November 24, 2014 § Leave a comment
Shoal or Shola: The only way through is through.
Potts Harbor, Casco Bay: “Chart image courtesy of NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), used in accordance with their terms of permitted use. Altered and redistributed charts such as this should not be relied on for navigational purposes.”
Terms of Service
[I have swum many times across the shoals to Pinkham’s Island.]
Eighty-Mile Round: Kodaikanal and areas of the “Eighty-Mile Round” – Dindigul, India Topographic Map (compiled in 1954, printed in 1959). U.S. Army Map Service, Corps of Engineers. Courtesy of the University of Texas Libraries, the University of Texas at Austin.
[My mother Beatrice Florence Witter and grandfather Ted Volney Witter hiked the “Eighty-Mile Round” in 1939, before my mother left India for the last time in 1940. My mother noted in her Yale Review reminiscence that they “established a speed record through a leech shola.”]
October 9, 2014 § Leave a comment
In the striking of hammer and chisel against stone lies all possibilities.
August 22, 2014 § 2 Comments
I believed in the firmness of the sky, the comfort of eleven-year-old skin, the hedges I refused to carry. And when the first horse I ever rode balked at the dead sheep that bled in my path, I held fast and did not let go. I saw a girl tremble with sunstroke as she was lifted in her chair and placed in a tub of ice, but I did not wish to be carried off to some stiller place and because I was young I believed I could choose it to be so. I asked a boy from France to dance with me, a boy who was shorter than I and who I could barely understand, except when he put his arms around my waist and I could feel his pulse beating beneath his skin. I rolled over in my kayak just to see what it felt like, over and over, and felt the longing in my lungs – a longing so simple I had to find my way to the surface.
August 4, 2014 § 1 Comment
Remember (re-member) the skin, the bones, the once-pulsing life: breathe, breathe.
July 14, 2014 § Leave a comment
Do not walk past remarkable things with absolute oblivion: a rusted hand pump wedged in the embrace of a tree; a snake’s skin, keeled-scaled, floating in a sea of grass; an old wooden spool with a fragment of thread; a mussel shell, loosely-hinged, untethered.
A Postcard Mystery
June 30, 2014 § Leave a comment
Theirs is an ancient story: A man loves a woman who grows skeptical. Gadding about the neighborhood seems kind of good to her.
Note: W.L.S. and Miss Josephine Allen first appeared to me in a lot of postcards I purchased nearly four decades ago when my interest in vintage postcards and abandoned images took root. Mixed in among a hundred other miscellaneous postcards, a strange courtship unfolded before me, a mystery of desire and despair.
Please click on the link below to read four postcards from W.L.S. to Miss Josephine Allen, September, October, November, and December of 1912:
June 20, 2014 § 3 Comments
I am drawn to photographs of people I do not know. I wonder who they are – their desires, their despairs. This man (shown) and this woman (hidden) have sat on my bookshelf for years now, a gift from my late (former) mother-in-law who understood my yearnings, who trusted me as a keeper of history. But I do not know who these people are – and the rusted needle-nose pliers I dug up from a pile of abandoned tools were of no use: their stories are buried somewhere, perhaps with the red-eyed cranberry beans and cucumbers and squash Moses Chamberlain Cate (is this him, then, as a young man?) once wrote about in a diary.
Contributor Spotlight – Hayden’s Ferry Review, June 12, 2102
August 28, 2013 § Leave a comment
Contributor Spotlight – Hayden’s Ferry Review, June 13, 2102
Three generations of Witter women, no longer living, press themselves upon me; like children of the forest, these women appear to me in my waking and in my dreaming, these strangers whose lives were shaped and defined a long time ago in a distant land. I have lived with them for so long now that I feel I know them well – their desires, their despairs, their rich and complicated lives….
Click on the link above to read my reflections on “Dangerous Archaeology: A Daughter’s Search for her Mother (and Others) – a memoir in fragments” – a hybrid image/text essay done in collaboration with photographer Autumn E. Monsees and published in Hayden’s Ferry Review, Spring/Summer 2012 (Issue 50). This essay was named to the “Notable Essays” section of The Best American Essays 2013.
We Must Travel Back
August 25, 2013 § Leave a comment
Broadside from Dangerous Archaeology. Photograph by Autumn E. Monsees. Ceramic Tile, Witter Family Artifact.
This is one of sixteen broadsides produced in collaboration with photographer Autumn E. Monsees during the summer and fall of 2011. These broadsides were exhibited at the New England College Art Gallery in February-March of 2012 as part of my mixed-genre work-in-progress Dangerous Archaeology: A Daughter’s Search for Her Mother (and Others) – a memoir in fragments
Rowing to Pinkham’s Island
August 25, 2013 § Leave a comment
Harpswell Sound • Casco Bay • Maine • July 2013
Only 6,621 nautical miles to reach India