“The shadow does not move. It is the water moves,
running out. A monolith of sand on a passing barge,
riding the swift water, makes that its fellow.
Standing upon the load, the well disciplined bargeman
rakes it carefully, smoothly on top with nicely squared
edges to conform to the barge outlines-ritually: sand.”
I’m not a poet nor am I always capable of understanding fully or even semi-fully what a poem means but this poem seems, in part, suitable to my present contemplations.
Thursday morning, the Middle River was showing more than her whiskers. She was three times her normal width and many times her roaring ferocity. The cute purring little kitty I call ‘Cuddles’, was in a temper and had turned into a wild tiger on steroids, looking to terrorize the jungle.
When the lights went out, we scrambled for our lantern and flashlights, while the wind shrieked and rubbed its invisible bulk along the walls of our tiny 45-foot trailer. The walls shook and our windows rattled as the rain dribbled down our hot stovepipe and splashed in a hissy fit onto our wood stove.
At one point, we were trying to figure out which batteries were the new ones after we mistakenly mixed them in with the old ones. One of us trying to hold the flashlight steady while the other tried to sort the batteries out. To add to the drama, we were both worried that the large trees near our trailer might find it beyond their endurance to stand straight and true and instead throw up their branches in surrender, and flatten our trailer. Turning us into a can of sorry sardines.
The next day, when I reached into the top shelf of the cupboard for a box of macaroni and cheese, I found the box was soaked. Damn it, I should have waterproofed the roof when I’d had the chance. I’m hoping that most of the moisture we get this winter will be coloured white. Although I suspect that this leakage occurred because the rain was driven in by a certain kind of smart bomb sneaky wind.
This morning, I walked around the property. Saw that our landscape had been permanently changed. Learned that we had lost more acreage. Discovered new rocks and piles of both dead and still alive branches littered over our land.
And then I thought that, like shadows, we had slept in our bed while the river stormed by. Bargemen, “raking our lives carefully, smooth on top with nicely squared edges to conform to the barge’s outlines.”
I think I, like many writers, am aware of the drama that fills life to overflowing. Like the river rushing to the ocean. A maelstrom of creativity. And I sometimes wonder how much creativity I could stand to be immersed in. Because so many stories pass us by while we, like shadows, sleep in our beds or remain firmly raking sand on the barge.
What if the person at the door, who is trying to persuade me to join her religion, managed to persuade me? What mad, surging emotions would I find myself involved in if I joined this strange religion? What stories would I be able to write? Would the new experience leave my creativity lying in a pile of tossed, sorry manuscripts along the shoreline of life’s river or would I be creating more genuine heartfelt treasures?
The way I see it, we are sometimes going to be on the particular barge we chose or was given to us and we are sometimes going to be in the river. Whether we desire it or not. Besides, at certain key junctures in our lives, we have to be part of the creative/spiritual river if we want to be genuine. Roaring by the shore and not stopping to make sure everything is neat and tidy.
Isn’t creating fun?
“Sometimes the river becomes
a river in the mind
or of the mind
or in and of the mind...”
from “The Mind Hesitant”
by William Carlos Williams