Each morning and afternoon spent printing, every evening and midnight at the press blends into one never ending session . Sesshin—alone with the effort, this one includes the one that came before, becomes the next, like breath, the koan of a handle forever turning. There is a stance: ready, balanced, energy from the floor, head bowed slightly. There is the scent of ink, its hiss, fingers grasping paper, fingers grasping paper, and the muscles in their remembered movements, feetlegsbackarmswrists. Fingertips lift paper, grip handle, an economy of gesture flows from the fullness of preparation. The repetition that leads to this moment, its endless beginning: lead and steel kata, the quiet steps that led here, focus birthing practice. An emptiness in rhythm: within the mechanics of making, with each sighing impression, within the machine-noise—silence.
It's a misty, moisty morning in Southwestern Manitoba. I'm listening to Miles Davis and slowly assembling the last four copies of my salmon book. The grey weather and the focus required to cut and fold with precision carve a special, contemplative space out of the middle of the week. So much has happened in the nearly three years since I printed this little book.
But maybe these blessings are more like autumn sun making its way around the corner of the house on a frosty morning, finding a way through the trees to the place on the porch where I can bask like a ripening hazelnut. Or perhaps the shower in question is even more immediate than daylight: perhaps it is the particles, compounds, tiny organisms, pollen, and odours that pour in with every inhalation--transforming, enriching, revitalizing. Even if I hold my breath, even if I'm cynical, blue, cantankerous... those microscopic clouds of blessings will find their way in.
Where have I been for the last year or more? I have been in the garden. I’ve been coaxing thin plants from old seeds, I’ve been pruning melon vines, harvesting dandelion greens. I’ve been in the forest. I’ve been walking late at night. I’ve been mushrooming. I’ve been printing. I’ve been asleep in the tent. I’ve been folding and piercing pieces of paper. I’ve been dreaming. I’ve been in the marsh. I’ve been listening. I’ve been in the archives, nose-deep in books and maps. I’ve been making lists of archaic names for animals and fish. I’ve been drafting poems and proposals. I’ve been binding books. I’ve been travelling around Nova Scotia, I’ve been talking to the river, I’ve been around Lake Superior, I’ve been in the water, I’ve been worrying and packing and starting over. I’ve been to Newfoundland. I’ve been thinking of you, I’ve been meaning to write. I’ve been sewing and scrubbing, I’ve been broadcasting oats and buckwheat. I’ve been watching the horses. I’ve been homesick, nostalgic, restless and uneasy. I’ve been driven and listless. I’ve been carrying water from the shrinking stream. I’ve been watching trout and catching smelt. I’ve been unable to work and unable to think. I’ve been taking my vitamins. I’ve been eating berries. I’ve been waiting for the big toenail on my left foot to fall off and reveal what is happening underneath. I’ve been taking notes, and I’ve been paying attention. I have been stretching the tendons in my arms religiously. I’ve been taking deep breaths, and going through the motions.