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flowing secrets

In your hands you feel a stir: you are writing a masterpiece. Someone comes in and asks you a question; someone else is singing in the next room. But this does not disturb you. You are writing a masterpiece. You are a child of the fog: from Maine where you once lived you keep seeing Winslow Homer's paintings, and this stirs in you the pulse of the land; snowdrifts; springs; the sea birds; the wind. And you listen as someone outside your door laughs; there are footstep sounds on your ceiling, and out the win- dow a crow's caw flies by; the next room humming. And this is your masterpiece; where you work: the stilled presence. In that place there is no disturbance, and any sound adds to your beauty. And on and on you write: on and on. 2 When I was painting to Beethoven's music a blossom occurred. It fluttered near a windowsill in the sounds of church bells, in large brush strokes. Some trombone was on the end of a stem. Then the colors my canvas was finding followed aisles of light past an apartment building, past charcoal colored parking lots, out onto the fields of spray.A sailboat, one petal conducting, soothed the wind the first violinist was using, the endless orchestration used as a palette, the brooding archways of shadows along the shore. An oak fainted. In this painting I was doing, the blurs found a symphony dipped in lavender. And I walked away, came closer: faded in and out. I saw a camouflaged elk in the woodcuts of the walls, two turned over sterns?, a foliage. And on and on the Big "B's" music went, on and on. I thought that afternoon that Boston was the most sought after masterpiece, miles of little wrought iron fences shivering in the wind: quickly sketched. Never before had the Prudential Building composed. There was in that instance a turnip colored sunset every note of music ran away with, a rumbly trolley car on Hun- tington Avenue, a joined neon sign overcome. "Boston is a good canvas," I said and smiled. 3 I once saw a little girl perform ballet in Boston that left her body behind stage. When she was flying and floating in the air it was as if what was behind the word "grace" came out on tiptoes. When she stood sideways the only thing left was the light and the audience. She was always sending her smile out on a visit. And one day i saw her along the Charles River, kicking a few leaves as she walked along. The sailboat in her had found a place the stage used to be, and the only thing we could see was something so gentle it was on tiptoes. 4 Great Blue Herons came to the Rogue River in Oregon that day the same time we did, and stood looking at two smooth gray rocks. "Let's brace the white water at the mouth of the river," you said, and suddenly everything was underwater, and before I knew it you had disappeared, and the next time I saw you seemed years, and you were bob- bing down river, hollering. After you floated on your back to the shore and rested for a while, we continued five more miles down that river on inner tubes, past water-ouzel shadows, little openings along the shoreline trees had not yet found, until your sis- ter fell off an inner tube, went under a large wharf, and came back to the surface laughing in a large white wave. And I learned that day a river's secret: flow, and let your images find their own inner tubes, and when an idea falls out of a sentence let it come back to the surface of its own accord, finding any paragraph it wants later. There are currents in many things we do, and what has learned to float is beginning to find that there are shores that are really there. Somewhere deep that river secret waits for you, swirls a little at your feet, and flows on.


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