Last Summer

This time last year, unbelievably, I was back home from a long trip out west — a driving trip, with so many visits and memorable moments & sights, unplanned “adventures,” long stretches of open road, and the slowly evolving landscapes of the (almost) coast-to-coast route — plains, foothills, mountains, forests. The initial “excuse” for the trip was that I was going to be spending a two-week residency working on poems at the Playa Artist Residency Program in Summer Lake, Oregon.

Last week. I received this beautiful annual anthology full of writing and art from 2019 residents and it brought me right back, but also startled me into a sort of hiccup of time and memory. Remembering Playa (this was my third residency) is always sort of like remembering another world — that feeling is amplified now for me. Time and distance sprawl and ripple. Not just the strange and inspiring landscape of the “Oregon Outback” and Summer Lake, but also, the notion of such travel, so many embraces of friends in Chicago, in Nebraska, in Pennsylvania, a world of touch and faces that, too, feels distant and not a little bit unreal to me just now. I was there, I’m sure of it. I hope to make it back again — back to Playa, back to poetry, back to touch and faces. It will not be “back,” exactly, though. Not the old world. Some world trying to be born right now.

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