It’s been yet another blurring-by week. Time wears a jet pack, I think. I worked on the cemetery directory book project for three of the days. It’s mind numbing for me, a right-brained artist type confined to manipulating data, listings of names and locations so it’s statistical information that I am trying my best to fit into the allotted pages/space with my creative muse in lock down. Every time I adjust a column of numbers the type jumps further down and then I have to go work on that accompanied by not a small amount of groaning.
Sometimes I must admit to the frustration of not how tedious the job is but knowing that no one really understands what it takes to get a book formatted other than the one who is wrestling with the type. You just have to take my word for it. Type is self-willed and ornery. Sort of like herding cats.
Thursday I had finished enough repair to the text to see I had some space that begged to be filled and I wanted something artistic for the cover anyway so I decided I needed to go to the cemetery myself and get some pics. The town the cemetery is located in is about 20 miles away and I had never been there so the first challenge was to find it. Once I found a spot to park and started walking around I suddenly remembered why I hate cemeteries. It’s so... final. Like punctuation at the end of a sentence. This one goes way back though. Been final for a long time. There are gravestones of soldiers from the Civil War. Imagine that!
With no plan, I walked aimlessly, stopping to read what looked like the oldest stones. It’s not flat, quite hilly actually, so I had to climb and weave around a bit, hoping I would not stumble and find myself in a disabled heap in an old cemetery no one knew I was in. I snagged a few snaps of old markers still looking for the cover shot. Then, just as I was ready to leave, I spotted a bench sitting under a huge old oak tree and I knew I had accomplished my quest.
As I was driving home the words started pestering me, a phenomenon I am quite familiar with. Poems come. I couldn’t stop them if I tried.
My sixth grade teacher, Mrs. MacMillan introduced me to the art of emotional storytelling with poetry. She did it so cleverly, teaching us by doing. She entered the classroom, after recess, reciting a poem, glass of water in hand. The woman could make taking a draw of water from a glass look like performance art. But it was her words that calmed us to silence. No other way to say it - she graced us. Every word issued with such mastery we were held like muted hostages in our seats.
This word artist planted seeds that changed everything. She awakened something that beckoned me to create, to make something from nothing, to splash color into a black and white world, even though the world may not appreciate it much less understand it. The siren call was - do it anyway. No matter what and just because.
Consider being 70 years old and just realizing that a single person, so long ago, was the one to credit (blame?) for your peculiar life path.
As I drove home from the cemetery, the words came, and I thought of Mrs. Ella Macmillan, teacher, mentor, poet extraordinaire and in my sweet reverie, she was yet alive.
So, apparently, even when the sentence is punctuated, it can live on to inspire as though it was not finished.