When I left you in June, we were diving in to the Bartram Boxes Remix (BBR) project. (Check out the June posting below to refresh your memory.) Starting a new project is daunting and complicated since, while I have an intention of where the poems should end up, I am not always sure how to get there. (Anyone who has driven with me knows I am directionally-challenged but I get to where I need to go eventually.)
So I procrastinated. Cleaned my desk. Did some laundry. Took a lot of walks. Bought post-it notes and a nice green highlighter. Circled my big blank sketchbook like it was a threatening animal with sharp teeth. Take it from me. Nothing is as scary as a big, blank, white page. I did this for quite a while.
Then I started my research which is less scary than actually writing and just as important. I read a lot of letters and journals by John and William Bartram. I did research about the characteristics of the trees. Claire and I went to the Library Company of Philadelphia and looked at commonplace books. I decided to write the poem for the Paper Mulberry Tree for the box entitled "Journeys". I wrote my papermaker friend Melissa Jay Craig and asked her favorite thing about mulberry paper. I thought about letters and maps and sketchbooks and journals and envelopes filled with seeds.
The journey starts...
Because scarlet hibiscus cannot survive
the northern winter.
Because rivers and mountains shift
shape with the falling light.
Because seeds overflow my palms
like a broken string of beads.
Because alone, I cannot make sense
of all that is unfamiliar
Because I miss conversation.
Because you lend the inner layers,
strands and strands entwined.
Because everything is captive in eyes
and fingertips unless released, received.
Because nature sows generations
in the cycle of seasons.
Because we search the terrain,
mark our journey, fill the vessel
that holds the crimson ink -