Swan Song – An Abstract Chilmark Aria

Swan Song an abstract Chilmark aria

This is Skip.

One of this world’s truly authentic selves.

A person for whom the esthetics of beauty
is the fundamental element of existence.

Someone deeply connected to nature’s expressions,
who finds art and music and dance
vibrating between all living things,
and whose joyful spirit,
when unleashed,
can fill an island with song.

Over a year ago I asked Skip to model for me.
I had some ideas.
Skip had other ideas.

We met and shared some croissants and coffee,
listened to each others’ stories,
talked about art, and Findhorn, and philosophy,
and listened some more.

Then we set out to seek the muses.
Skip pointed me down up-island roads that were hidden from maps,
we stopped for stone walls,
and wildlife,
wildflowers,
and whispers.

There were stories behind every corner,
pebbles on the road, on Skips’ journey,
and a few on mine, and new ones we were creating together.

Skip is a painter.
And one of the things we talked about was
including one of those paintings …in my painting.
We brought it along, and let the muses decide.

We ended up at the bluff, Camp Sunrise.
A melding of sacred spaces.
The morning sun had risen to clear October skies,
and the meadow was just waking up to the light.

This is the part where I get emotional.

Because the morning sessions I spent working with Skip
studying and working,
in that profoundly familiar space,
was the last time I saw the house,
perched on the edge of the planet,
in all her grace and glory,
before they demolished it.

We all knew it was coming.
The time when nature’s pounding would erode the bluff,
wearing away at the land,
until there was no where else for the houses to rest.

In my island time…
which began as the great gift of knowing Lynn Langmuir,
whose generous heart was deeper than the ocean,
and steadier than her beloved stone wall,
that very wall which wanders through this painting…
over the thirty plus years I have been coming to this bluff,
the chicken coop of a farm house,
had twice been moved back from that threatening edge.

It is hard to imagine,
in this painting,
that there is a 40 foot drop from bluff to beach,
just a mere five feet from the edge of her front porch.

And, still, this old Yankee stalwart ship-of-a-shack,
she stood proud,
holding her own,
and by that I mean generations of the Langmuir family,
and the many who were welcomed by them,
into the embrace of this enchanted space.

But the land…ran out.
And so, while the other, more modern structures
of garage and bunkhouse, were able to be moved
out back and beyond the wetlands,
to the farthest section of the parcel,
the bones of this old gal had been deemed too fragile for the move.

You couldn’t tell, from our distant vantage point,
that while Skip and I gamboled among the stones,
and communed with the muses,
the house had been emptied of all its touchstones.

The old wicker woven lounging chair was gone…
the daybeds stripped of their sleep-softened pillows,
kitchen shelves bare of the pastel colored fiesta ware,
paperback mysteries of Riggs and Craig,
no longer insulating the cubby-holed shelves.

Puzzles and kite string, checkers and cribbage…
amber eyed owls who lit up the hearth,
journals of writings from visiting friends,
with new chapters each year for us all to catch up.

New nicks, and old,
from bumps on the bedroom lintel,
where a hundred layers on the yellow painted symbol of a duck…reminding us to.

The tears in each sink from the iron and rust,
the old brown barn coat ever-hanging
on the white wooden hooks behind the green door.

All these objects, and a hundred more …
they have been the keeper of our memories.

The sunny days, the stormy nights,
we grew up in that house,
on the bluff,
as she grew old,
and, in her weathered-shingled way,
became…
the things we are made of.

This painting then,
for the house,
is her swan song.

Skip sings it for us all,
an aria as abstract
as the tapestry of souls
who have ducked to cross her threshold,
and sought refuge in her wings.

In thanks to dear Lynn…
Peace.

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