“Atlantic Retreat” by Stephen Busby

 

To get to a place of salvation takes three ferries in foul weather. In the first, I cling with gritted teeth and churning stomach to the steering wheel of my car alongside other drivers whom I glimpse as ghosts through their misted windows. At the harbor-side to the second ferry I meet a man wrapped in several layers of black tarpaulin who sells me a damp ticket – a single, for they do not sell return trips he tells me, and I do not respond to his smile. I drive aboard, caress the buttons on my cell-phone – it has long lost its signal – and wonder why I do not turn back. I don’t turn back because there is nowhere to go. My life has become too awful and will not allow it. The idea of retreating to a small island in the Atlantic for a week in winter compares well to the courage it would require of me to continue in the old ways.

In the second ferry I am almost alone, the rain falls harder and faster and the reassuring voice of the radio does not stretch this far. Instead there is a scattering of recognizable words in the midst of what might be Gaelic I guess. My destination is a few square miles or so of rock well-known as a place of seekers and sheep and – in the summer – the hub of a lively tourist trade which has made much of the island’s historic and mystical inheritance. I sneer to myself at the thought of all tourists as a lesser species: people intent upon keeping their feet safely in both camps, consumers of second-hand experience. At this comforting thought there is a sudden parting in the cloud-cover to reveal the sun and I drive more contentedly from the ferry and speed off, unencumbered by traffic down a winding single-track road toward the last boat and the thought of hot tea if I can find it.

My sense of elation is short-lived. I begin to shed small probably important pieces of my car in the potholes strewn across the road; I am increasingly hampered by sheep which, just at the last possible moment as I am passing, hurtle across the road in a bid to test my brakes; and the weather soon shrugs off this stranger the sun in order to return the world to greyness. Light rain is followed by an intense downpour: driving horizontal winds and water are thrown against the car windows in sheets and my windshield wipers cannot cope. I do my best to park on what I hope is solid ground. While the weather does its worst I fall asleep.

My dream is of my parents sitting in their kitchen which has become a vast cave; there are bats and other insects hanging from the ceiling. Conversation between them is a dialogue of the deaf: in the dream their mouths open soundlessly and I know that they are trying to say grace before the meal but somehow cannot; instead I hear from somewhere the one word which they both most frequently pronounce in daily life which is “pardon”, as neither can entirely hear the other. This pardon ricochets around the walls of the kitchen-cum-cave and I see that the back of it opens out onto a vast rocky landscape. I look down to find that the ground I’m standing on has become marshland and that I ought to be sinking into this, but haven’t yet. I bend down to look closer as the ground flies up towards me: I’m no longer clear whether I’m beneath it or still standing, or floating along in its porridge-like consistency. There is only the receding sound of a pardon and a kind of rubbery-rail which I cling to but which appears quite unattached, then a chanting sound and lightness in the air and inside me. I feel carried and graceful and unconcerned and wake up with a jolt to find that I am gripping the steering wheel again and although, now, there is absolute silence all around me – for the storm and the wind have subsided – the feel or quality of the eerie chanting I had heard is still there, inside.

………………………………..


Outside there is an extraordinary landscape: grey-green mountains squat immediately in front of me and the little road winds between them while over to my right is the coast and the sea which is shining. Everything appears to be shining I see, as the quality of the light grows more fantastic. Where before all was gloomy and grey, now – after the storm – it is as if sunlight were penetrating upwards through the rocks and the land: it is all luminous in vivid greens, amber-browns and glowing greys, and as I drive off slowly I grow drunk on these colors and on the sheen of the sea, on the sheer craziness and beauty of the rocks and boulders strewn around me and on the mountains as I drive, dwarfed, between them. There are tiny white cottages here and there with bright-red roofs and dry-stone garden walls; even the sheep are content to let me pass by in a spirit of goodwill and benevolence.

By the time I pull up at the last harbor of the day I’m high on the idea of my changed life and endless possibilities and am heartened, too, to see a few other cars parked and – in the waiting room next to the final ticket office – even a small crowd of people sitting, and so I will not be alone. I have an hour to wait. In that time the winds pick up again and to my dismay a small bus arrives and takes everyone else away: they were leaving the island and not, like me, about to arrive. I sit on a bench in the little room with its snack counter and a young woman sitting reading behind it. She is pretty and will not look in my direction. I listen to the wind and rain outside as the time of the ferry’s departure approaches but there is no one and no ferry and only the old angst in me which I know is archaic: shall I be safe and looked after, will life not then go according to plan, and how has it slipped again from my control?

