Day One — Wilderness

Me and Ava

Wilderness sits at the back of my mind. Before dawn I’m at the kitchen table, sending out the emails that make me think I’m on track. What is the track?  If I get to a spot on a trail where I can’t see the path and can’t find the next blaze, I go back to the last marking I saw and look until I find the next. That keeps me oriented, but does it keep me going where I should?

Are there “shoulds” in life?  There are intentions and desires and choices, but each decision of what to do next, who to call, how long to sit at my desk, which load of laundry to start, what color paper to use as I fold a series of four-pointed stars, which wool sweater to wear to stay warm in the cold house, comes from too many associations to sort through.

None of this has to happen. The laundry gets done because I want clean clothes not because I should do it. Or maybe I’m fooling myself. Maybe my choices are so laden with expectations of what is right and what needs to be done that I can’t feel the “shoulds” under the doing.

I want to get to the wilderness. There are poems there and a new desk in my study for colored paper and collected images, another draft of my memoir that I’ve dared to pare down to the rawest memories, origami sailboats that float at the end of invisible thread, stories I didn’t know I could tell, a walk on another continent, dreams of Eric, a baby resting her head on my chest as she sucks her thumb and reaches the other hand up to my neck, scratching with her tiny fingers, feeling for hair, for an earring, for skin.

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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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