Poet in Residence
Willa spent an idyllic two weeks at the Mudhouse Residency in Agios Ioannis, Crete with other artists working in a variety of genres: painting, animation, choreography, composition and photography. Agios Ioannis is a tiny hilly village where houses share walls with ruins, and at one end is a taverna and the other, a bar.
For David Maisel, who photographed canisters holding the ashes of mental patients at a state hospital in Oregon.
When human beings were still locked away
for sadness clinging to them like a marine layer,
hearing voices telling them how awful they are,
going fetal when cars backfire or corks pop,
they were housed at the Oregon State Insane Asylum,
and when they ceased to be, they were cremated.
If no one claimed a brother, a daughter, or a father,
the ashes were left in numbered copper canisters,
on pine shelves in an underground vault.
Not infrequently the water table rose
giving the forgotten homes uniquely their own,
coated with efflorescence and mineral dazzle,
where an alchemy of copper and water bloomed
and burst into color.
These tiny monuments to the scorned and unknown,
wear patinas of pink, burnt sienna, ocher, aqua,
and if you look closely you will find
moon craters, archipelagos, frozen waterfalls,
dunes with lone tracks, and Big Dippers
embedded in their pores.