I find myself in the landscape of simplicity - yellow flowering rabbit brush, seepweed, sage brush. Five or eight black cows laying in the corner of their field, which is on the other side of the fence to my corner in the campground. They take the heat without complaint, watch me with their slow, bovine eyes.
The Eastern Oregon desert sun beats out it's afternoon rays, mating dragonflies dive about my camp chair and the Stinkingwater Mountains rise calmly in the distance, This is her, me, this girl in a body with graying hair, wishing to write, thinking of Tamsugah, the 'Shug', pal from my Puget Sound life, sleeping tonight in Willow Cottage at the Hedgebrook Women's Writing Retreat Center. Tam, writing her heart out there, for the month of August, writing and being out in the wilderness too. I am thinking a letter is in order:
You, your sonorous laugh, your penchant for biting commentaries punctuated with snappy street girl slang, slick one line descriptions, the agile ability to change the subject at just the right time, your giant heart, I am thinking of you.
You are in Willow Cottage, or at the beach, or soaking in the tubs in the bathhouse - or playing hooky with the wildest girl in the area.
Whatever you are doing, it is better, healthier, more high class than that terrible High School PE teacher jock who made you and your friends bend over and hold your ankles for the disciplinary swats. You made it out of the sludge, the mediocrity of American midsize towns which lie too close to big military bases. You are proof positive that there is a tide rising - a tide of women who won't take the same shit, and who have the words to tell the real stories, who love fiercely and realistically and passionately all at once.
Women who write, and write with courage. A whole bunch of shit's been buried you know ( you do).
The buried shit, some of it is too awful to dredge up, but some just needs the light of day, to compost and become fertile ground for new life. You, I am confident, will give it the light of day. The old and the new, mix it up sistah.
If you had been my sister in childhood, you would have taught me fearless being, you would have taken me to the right places and showed me what is what. Instead I met you when I was 52 years old, and you 39. You asked me to read some poetry with a group for Women's History month. I can't imagine what luck it was to find your writing group during my lonely lost winter in a new town.
Today I sit writing this at Crystal Crane Hotsprings in what you might loving refer to as B.F. nowhere, Southeastern Oregon. (The road sign last night said 'Winnamucca, NV- 222 miles'). From this desert I write this love letter up to the islands of Puget Sound, on this gorgeous August day.
Write girl! Write like you are on fire. Write like no one's watching. Write for women throughout time who never had the time or opportunity because they were enmeshed in a patriarchical world which did not want their stories to travel. Write like a dance that moves to a perfect rhythm.
You are my beacon as I sit writing this, trying to put words to life.
From my camp spot with the funny, stolid cows, we all salute you!