Eleven, Twelve — Double

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December 18

Guitar music comes up the stairs. David is playing.  He hasn’t painted since April. I’m building a standing art desk next to my writing desk, a space to turn and make things with materials, not words, colored papers and pens and boxes of cards and catalogues I’ve been collecting for years to use for collages.

Which means emptying a book case so I can run the new desk into the corner. Already my date books are in a box in the barn.  Next go my journals. What do they say?

March 6, 1979: I confront Jim, a nasty and misogynistic roommate who lived with Eric and me in a house we rented from Lynne Cherry in Marlborough, CT. Lynne sometimes spent a night or two there, had slept with Jim one weekend, but now she was angry at him, he hadn’t paid his rent.  She asks us to talk to him so I do.

I don’t back down when he tries to placate me. At one point I just kept talking back at him, wouldn’t shut up – making him face my anger & he told me to leave his room – we had a stare down & he couldn’t budge me – I loved it.

One journal has no date on the cover and my entries don’t even have the day of the month: saturday evening, sunday evening, thursday, saturday early afternoon, friday, the next tuesday may 24 – ah, a date. Still no year and no upper case letters. I think it was 1977. Who needed to know the day of the month in 1977? Not me.

I write a lot about writing. Needing to get possessed. Art desk.

December 19, 2015

When I sit on the end of my bed to put on my shoes, I see a Great Blue Heron on the other side of the far farm pond in the cow pasture. A really big one.

Then I quick catch yet again that it’s not a heron. It’s not Eric. It’s the tall stump of a small tree that blew over two years ago, the wood bent forward in a thick figure of a heron.  Eric isn’t in every heron, though seeing a heron fly overhead or standing in water makes me think of him.

This summer when I was home from being with Chris for a few days a heron stood in the intersection of Canterbury Road and West Street for about 30 minutes. It didn’t move, other than to swivel it’s head. A car went by, in the lower part of the intersection several yards from the heron. The car stopped, then went on.

I kept watching. The heron stayed so long I stopped watching. Then I decided I wanted a photo and went to get my phone and a truck came and needed to make the turn up Canterbury Road and the bird lifted and flew away.

Chris has a story on her blog about a heron seeming to follow her one day, and thinking about herons are how Eric comes to me. The winter she learned she had cancer in the lining of her brain she was scared, but she told me Eric had visited her and been close and that felt comforting to her.  She wonders about magic — Birds are special; they can fly, they can soar and they can also put their feet on the ground.  Birds connect heaven and earth.  

 

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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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