Sunday, July 1, 2012

Monhegan, Shamans, and Chants

                A couple of weeks ago, I was out on Monhegan Island. For the past thirty-odd years, I have been getting out there most summers, either for a day hike or as much as a week. This time, it was two nights in the Rose Room at Tribler Cottage ( my son Eben (age 30).
                We spent our time doing what you do on Monhegan—hiking the trails and cliffs, catching up on the new art, checking out this past winter’s blowdowns of trees in the dense woods. We ran into my friend, Monroe Maine artist Kenny Cole, who was in the middle of his five-week Monhegan Artist Residency ( Over beers while waiting for our crabcake burgers on Fish Beach, we talked about the challenges and joys of artist residencies.
After Kenny left, Eben and I were joined at the communal  picnic table by a shaman from Miami who works for the Miami Beach school district. Since I was born in Miami, we had a lot to talk about. The guy had a great attitude, was super friendly, and the burgers were perfect with just the right amount of tarter sauce.
                We also ran into artist Dyan Berk ( ) , who used to live on the island year-round. Her house out there, by the way, is for sale.
                Eben and I hiked to Burnt Head by way of Lobster Cove. Here is a poem I “got” on Burnt Head a few years ago and is in my collection, Heart Song & Other Legacies.
                          "I contain multitudes."
                         Walt Whitman
I am an architecture
of skins, the bones
of other creatures twisting
through me.

I am the snakes and the lizards and
the one-eyed crocodiles.

I am the lesser known species
of birds and the brush
that sustains them.

I am the saltwater fish
and the freshwater fish
and those that swim
in the brackish places in between.

I am the small mammals that gnaw
and nibble in the night.
I am the Bengal tiger resting, heavy
eyes drooping to sleep.

I am all hopping things -
red-backed spiders and rabbits
and toads that live under drains.

I am the blue whale and the harbor
seal, the starfish curling
over sea urchin prey.

I am the flight of the albatross over
open waters. I am
the gulls and the crows mourning
for this world.

I am those multitudes
that fly and crawl and run and limp.

I am all
these things.
(“Chant” from Heart Song & Other Legacies, Illuminated Sea Press, copyright Linda Buckmaster, 2007)

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