a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society
The buckets filled. Then the sinks, then every drawer, bowl, cup and saucer. The bathtub too. Then the broken robin blue egg shells I had collected from my yard after the birds had flown and used as a centerpiece on my kitchen table.
I filled things with tears that you wouldn’t think could hold them. Silverware. Kitchen chairs. Peaches. The word yes. And then one night the doors of my house surrendered, releasing the torrent.
I wasn’t aware of what I’d done until morning. I walked out into day, trailing a train of sloshing teacups and spoons. It was wide and endless and flowed strong and swift like a lot of rivers in story and song. The only tell was a slight transparency, a trick of light
perhaps that kept me from fully believing. I went there every day. No sense deluging the house anymore. Walked right on down to the banks and let the tears flow. There was some purpose and determination in that. The river deepened and grew bottomless
and endless. It was late July when I saw a small boy burst up from the river with a gasp as if he had been hiding under the surface for as long as his breath would hold. He strode to the bank and stood dripping before me.
“I’m sorry,” I said. “For what?” he replied, “This river saved my life. When they set the hounds on me for being what I am in a place where everyone else is not, I jumped in. The hounds lost my scent.”
Hounded myself one ink-blue evening, I jumped in too, and emerged unscathed. This went on for a while. I cried. The river saved. Two years later, in the kind of spring light that ferrets out winter-lost things, I noticed that shifting transparency again. My eye was
drawn to the edge of one bank. Taking hold of what I thought was a loose bit of root, the river peeled off from the land in one long, paper-thin luminescent piece. I went to work right there harvesting, cutting pages and binding.
There are stories, and there are stories. This one’s pages are running, strong with current, and alive. Picture it now, open on the table, every page a different color, a different time of day. A moving story, the kind in which what’s emptied fills again.
Nan Ring is the recipient of the Vermont Studio Center Artist’s Fellowship Award, the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation/NEA Fellowship Award, and a New York Foundation for the Arts Artists’ Fellowship Award. She has been an artist-in-residence at Hambidge Center, I-Park, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Ucross Foundation, Djerrassi, Montalvo Center for the Arts, and The Vermont Studio Center, among others. Her national art exhibitions include The Painting Center, NYC, Susan Eley Gallery, Hudon, NY, and 14C Art Fair, NJ. Ring is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir, Walking On Walnuts, Bantam, 1996. She contributed freelance food articles and a food history column for the New Jersey Star Ledger, and personal essays in Newsday and The New York Times Magazine’s former “Hers” column, among others. Ring earned her MFA from The University of the Arts, PA, and her BFA from Syracuse University School of Visual and Performing Arts.