Writing and photography are essentials for me. The creativity can sometimes be imposing but that leads to success. It is a holy grail of being able to express something unsaid in ways that make it real. My art works to show that women have sight that is necessary for everyone to experience.…Each piece of my writing, each photo, is a story, my narrative.
An anonymous woman
about your death,
an overdose in a small hotel.
I had not heard from you,
I received a package,
bulging, your name as
the return address.
For five months, it sat
on a chair in my kitchen.
A worn tablecloth hiding it,
moved only when friends
paused in my home.
The kitchen flooded,
the bundle fell
onto the drenched floor,
wanting to be opened.
The envelope was filled
writing about friends,
lack of love.
My numbers and addresses,
with dates and fictional plans
to call me.
(How did you know each place I had lived?)
When I moved,
I left it all next to
for tenants to use
to start the flames.
Their warmth to be fueled with
my unexpected feelings
It has been two decades
since you left
but you often get into
the forefront of my thoughts.
Memories are like molasses,
moving slowly but,
once they reach me,
it is difficult to get away.
I want the list of violence
to end up wrinkled,
torn at the edges,
writing faded with time,
stained with water,
words only shapes
with few letters
Shapes I can trace
to make them something else,
to make the verses
of pen and ink
and handsewn hems.
The ink bled.
The capitals and small case,
over and over.
(A, a, B, b, C, c, D, d, E, e, F, f, G, g, H, h, I, i, J, j, K, k, L, l, M, m,
N, n, O, o, P, p, Q, q, R, r, S, s, T, t, U, u, V, v, W, w, X, x, Y, y, Z, z)
The swamp smelled,
stagnant water from the rain.
Mud sucked me
to my shins.
I had a seat,
in a crevasse
between leaning trees.
I wrote on pieces of slate.
A way to journal,
stories I left out
so the polluted water would clean them off.
into the sludge.
Forcing me to start again,
often a new piece
as I was unable to remember
where I left it the day before.
The ink above the paper,
on the right.
spilling into the pores of the paper,
bleeding from square to square.
the angle, the angle, the angle.
The trees mask the mud, entice people to walk toward them.
Through the spring green we continue.
The dogs run ahead
until we can no longer see them.
They return to herd us
and lope away with satisfaction.
The snow carved
trails through the exposed roots.
We climb over the dead trunks,
mold attaching to my pants.
Dampness reaching my skin.
The saturated task of not speaking,
not revealing the years
The porch, wrapped
around the house.
Snow masking the shingles
and warped furniture
I forgot to bring in
over the winter.
Sitting briefly in the cold,
on the wet steps, uncertain what
to say next.
New recollections, unsure if they are accurate
or a redesign of dreams
or the reverse of neglect that has
been in my pores throughout my life.
Perhaps a search for a cure or
even a placebo to convince me that there
can be someone that has not disappeared with
Cup of tea on the tiny, worn table,
not staying warm
even in the summer heat.
Mother, one year dead.
Loneliness overtook her.
She isolated herself,
watched strangers through
increasing the volume
My long, silent drive at 3:00 am.
flashing through the windshield
formed a beat to go with thoughts in my head.
When I arrived at the hospital,
she told me she was tired
Said she was ready.
I asked if she was sure.
With a guilty child’s grin
she said ‘yes’.
I have not told my siblings what she said or the
reason my exhaustion did not lead to sleep that day.
I have kept it to myself,
to challenge the hidden undertow,
as I get pulled away from family.
whether to resist,
swim to the shore or
simply wave underwater
accepted by no one seeing it,
no one noticing my absence.
No one looking for me,
always confident I am strong enough
to return to where I am obligated to go.
“Waiting by the Window”
off the margins contributors are asked to respond to questions to further articulate a collective response to the question: How do we step off the margins of convention and enter the wild terrain of our writing?
In what way(s) do you identify yourself as a woman writer?
Women get few podiums for expression. Many pieces of art, writing by women are overlooked, scanned over like a chore.
From the moment that girls are born, we are taught to be quieter, to never argue, to allow people to treat us badly. We are schooled to apologize for anything, even for nothing, always disagree with positive feedback, whether it be what we look like or the art we create. Girls and women are taught to not be proud, to be humble and dismiss our success.
It has always been difficult for women writers and artists. Pseudonyms and anonymous pieces continue to be published, shown in galleries. If a women’s name is not connected with a piece, it is instantly less criticized, more viable, worth more.
Writing and photography are essentials for me. The creativity can sometimes be imposing but that leads to success. It is a holy grail of being able to express something unsaid in ways that make it real. My art works to show that women have sight that is necessary for everyone to experience.
Whose voices have you carried with you for creative strength in order to arrive at this point in your writing career?
I enjoy art, if it is because it is what I want to read and see or something I do not. I decide whether to keep the pieces with me, to give it a podium or to brush it aside or to step on it until it does not have as much space in my mind.
Poets and writers who have influenced my creativity include Anne Sexton, H.D, Mary Oliver, Annie Dillard, Marianne Moore, May Sarton, e.e.cummings, Emily Dickinson and Elizabeth Bishop. These are only a few writers who provide pictures and expressions I may have not known.
Photographers who have been important in my creativity and education include Anna Atkins, the first female photographer in history, Gertrude Käsebier, Imogen Cunningham, Diane Arbus and Vivian Maire and many more. These women were groundbreaking in a (still) male dominated medium.
As a necessity, I go to galleries and shows, read local artists. So often, their work is what I need and it may be missed.
What do you want our readers to know about your process of becoming a writer that might be helpful in further articulating their own individual process and growth?
“A word after a word after a word is power.” – Margaret Atwood
My first-grade teacher is the one that taught me what writing and art really are and reasons they are essential.
This teacher told us to sit on the floor because she was going to read us a poem. A class of about fifteen 6-year-olds sat in a half circle. As she read, I noticed that this poem was different than others I had heard. It was a story with few words. I had to think and pay attention.
The poem was about something light, dancing and running. The words described beauty and actions and movement. Suddenly, and out of nowhere, this thing was run over by a car.
Our minds were drawn, we were confused, immediately sad. The fear, that something died and there was pain, washed over the circle of children.
Then she read that the dancing began again. She described such recovery, back to the beauty and life.
When she finished, she smiled at a group of confused children and told us then that the title of the poem was ‘Piece of Paper in the Wind’.
The creative parts of my mind erupted. I had learned the power of words.
Each piece of my writing, each photo, is a story, my narrative. I have a voice. I can be heard and seen. I am real. I allow others to see what I feel; often requiring them to think and delve into themselves. That is why I am an artist.
Author’s photo by Maureen Griffith. All other images are by Margaret Fasolo.