Far from Kenosha, at Door County, Wisconsin: by Dipika Mukherjee
2020 has been a capricious year in so many ways, for all of us. I have continued to teach, hectoring students to keep writing, to find some catharsis in words, but I find myself derailed whenever I try to cultivate any sense of normalcy.
Living in the United States at this particular point of time feels so dystopian that I have no words for the parallel universe of my fiction. So when I received a residency from Write On, at Door County, Wisconsin to work on my novel-in-progress, I grabbed the opportunity to travel somewhere, anywhere.
For two weeks, I am the lone writer in nearly 39 acres of woods, orchards, and meadows. I am a short distance away from the waters of Green Bay and Lake Michigan. Every evening offers a spectacular sunset over waters that calm the soul; there is also the occasional deer, lots of chattering birds and humming wasps and bees, and one harmless garter snake I startled during an evening walk. There are no people.
A typewriter-lined walkway leads to a small cabin which once belonged to the celebrated Norman Blei. His spirit -- and his writing cabin -- continue to inspire. Michael Perry wrote of his time here: But each time I flagged, I looked at the varnish on the low table before me, and I knew it had the sort of shine that only comes from a pair of elbows regularly applied, and I got back to work.
The news still trickles through, but without a television, I am freed from the addiction of the 24/7 breaking news cycles. There is still so much to fight for, but for now, there is some respite.
Far from Kenosha, at Door County, Wisconsin
Breathe in. Pine and birch
and red oak branches
stroke air, striped garter
snake startles into slither.
Queen Anne’s lace quivers
an impossible symmetry.
Coupled dragonflies soar
towards roar of water
smoothing jagged rock,
purple lake slaking ball
of fire. Butterflies circle,
in swooping swings; crinkle
of bumblebees as piano keys
tinkling air. Geese ink flight
on flaming sky. Intake breath.
Shanti shanti, shanti.
May our world find the peace it needs. May you all find the inspiration to keep writing.
Dipika Mukherjee's academic and creative work takes her to Chicago, New Delhi and Kuala Lumpur and she calls all three cities home. She is a writer and a sociolinguist.