“Marsh Song I*” Mixed media, Clare L. Martin ©2016
We drive westward along the Louisiana coast on a crumbling highway with my parents. The sky purples with becoming light. Our bellies are full of boudin and cracklins. Hot coffee is handed carefully from the front seat to my husband and I seated in the back.
We sing “J’ai Passe Devant Ta Porte” or “Bon Vieux Mari,” called by my mother and responded to by my father. Always my father embellishes his responses. My mother rolls down her window and points to the Roseate Spoonbills lifting from their roosts. My father stops singing and praises God.
A prayer is said for loved ones, wherever they are. More of the morning sky erupts over the marsh. I think of painters, how I wish to be one, how I have tried with my words. This day we are traveling to see Sandhill Cranes that have been spotted in Creole, a few miles from here. We always take the scenic route and happily travel from dawn to dusk.
How many times have we come to this slipping away land and been blessed by our forgetfulness of the world’s problems and our own? Countless. How much do I miss these two people who gave and saved my life? My longing cannot be measured.
To treasure the dead is our inheritance.
*I dedicate this artwork and these words to my beloved family, especially to my deceased loved ones, wherever they are.
Clare L. Martin
“Embryonic Self*,” mixed media, by Clare L. Martin
A tree held in its branches
a womb that carried me.
My strong heart
beat brilliant red
through fluid translucence.
A thick cord
connected me to roots
of the tree
into the blood
of the earth.
Who knew I would experience
such sorrow, such joy
once born into the world?
*Dedicated to Bessie Senette.
Clare L. Martin ©2016
Last night’s dream was powerful and wonderful. I had a baby boy, an infant, with thick black hair. I was trying to get him to nurse for the first time, but he couldn’t latch onto my nipple. We thought we would have to get bottles and formula but my deceased mother came to me and said, “Try again.” I thought maybe I didn’t have milk in my breasts, but maybe I did. In the dream, I tried so many different positions to feed that baby. I even tried getting him to latch upside down. I woke up at that point and immediately sensed it was my creative life (the hungry infant) that I needed to feed, however possible. The dream was enlightening and not disturbing.
I am honoring my creative self by re-ordering, re-positioning myself to feed the hungry Writing Life that has been nearly starved over the past year and a half of mourning and Limbo. My determination to nurture new creation is palpable. I may be too old for a baby but I will birth a second book.
The title of this post, “There is enough milk in my breasts for you, my glass infant,” is a line from a poem I am working on. Thank you for reading.
A new friend asked me yesterday about my writing process, whether I wait for inspiration or make a determined effort to face the blank page or screen. My answer was that I live as a poet. A poet’s job is 24/7 and encompasses all of experience, all of life. I read frequently and keep notebooks to capture thoughts. I also write at my desk on the computer. I am most comfortable on the computer writing in a Word document.
A writer writes. I don’t wait for inspiration but am attuned to it and if it rises, I capture words as quickly as I can. I face the blank page or screen and set aside time to write every day in some sense. There are dry spells, to be sure, but often I accept them as evidence of the way I am expending my energy in other areas of my life. I don’t blame myself for not doing it–I just find my balance again and follow words where they lead.
I am what I am and that being a poet, I have trained myself to “see” and “say” in poetic ways. An ordinary act such as washing dishes, or catching a glimpse of the sun rising when I take my daughter to school at 6:45 in the morning can be transformed into a writing lesson and a poem. There is magic (imagination) and always there is mystery because the act of writing brings us deeper into the self. For me the ‘exaltation of the ordinary’ is how I approach my life and often my art. Moment by moment life feeds us material for poems, or any creative art.
SCORPIO horoscope for 10/26/12: “Creative energy fills you up today, and that could mean that you’re ready for a big challenge that’s on the way. Even if you don’t feel ready, you are sure to find good answers.”
For the past several months, I have been occupied with work related to the publication of Eating the Heart First (Press 53, 2012) and its promotion. I have been laying the groundwork for events and readings that are book-related. The plans have been set for the rest of the year and I am turning again to writing creatively since energy has been freed up. I have been working so hard and it is rewarding work, but I am ready to shift. I am buoyed by a renewing creative energy.
I am especially excited that I will be presenting a workshop tomorrow at Cite des Arts in Lafayette, LA through the new “Acadiana Wordlab” literary drafting project, founded and directed by Jonathan Penton of Unlikely Stories, online at www.unlikelystories.org The workshop will be from 2-4 pm on Saturday, October 27th at Cite des Arts on Vine St. in Lafayette. I expect it will be fun and inspiring, non-judgmental and encouraging.
Please join us if you can.