KATHERINE KAVANAUGH - IN SEARCH OF
We seek a form, a shape — adequate enough: the kitchen table, mother’s leg — the thing to hoist ourselves. Barely arrived, we already aim for the sun. Piling our maple blocks, we are makers from the start. A log laid across the stream, the bark boat with its leaf sail, a ladder to a platform in the pines. Something makes us want to cross, to climb. Something we are born with invents a larger lens, metal wings, rockets. We scheme. Our plans — torn and pasted — made, remade. The secret covered, uncovered and covered again. Higher, ever higher. To be grazed by the hawk’s wing; fed, like Elijah, by the ravens’ horny beaks. A vigil, and whatever we might surmise about blue-black space, the limits of what we see. What is wished for? To be tree-like, god-close? Outside of time? We are preoccupied with prominence. The point, through whatever haze or light, always farthest from “what is.” It’s not enough to see the sun and stars, but to be one of them. Or beyond, the furthest place. Something in us knows there’s something we must find. If only we could find the form, build the thing. What kind of wood? How many steps? Where to tie the ropes? Spindly or spired? And the other ones, those we make with hope or the nails of loss and grief… the thing through which, with which, we might arrive above our flesh and blood, above the moss, outside of air. Would it be benevolent? Malign? A place we don’t need eyes to see. Unfixed, unlike the towers we make to get us there. A place to startle us. As in love’s moment. Would we let down our guard? Forget who or what we seek? We would arrive at the deepest eye, the one that would let itself be entered, be taken in and taken. What would we, then, what could we, name the seeker? The carrier of thought and all its structures? What is known—at last: a certain rust and beetle-bitten ruin, the sure reunion with the roots of all we’ve ever feared or dreamed.
Jennifer Wallace teaches at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore. She is a poetry editor at The Cortland Review and a founding editor of Toadlily Press. Jennifer has collaborated with several artists and musicians. In 2008 she directed a short documentary, Inter : View, A Conversation About Nature and the City. Her poems appear in numerous literary journals and most recently in the anthology, Beloved: 150 Poems of Grief and Gratitude (Holy Cow! Press).
Images of towers began seeping into my work three years ago as drawings. They showed up casually at first then with a kind of urgency. When they amassed into a large group of prints and drawings, I felt compelled to build them in the landscape. “Nine Wooden Towers” was an installation built in a large field using downed trees and scrap lumber. The installation in this exhibit continues the exploration of that group of towers.