Mark is a titan. One of the rare true believers. One who, like a tree, maximizes one’s output. The sycamore of his roots goes into the belly of a mid-Missouri dying railroad town called Belle. He knows all 1300+ of her residents, he has been given or bought dozens of buildings in every sort of disrepair, he builds homes for artists in residence, classrooms, galleries, theaters and wellness centers. The mimosa of his shade casts comfort for nearly 20 artists in residence, 4 dogs, a cackle of chickens, some days numbered cows, and one horse, Lily. He feeds us, he shelters us, he said to me, imagine what it would be like if you could create without having to worry about any of the basics.
He knows none of the town’s or science’s names for things but knows all about where and how they grow and talks of how the floods send boulders down the flushed creeks and bottom out in the river. He calls the concoction of ravens the Committee. He calls this place the Farm.
He is beyond driven. I think his to do list is thick as these forests. He doesn’t just weed whack the edges, but does the repairs on the mowers, coordinates with teachers for arts events, travels with artists to their shows, oversees the vet giving gynecological exams to the heifers, gets drunk with the poets, walks the dogs, brings the eggs to the co-op, knows every corner of every building and every field, and speaks with the spirit of the mountain.
She doesn’t like when you move the rocks, he says.
Well, Mark. What does she think of you moving heaven and earth?
ps: THANK YOU.