DANCE WITH PROVINCETOWN

This stage named Provincetown is fantastical. It hums with electric energy—so many emotions, turmoil, grief in-betweens have been left here. Mine too will be left and when I return, if I return, Provincetown will be recalled from bodily memory as a place of magic and warmth, a calm embrace of someone wise, someone who has known tumultuous grief and has endured it all and let me enjoy the grace of the in-between; the utter calm, the ocean breezes, storms, warm or hot sun, the wooing of the Atlantic waves, the lulling of the bay tides, the shifting of the sand dunes that display a different landscape from each mound. I am standing there changing too, not realizing the constant shift that is occurring, so subtle like the fine grains of sand that rotate a quarter of a quarter-inch to offer a dance of land playfully, playfully.Soojin Kim is a translator and writer from Seoul, Korea. She has been artist-in-residence at Ragdale, I-Park and Ox-bow as a fiction writer. As a translator she enjoys collaborating with visual artists. She is exclusive translator for visual artist Jamie M Lee among others. At the Norman Mailer Writers Colony she has been revising a novel told in the collective voice of four sisters growing up in Korea.

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ABBREVIATED THOUGHTS FROM MY STAY IN PROVINCETOWN

ImageShe surrendered completely to the river’s whim, formless and spinning as if a tangled knot of rootless weed. Only her heels, the blades of her shoulders, and the bloodless mounds of her buttocks broke through the water’s surface. A thin cotton gown, near invisible against her sallow skin, floated about her waist like the translucent flesh of a jelly fish. I will never finish this story.

Yesterday I sat in Norman Mailer’s recliner while I edited my novel. To a recliner one ass is as good as another.

I have never been so long without seeing my children.

The most beautiful woman in Provincetown works at a souvenir shop on Bradford Street. I now possess more souvenirs of my stay here than I shall ever want or need.

No writer of fiction will ever attain his goals.

I would rather be a whale than a sailor, despite the loss of legs and access to television.

Never do people add more frivolous detail than when describing the time they met someone famous.

I briefly considered getting a tattoo of a giant squid, until a kind young woman warned me from a distance it might look like a penis.

I have met more bearded ladies here in Provincetown (four) than I ever encountered in all the Tri-County Fairs of my youth.

Each Monday I mailed my son a piece of candy.

I fell in love three times on the ferry ride over from Boston.

Norman dreamed of a woman with bright red hair floating in the seagrass. The smooth, white underbelly of a fattened fish.

Over an eight day period I got poison ivy, a shin bone contusion, an attack of pancreatitis, and lost the filling from my incisor tooth. Only one of these can I blame on eating Red Hots.

From the wealth of glances I receive downtown, I believe I would have made a magnificent bear.

Lighthouses lose their luster when you realize they are automated.

The Celtics will break your heart.

At 2:18pm on June 4th, 2012, I saw the ghost of Norman Mailer arguing with his own reflection in the bathroom mirror.

When you are alone this long you write to people you should not write, and you say things you should not say.

The cemetery on Winthrop Street is too beautiful and haunting to overlook the Shop & Save. Its edges should dissolve into clouds, or the sea.

Often life doesn’t even seem worth killing oneself over.

I dream of my baby daughter’s big, warm head nuzzled next to mine.

I fear this ocean is bottomless and that Lucifer lurks in its bowels.

There is something charming about seeing a copy of Old Yeller nestled among the many books of Mailer’s personal library.

Tell a woman you’re a logger, and she’s all kinds of impressed. Clarify you said blogger, and not so much.

I pray there is no Heaven. This is enough. More than enough.

Cape Cod is a dull and discordant name. Truro is worse. But Provincetown and Plymouth are as lyrical as they come.

A young woman arrives at the preacher’s door in the driving rain. She holds an infant. A boy. His bastard son. The preacher’s wife suspects. Months later the child’s mother will watch from the shore as the preacher carries their son into the river to be baptized. The preacher drowns the child. His petite empire is preserved. This story is like pennies in my pocket, waiting to be lost in the wash.

Grant Jones is a Fiction Fellow at the Norman Mailer Writers Colony. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from The New School. He has recently completed his first novel, Annabelle, and is hard at work on his second, Blind Tigers, on the subject of moonshine and baseball in the early decades of the 20th century.

WALKING THE STONES

On Friday afternoon, I walked the stones. Some way out into the bay, I thought: It doesn’t matter where I am. I can live anywhere. I felt a disinterested calm. The stones go all the way across the water. You can get off on the other side. I had imagined they would end, like a pier, and that I would stand still for a while out there, looking, listening to the waves move. At about the halfway point, the sea was washing over my path. The tide was high, and pushing in. I had no way of knowing, should I proceed, would I get back. I decided to proceed.

On the other side, I crossed the dunes and felt my feet on this far shore of my Atlantic. It was windy and uncomfortable to stay, so I went back across the dunes and walked along the salt marshes to the lighthouse. I passed a middle-aged couple sitting together in silence. I took a photograph of a strange little building I could live in. I looked up at the lighthouse. “Rapunzel! Rapunzel! Let down your golden hair!” I called. Nothing happened, but I felt what it might be like to be a man.

Heading home, I was only a little reluctant to disturb what I took to be two snipe at the edge of the marshes. When they rose and wheeled and piped, I watched them in the sky and thought of the snipe at the dam at G—.

Karen Martin is a writer of short fiction and an editor. She originates from South Africa, where she has lived in the countryside outside Johannesburg for the past fifteen years. She is presently a Cornelia Carhart Ward Fellow in the creative writing MFA programme at Syracuse University. She is using her fellowship at the Norman Mailer Writers Colony this summer to complete her first collection of short fiction.