Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Borrowed beauty: Sherry O'Keefe

The following is a reprint, with permission, from poet Sherry O'Keefe's blog. Rather than a link, I wanted to share its fullness and add the mentioned song, which continually repeats itself in my head since I read this. When at her site, please explore the categories atop the page. I apologize that the formatting here varies somewhat from the original. About that, I share my grandmother's saying, "It isn't Boston but it IS Massachusetts."

Thank you, Sherry.

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abundant

He is not the sort to say It is raining on my windshield. There is a difference between that and: Will that truck need our help getting off the sandbar now that it is raining. And this matters in a vast, desolate country. Desolate being the word we use for the way any beauty hurts.

Forty-five miles past this point is the valley’s airport: a strip of prairie grass, mowed; a length of cones, white; a small 1960′s camper serving as the tower, one red hanger providing shelter for one blue prop plane. Open range country means the cattle are not fenced off the runway.

Not five miles west of the truck almost stuck on the sandbar, serious mountains redefine the landscape. We count the cords of wood (six, seven, eight) stacked near each homestead we pass on the way to the cabin we’ve rented for the weekend. There are seven cabins in this hunters’ camp and this being opening weekend for deer season, the rates are $1 higher than they were this summer: $36.00.

I point out a salmon-colored shack set in a russet-colored meadow. How odd, I say. He says, all chimneys are that way up here. What way is that, I wonder, realizing again I am slow to see past the obviousness that is me. I hadn’t even noticed (yet) the chimney.

Didn’t you notice chimneys rise higher above roof lines here than at lower elevations?

Um, no.

Long winters, deep snowdrifts on rooftops.

I smile. He smiles. We are both feeling warm and round: Earlier we’d caught eight large trout. Such a blessing, such a gift from the waters! We kept four and returned four. This is what abundant feels like, I tell him. He mulls this over. What is it to say: enough or many? What is it to feel: plenty? A word to measure the difference between how much we want and how much we actually need.

And from there, we move into deeper conversation. A rustic cabin, complete with a propane stove, but no running water is just a few minutes ahead of us. Steamed trout, fresh tomatoes. Brown bread from a can! And Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash dueting, North Country, on the CD permanently stuck in the CD player of his borrowed car. Whose voice is worse than the other, we debate. Worse being the word we use for what is most stirring.



20 comments:

JeannetteLS said...

Thank you for posting this. It's beautiful, Marylinn.

Melissa Green said...

Perfect, Maryllinn, lovely and perfect.

Kerry O'Gorman said...

One of my all time favorite songs Marylynn and Sherry is one of my favorite writers. She has such a knack for getting me to really visualize the feel of a place through her words. Cheers.

Elisabeth said...

Gut wrenchingly beautiful, Marylinn, the music the voices and the words. Thanks for taking us here.

Timothy Cahill said...

Dear Marilynn, reading this post by Sherry O'Keefe produced the same delighted awe I get from Hemingway's earliest short stories: the mastery of voice, the perfectly chosen detail, the compression; and was even more rewarding, for her generosity of heart and openness of spirit. This song by Dylan, which I have marveled at for twenty-five years and more, possesses all the same qualities. The mystery and vulnerability in Bobby D's and Johnny Cash's voices, the way they chafe, collide, and navigate the performance with such obvious affection, is one of life's sublime pleasures. What a gift for you to combine them into a single bracing experience.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Jeanette - So glad you enjoyed it. xo

Marylinn Kelly said...

Melissa - My feelings exactly. xo

Marylinn Kelly said...

Kerry - The song will not let go of me and Sherry's writing...how could I possibly try to speak for her? Cheers to you. xo

Marylinn Kelly said...

Elisabeth - So glad that you stopped by. xo

Marylinn Kelly said...

Timothy - Thank you, and thank you for all you found in Sherry's work. I enjoyed your description of what makes the song linger so. Good to see you here.

toomuchaugust said...

Marylinn- Well I am honored (blushed!) that you shared this post here. Often when I write, your comments later help me finish sorting out what I was trying to sort out. There is a quote I shared in one of my posts that reminds us that everything we need for life is already inside us. These “things” get unlocked as we live. Dylan and Cash, North Country, desolate basins, rain against a shield….who knows what comes along and unlocks that something inside us. Tumblers fall into place.


Elisabeth, Jeanette and Melissa- Thank you for your kind words! I am so glad Marylinn found the video. There are so many moments in it that cause some sort of twang inside me every time I watch/listen to it.

Kerry- What a sweet heart you are, thank you! I come to your blog to find the rest of my “home”.

Timothy- Oh wow, your description of the chafe and collide unlocked something inside. Marvelous! And thank you for the kind words about my post. Some things are so grand that the less said, the more one might be able to step into that grand, desolate picture.

sherry o'keefe

Radish King said...

Oh this is lovely.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Sherry - We find the tumblers do begin to align and we get to embrace the greater mystery, letting go of the lesser questions. My great pleasure to host your appearance here. xo

Marylinn Kelly said...

Rebecca - I'm glad you stopped by; I thought it would speak to you. xo

toomuchaugust said...

marylinn, yes to the letting go of the lesser questions. yes to the embrace of chafe and collide, the vulnerability.

rebecca, thank you! i'm pleased you found this post lovely.

sherry

beth coyote said...

Thanks for posting this. I'm happy four fish were released. That is abundance.

~Beth

toomuchaugust said...

thank you, beth. and those four fish sent back, with worms in their bellies.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Beth - Happy you found this. Yes, abundance. xo

Kass said...

Oh yes! I love the way BOTH of you write. Two favorites of mine.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Kass - Thank you. I know I am in rare company here. Isn't Sherry remarkable? xo