Hello from North Carolina!
Now, deep in January—which I realize may mean something very different in the American South than it does in Norway, or Australia, or in the other far-flung places from which artists and writers have come to Ǻlvik—I’m warmed by thoughts of my August on the fjord. (Does anyone else from the Not-Norwegian world find that their automatic-pilot typing fingers resist typing a “j” right after an “f?”)
Here are a few of the poems that landed on me sitting on the rocks looking out over the water. You know what I mean.
Coming into the Fjord
A seagull yaps like a puppy announcing a new arrival.
Another creaks like a gate too long unopened.
A fly hums by me but doesn’t land.
No midges or mosquitoes, here. No fire-ants
To keep you tense and dodging. A few furred bees, is all,
mumbling on the yellow vetch.
Any biting thing, I brought it with me.
I can send it back. Tonight, I’ll sleep with the window wide
and let the air come in.
The air here is—What can you say of an air that doesn’t bear
The smell of smoke, perfume, or must? Only that it changes.
Steady sameness makes us blind and numb.
Swinging puffs of gentleness cool my skin.
Then pause and let it heat again. The sun.
A person could get sun-burned here.
I think a person wouldn’t care. The wind.
Thanking and Asking
For moments—more than moments, really—for whole minutes of savored mental peace.
For pieces knitting back together.
For finding a gift.
For learning to ask, consciously, and in all directions.
For healing: brain, body, and beyond.
For union and re-union.
For swilling it around in my mouth to get every bit of the flavor.
For the trail of crumbs.
For eyes to see the crumbs and courage to follow them into the dark woods,
bending under the low branches, bowing to the shadows.
For this channel, this invisible-on-the-surface path through the shallows
between rocks where the surf breaks and boats and bones could break too
if it weren’t for this one deep still safe strand of true water
that may carry me, if I don’t steer stupid and fight the flow.
Writing in the dark, you can’t even see the words you leave behind your self.
You just fling them down. The birds will come and neaten up after you are done.
Let me walk in the sun today
And let the sun speak
Let it speak to my eyes,
To my visual cortex
To my pituitary
To my neurochemistry
To every cell of me
Let the sun speak
And let my cells listen
To that ancient agitation,
Molecular ears trembling
With atomic wonder.
Let my neurons shiver and crack with it
Let my thoughts hatch out
Feathered by the message of the sun.
this swirl of adrenaline serotonin
PEA cortisol testosterone oxitocin
and the unnamed effluents of factories undiscovered.
and me in this tiny, tossing shell
gripping my paddle
for dear life
for life is dear
and if I go down
if this torrent takes me
down where there is no air
down where there is no breath
where the battering currents
break my tender body on the rocks
or pin it under hungry fallen trees…
…then I come apart
then I am just another stream
Donna Glee Williams, RN, MFA, PhD
NCCAT Center Fellow
The North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching