Molting Advice

Debra FrasierI just sur­vived the Great Bliz­zard of 2016 from a cab­in atop a moun­tain in west­ern North Car­oli­na. When the snow and wind stopped we emerged into a soft, untouched world. Tall snow-heavy pines. Lay­ers of Blue Ridge moun­tains now white. Silent.

We shov­eled.

Two days lat­er I could final­ly dri­ve down the moun­tain to a friend’s home and there, on the twist­ing creek­side road, two red car­di­nals sud­den­ly crossed in front of my car. Pierc­ing red. An event last­ing no longer than two seconds.

I should men­tion that I am cur­rent­ly artis­ti­cal­ly lost. Me, who once gave lec­tures on what to do when lost. I am more than lost. Psy­chi­cal­ly molt­ing, I am the lob­ster who has out­grown a shell and shiv­ers naked behind the coral arch, wait­ing for some­thing dread­ful to hap­pen, or, in more hope­ful moments, the cater­pil­lar turned to mush with absolute­ly no brain to even invent a con­cep­tion of the future. Every assured being amazes me — tree, bird, human — how can any­thing have such strength, bones, shell, wings, purpose?

Debra Frasier letter forms

Those two sec­onds of red birds flash­ing mag­ic in front of my car’s first post-bliz­zard trip pierce this mush. But, I argue, what will it pos­si­bly mat­ter if I try to put words to this tiny, tiny, star­tling moment?

Car­di­nals’ wings cross,
quick red threads stitch tree to tree
on snowbed’s white quilt.

Lat­er, THIS quote cross­es my Face­book (oh, inad­e­qua­cy!) feed:

The world is full of mag­ic things
patient­ly wait­ing for our sens­es to grow sharp­er.”  
W.B. Yeats

In the dark the mush tremors slightly.

So I try again:

Star­tled red wings cross—
two sud­den car­di­nal threads
stitch­ing winter’s quilt.

Yes. Yeats speaks to ME on Face­book, of all god­for­sak­en places.
Artist wakes artist.

I sud­den­ly real­ize:
This is what we do to form the long buck­et brigade to save each other.

Red flash­es, flick, flick,
Two car­di­nal threads cross-stitch
The slow falling snow.

Debra Frasier Calligraphy

This is the advice I heard deep inside the molt­ing mush: for­get every­thing, every long­ing for mean­ing or con­tri­bu­tion, for rich­es, for applause. Sim­ply do this:

Grow your sens­es sharper.

Yeats told me. On Facebook.

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David LaRochelle
David LaRochelle
8 years ago

I hope those car­di­nals (and Yeats) lead you to a place of cre­ative joy, Debra. I have no doubt you will get there even­tu­al­ly, but I hope you won’t have to wait too long. Your hand­writ­ing itself is a work of art.

Joanne Toft
8 years ago

Ah that long moment of change — which road do we go down now there are so many to choose from?! Enjoy the won­der­ing journey!

Janet Wong
8 years ago

Of course YEATS talks to you on Face­book, Debra! Me, I get mat­tress ads on FB and warn­ings not to eat These 5 Foods … Thank good­ness for the occa­sion­al post on some­thing like a bril­liant artist who sees car­di­nals fly by and decides they’re stitch­ing snow quilts!

Margaret Nelson Brinkhaus
Margaret Nelson Brinkhaus
8 years ago

Per­haps this is your cur­rent art, Debra. To share your cre­ative won­der­ing with oth­ers who wonder/wander too.

Karen Henry Clark
Karen Henry Clark
8 years ago

A poem should not mean/But be,” as MacLeish wrote. The same is true of a life. You’re find­ing your way there.