Friday, October 21, 2011

Letter Writing at Ghost Ranch

How they are carried and delivered is not the issue. Rather, who composed them and to whom is what drives letters through centuries and what propels them now. That and the need for intimacy/honesty, plus a natural linguistic music.

Last week in our class, The Art of Letter Writing, a wonderful mix of humor, drama, and imagination –

Mary Claire explains to her children exactly why she bought (without their advice) her new Dodge Journey.

Katie writes her daughter on the trials and triumphs of a long marriage.

Val writes to Ansel Adams asking if there is not a secret behind his famous shot, Moonrise, Hernandez.

Susan Barney Jones gives me permission to share this fine poem.

1001 West Mulberry Street

This is a letter to my childhood home.

This is a letter to Mulberry Street

to its wide paved expanse

beginning at the eastern edge of town

ending at the hogback dotted with yucca

to ghosts of Nash, Plymouth, Chrysler, Ford

parked at the curb.

This is a letter to seven trees planted on the lot

tall sprawling blue spruce, macintosh

and wealthy apples, delicate Chinese

maple, prized and protected gingko,

aggravating Kentucky coffee putting

up suckers, spicy Russian olive.

This is a letter to plants left behind.

This is a letter to the table in the kitchen

slam of screen door, splash of faucet

water, decaying picket fence and

broken gate lock, tilting clothesline pole,

empty wooden dog house, abandoned

antenna on the roof.

This is a letter to things forgotten.

This is a letter to three bedrooms

one crowded bath, sticking metal

sliding closet doors, ceramic

windowsills, casement window cranks,

to mildewed shower curtain, damp towels,

chips of soap in a cracked dish.

This is a letter to daily life.

This is a letter to washer and dryer

shelves of glass jars, canned

applesauce, homemade jelly

and pickles, plastic boxes of sliced

peaches in large white freezer

to stacks of magazines, folders of school

papers, dress-up clothes and garment

bags, nails and tools, photos and

slide carousels

to dusty basement

to past and present.

This is a letter to all a house can hold.

Thanks to Ghost Ranch, the Fall Writing Festival team, and to my wonderful class!