The photo above? I call it “Large Head of Woman Appears to Float in the Mist in Replica of Japanese Garden Near Lovely But Expensive Restaurant.” The location? I took it yesterday at the Grounds for Sculpture located in Hamilton Township, N.J.
Don’t get me wrong. The Grounds for Sculpture is a stunning place, with hundreds of striking and creative outdoor sculptures, beautiful landscaping and pathways that beckon with a mantra hum …like the one in this photo, also taken yesterday:
It’s a place filled with wit and wisdom and wonder, with the beauty of spirit and the spirit of beauty. I intend to go back some glorious morning in spring and I want to walk there in silent winter snow and I want to hear the soft crackle of leaves beneath my feet as I get lost in autmn on the perfectly unpredictable paths.
Yesterday was a hot day, with thunderstorms rumbling and dark clouds looking so biblical that the experience was nearly humbling…but not enough to resist the temptation to say “Visit the Grounds for Sculpture. But don’t bother sitting through the introductory film in which someone rambles very seriously about experiencing the wonder of art and making it one’s own and other very pretentious prattle that the narrator with her very British accent manages to read without even one little proper giggle.
Here’s the link to the Grounds for Sculpture.
Get past the fact that these folks take themselves just a little too seriously and definitely need a new scriptwriter — and you’ll find it to be a place you’ll want to visit again and again.
P.S. At the entrance to one of the indoor exhibits I found a plaque bearing the best poem I’ve ever read or heard about the horrors of Sept. 11, 2001. It was written by my friend BJ Ward just days after the tragedy. BJ read this powerful poem just a few weeks later at one of the readings in the Delaware Valley Poetry Festival series I’d started just a few years before. I remember saying to people at the time that the poets and I had discussed whether it was right to hold the reading series that awful autumn. BJ’s stunning poem made it clear that proceeding with the event wasn’t just right – it was necessary:
For the Children of the World Trade Center Victims
Nothing could have prepared you—
Note: Every poem I have ever written
is not as important as this one.
Note: This poem says nothing important.
Clarification of last note:
This poem cannot save 3,000 lives.
Note: This poem is attempting to pull your father
out of the rubble, still living and glowing
and enjoying football on Sunday.
Note: This poem is trying to reach your mother
in her business skirt, and get her home
to Ridgewood where she can change
to her robe and sip Chamomile tea
as she looks through the bay window at the old,
untouched New York City skyline.
Note: This poem is aiming its guns at the sky
to shoot down the terrorists and might
hit God if He let this happen.
Note: This poem is trying to turn
that blooming of orange and black
of the impact into nothing
more than a sudden tiger-lily
whose petals your mother and father
could use as parachutes, float down
to the streets below, a million
dandelion seeds drifting off
to the untrafficked sky above them.
Note: This poem is still doing nothing.
Note: Somewhere in this poem there may be people alive,
and I’m trying like mad to reach them.
Note: I need to get back to writing the poem to reach them
instead of dwelling on these matters, but how
can any of us get back to writing poems?
Note: The sound of this poem: the sound
of a scream in 200 different languages
that outshouts the sounds of sirens and
airliners and glass shattering and
concrete crumbling as steel is bending and
the orchestral tympani of our American hearts
when the second plane hit.
Note: The sound of a scream in 200 languages
is the same sound.
It is the sound of a scream.
Note: In New Jersey over the next four days,
over thirty people asked me
if I knew anyone in the catastrophe.
Yes, I said.
I knew every single one of them.
from Gravedigger’s Birthday(North Atlantic Books)