how tentative the gesture

Hello Shari, Anna, Amisha, Julia, Éireann, Austen, Lisa, Gracia, Sherrie,

I was about to write that I’ve never blogged before and then realized that isn’t true. I did have a blog, briefly, maybe ten years ago. I quit very quickly. Looking back, I think blogging then felt like I was writing to/with/for exactly no one (though I know some friends did read it). And that felt lonely and very much “what’s the point,” even more so than writing poems sometimes does. So I went back to poems and letters and emails and lists, and abandoned the blog.

This feels different already and that is because of all of you. Julia and Éireann wrote about hesitation and mild dread and I have been feeling that too (tiredness, the world, everything, what could I possibly write/say?) (added to which: shyness, which is less acute than when I was 12 but persists still). And also: I am very glad to be here. With all of you. Thank you.

Much of New York State is under a drought watch now, including Ulster County, where I live. Sometimes, the drought feels like the only thing I can think/feel about. At other times, it’s not in my conscious mind but is palpable, present, making everything feel constricted and airless and sad. Being in the garden or the woods is painful as well as solacing, a complicated mix. It’s hard not to see how acutely things are suffering.

I’ve lived through droughts before and though they’ve been awful, this one feels particularly bad. Maybe it is because it’s appeared on top of and alongside everything else. Maybe it’s because the problem in this part of the world tends to be too much water rather than too little. A friend who lives in the neighboring town, West Shokan, refers to it as “Wet Soaking.” The lack of rain is strange and profoundly jarring as well as achey.

And also. And also. Here are some cheering late summer things. (OK, I tried to insert a photo [of flowers!] here, but WordPress isn’t letting me. Hmmm. For next time, hopefully.) Anyway: zinnias, marigolds, cosmos. And bears. This summer I’ve seen more than in any year before. Three times in the past two weeks, a juvenile with huge paws (I’m assuming it’s the same one), and then a few days ago, a big adult crossing the rail trail where I walk the dog every day. All of them seemingly totally uninterested in me, just living their bear-ish lives.

These sentences from Anwen Crawford’s No Document (a favorite book from the past few months, often difficult emotionally but also full of integrity, formally surprising/apt, and generous, and wise) made me think of all of you and all of us here, together:

Do I think that art can change the world? No and yes. We can’t end work – or war – with pencils, or by arguing for better television shows. But there are no movements towards freedom without what must be imagined, and perhaps can only be imagined: I believe that. Another way to put this would be to say that I believe in all of us because of all who have imagined this in the act of remaking a street or a room through some gesture of their hands, by writing or painting or playing, no matter how tentative the gesture or how ephemeral the evidence.

I hope the season is being kind to all of you.

12 thoughts on “how tentative the gesture

  1. I blogged pretty consistently for about fifteen years, and by the end of it, I still had that feeling you described — writing for no one. That was around the time that social media had become big and blogs were mostly sponsored posts. I’ve often thought about starting it up again, as a time capsule for myself, if nobody else, but it feels pointless, at the end of the day.

    We had an awful drought last summer, here in Minnesota. I’m sorry New York is going through the same thing now!

    • Thank you, Anna, so much. It did finally rain a couple of days ago… and though it doesn’t repair the damage of 5 weeks without, things do look brighter, literally. I’m very glad we’re here together, blogging in this new way – new to me anyway.

  2. i have been thinking a lot about if art changes things – deeply enough for anyone other than the maker. and i keep thinking yes it does. cause it has for me.

    • It has for me, as well. Other makers’ work has changed my whole life, really. I tend to forget that when I am struggling or low. So it’s good to be reminded.

  3. Hi Kasey,
    It’s s wonderful to read your words. The drought! It feels so overwhelming. And I agree, up until recently, the rain (when it came) was fast and almost violent. The town where I live has started to carve out the sides of the dirt roads and pack them with big rocks to help with drainage. I’m a bit worried about winter and not being able to see where the rock ditches are!

    I do hope you got that good soaking rain that Vermont received over the past few days. Glad the flowers and the bears have been keeping you in a cheery mood. We saw a baby bear pass in front of our car just the other week. A definite mood booster.

    Thank you for sharing here.

    • I think we got the same storm! Or storms. My partner told me that we had 7 inches of rain in 4 days (!!!) while I was away. No flooding, luckily, that I know of. Thank you, Shari!

    • If you read it, I would love to hear! I felt like I should add that some of the book (the parts about non-human animals and about migrants, particularly) was painful and difficult… and still I’m so glad I read it, and it’s been very present with me since I finished.

  4. Oh, that quote is a gem – thank you for sharing. And your comment above is what I’m always trying to remind myself of – that other makers’ work has shaped my life in so many ways. Hoping that your drought ends soon – these extreme weather events are so stressful. It’s good to meet you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *