And we sat on the porch and chattered into the late afternoon,
bubbly from the run, perhaps, or whatever freedom the summer
had gifted us, the sound on the roof like a permission slip, a tiptoe tune
of ease. I realized how much weight we carry, how we clamber
through our lives heavy as old rock. It’s not our bodies that do it, but the layers
we cloak them with, doubting our own instinct for happiness. I wondered
if, in fact, age could be a molting if I let it, a sloughing off of skepticism, tears
in the stiff fabric of my own mind. The drops intensified, and I surrendered
to a riotous music, and we sat in silence for a while, both attentive and serene.
It’s impossible, of course, to start completely over, but still I felt washed clean.
Portrait at 2
She loved the infinite archeology of a beach. Also, the precise, triangle snap that accompanied
the opening of a carton of orange juice. If she’d had the words, she’d describe
the specific smell of her grandmother’s garage, or the shade of red
her lipstick was, or the name of the broken shape it left on a square of Kleenex,
or how the sound “No” leveled her to the bone, and how the best she could do was let her eyes run empty, crush her skin against the door, and flee the room in rebellion.
Now, of course, she is brimming with synonym and metaphor, articulating shadows
from each crack in the sidewalk, raking through the mulch of language that lives in everything.
And yet, even with this arsenal, she sees the photograph, portrait at 2, of a girl armed simply
with touch, passing fingers through grains of Florida sand, memorizing every one of its stories.
All Will Be Well, ~ Julian of Norwich
At times, all writers, whether beginner or experienced, face the blank page or screen. I mean, those times when
it seems as though your very thoughts have abandoned you. The more you pound at your chest, the more that
you pull your hair out your head, the worse the block. You just can’t write. The thoughts swirling around your
head are akin to a foreign language that you cannot begin to comprehend. If I seem a bit too familiar with
this idea, that is because I am. For a few months now, I’ve been stumped and uninspired in both my journal
and blog writing. I’ve begun writing any number of times, only to be frustrated by the process and my inability
to produce anything intelligible. What to write? How to write? The questions come, but no answer follows.
And so it was, that while reading, I came across the poem, “Don’t Forget to Write” by Maya Stein. (The poem is
quite long, so I include only a portion of it for you to enjoy; whereas, you can read it in its entirety at the link
down below.) I was instantly drawn to the poem and the message it imparted. In my mind, the poem is a
reminder to those who write that inspiration is all around us. Life itself provides us with unlimited and
inexhaustible sources about which we can write. Each day we wake to the feel of the soft, cool cotton sheets
against our bodies, the smell of coffee brewing in the kitchen, the crow of the rooster as he sounds another day,
and the sight of blue jays as they feed outside of our bedroom windows, and that is before we even get up from
our bed. So, when that blank page seems be mocking you, close your eyes, take a few deep, cleansing breaths
and open your eyes to the world around you, and whatever you do, don’t forget to write.
while you are piecing together the map of your life,
stepping as nimbly as you can out of the mulch
of your thoughts, the busy traffic of your heart.
while you attempt grace and magic and the blessing of
your soft, surrendered kiss, while you are fathoming the stretch
you will need for the wide and rocky jungle of your own happiness,
while you are hunkering down to a piece of dark bread
and the odd, welcome relief of hunger.
don’t forget to write.
write this day, its too-early-morning and the birdsong
you cursed into your pillow. write the way the dog
looked at you as forlornly as your own shadow.
write this blanket, this cup of coffee, the irreverent
clatter of the neighbor’s lawnmower. write the bees
that bend forever to their task, write the July heat
and the laps in the town pool that cleave you
from this earth, the over-solid grip you have on everything.
write this hour, tired and awake all at once, the distractions
you can make of breakfast or a calculator or the remote control
lying flaccid on the living room couch.
write the words for failure. write the words for hope.
write the tightrope dangling above the canyon,
and down below, the electric water furious and free.
write green, write violet, write blazing orange.
write the smell of grapefruit skin, the eyelash
on a cheekbone, the hand you hold in the dark.
write first, honest paragraphs of sunrise.
write everything, or nothing, but don’t forget to write.