Outside I find the ticket office has closed. I knock at its door, standing in the rain. On the third knock there is a grunt, the kind made upon waking. The door opens and a man dressed inevitably in a sheet of tarpaulin nods in the direction of the sea, just visible in the mist which has come down. Yes – there is a boat out there, a very small one I see, and one which the tarpaulin tells me has anchored, the sea being too rough for it to come in at the moment. “We might get one last one of the day” he says, “or we might not”. Head down into the wind, I make for the public phone box on the quay-side to call Mr. P, my host on the island. I will ask him to keep my room for me in case I have to sleep in the car or have to swim from the ship. He sounds nonchalant and cheerful: an attitude which is infectious and improves my mood. He can see when the ferry comes, he says, from his front room, so will come down then to the harbor to collect me as it docks. There is nothing but waiting to be done and patience to be gained and, back in the waiting-room-of-life, a local man clad in tarpaulin has arrived and is leaning across the snack-counter towards the young woman in order to unleash his charm upon her as I look on from my seat in the stalls. For the next hour he focuses his whole being upon her while she, amused, easily contains him: teasing and drawing him on, in, deeper into the story he’s telling her of his day, his life, all his soul’s longings, with a confidence that I envy and resent. She sits there tranquil in her power on the chair while I eat my last hard-boiled egg.

There is a loud honking which comes from the ferry and I realize that I am not ready for the ordeal of the crossing to come. I dash out to the car to pull together my bags and am drenched within seconds. There will be too much to carry I see, for this ferry is for foot passengers only: no cars are allowed on the island unless they belong to the locals. I decide to abandon my shoes for my boots – ridiculous to imagine anything being worn out here except boots and tarpaulin – and pile everything up by the side of the car where it is instantly soaked through: my suitcase was never made for weather like this. How ill-equipped I am – for the Atlantic, for life. I’ve no tarpaulins and had no idea they could be worn as opposed to being stood on, and my coat won’t stand for the kind of rain being hurled from clouds which have absorbed half the Atlantic before they hit me. My woolen hat is ridiculous and is keeping my head wetter and my hands are so damp and cold that I cannot even get them dry and smooth enough to be able to pull on my gloves. I run head down into the wind towards the little ferry which has now parked and opened its jaws ready to receive me but it hasn’t docked far enough up the concrete ramp to cover the waves which are washing up around it and which I will have to splash through; there would be no way to get any wetter. I find myself running alongside one other dark hurtling figure who has burst from a nearby truck and whom I’m delighted to see as I haul my suitcase up onto the metal tongue of the boat – run through its mouth and into the stomach of the ship, leaving more of the known world behind me.

My companion as I run inside the ship turns out to be a local farmer who has plenty to say to no one in particular. He speaks to the gods, to the empty air, to whoever might be listening and it is all one long litany of complaint: the weather, the ferries, the tides, the rising price of sheep-feed and so on. I feel easy with him, with his great tousled head of hair now released from the tarpaulin and the earnest mad look in his mild blue eyes. It is as if we cross some kind of threshold in each other’s company as the boat bucks and heaves on each trough and crest, and although my stomach is lurching a kind of peace settles upon me. He seems to calm too and turns to muttering and relaxes into himself as we sit, dripping, together: two men moving wordlessly with the waves.

We manage to dock at last at the side of the island, the floor scrapes under our feet and the steel jaw opens to reveal a misty and windswept little harbor, a row of cottages and a small man in front of a van who holds up his hand in my direction. The ship’s few crew-members have gathered to watch our departure, which is kind, until I realize that they are there for the entertainment: to see how well I will time my leap from the ferry’s lip onto the concrete as the waves wash around us. I look around intending to follow the farmer but he has already abandoned me and so, assuming the mantle of a man whom I am not, I stride confidently off the ramp – into a huge wave which breaks up to my knees and all but blows the poor sodden suitcase out of my hand. The crew have been well entertained and are cheering and I am ashore: I am here, have crossed the country and now claim my space upon this storm-swept rock. It is a Tuesday; I am soaked through and feel ecstatic at the direction my life’s taking – into Mr. P’s van, filled with the rich perfume of wet sheep. Together we grind off around the island through the potholes and the weather, to a small white cottage on a headland at the edge of the inhabited world.

