A black crow formed of bent wire, specific in its detail, with the look of chicken wire, yet intricately twisted by hand. You had seen me come back to it again and again at the art show and had taken note. You, who usually harangued me about how hard I was to buy for, asking what I wanted, making me responsible for my own gift. How I hated Xmases and Birthdays for this reason. Hard enough finding the perfect gift for you and your 8 children and my family, but to have to pick my own gift? Unfair.
Yet this gift, a surprise on my 42nd birthday, so perfect. A reminder of that black crow poem you had written about the end of your first marriage and the decline of your second that poem that ranged so far and wide that it included even me, gathering your children and taking them to safety when we broke down on the freeway. That first poem not about past loves, but casting me as heroine––a part of your official biography.
This crow, however, has seen beyond you. Seen your death and my relocation. It sits on the highest shelf of my sala, bent over a Mata Ortiz lidded bowl that has an ear of corn rising up from its lid, as though the crow is about to feast on it. It is one of the objects that gathers you around me, even now, 18 years after your death: the wooden statue you carved in Bali, your giant spirit sled of copper and hide, your Tie Siding sculpture that fills the corner near my desk, the spiral lamp–one of our favorite collaborations.
My whole life seems a continuation of that collaboration—your pulling out of me the art and words that surround me now on my walls, my tables and swirling through my head, disconnected or connected. Metered in rhyme or collecting into paragraphs—all parts of my life. Art we inspired in each other, pulling the world in around us with wood and stone and metal and paper and ideas and words. That metal crow a part of all of it that I have overlooked for so many years now. Of the few objects brought the long miles from California to Mexico, this crow was selected innocently, perhaps more by intuition than by conscious thought, and yet it stands, highest of all, to project its message.
No one who has formed us ever dies. New loves do not cancel out the old. Like one glorious recipe, our lives accumulate ingredients. Sweet and salty, tart and crusty, effervescent and meaty. Like your presence. Ironically represented by that crow that is mainly emptiness, really. Or perhaps unseen mass. Like thought. Like poetry. Like love. Like a forgotten important detail suddenly remembered.
Mary asked to see some of the results of the timed writing exercises we did during our retreat. This is one I did where the prompt was to write about an object. I believe it was a 15 or 20 minute writing.