It was with much gratitude for this artist residency in Wyoming where I set to work the night I arrived. My studio overlooked a chapel of the natural world, quiet giant trees reminding me of my childhood in rural Pennsylvania. Every night I would sit on the deck overlooking the sky framed by quaking aspen to wait for the stars. I noted the first and brightest above distance hills, above branches, and as others twinkled into view I began to create my own constellations. Eighteen in all, each constellation demanded a different toll to pay at the start of my note-taking. For instance the fifth toll of Xallan was paid by meditating with a fist of citrine stone in my left hand. The toll of the stars over UCROSS was always paid in meditating with stones. Labradorite, a gift from poet Bhanu Kapil, is a stone of the dark crone, enhancing inner passageways to bring light to the cancerous shadow-lands of a life. Celestite I purchased in Boulder, Colorado, is a gem used to communicate with spirit guides some call angels. Clear quartz, a gift from poet Elizabeth Willis, was a translucent mirror where the salamander appeared in a waking dream one night. Citrine I purchased at the Edgar Cayce Institute cleaned negative charge and led the way to understanding the wealth of this organic body named UCROSS where deer, mink, golden eagles, sheep, rabbits, mice, and thousands of insects, plants, stones, worms, birds, and other living beings thrive in their own unimpeded cycles. One night a great horned owl dropped a mouse at me feet, and as I wrote in that poem, “it doesn’t have to mean something / but it probably does”. The notes were allowed to fan out across the page while looking at the stars, and always I would write while staring into the constellation, a gemstone in my left hand.
Hammering all the notes into one document the next morning started with drinking a drop of Lemurian quartz. Barry David of Mount Shasta makes these infusions under the full moon with mountain spring water and the gem essence of quartz. This is the same quartz I wear around my neck, a Lemurian quartz. I also wore a rotating scent of sandalwood, cedar, and rose. Sandalwood has a high frequency that aligns the chakras and enhances cellular vibration for spiritual awareness. Cedar helps eliminate mental and spiritual obstructions and stagnation for clearer and more harmonious creative channels. Rose has the highest hertz measurements of any living being on Earth, and it’s scent will immediately clear the heart center as a portal to the almost unbelievable realizations of purpose and desire to make that purpose manifest. Each day I rotated these oils, a dab on the third eye, the wrists, the soles of my feet, and with a drink of Lemurian quartz I would BEGIN!!
At noon when lunch arrived I would take the fruit from the bag, set it on the floor with my laptop, then play one of the eight songs on the album Cathedral City by the musical genius of VICTOIRE, composed by Missy Mazzoli. The music of Cathedral City was perfect as a vehicle to channel my constellation notes into poems. I would cover the piece of fruit and laptop with a basket, then with a blanket, then with pillows, then with towels, and finally with a large comforter, then PLAY THE MUSIC AS LOUD AS I COULD. It was inaudible from all the coverings that were keeping the music CLOSE to the piece of fruit and INFUSING its water molecules with the song of VICTOIRE!! As soon as the song was finished I ATE THE FRUIT as quickly as possible while the song was still inside it. Eating the song in the fruit, I then set about with the first phase of dividing the notes into language for poetry. In the sunlight I would lie on my back behind my studio, my head over the edge of the deck to SEE the beautiful pastures and quaking aspen upside-down. The upside-down view was for the second phase of dividing the notes into language of poetry. Looking to the upside-down view, then at the notes, then at the view, then back to the notes, until the notes were picked clean of excrescence and the shining teeth came clear in its skull.
In late afternoon I would wash my crystals in peppermint soap and set them on the deck in the sun to dry and collect nutrient-rich light. A sheep I named Gabriella for one of the constellations would always approach her fence closest to the gemstones. One day a flock of agitated migrating starlings surrounded them, singing WILDLY into them!! For weeks the eighteen poems were created and later sculpted, one for each of my eighteen constellations over Wyoming skies. Part of my meditation wandered from the beauty of this natural setting to remember how people have destroyed so much land that UCROSS seems an oasis. We have been mistaken for centuries about our lives on Earth. Early white men named Yosemite National Park, thinking it was the name of the native Miwok people who first lived there. Yosemite actually means “Killers, those to be feared.” One of our great national parks is named after a description of who we have turned out to be, clawing our way through untold reserves of natural resources, and killing all life that gets in the way. These poems found the translucent salamander through Elizabeth Willis’s crystal, and later suggested as the title for the poems by poet Ryan Eckes. A benevolent force from crystal and sky, Translucent Salamander are these poems I’m proud to say were offered through me to you.
WELCOME TO UCROSS