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  • Elaine Fletcher Chapman

Naming Intention

Our work week begins Saturday morning and ends Thursday evening. Our rhythm strange and out of sync with most. So on Monday after a full day of clients, it is midweek for me and already I feel exhaustion when I turn to my writing life. Most mornings we begin with the dog at the field. The best part of our day with dew on the ground and the sun peering over the tree line. The dog chases the ball for a biscuit and we are fools with praise. We arrive home with bits of grass stuck to our legs and shoes, wet socks. Then breakfast: eggs and fruit. Coffee and tea. Lucky to have these moments before we begin our separate and varied lives, no two days the same. The truth is our lives have mostly been and remain devoted to service. Our striving, involving how to care for ourselves and each other within the context of caring for others, in addition to finding and creating a place to practice our art. Today I’m reading  the letters of Gary Synder and Wendel Berry from the book Distant Neighbors edited by Chad Wriglesworth. They begin correspondencing in 1973. I’m also reading David Budbill, less public but political as well in choosing to live as a recluse, facing the same mountain year after year.  I search for what sustains them and companionship. We need companionship.

A few days ago a piece of paper fell from a book on my desk… a copy of “How to Be a Poet (to remind myself)” by Wendel Berry from his book In a Country Once Forested: Make a place to sit down / Sit down. Be quiet. / You must depend upon / affection, reading, knowledge, / skill- more of each / than you have- inspiration, / work, growing older, patience, / for patience joins time / to eternity…make a poem that does not disturb / the silence from which it came.

Exactly what I want from my poems. Always in my life, not enough solitude, not enough quiet. I am not alone in this, I know. My writing life. My reading life. My life on the page.  I glance across the table and see Gary Snyder’s new book of poems, This Present Moment. Open, read: a soft grumble in the breeze. Poems as elixir. That’s my intention. I begin at the field.

#DavidBudbill #GarySnyder #WendellBerry

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