Proud to show off my daughter Nyssa’s latest artwork for Woman with Landscape.
The cottage pulls itself apart at the joints in the heat of the day
settles back into itself at night
high desert wind clatters in the fan palms
fine dust coats the mirrors
In the yard husks of coyote melons
blow into the roots of the brittlebush
small things scurry across the wash
leaving shallow indentations in the sand
lizard, ground squirrel, jack rabbit
burrow under the creosote
beyond, a crust of manzogranite
oceans of baking salt flats
garrulous hunkered down shrubs
with the resilience of rock
a feral landscape of burnt out, boarded up cinder block
half-savage dogs behind chainlink fence
transient human purchase
slippery as sand
the highway lined by salvation—
liquor stores, animal shelters, churches
sun bleached cars drift
from one side of the yellow line to the other
air too dry for ghosts
signs scoured bare of their messages
crouch, bristle, burn
hold tight, bend with the wind
learn to pull yourself apart at the seams with the heat of the day and settle back into your bones under an exhalation of sky.
In late March I had the great pleasure of staying in a cottage on the edge of Joshua Tree National Park, California. Each day I hiked and explored with my family. Having never spent time in a desert before, the landscape was a totally new environment for me. What made it even more amazing was that we had arrived at the cusp of winter and spring.
Everywhere I looked I could see new life bursting out of seemingly dead plants and shrubs. It was breathtaking to watch the full moon sink behind the snow caps of the San Bernadino mountains as the sun rose, blushing the mountains of the park. My ears soon tuned in to the noisy cactus wren that sang from the top of a telephone pole and the courting of white winged doves. Each morning I watched for the Anna’s humming bird that visited the new blooms of the manzanita tree. My son and I would visit the wash behind the cottage to examine the footprints in the sand–ground squirrel, jack rabbit, lizard. We learned the names of the many cacti in our yard as they came into flower. And chasing him up and over the huge golden granite boulders in the park, I felt like a little kid all over again.
I came home renewed and not a little in love.
My darling daughter turned 21, and I got the great pleasure of treating her to a week in London. Of the many highlights, here are a few.
Taking photos of graffiti near Waterloo bridge. Getting a kick out of reading the names on the subway map & recognizing so many of them from pop culture
Playing tourist and checking out the locals.
Cramming in as many amazing exhibitions as our eyeballs and feet would allow.
Being Irish I thought I had a clue about the Celts, but this exhibition was an eye opener in more ways than one.
Only through a bloody miracle and some marginally immoral behavior did we catch our flight for a quick visit back to the West of Ireland. She was looking mysteriously celtic!
Sudden rush of feathers
draughting the air above me
small flocks of careening birds
fly low over the meadow
chased by strong tail winds
a dozen at a time joining
the twisting, turning mass
flowing across the evening sky
out over the lake, back over the trees
a pulsing organism, feinting left and right
like black drops of ink swirled in water
and then, on signal, they descend
in chattering swarms into the reed beds
their shrill conversations fill the air—
a murmuration of starlings at day’s end.
It’s been a busy but rewarding season. My parents came from Ireland to visit and experience glorious summer weather and the constant circus of wildlife that surrounds our house in New York’s Hudson Valley. I celebrated my 50th birthday in my wild but fruitful garden, surrounded by family and friends. My wonderful daughter and mother helped me cook up a feast with lots of tasty local produce. Every day I marveled at my daughter’s artistic skills–painting, writing, embroidering. I watched my youngest son find grace and joy with each new physical skill he mastered. My eldest son’s summer was one long celebration of friends and freedom after four diligent years of high school. Taking him to college we got to explore two new amazing cities and states, Seattle, Washington and Portland, Oregon. In between times, I interviewed fascinating and talented artisans for Dirt magazine. And I’ve been out and about with my notebook and camera, making the most of the long beautiful days. I hope you’ve all enjoyed the season as much as I have. –Your health! Melissa
Here’s a link to my latest article in Dirt Magazine