Mr P grunts at my attempt to engage him in conversation and will say nothing until he throws open the door to my new home and holds up a small plastic bag of coins which, he makes clear, I will be needing for the meter and must now buy from him. He drops a couple of coins for me in a metal box behind the door and is gone: offering nothing more than that he and his wife occupy the big house up the road should I ever need them. I am suddenly alone.

Being alone is a great boon, especially for the first half hour when there is plenty to do. I discover that my domain comprises a couple of barely furnished rooms, a kitchen corner, some cupboards of blankets and several large old-style and hungry-looking electric-bar radiators. Feeding the magic box behind the door with coins brings these radiators to life, soon has my wet clothes steaming, and produces an alarmingly loud and frequent thudding noise which is the sound of my hard-earned savings buying me heat, light and life, and there is a nagging suspicion that Mr and Mrs P are complicit with the electricity company because there is no way that merely staying alive – breathing and steaming – could consume this much money so often out of the plastic bag. What’s more, I discover that the thuds increase in frequency in direct proportion to how much I like to stay alive: if I wish to eat anything other than driftwood then I must turn on the stove which has the metal box thudding faster than my pulse-rate or, I calculate, my ability to earn that much per minute. And if I switch on a second antique-looking radiator then the box goes into such a frenzy of thudding that I decide I will live sleep eat and shit in front of only the one main heater; in fact I shall embrace, kneel down and make offerings to the holy warmth emanating from its bars. Once the little bed has been moved closer to my new god-of-heat I put on as much dry underwear as I can find and slip easily into sleep, accompanied by a steady and now slower rhythmical thud, and picture Mr and Mrs P nearby in their bed too, no doubt lulled by this lucrative sound coming from my cottage.

In the night I revisit a version of my recent life with my wife, based on memories of togetherness and sex. There is the little house in the mountains where we once stayed, the kitchen table – though much larger than I remembered it – and she is splayed on top of it as I pull her long legs towards me and then that moment of truth or strangeness which flashed between us when – wordlessly – we were somehow more uncaring and primeval in that foreign place, when we both knew this and held each other differently and I felt the beat and flutter in her chest. But in the dream we cannot find a way down off this table because it fills the whole room and she would climb out of the window except that it is covered with tarpaulin and I prevent her from tearing it down – I know that there is an army outside or something which mustn’t be confronted whereas here on the table we are safe. But she becomes ill and desperate, wants to leave and I cannot save her; the house begins to burn and the table starts to curl and blacken at the edges; there’s a great roaring and rhythmical beating and in the distance some murmuring or chanting sounds coming closer, and everything is burning as I tear at my clothes and then wake, sweating in the cool room, to the beat coming from the box in the corner and an absolute sudden stillness. I lie listening to the rain being driven against the windows and can still hear the echo of the same quiet insistent chant without making out the words.

………………………………..

In the morning and after I have twice rearranged my groceries on the little shelf, there seems to be alarmingly little to do. I decide to walk back towards the harbor, calling in at the little church on the way and which is apparently the reason why so many pilgrims are drawn here in the more reasonable summer months.

Outside, a mountain sits squat at the center of the island which slopes off to white beaches at the north. Apart from the squealing gulls I am alone as I walk; the skies have cleared, the sheep look up as I pass and there are worse ways I realize to spend a Wednesday. There is also the welcome opportunity for a little retail therapy: in the gift shop which hasn’t yet closed at the end of the season and which sits at the side of the church. Inside a kind elderly man introduces me to their range of table mats, pottery and souvenir spoons – all of which feature the name of the local saint: he whose church I’m about to visit and who has done so much generally for the economy of the island and for the local Tourist Authority in particular.

I wander outside, sit on a bench in the sun which has appeared and ponder the little church. It is built in friendly red sandstone and features a large ancient looking cross in its churchyard. I close my eyes and find my mind traveling back to a monastery once visited in France. I had been drawn to its cloisters and, as I sat there in their shade, saw that after one of the services some of the Brothers filed out of the church and came to sit along one side of its old walls, one monk in a white habit on each bench. People came out of the church: the young and the old, the feeble, the strong and the pretty, to sit next to the Brothers, apparently to talk. One youngish man in particular struck me: he’d chosen an older monk who listened to what he had to say attentively, seemed at the end to offer a few words of comfort or advice and then lifted and placed his hands up on the young man’s head. I see this now again in slow-motion as I sit here: the monk’s white sleeves and old hands lifting and falling gently down onto the top of the man’s head. Watching this and to my astonishment I began to shudder and to sob: great heaving sobs broke out of me in that place and they were all the more shocking because they felt so foreign and somehow familiar and a relief.

