My Howl – Ipswich 7/28/18
by Pam Newton
Hhhhr! (Breath Sound) The interplay of violence and calm breaks at dawn with a start. Sounds of a dog fight across the river shatter my dreamstate. I shudder awake. SNAP! - A rabbit has consumed my lovely, longing daisy blossom. Weasel wounds mouse with a CHOMP! just as skunk digs up the endangered turtle eggs.
Last summer, I hadn’t yet considered the politics at the river’s edge. (Pause) I forgot the ticks, deer, mosquitos, spiders, standing water, fisher cats, snakes, foxes, groundhog families, voters, gun carriers, vicious video gamers. I forgot I could slip and fall into suspect waters any time I ventured into the BEAUTY.
How like me, to plunge without thinking, to plunge in deep at the edge of eternity, forever at risk of losing my legs. Huge snapping turtles surface from the depths and mate right in front of me. AIYYY. I feel the texture of penetration and loss. Yet, the sun pops out, and I remember it is all worth the cost, this living here in Maynard, a light-dappled wonderment that glistens with, “I do.”
The town woos me. I love the hidden neighborhoods, perilous connections, the expanse of water, and reservation land. I feel embraced by artists, locals, locos like me, creatives bending down to touch god and finding dubious portals to the underworld – sometimes entangled in street corner ruins. I don’t have to be liked, just allowed.
I do get frightened sometimes, along with bewildered, “too New York,” pretentious, confused, uninformed, and flooded out. But, inspiration beckons through trees and trash. “Come play with me.” For a Mill Town of only five square miles, and one-third Federal Wildlife Sanctuary, this place harbors a lot of power and quirky, meaningful, moving stories.
Some folks who lived here did not survive nearly as well as the riverside denizens. The phantoms appear to me at dawn. They whisper just loud enough for me to wonder, “How do we intermingle with all these energies?” Many lost everything they worked for. I am remembering the original peoples, before and after the Ice Age, the Native Americans, the Nipmuc peoples, the slaughtered settlers who came next, those who traveled here once the mill was erected. They were English, Fins, Poles, Italians, Russians, Irish, Asians, French, Jews, Brazilians, Jains. “Come to the land of gold…Whoops! So sorry, we don’t need you any more. We want your land, but your look doesn’t match, and the contract is no good. Sorry. Try the next town. The source of power has changed. Sorry. “
The marching band, or insert dance hall, co-op, restaurant, bandstand, recording studio was great, but it has to be closed, moved, adjusted to changing demographics and these, our modern times. “Don’t get mad. Life is not always fair, you know.”
My rabbits remind me at eventide, when the groundhogs retire to their burrows, that progress is a complex issue. Now that there are few coyotes, no President Obama in the White House, and changing tax laws, rabbits are everywhere and WHOP! There goes another tender shoot. Where are the coyotes now? When the Berlin wall came down, rabbits were found multiplying between the two walls, survivors, just like the bugs. Am I a coyote or a bug or a rabbit”
Maynard, I love you tons. Your inefficiencies have rabbit charm, even a romantic glow. I am starting to understand that moving at the river’s pace prevents a lot of disasters. The violence of the wild river banks right next to our suburban neighborhood is both amusing and terrifying. Control of life forces feels more like a concept than a possibility this summer.
I place an offering of seed on the ground. I choose to think of this place of the Assabet as a sanctuary town and to pray for those who, like my flowers, need help. Planting a rock near the corner, I listen to the whispers in the wind. “Leave a gift for the fairies in the wetlands; bow low. “ I take a deep breath and prepare to sing a ritual song for the polywogs.
Do - only what you can.