When I moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts this past summer, I started writing at an old desk, which is made of an orange wood and faces a white wall. I write on a gray computer. Over the top of the screen I can see the spines of the four topmost books on the stack rising flush with the wall:
Robert Bly, Leaping Poetry: An Idea with Poems and Translations
Ivana Lowell, Why Not Say What Happened?
Harriet Beecher Stowe, Dred
Roderick Frazier Nash, Wilderness and the American Mind
The apartment where I live sits on the top floor of an orange three-storied house. Maple trees surround it, and in the green of summer, I liked to think that I lived in a tree. Out the window to my right, bare gray branches shiver a little in the wind. Beyond the branches, my neighbors’ red house and curtained windows. A gray winter sky.
A painting hangs above the desk, not straight in front of my eyes but a little to the left. If I want to look at the painting, I have to lift and turn my head so my chin is over my heart. The radiator behind me starts to knock and wetly hiss, then it bangs like a heart. In the painting, a girl in a white tunic and white pants walks beside a pond, followed by a white dog as tall as her elbow. The girl has short dark hair; the dog is in mid-stride, one front paw like a pendulum. The pond holds their white smeary reflection. The pond also holds the colors of the dark green trees and the orange and red sky.
There is a pond not far from here, and I like to think that I write when I am walking or running around it. There, the wind makes the bankside grasses hiss. A red screech owl with white-flecked wings lives in one of the trees, but I’ve never seen it. I’ve seen the birdwatchers at dusk. They whisper to each other and wait.
Cecily Parks, author of the poetry collection Field Folly Snow, recently earned a PhD in English from the CUNY Graduate Center. A new resident of Cambridge, Massachusetts, she teaches poetry writing at Columbia University and Emerson College. Her poem “Bell” was published in the January/February 2012 issue of Orion.