Inside this church it is cool, dark, surprisingly empty. Very few chairs, lots of space, simple stained-glass windows which cast a glow across the old stone floor, and the smell of something damp and polished. It is also very quiet. Walking around I find, at the far side behind one of the old columns, a dark space called ‘The Quiet Corner’ where visitors are invited to light a candle. Here the glass in the window is unstained, only pale light penetrates in across the floor and someone has placed a jam-jar of wild flowers on the stone windowsill, next to some round pebbles, probably from the beach. Next to it are two stripped old branches of a tree fixed together as a cross leaning against the wall. On these branches are pinned several shreds of white paper which I can just about read in the available light. They are written for Uncle John so that he may get better; for Charlotte in her grief; for Mary, Donald, Keith and Wendy, who were all killed and who are in Heaven; for Roger, may he find peace; for Smokey (in a child’s hand); and for Mummy who is with Jesus. Some of them are long letters, some are decorated, others are plain – just one word or two, which sometimes is: ‘Peace’, and ‘Love is the Answer’, and one barely legible – perhaps an elderly or an infant hand, which reads: ‘Help me please’. I see the little stack of papers and pins on the windowsill, take one of each, write my word: the name I shall leave here and which I suppose now is part of the reason I have come, and pin it to one of the branches.

Then I turn and leave the church and go out into the sun. I walk a long way it seems to me, without noticing or seeing very much, back to the cottage where I lie down and sleep. It is a name that nobody knows but me: a name I had whispered to myself privately without ever sharing it with my wife because she did not want to know whether we would need the name of a boy or of a girl, or perhaps because I didn’t trust her enough to imagine that we might be able to name someone together. The name lies, still-born, inside me, as I suppose does whatever name she had chosen, wherever she is now.

………………………………..

Three long days later I wake feeling wretched, useless and short of breath whenever I contemplate a return to the city. From outside comes the sound of rain again; above me the window is a dull shade of grey, inside me it is the same. In the corner the pile of dirty dishes has begun faintly to smell. I’ve almost no coins left to feed the thudding meter and there is nothing to do. I decide to go and see Mr P: I shall escape from my prison a day early in order to move again amongst people who lead their distracted lives in a fashion appropriate to the twenty-first century rather than so meanly as if in the medieval age. But Mr. P is unenthusiastic about this plan as we stand in the mud and driving rain in front of his farm. I ask him again if he will take me to the ferry. There is a long silence as he looks over at the mountain which rises up behind the farm, just discernible through the mist. He reminds me that tomorrow is my due date, turns his tarpaulined head in the direction of the mountain and suggests that I go climb it for the day. He looks directly at me as I am about to protest and tells me that the wind may be dropping soon, that it could be a fine day.

“How do I get up there then?” I hear myself saying, incredulous. He nods his head again in the direction of the southerly side. As he does so there is a slight clearing in the cloud-cover over there, so – the promise of some sun, and I see myself striding resolutely up the side of the rock, surveying the island from the top: it will not have defeated me; I will have met all the necessary challenges in coming here; nothing has been or will be too much to bear. Moreover I will be proud of my adventure and achievement in coming here.

The walk begins well and the cloud has cleared. I negotiate the fields behind the farm and discover a small sign posted beside a track which reads “To the Hermit’s Cell”. So I shall emulate the local saint and follow his tracks upwards, for in all likelihood he will have considered the tourists and chosen somewhere with a view. The going is not good though: the lower slopes become increasingly boggy and I lose sight of the path. Soon the reassuring tufts of grass which were my stepping-stones over the marshy ground give way and I’m sinking into the black goo underneath. It will be hard to clean off my boots but I persevere nevertheless, plopping and slurping my way ever upwards. Then one green tuft gives way completely – they have begun to fool me by floating on top of what is essentially black water – and my whole foot goes in, and under. I will have to turn back I decide, before the mud and the marsh claim me. On the other hand I see in front of me that the ground will soon rise more steeply and, anyway, once one’s footwear has been filled up with mud there’s little left to lose. Soon both boots are filled and I falter. The lower slopes seem no nearer and some of Mr. P’s sheep have wandered across the field in order to follow my progress more closely: they observe me cruelly from a distance with their little black eyes. I struggle on across the bog, sit down on comparatively dry land and contemplate my black hooves. There is really nothing in nature that is of any practical use, it seems to me, although the natural world does undeniably have a certain aesthetic value, especially when admired from the window of a very fast car.

