Petrified Stone

I’ve been keeping up with the River of Stones, noticing at least one thing fully each day, then writing down whatever comes from that attention.  A number of those small stones have been on this blog, others I’ve tweeted.  Today’s moment of attention came from David.  He just walked into my study, where I’m working on finishing the novel I got almost finished during NaNoWriMo.  One of the benefits of doing NaNoWriMo, the website tells you, is being able to go to parties and say, “I wrote a novel,” rather than, “I’ve always wanted to write a novel.”  I don’t want to have to say, “I wrote most of a novel, then never finished.”

My writing attention has been more drawn to poetry lately, maybe in part by the ever-complicated life we seem to be living, the constant coming and going of visiting family, being with aging, and dying, parents and ailing in-laws, balancing errands and connecting with friends, exercise and being outdoors and creative pursuits.  Poetry works well in short spells of time, something Maxine Kumin told me when Adrienne was a baby, and I approached her at a reading, complaining about how little time I now had to write, now that I had a baby.  “But poetry is perfect for that,” she said.  “You can take small snatches of time and focus in.”  Now I have a lovely blurb from her for my book (more about that coming soon, page proofs are about to go back to Turning Point Books and I’m getting a book launch and readings scheduled), and here I am, ADDing it again, writing about all the distractions in my life as I’m distracted from working on the novel.  I even got distracted from writing this blog post and looked for a roast chicken recipe online because I’m making roast chicken for dinner with friends tonight.

Back to the novel for a minute, then to the small stone.  I think there may be some very good bits in this novel and I want to finish this first draft, so I can put it aside for a few months, then come back to it with fresh eyes.  In the meantime, I’m starting to pull together poems for my next volume of poetry, and am planning a whole Paris Chapter, because in a week we’ll be on our way there (and more about that to come also).  And I’m also starting to edit An Island Journal, a memoir I wrote three years ago and have done basically nothing with since.

So, what is this petrified stone?  David brought this to me in the palm of his hand.  He’s sorting through papers from his parents’ safety deposit box, which we emptied and closed before we left Lancaster earlier this week.  Looking like long sticks of thick straw, these are actually dried out old rubber bands, petrified into the shape they held around some stacks of papers from the box.  They could easily be 50 years old.  My small stone?  Appreciation for rubber bands, in all their usefulness, along with recognition that at some point rubber bands get old and dry and useless.  As a couple lines from a poem in The Truth About Death say:

I’m the living yin yang, the love, the quiver
in the middle, it will work or it won’t.

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About Grace Mattern

Grace Mattern is a poet, writer, mother, grandmother, partner, friend, family member, gardener, triathlete, hiker and for 30 years was the Executive Director of the NH Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. She resigned her position at the Coalition on June 15, 2011 in order to concentrate on her writing, while continuing to engage in the movement to end violence against women as a consultant and advisor. Her chapbook Fever of Unknown Origin was published in 2001 and her full-length poetry book The Truth About Death was published in 2012.
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