inside.

Today I left the house before breakfast, investigating the immediate geography. You can walk from woodland to woodland without touching a road in this area, someone told me. I tried but was put off by swamps and fences. I walked home in the bright air, along the road, against the wind.

It is the afternoon. I am seated at my desk. I am watching the light. I am trying to understand why I must write. Whenever I am still, it is the first thing that I want to do.

Strong clean wind is sweeping through the house, through the windows and doors that I opened after my walk. Now I can hear crows calling across the yard, squirrels rattling the power-lines, branches tossing, and the neighbor’s wind chimes ringing. The chimes are clearest when I stand by the bathroom window. The wind moves the white shower curtain, it lifts my hair, and it carries the notes of the chimes down the hill and underground to where I live.

I write to anchor myself here, where I am content and attuned to the light and the wind. This stillness is the threshold of creation. I will wander away from it, so I write directions for my return.

I write to secure what is free and ephemeral; to preserve the light moving across the yard, which will fade at the end of day; to remember the notes of my neighbor’s wind chimes long in the future when we have moved away.

I write to keep myself from moving, because I know that if I stay still long enough I can create something good with words. I write so that I can write better, because that is what I have always wanted to do.