lost in the space of her; wonderment borders the walls
of adobe and sandstone cliffs holding back the herd
soaring above the morning light, the way local color descends
from the sky, the daily worship of miracles in stones hereabout
paint is attracted to paper by the journey of an unfettered mind
the vice is vibrant but, thank god, not completely hereditary
the mirror hung
where his love was seen
before breaking squares with
wings she will be
a glassy halo round the moon
ink pot a crater
takes your chance
keeping me liquid
bird song overhead
make it a lodging
October and kernel
holding brown hands
but not getting hold of
a cracking chest nut in a shell
the pill kicks in
night after night
a wolf howls around the house
The two women were sharing one can of soda. By adding a half a tray of ice to each glass they had the feeling that they each had the whole can of pop. Their financial situation had brought them to this ploy. As they sanded more of the just-dry clay beads they discussed how they could make more money. They had tried selling their jewelry in the shops but the owners would only take in a couple of necklaces and always demanded that it be “on consignment” which meant keeping records and checking up on their merchandize by coming back into the shops. This was even more painful because these shops, designed for the rich tourists, had nothing the artists really needed.
At best the shop owners would offer them a price that barely covered the price of the materials and reimbursed them for none of their hours nor repaid them a whit for creativity. It was even more upsetting to find the prices on the shop tags were often double or even triple the price on the consignment slip.
The women were a little too old for the lemonade stand operation out on the highway, but an article about the local community center sponsoring a weekend arts and crafts show set them to thinking that maybe they could be their own best sales persons.
The plan almost died when they discovered the event was juried and they needed digital photos submitted with the application (and $20). A chance encounter at the health food store supplied them with a computer friendly acquaintance who offered to scan three of the necklaces and make them a disk in exchange for one of the pieces – her choice. By now they were so committed to the idea of being able to sell their own work that finding out they also had to put down a $50 deposit for the space they had not yet even been promised seemed a small hurdle. That money they would get back if they were rejected and could even subtract it from the 10% of sales that had to be paid to the center. Still after spending an afternoon filling in blanks with money and information, the two artists were infected with a range of raging hopes.
As they designed how to best use the 10 x 10 foot area they would be allowed, to lead the buyer down the aisles between tables instead of letting them just give a glance and pass on by, they also got ideas for new items. They each had a fairly substantial inventory – jewelry had not sold well for some months now – but suddenly, without telling each other, they began secretly to make new models and items. The secrecy did not last long because they were so in the habit of sharing what they were doing that soon they were comparing ideas and inwardly judging which items would sell and which might not and what could fill a niche.
“Caroline, how about using transparent beads, with greens
radiating like ferns in the shade of Read wood trees
where tired butterflies rest their wings?”
“Well yes, Tamora, I can imagine such stringed beads
looking like the runners on the Golden Gate Bridge
during their pains at the marathon.
Only here, the neck of a woman in slow motion
stops the spectator and will carry him
or her far away on a trip, let’s say
having the feeling like swaying on a cruiser
off to an island.”
The new ideas meant they needed several new findings so a new order went off from each of them to their suppliers. They each buoyed up their sinking hearts when they saw those bills with the thought that one has to invest to make money and they had a great plan. The resolve to earn back this money inspired them to redesign their tags. Several afternoons went into designing a card that looked professional without being blingy, rustic without being crude. As they threaded the strings through the hand-stamped labels they looked less and less inviting. It was tempting to put the new tags only on the recent pieces and let the old tags stay on the other necklaces, but in the end they took off all the old tags and replaced them.
Because it was so hard to figure out prices for their own pieces, the women decided to price each other’s work. For some pieces that worked but for most of them, each had to refigure most of the penciled in prices to her satisfaction. A bit of the good-natured cooperation got worn away in the process. At first they thought they could reduce their time spent “manning” the booth by dividing up the times into individual shifts. Individually, and without consulting, each came to the conclusion they were the best salesperson for their own jewelry and if they were going to do this, they would do it well and together. Besides, they had been warned about how easy it was for strangers to pocket such small item, so having four eyes was better than two.
They planned each piece of display equipment they needed, how to fit shelves and tables into their cars, who should bring which chairs and even what they would wear to show off the best pieces (even though both of them never wore any jewelry). Packable food was planned – all to be made and brought from home because nothing ate up profits like snacks bought at an arts and crafts faire. They rearranged family obligations, did all the weekend chores early and even cut each other’s hair.
They worried that high gas prices might keep the tourists at home or that those who came might be less interested in buying beautiful handmade jewelry with thinner wallets. The weather turned cooler and they revised their outfits to include parkas and lined boots. They even thought about just calling it quits but by now they had invested too much time and money in the venture to pull out. They had to recap their newest investments. They just had to.
And then it rained. All weekend a cold, driving rain turned the fair grounds into a quagmire. An unfair fair.
in the river’s rapids
patience and orange peels
lighter than water
half around her belt the phone
ringing for the other half
an assistant listener
rubicund copper under ground
keeping the notion
of a single word not yet in
the gospel according to women who spread their soft legs
bumps against the continued male hardness of church heresy
secret rites the heritage of helix twined beads' intensity
where the spaces in between conceal information hermitic
lifting humanity up to higher goals as the squalling newborn
wails in protest to incoming air; the pulled-out strain of a hernia
does the girl child dedicate a page of destiny to the guardians
manifest in fleshless bones to become the age's own hero
a life, a work, more complete than any canvas can support
each female, as Jane, facing the mold of man creates – herself