Say What!| Interview with Amanda Mays

Laura Page

logoHey guys, today’s ‘Say What’ will feature Amanda Mays who is the editor in chief of Anchor and Plume Press as well as the literary magazine Kindred! We asked Amanda some questions about her recent projects, press goals, and her life in general. Read on!

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Loneliness and trees

In the past,  the phone clicked with a sound of finality.  These days, it goes silent. The screen of the phone brightly announces the call is ended, fades for a few seconds and goes black.

There remains a nostalgia to phone calls. I remember there was a phone voice, and a real life voice. Even my own mother sounded strangely different and far off,  even when she was just two rooms away,  telling me to get off the phone already.

There were some years when I lived alone in my apartment. Everyone was so far away, and I spent an inordinate amount of time talking to my family on the phone. City living was lonely sometimes. The urban landscape made me yearn for trees.

These thoughts both soothed and disturbed me as I pulled on jeans and rose from the bed in late afternoon,  giving up on the aborted mission to dream land. The coveted nap eluded me. I had a blue feeling that comes from a mostly unproductive day.

I escaped to the woods with the phone set to camera. It was a grey and still afternoon, and the leaves crunched underfoot. There was nothing inspiring around. No autumn leaves, no greening tips of Sassafrass, no mushrooms. Eventually a veil lifted and I began seeing the way I was born to see. There is a kind of heart pounding quickening when ideas are born. A tall, dead pine leaning heavily sparked my interest. On close examination there was a stress crack meandering up the wood. I knew it was going down soon. Things like trees going down seem like sudden catastrophic events, but here was a foreshadowing.

The less obvious things attracted my eye more so than the tree. I liked the pinto pattern of remaining snow, the faded and flattened summer grass, the bare blueberry twigs that looked so frail against the oaks. I saw a decomposing log with a leaf reclining tenderly nearby, and up against the flat grey of the sky were tree tops, reaching for each other, so close to each other, and so separate.

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Later, after dinner, I closed the blinds to the dark. I thought of the trees, standing out there in the cold, waiting for the day when their leaves will bridge the gap, mingle, and block out the sky in a canopy of green.

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winter update

We are deep into winter. Every week the dark slips back just a little more. Night is giving way, but the cold will not.

The moon was a pale peach orb in a shroud of clouds and a tangle of branches when it first came up. Later, high in the sky, it seemed smaller than it usually is. It was a cold, white orb.

Walking in the night, we come to the gathering place of the melted snow. It collects in a low area and forms a frozen lumpy skate rink. I give it a wide berth and tell about falling on frozen slush,  the wound it made, and how long the scar lasted. I sound for a moment like my grandmother telling us about falling on a scythe, and how she bled, and how the doctor used clamps instead of stitches. I still remember the wide crescent moon of scar tissue on her knee. The kids squealed in horror, but slipped around on frozen melt anyway.

They climbed the snow that was pushed into small mountains by plows. They claimed them, and named them. Everything was dark but the old crunchy snow glowing in the moonlight.

There is a dead tree out back, insect eaten and hollow. Sometimes the setting winter sun pierces it and I am left wondering what solstice it may signify. What important thing ends or begins midwinter, when the bright, white winter sun sheds light into a tree like the eye of a needle?

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The sky looks black and the stars look crisp and sharp. They are the bright stars of childhood, the ones seen through the trees when there was no light pollution.

The snowdrops are trying to bloom, and all of the other life forms wait in the cold ground or in the cold muck at the bottom of a swamp, unable to move. The sun makes hot, bright sunsets that are ever so brief, to remind us.20150206_173542

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Taking Pictures

I came out of the front door the day after the storm and saw the sidewalks had yet to be shoveled by the management. I didn’t mind, as I needed some exercise to cast off the laziness born from cabin fever. It was a dry, cold snow, and very light, and I made my way to the car quickly. I brushed off the car with the plastic broom I bought when I worked at the dollar store. It was wrecked. The handle was made of bamboo, and was split multiple times almost down to the bottom. It pinched my palms a few times. I warmed the car as I worked. The exhaust filled the air around me. When I was finished, I noticed the grey day had a warm tint creeping into it. The tree tops were catching the beginning of a sunset. The were warm brown and showed prominently against the cool grey sky.
Fearing the quick loss of light, I jumped behind the wheel and cranked the heat. The window was down, the camera ready. I knew a place nearby where I could see the sky unobscured by trees.
When I arrived at the soccer fields, the sky was vibrant. Little yellow clouds puffed across the sky beyond the power lines.

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I looked for simple and pure compositions to photograph. The wind picked up, but I didn’t notice right away. I had found that the wind created drifts and dunes around clumps of weeds and trees, and across the road.

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I took photos as the light faded, and I could no longer feel my hands. They were numb with cold as I drove back home.
I spent the last of the day cooking and cleaning. Weary, but with the crisp of winter still lingering in my hands.

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two leaves

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Veins form patterns

Like lines on a human hand

A leaf has a heart line

That foretells the graceful

Trajectory to concrete

A life line that splits and spreads

And is never long enough

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Looking West

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summer windowsill

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I spent all day taking pictures at the reservoir. Out of fifty or so pictures, my favorite one was taken when I returned home to the afternoon sun shining in the kitchen window. It looks so different from my winter windowsill posted here so many months ago.

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