Dry Tortugas Artist Residency

For the month of September I will be living and working off-the-grid on remote Loggerhead Key with my mother, Beth Williams, a signature member of The Pastel Society of America, as the Dry Tortugas National Park 2019 Artists in Residency!

Our hope is to complete a manuscript for publication consisting of prose, poetry, and pastel and oil paintings all inspired by the Dry Tortugas’ effervescent marine landscape.

Wish us luck, and don’t use straws!

Short Night Worries (9)

Why do writers do things “for the story”? When tragedy hits us, or when something wonderful happens, we are so aware of the brevity of time that the only way to memorialize the moment truly is to write about it. Not for anyone else, but for the sake of that moment and what it created in us, however briefly. We aren’t used to things staying the same, and when they do we start looking for the stories, for the changes, and if they aren’t there we feel like we need to make them ourselves.

Elegy

Elegy

(For Aaron R Williams)

Places I’ve been would melt you;
the barrenness of iced-over marshes,
the grassy dropping cliffs of Moher
where our mother buried that lock
of your soft blonde hair
and piled smooth rocks atop the shallow grave.
Where our sister cut a lock of her own
and let the wind carry it over the edge
toward the fog-swept Aran island.

 

People I’ve loved would melt you.
You might have shook their hands roughly,
let them feel the scar on your knuckle.
You’ve been gone now much too long,
we’ve searched strange landscapes for blue, 
rare but for sadness and your eyes.
Why must every drop be saved for the sea?

 

Voices I’ve heard would melt you
into a strange raw fear of 
wordswordswords
phrases like butter that warm on your lips, 
but you cannot speak another word cannot 
break the filmy membrane
between the living and the dead.

 

Had your voice been carried over Irish farms
and rung in the caves of the south sea,
had they sung into our mother’s wind-chilled hands;
instead we had only your name,
whispered over the cliff edge to drift on the waves 
until at last it sank with a grief so deep and dark
it put the sea to shame.

Short Night Worries (8)

It was possible something minutely divine was at play, in the vein of spying the last ripe avocado, or ripping the tag off a new shirt. Life just seemed a little better for the sinfulness. A message here or there, a provocative dream, a craving late at night when they were each alone. If only they knew what was a beginning and what was a detour.