Great Duck Island, Maine. Wild roses. Black Guillemots and Leach’s Storm-petrels. Stars. Tides. Granite cliffs. Solitude.
I wanted to write a poem. Sometimes when I want to write a poem, I need some momentum – so I asked a friend for a word.
I was working with the word palimpsest.
Palimpsest - writing material used more than once, with faint traces of earlier writing present - material having layers or aspects apparent beneath the surface - from palimpestos – scratched or scraped again (as in the days of parchment and wax coated tablets)
I walked the island with the mantra: again, I scrape. I poured coffee: again, I scrape. I woke to the sound of the tide: again, I scrape.
The unwritten “palimpsest”poem was tormenting me.
One place kept drawing me in. It had to do with the tidal flow around a certain rock outcropping.
To get to there, I had to walk through a pathway of wild roses. The air on this path was sweet, sensual, feminine, in contrast to the spikier scent of seaweed just a few steps away.
The tide eventually ebbed exposing dozens of tidal pools. Inspired by Andy Goldsworthy’s vibrant dandelion piece in which he floated dandelion heads in a puddle of water beside a river (Andy Goldsworthy: Rivers and Tides Working With Time), I began to collect rose petals.
I realized that I was making an environmental poem that the tide would scrape away.
A kind of testimony to the island.
To things that rise and fall.