“Places are fragmentary and inward-turning histories . . . accumulated times that can be unfolded but like stories held in reserve, remaining in an enigmatic state . . . . ‘I feel good here’: the well-being under-expressed in the language it appears in like a fleeting glimmer is a spatial practice.” — Michel de Certeau
During my time at the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology, I consciously endeavored to engage in several daily spatial practices: one was to return to a daily yoga practice, one was listening to the news in the morning, and the last, partly inspired by the “Reflections” project, was to make a habit of visiting different sites near my temporary home on a daily basis. These poems are from a fourteen-poem sequence that records a period of great change (beginning on the spring solstice and progressing to mid-April) at the Salmon river estuary, surrounding forest, and high windswept fields of Cascade Head. -Lisa Sewell
from Thirty Day Yoga Challenge
Back to the Mat //last quarter // neap tide
You’ll need a block, lots of patience, the open mind
of a window cracked open, a dusk-colored curtain
the opposite of drawn. You’ll want the tide reigning,
a cairn of stone and feather to keep the fry and fingerlings
rearing in the estuary with clarity and judgment.
Every fisherman knows there are times the fish are biting
and times you stand in your waders stone cold, though you
are not a fisherman or a fisher of men. You have no soul,
only skin. From a list of three hundred possible factors
John Aldren Knight whittled it down to sun, tides, moon up
moon down, coining the term solunar activity to explain
the inexplicable wave of energy that uncoils your fingers
and names the boon companions you didn’t know
would find you: oystercatcher, common murre, bladder-wrack.
Proposals for 30-foot-high wall at the Mexican border are submitted.
Avowed originalist and enemy of women’s healthcare, begins Supreme
Court confirmation hearings.
Ivanka moves into West Wing.
President ignores German Chancellor when she suggests that they
exchange a handshake.
Heart Openers // first quarter moon // -.5 ft tide
If things have shifted and winter’s barriers present opportunities,
knock on the door and begin to see everywhere at your feet
the fiddleheads buried in the hibernating landscape of stream:
browned withered fronds, mixed debris, the radiating spokes
of a rimless wheel that changes your eyes and makes you notice
their clusters of emerald fronds lining the trail, almost too late
to harvest and fry up with lemon, garlic and oil. In an aftermath
among alder trees and the furred branches of Sitka spruce,
April’s rustle and slash of iridescent azure blue, brings you back
to tadasana and the pollen-wheezy rise and fall of your chest.
Habitual nest-robbers, compulsive liars, Steller’s Jay can speak
crow and robin, squirrel, cat and dog, and chicken and chainsaw.
Let them carry you too, though they are known to eviscerate
small warblers like the red breasted nuthatch and dark-eyed junco.
United Nations warns that Americans’ right to protest is in danger.
National security advisor failed to disclose payments from
Russian propaganda network.
Federal judge rules President may have incited the violence at
Republican health care proposal would undermine coverage for those
with pre-existing conditions.
California’s Senate passes “sanctuary state” bill.
Shoulder Stability // waning gibbous // 4.8 ft tide
Like hash marks or curvilinear letters, the fern-like yarrow
(little squirrel tail, pretty carpenter weed, poor-man’s pepper)
is stalked below and stalkless above, and suddenly everywhere
you step, toes splayed and lifted, feet anchored by what you give
and get back, unlatching the hollowness in your bones. Named
for indestructible Achilles and used to cure soldiers’ wounds
in battle, it is bitter on the fingers and pungent in the steamy
sickroom air. Across centuries and oceans, culture and black death,
a famous healer and balm, a helpmeet like a restorative breath
or the beavers, nuisance species and hydrology experts, who swim
the braided hidden channels of the estuary seeking willow, collecting.
Their precarious natural dams helped restore Crowley Creek,
and they know that in winter at king tide, on the exact spot
where you are standing the waters would close right over your head.
North Korea parades new missiles in show of force.
Thousands of protesters call on the President to release his
Fox News cuts ties with Bill O’Reilly.
Paintings from View from Cascade Head series, 2017
6″ x 8″
Ink on Paper
These observational ink paintings were made on daily hikes to Cascade Head, overlooking Salmon Estuary and the Westwind land spit. I was fascinated by the way the land appeared to shift with the tides, the river flow, the weather, and the changing light. The daily paintings became meditations, observations, and a study of a landscape over time. Each painting reflected both the outer landscape I was viewing, and my own inner landscape of emotion and contemplation. Over the course of my residency at the Sitka Center I completed 50 paintings. -Allison Cekala