Writing. Design. Social Change.

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.

- 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.

The color was a shock. 

Alien to this place.

Yet also familiar.

A kind of testimony to the island.

To things that rise and fall.

Roses and rocks. At first glance they seem opposed. The delicate and the solid.

Yet water wears away petals and stones alike. Again, it scrapes.

2 Responses to “Palimpsest”

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