Today I received an extraordinary gift. Morgen, one of the participants from our women’s writing and yoga retreat, has collected the product of what we wrote and spoke during our week together in March and created a chapbook. I received this just moments ago as did the other women who were with us. It came via email as a PDF in a zip file and is a stunning sampling of our creativity, our compassion, our desire to express ourselves through words written and spoken, and the fondness we developed for each other over the few days that we were together. I do not have permission to publish what was written, so the chapbook won’t appear here.
However, I will reprint one of the writings I contributed that was especially meaningful to me:
The Artisan’s Woman (fragment), by Elsa Ramirez
I tore out the fibrous coat of the palm,
I cleaned the down out of the gourds,
I reached with machetes to the hard heart of the coconut,
I squeezed tubes of pastes with my fingertips
I smoothed the grains of the planks.
I polished with stones; I soaked the paper to its point
I saw the textures of the house with proud eyes
of who can unravel them.
I threaded in embroidering, I walked through the dust and mud.
— From the Museo Textil de Oaxaca exhibit on indigenous weaving
What this post represents is a tribute to the creative process, to our writing instructor and coach Professor Robin Greene, to yoga master Beth Miller who gave us the spiritual grounding to reveal ourselves to all possibilities, and to the talented women who came from throughout the Americas unknown to each other and open to discovery.
Our daily rituals (mas o menos): begin with yoga and vocal resonance in the altar room of Casa Elena, move to al fresco breakfast in the garden at Las Granadas, meditate in silence, share readings of authors and poets who have meaning for us, write from our hearts independently, bring our work to the group for workshopping (feedback sessions), explore and write on our own or participate in an alternate activity (massage, temescal, cooking class, hiking, reading, visiting artisans), along with fabulous lunches, dinners and snacks.
What Are Those Things, By Humberto Ak’Abal, Mayan Poet
Que son esas cosas
que brillan en el cielo?
pregunte a mi mama.
Abejas, me contest.
Desde entonces cada noche,
Mis ojos comen miel.
What are those things
that shine in the sky?
I asked my mother
Bees, she answered me.
Every night since then,
My eyes eat honey.
(contributed by Bridget)
The beauty of this Chapbook is that we have something tangible to hold on to that is a memory of our time together. This bit of time, a parenthesis, an exclamation point, a colon that separates us from the routine of life and gives us a space to bring life to our thoughts, ideas and feelings. It was a remarkable week by all accounts! And, on the final night we had a reading.