Either I’m not equipped to deal with nature, I decide, as I get up and begin to make my way upwards, or I am not much equipped for anything at all. I picture a composite version of all the teachers whose classrooms I’ve sat and suffered in: ‘What actually are you equipped to do in life?’ they all seem to be saying, while knowing already the answer to this, and then my father joins in: ‘Stand up straighter, don’t look so nervous all the time. How old are you now? What are you going to do…?” and so on, and on.

‘What are you going to do’ becomes a mantra that accompanies me as I climb on upwards, and ‘How old are you?’ as I maneuver around the rocks and boulders that are becoming more frequent, ‘…going to do… What are you…?’ What, where, why, and who – who are you, why are you here on the side of a mountain at all? Who are you, as I slip on the rocks and the rubble, and have to stop for breath: I haven’t climbed very far. I look up: the clouds are gathering, thick and dark overhead but the bog is well behind me now and would be impassable in a storm. I clamber up a bit more, there’s no semblance of a path although there is a kind of cleared way through the boulders. But now the storm breaks: little patches of wetness grow larger on the green and yellow-brown lichen-covered rocks and then very soon everything is wet; the rain is dropping and plopping all around me; my thin coat is wetted again, and my hands – cold and gloveless – find it harder to hold on to the rocks on either side of me and to lever myself upwards. I’m slipping more on the steep rubble-ground but won’t stop now – what are you equipped for – what are you going to do – I go on hauling myself upwards: this is what I do, there is only this, as I slip and slide and grip onto rocks and pull and pant and go on climbing; how old are you now – I’m 42; who are you – I don’t know; where are you – I’m climbing this mountain; I’m climbing, and the storm is certainly worse: the wind has gotten up and I probably shouldn’t go much higher; it’s colder now – I go higher: I pull myself up, something in me hauls myself up over and around and through the slippery rocks, over the rubble, through the driving rain and the wind whipping my face: I’m all wet, everything’s wet and I’m part of it and there’s a kind of new strength which comes into my feet, for there’s nothing which is dry to defend anymore – only the climb, the next handhold to find and the feet to move again, ever on and upwards. Suddenly there’s a break – a clearing in the rocks and nothing to hold on to anymore: I’ve broken through and past the rocky slopes and seem to have reached a bit of clearer less-encumbered ground. It’s still steep though and so I stand there a minute, heaving and breathing, but the wind is even wilder here: it whips and shoves at me so that I sway, have to spread my legs and brace myself against the ground, and for the first time I wonder at the threat of the weather or of something much larger than me. I’m too exposed and so I stand up straight again, ready to head off for the rocks. But there’s a loud crack of thunder not far away as the storm gathers itself for more and something bright flashes nearby. I look around blinking: the slopes and the land below me are barely discernible now through the curtain of rain, and neither can I make out much of what lies ahead: a patch of rocks and beyond that a cluster of huge-looking boulders, perhaps the promise of some shelter. I prepare to move on out of the worst of the wind.

Suddenly I feel both feet lifting slightly from the ground: it is momentary but might as well have lasted hours and a terrifying exhilaration comes through me then. I turn – too quickly – to make off towards the boulders and I slip on the rubble floor; I fall heavily – hands splayed out and scraped heavy against the splintery ground; something in my leg twists as I fall, there’s a sudden dark streak of pain but it’s the shock of it which winds me more and I sit there too stunned to move. I have to get up: I can’t get up, I cannot stand; I have to move – I move: I scrape and pull myself along the ground, scrape and pull and have my leg follow me, there isn’t any sensation – just the howl of the storm and the wind and the rain all over and inside me and the pulling and the scraping: Where are you going – I’m going to those boulders; Who are you then – I’m here, crawling up the mountain; How old are you now – don’t know; Who are – don’t know. I don’t know, and I don’t know but I go on, I think, something happens, nothing happens, nothing changes, I don’t remember: I’m pulling and heaving and scraping along and there’s another lightening flash somewhere near me or another light or nothing at all; yes nothing at all – only blackness and an instant and near-absolute absence of sound: only that faint chanting again which fades towards black silence and into which I slip gladly, how welcome and wonderful because there is nothing more now that needs to be done.

