Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Logbook: My desk by Shelley Gillespie

I am leaving for Barcelona in a little over a week. More than our apartment and its ten minute proximity to the Pacific Ocean, more than the farmers' markets bursting with every fruit and vegetable known to my longing palate, I will miss my desk. This place in the corner of a cream colored room where I've settled into writing over the last several months. A wooden angel crafted in El Salvador and painted in bright colors hangs from my lamp and dangles over a photo from my pumpkin poem project which reads: plan to stay open heart + mind.

My newest collage leans against the wall facing me - a bunch of beets created from torn pieces of drafts of a prose poem that focuses on a market day when I sold vegetables. I superimposed text from the poem over the beets:
Would you like a bunch of beets? I ask.
Not at that price.
Feel my hands
touch this spot in my lower back
find the price of these beets here in my flesh

How much is that worth to you?

I'm selling myself
my work
my ache in these beets

and my love.

In the opposite corner from the lamp and angel, sits a gourd cut in half to serve as a small bowl or cup, the kind used for sipping mezcal in rural Oaxacan towns to celebrate the cane harvest. Inside the gourd I've placed seeds. Of course you have, say those who know me best. Small black beans grown in Sunnyside, Washington, cubaces beans the color of rust picked up on my last trip to Santa Maria de Dota, Costa Rica, maize seeds, one a bright red and called sangre de cristo by its farmer and one large pumpkin seed that I think might be from a massive pumpkin my farming friends unloaded at their harvest party. It took up the entire bed of a pickup truck. On top of the seeds, a slip of paper pulled off of a tea bag with tea bag wisdom: Live with reverence for yourself and others. Are you getting the sense that my desk is part altar?

A small stack of books include the Popul Vuh (needed to find out what exactly happened to the corn god when he descended into the underworld), Sibley's Field Guide to Birds of Western North America (needed to accurately identify the cliff swallows that have made their mud nests in the eaves outside the window in front of one section of my desk), a journal from 2006 (needed to help jog memories of the Oaxacan maize farmer I met who worked in the bracero program).

Next to the seeds sits a succulent plant with a hawk feather stuck in its dirt. Beside the plant, tacked to the wall a Union Match brand box half way open with a plastic farmer inside as if the match box were his coffin. I leaped on the farmer when my friend's birthday pinata broke over beach sand.

In small glass jars, colored pencils, an x-acto knife and ball point pens splay, pointing to multiple spots on the cream ceiling. I rarely write with ball point pens, preferring fine rolling ball pens with black ink. Ball point pens have a way of creeping into your life whether you use them or not. I've never been to the Santa Barbara Bank & Trust nor to Yosemite but somehow I have ball point pens that advertise such places sitting in my jar. Curious about this, I pick up the clear ball point pen with its vial of blue ink that rests on my desk. Aside from the brand Faber Castell, Turkey is etched onto the pen; something my sweetheart must have picked up in his travels, needing a pen to write a stack of postcards perhaps. I like this - in the midst of all of the things placed with such intention to inspire me through the hard work of writing, these pens have found their place here.

Of course, my desk will be here when I return in three months.


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