Some things you once read about him in a guidebook
have steered you to the quandary of this moment,
like how Muir believed a “forest of wilderness”*
was the Key to the Universe, like how he said
“one should go to the woods for safety, if nothing else.”*
Now you are saddled to a glacier of imperfection,
a cross-section of city and country, field and stream;
a mountain man with a shelter dream, the quiddity of hubris.
And you think you belong to someone.
You write your story in indelible ink.
John Muir said he wanted to go “anywhere that was wild”*
and here you are, in this naked sword-fight of a marriage,
this willingness bond; a magic wand that speaks in tongues
with a dirty mouth, where sameness is your splintered rock,
where you unlock the trail map of a lifetime.
“The mountains are calling,” Muir wrote. “And I must go.”*
Those very words echo from the one you love
who resents The Father of National Parks—for sauntering.
Watch him! as he ambushes nature like a cat on a cricket.
Watch yourself as you pretend it isn’t happening.
Remember that primer in your old guidebook,
The Responsibility Code?
About cartroads, signage, and deep-snow safety?
“Always stay in control. Keep away from closed areas.”**
But when you marry a man who builds quinzies
with his bare hands: No compass, no beacon, off-piste,
making first tracks. While ignoring the watches, warnings,
the weather forecast. You’re signing your life away
in Invisible Ink. You think you belong to someone.
You want to belong to someone.
You tell him, “John Muir walked a thousand miles
but he always came home.”
He tells you, “You are not alone in my backcountry ways”
until he makes the smooth tele turns of his final run
and you find: You don’t belong to anyone.
—One of 12 Finalists in MacQ’s
“Triple-Q” Writing Challenge
is a multigenre writer whose work explores identity, belonging, the search for home,
and love after loss. A fixture in the Los Angeles literary community, she
has read her storypoems, essays, and novel excerpts at hundreds of venues for over
35 years. Her plays have been produced at The Met Theatre, Ensemble Studio
Theatre’s LA WinterFest, South Coast Rep’s Nexus Project, Mark Taper
Forum’s Other Voices, Padua Playwrights, The Lost Studio, and Ruskin’s
Hayden’s writing has appeared in the bestselling anthology Los Angeles
in the 1970s: Weird Scenes Inside the Goldmine (Rare Bird Lit), as well as in
I Might Be The Person You Are Talking To: Short Plays From The Los Angeles
Underground (Padua Playwrights Press), The Black Body (Seven Stories
Press), and elsewhere.
She is the Creator/Producer of the monthly literary series Library Girl, now
in its 13th year at Ruskin Group Theatre in Santa Monica, CA. Library Girl was cited
as the Best Local Literary Series in The Argonaut’s Best of the Westside:
Editor’s Picks 2019. She was recently profiled in Jewish Journal, TribeLA
Magazine, ESME.com and “Culture Watch” in Santa Monica Daily
Press. In 2015, Hayden was presented with the Bruria Finkel/Artist In The
Community Award by the Santa Monica Arts Commission for her “significant
contributions to the energetic discourse within Santa Monica’s arts
She is celebrating thirty years of living in Santa Monica and is recently remarried,
to music journalist Steve Hochman. Her biggest achievement is being the proud mother
of singer-songwriter, Mason Summit.
⚡ Susan Hayden: Creator of the Long-Running LA Show “Library Girl” by Kathleen Laccinole (circa 2016) at ESME (Empowering Solo Moms Everywhere)