Rivendell Writers’ Colony was magical in October. The main house is set on a bluff looking east over a long, often mist-filled valley.
Each morning from my beautiful room I watched the sun rise
over the valley and the mountains behind.
During long Indian summer days I wrote in a hammock under huge oak trees, watching the changing clouds and light; I walked through the woods to talk with the neighbor’s horses; I sat beside a pond littered with red and gold leaves.
I love that Rivendell was named by a previous owner’s children for the hidden elven refuge in Lord of the Rings. A safe house, a sanctuary. And I love that it once housed a girl’s camp – despite its grace and elegant lines, it still has a bit of that happy camp feel, ghosts of girls’ voices calling, games.
There were five other writers in the main house, all working on major projects, several of us under deadlines. As the lone poet I was the only one without “pages completed” to report – to cheers – as we drank a glass of wine and cooked our dinners together – or celebrated around a campfire down at the pond. I felt honored to be there among them – terrific young writers working on interesting projects – and now, friends.
Rivendell restored my creative energy. I filled a notebook with raw images and lines and ideas for poems. I completed several revisions. I had a major epiphany about how to approach the next phase of Whale Fall. Here’s a poem from the first day:
Noon light clear and diffuse,
sky empty, like the beginning
of a fairy tale. So we set out,
belongings wrapped in a kerchief
of amber leaves. We step
into unbound light, blithe as birds.
Beneath the falling shadow
the hammock swings at its mooring,
bow pointing into the risen breeze.
Oak nuts pour like rain.
The light turns gold as field
corn, sharp-edged with autumn.
A bright yellow butterfly
is a leaf charged with intention.
You must empty, strenuously,
if you wish to follow it. You must
rise from dead, dropped, moored:
become that small sun, that fire.
- Practicing “Whale Fall”