………………………………..

When I open my eyes there are green and yellow-grey shapes in front of me. The air feels cool and the ground is hard underneath and everything is quiet except for some birdsong nearby. The colored shapes turn out to be lichen on the rocks, near my head. I turn slightly: there’s rock overhead too. I am lying at the entrance of a kind of small cave formed by boulders and outside there’s a clear blue sky from where the birdsong is coming. I lift myself up, look around: there’s nothing in the small cave, it’s really just some large rocks lodged together. I move my leg – it moves, aches a little. I get up and walk outside.

There is a light breeze; the sun beats overhead and everything is shining, just as it was when I drove off the ferry I remember: sunlight reflects off the ground and the rocks and the patches of so-green grass; it is all so light and intense that I have to shield my eyes. Down below I can see my small cottage on the headland, Mr. P’s farm, and way beyond that the church and gift shop and – beyond that – moving along like a slow animal in the water is the little ferry, flashing in the bright sun. I turn around: the western flank of the island stretches before me: an expanse of glowing green and grey rock which leads in the distance to the unimaginable expanse of the Atlantic, heaving gently under the wind. I must be standing near the highest point on the island. Can there be many better sensations than this? I notice a small plaque, incongruous, on a carved stone nearby. It tells me that these boulders are the remains of the Hermit’s Cell. Somebody once lived a life of unimaginable devotion and sacrifice here – and here am I, meanwhile – shot through suddenly with a kind of fire and lightness which seems to be coming up from the mountain itself under my boots. Over the aeons here people have offered something of themselves and lived in awe. Perhaps they’ve anchored something more-than-mortal here, and which didn’t die with them.

Clouds rush across the sky. I decide to climb on a little higher. My leg is stiff but quite bearable. Here the lichen is splashed across the rocks in an evermore dazzling combination of colour. I go on up and over the peak and see now – not so far away – the northern shore: its white beaches glittering in the sun. I walk, scramble, even – in places – scamper down the mountain towards the shore. Eventually I’m alone on the beaches, quite alone. No footprints, litter or noise other than the soft regular swish of the sea. This is all that the saint and his followers had for recreation and it hasn’t changed much since. The waves are full of white icing against the sheer blue cloudless sky; the clear white sand is studded with rocks reflecting the sun while others sit half-submerged in the swaying steely-blue sea. I find some quiet little rock coves with their own sheltered pools and peer, astonished, downwards – through the clear water. I see the pools are heaving with life. There are tiny round shells, small fine-frilled creatures crawling along the bottom and, when I lift up one of the stones in the water a beetle scuttles away and a crab stands its ground. As I look down I realize that the wind has almost entirely died away: it is so quiet that for the first time in years the persistent ringing in my ears has disappeared. Where – who – am I really? I’ve a sudden urge to go and kneel down somewhere in silence, to offer myself up to some great cause, to pour out all the words which have always escaped me. It would be a simple thing here to go prostrate myself before an altar, to live alone in a cell, to live each day and night punctuated by prayer, to forgo all the luxuries of life which seem, in this moment, superfluous. I kneel by the pool.

………………………………..

The next day when Mr. P comes to the cottage to collect me and drive me to the ferry we speak more easily – about the unpredictability of the tourist trade and the politics behind the government subsidies which finance the ferries and local services upon which all the farmers depend. I shake his hand and tell him that I shall be back then turn and walk onto the boat.

Back in my car I’m surprised to find so much that is familiar again. The act of driving, so strange: the curve of the car seat, the feel of the old shoes again on my feet: comfortable, reassuring and somehow illusory, I realize, as I move off: this measure of control that I seem to be exerting over my environment, over my life.

 

Stephen Busby is a traveler and writer based in the Findhorn Community, northern Scotland.  His prose and poetry have appeared in Cezanne’s Carrot, r.kv.r.y. (visiting hugh and love ends), Visionary Tongue, The Battered Suitcase, Santa Fe Writers Project, and Secret Attic.  Stephen also works in the corporate and not-for-profit sectors, running transformative learning events there. His website is here.

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