The artists I know are perfectionists, heartlessly so, because that is required. They will paint right over a failed canvas; they will rip out every stitch and start anew. The artist comes to her material with an mix of control and surrender, and her success seems to rely on her ability to grasp a material’s specific demands, while reconciling those with her own vision. There is something there, in the material, that works against you—which requires rigor, but might bring relief.
“Do you remember our first / January at Eagle Pond, / the coldest in a century? / It dropped to thirty-eight below— / with no furnace, no storm / windows or insulation. / We sat reading or writing / in our two big chairs, either / side of the Glenwood, / and made love on the floor / with the stove open and roaring. / You were twenty-eight. / If someone had told us then / you would die in nineteen years, / would it have sounded / like almost enough time?”
“I’ve always been interested in death and destruction — call it an early diet of horror fiction. But over the years I’ve become more aware of decay, the slow and steady side of impermanence. Decay doesn’t make for flashy conflict, but in some ways it’s more interesting.”
Rachel, oh Rachel! Mistress of my heart, irradiated queen of the desert, alien oasis, black-budget fever dream, ghost town of the future, sheepdog disco, heart of America. Shelter me in your double-wides, ll my ventricles with Alien Burgers, stun me with alcohol, swaddle me in the lights of your brilliant night sky.
“Humor helps the heart to open. And heartfelt laughter leads us towards greater connection with those around us. If you can find a way to share humor with others, then there’s an openness towards greater listening and compassion. With the serious topics I write about […] there’s a way such stories can calcify the heart if one isn’t careful. I noticed this in my teaching—if I’m just giving my students the disturbing facts about humanity without humor, it can lead to depression, discouragement, and a deeper political/social apathy. So, humor seems to restore our humanity to us—it allows us to deal with suffering with a more open heart.”