Wednesday, April 5, 2017

high on a lonely cliff edge

His story haunts me. The tale of a wanderer who had seen beauty and couldn't live without it.

I can't  remember how I stumbled upon Everett Reuss, his art and poetry. He, though brought up in California, found himself in the Southwest, and was so smitten by what he saw that he lived for going back. . With a glint in his eye , and art supplies in his pack, he left his family, bought two burros and drifted across the desert like an aimless tumbleweed. Through New Mexico, Colorado, Utah  and Arizona.; he would be gone for months and then show up to restock and take off again. His first solo trip commenced when he was 17. I imagine him now in things like a hawk circling above on a breeze or on a windblown, desert trail.

In Everett, I see my son Sean, my last child,  who was never as much at home as he was on the Flint River and now in the deserts of West Texas. He made a film once when he was 15 years old about the Flint that flowed behind our house.The hours he spent exploring the woods and river created the man he is today. A wanderer, teacher, explorer, who takes students to Mexico looking for undiscovered species of snakes and lizards. I can feel his excitement, see the glint in his eyes as he packs for the next adventure and I worry about the desert.

Everett's poetry and art are not regarded as more than average by some, but I see them with my own eyes, those of a minor would be drifter. Everett was full of life and had no confusion over what  he wanted to do. There were no  roots to be put down beside a stream for him. His was the wanderer's path.He sought out beauty and tried to express it; his works touch me.

The following is the last paragraph of a poem that he wrote when he was 15.It is a moving and heart-breaking harbinger of a short and well lived life. It is called "Pledge to the Wind"
.."By the strength of my arm, by the sight of my eyes,
By the skill of my fingers, I swear,
As long as life dwells in me, never will I
Follow any way but the sweeping of the wind"

In 1934, the poet and artist disappeared among the red rocks of Utah and has never been found. He was 21.

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