Excerpts > Summer 2002

Eloise Klein Healy
Writing/The Great Lakes & Gertrude Stein

Writing/The Great Lakes & Gertrude Stein

The Great Lakes, on a map, look like a girl's handprint,
a finger-painting exercise
she saw once and tried
to copy, missed one finger altogether, but drew
the outline of it in crayon, very impulsively
and nothing at all like the topographical reality.

The lakes, in reality,
are great grey stretches, ghostly footprints
leading off after some hesitation, then impulsively
heading south - an exercise
in the power to change or flee. Drawn
further south, a vast watercolor is what the Mississippi tried
as the logical option, while the Ohio tried
a different answer - a bold stroke - but the reality
of these attempts away from stark winter white draws
back to an original issue imprinted
in the concent of making art - the exercise
Gertrude Stein abandoned on purpose, impulse

not being her stock in trade, impulse
being just another thing she once tried
in her life-long journey to exercise
all the possible beginnings. For her, the bottom reality
of character is as basic as the print
left when the thumb withdraws

revealing the cartography one draws
of one's life without thinking. Yes, impulsively
picking up objects on a table, I print
them into my story as I'm pulled to touch, to try
the surface while feeling for the reality
of the substructure - the exercise

I make to tap my source, the inevitable exercise
of telling the story of what drew
me to reveal myself in any fasion. My reality,
like a personal gravity, masks impulsive,
capricious behavior and lies behind whatever I've tried
to put in print

as my own fiction. This exercise of revealing, impulsive
and natural, often draws me back to a wintery silence (try
as I may to change it) - the reality of my truest deepest heart print.

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