Planes and Paper Cranes
Delayed four hours at La Guardia, missed the Denver connection to San Francisco, luggage lost, I collapsed in an airport hotel; up before dawn to make a morning flight.
I am returning from a week-long conference teaching "Writing from the Natural World" at the International Women's Writing Guild Conference at Yale--a week of pure joy and connection, celebrating the power of story to change our lives.
Back at Denver airport, a TSA man scans the shape of my breasts and the cut of my pubis in the x-ray machine. I am pronounced, "Female: pass." Exhausted and disenchanted, the goodness of the past week dissolves. I am struck by how our modern world strips us of identity like paint remover, leaving us raw and nameless.
A Thousand Winged Creatures
Headed for my gate on leaden legs, I enter a large white room filled with the light of early morning. Native American flute music floats through the space. I gaze at a thousand origami paper cranes, their winged shadows cast across the sunlit walls.
Clutching bags and children, travelers flash by, not noticing the flocks of birds swirling about them, the peaceful music. I stroll through the room as if in a dream, stopping at a small sign to read the words of the artist, Brianna Martray.
Martray made the cranes from the pages of her novel; one that she didn't submit to a publisher who asked to see it for fear it wasn't good enough. Instead she folded her manuscript into 4,000 paper cranes. In 2010 her computer and hard drive were stolen; the paper cranes are the "shadow of thousands of hours of work" -- the only remnant of eight years spent writing her book.
I stand rooted in spot, Martray's words a pulse beneath my chest.
I read on. Martray writes of how, perhaps like a sheet of glass, we were all one in the past; how we needed to shatter to find our infinite possibilities within that oneness, becoming in the process "solar wind, a ponderosa pine, a human being." How things are more beautiful for being broken. I look around the room and know her words are all the lovelier for splintering into a thousand winged creatures of light and shadow.
Only a few others join me to watch and read. Most travelers march on. How will we find a way to fit the broken parts together if we never take the time to stop and stare?
I stay until it is time for my plane to leave.
I am already home.