Saturday, December 14, 2013

friendly faces in the chill of dawn

I met a one-year-old named Gabriela last night at a play.  Like my own son she was unable to sit through the performance, so we’d assembled out in the hallway with others in the under-3 set.  She was toddling about in her little leather slippers and soft cotton jammies, clearly pleased to be upright and discovering.  As I watched her stagger, a little dazed, I was reminded of myself, when I rise early and head to the studio, fuzzy-headed, reluctant, a little fearful even at what awaits, that it will be nothing, that my brain won’t activate today.  I stumble, bleary, in the pre-dawn hours into the kitchen to begin my coffee-making ritual.  It’s cold.  I’m still half in a tiring dream, still embarrassed about that weird bathroom bit in which I wore no clothes and was also late to catch my plane but hadn’t yet packed.  You call this a Creative Process?

I splash cold water on my face, notice the drunken monkey of my mind, notice the clock and know that if I don’t start I’m in trouble, so I pour my coffee and head to the studio, turn on the lights, crank the heater, and light my incense to invoke the muses. 

I look at my desk greeting me— 

And out of nowhere it happens:  one little piece sings out, and — Aha!  You!  I’d forgotten about you.  Hello again! 

And I give myself a short assignment, maybe just to add a layer of this or shift a piece here, to see what might happen.  What if?  

What If.  The question fuels me till I have to wake L.  It’s happened again.  Just a small something — I’m amazed at how much time goes into a one-inch-by-three-inch composition — and maybe it'll never see the red carpet, but I’ve turned a corner, for today.

For the coming week:  keep showing up, and let the muses work their magic.  


I walked alone in the chill of dawn

while my mind leapt, as the teachers

of detachment say, like a drunken

monkey. Then a gray shape, an owl,

passed overhead.  An owl is not

like a crow.  A crow makes convivial

chuckings as it flies,

but the owl flew well beyond me

before I heard it coming, and when it

settled, the bough did not sway.

—Jane Kenyon

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