Archive for December, 2006

Come with me to New Mexico

As I prepare to drive to Taos, New Mexico to spend a three-month residency at the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation, some friends have asked me to start a blog. This is my first try at blogging, and there’s a lot I don’t understand yet, but I get the basic concept: you come to this web page whenever you please and see what’s new (or not). You can leave comments here, or you can click on “Mother Wit” in the Blogroll, to the right, to reach me by e-mail.

The trip to New Mexico officially starts on January 7, and my residency begins on January 17. That gives me 10 days to get there. Along the way I hope to visit my sister Michelle and her husband Scott, who live in Tennessee, and to spend some time with friends who live in New Mexico. Beyond that, I’m not sure where I’ll stop or what I’ll see—but I invite you along for the ride.

The Helene Wurlitzer Foundation, by the way, is a place that gives artists of all kinds space and time to create. I applied for the fellowship a few years ago, and am thrilled that they invited me and then were willing to wait for me to work a three-month retreat into my life. I’m hoping to write a couple of new chapters for a children’s book, to make up some new songs, to settle into the deep place where poetry stirs. I hope to do a lot of thinking, meditating, and walking.

So…come to New Mexico with me, and keep in touch.


Since I first discovered West Virginia 36 years ago, I don’t know if I have ever spent three months away from my home. How will that feel? Even though I have many things to pack, I will find room for these two, both of them dear to me and each a memento of another special journey:

Bound stone and velvet wrap

One is a smooth stone wrapped in bamboo—an artwork created by rattan weaver Del Webber and a gift Michael gave me in 2000. We found it at Lotus & Persimmon, a Utah gallery where Michael’s silk garments were featured in a trunk show. According to one book I have read, the bound stone symbolizes entry into another world. Here is a poem about it:

Bound Stone

The beauty isn’t in the choice of stone
(a freckled, putty-grey, slightly off-round
found object, a palm-sized half-pound
of not-even-semi-precious rock) but in
the steady, deep attention to this one
among the many—not unlike the bond
between ourselves, my necessary friend,
the way we wrap ourselves with what we’ve known
together, year on year. And the koan:
A smooth, grey stone with bamboo twined around
it in a basket weave is no more bound
than a soul is closed inside a cage of bone.
No more than death regards the throb of time.
No more than love is caught in a net of rhyme.

The bound stone is resting on a painting by Suzette Clough, a London textile artist. It’s an abstract painting on a long scroll of velvet—in fact, it’s about eight feet long. I have used it for a wall hanging, an evening wrap, and a blanket. I met Suzette at a wholesale show in New York City. Her wares were fabulous one-of-a-kind kimonos. They were way beyond my price range, but I was delighted when she offered me this “sampler,” made of her scraps, for a price I could afford.

I think these favorite things will help me feel at home in my new adobe home.

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