Robert Sund was a poet that lived and breathed as part of the land around the Skagit River Delta and Anacortes Washington. I admire him because he was a poet that lived in outward poverty and inward opulence. Sometimes I think of what it means to be a poet. Many of the greatest heart scribes lived in obscurity and poverty, especially when they gave their whole life to their work. But that was just the outward appearance.
I think of Robert, how the riches and fame of the burning heart and whispering ink remade him day by day. His hall of light was a leaning shack on a finger loam river which scythed arm fulls of moonlight into his wrinkled window. He was like a monk but not a hermit. He was well known in his sleepy town. I remember when I first shared a dream with him of building a warm refuge for poets and artists. I still feel those dreams meandering in the sing-song tide of my heartbeat. I am here in my refuge. Here I watch the field melt down in the autumn rains. I listen as the trickle of life moving in the grasses, down into the rising stream and toward the faraway sea.
Last night I remembered him and clung to the mystery of our nearly intersecting life paths. I recalled the shack and the woodland and the mighty pen humming upon a burning thought. Suddenly I did not feel so poor or alone. All the riches in the universe opened up inside the hand that writes my life story.
If you feel alone, remember someone who came before and opened the way of longing and life within your heart. What magic is falling outside your window?
This is the life I live... the Great Song spinning all around me and tracing the patterns of belonging in my heart.
My Grandmother and Grandfather off the Coast of Avalon, Catalina Island, CA. Early 1930s. This was her favorite place and time of her life.
Today would be my Grandmother's 98th birthday. She died while sequestering herself in a house for decades. Her husband abandoned her. She never recovered from the seven years of the "good life" with a smoothly arrogant man. I think of her son who took on the mantle of impatience and meanness in her final years on earth. Yet I finally have a measure of compassion for him now too. He found her hallway closet full of her razor's blood when he was only two years older than me.
This morning I hold my cat who was bloodied by an attack by the wayward tom in our neighborhood bushes. I've seen my feline friend here as elegant and strong. Now I see her as delicate too. Her nostrils are flaring and her eyes wide after the attack. I have loved her and cared for her ever since her owner and my friend died. Perhaps it sounds strange, but I feel my Grandmother's spirit in this little cat. I feel her inside of me too.
I have sequestered myself in memories of my own Avalon, often coasting on memories of a past era. What will I choose as to never enter the dark closet of my ancestors? And how will I choose to be loved and loving instead of feeling arrogant or dismissed?
I write this to you as the cat now purrs and finally relaxes in the sun on the rumpled bed. Wrapped around me is silence. My Grandmother's eyes are watching me, bent and concentrating at the desk.
Who lives in our veins? We all walk the line between strength and delicacy. How do we contain the grief and longings that flow there?
What kind of life is a proper memorial to those that have gone on before?
I dedicate this journal entry to Ann, who loved me and my Grandmother so deeply.