Reflecting on the past few days of this early year, beginning with writing. The was-writ, crusty has-beens of journals kept in a drawer, or yellowed pages I’ve thrown into fire, pushed its charred skins around in the coals, then retrieved from the fire, burning my fingers on blue-hot pages. This is not what he meant when he said, “Kill your darlings.” This poem sounded good when I was 13. This one sounded good when I was drunk. I thought this other one sounded good after I polished and honed it to a nub, lookin’ literary, baby…. but I don’t recognize it anymore, and I forgot to save its origins, the authentic voice of me. I’m left with a leaf but wanting a tree, all that time and material I cannot recover. I’ve learned to save documents as they come into being, not just a “finished” adult ready to get kicked out into the world, good luck honey. I wish I’d learned that process sooner.
Three parts of my day are concerned with writing: Early in the day I write the new. Midday I take out old pieces and try to work them into something more than a sandcastle. Late afternoon I read other people’s writing. Hmph. My best work seems to happen when I’m in the shower, and by the time I get out of journalling barometric pressure, the ember is too soggy to work with. Back to square one. Every day is square one, but I must say, sifting through leaning sandcastles looking for the right foundation is exhausting. Well. I’ve got a nice pile of envelopes and postage. All I need is the right fire to send to the right hearth, and it will happen.
Why does your opinion of my short hair still matter to me? What does a woman look like when she’s all growed up…and does that mean her growing is all done and it’s time to plant her, long hair and all? Why does a woman have to look like a certain thing to be legit?
Young lady, I met you on the beach for the first time. I could see the gulls were frustrating you. I slowly walked over, trying to discreetly watch the tableau, and by the time I reached you, everything seemed to have calmed. Young lady in hot pink head to toe, you are one smart cookie, but you don’t know it all, and I’m not going to argue with you. I have a son who taught me not to even try to win that game, but I came here to listen more than anything. I’m not worried you’re out here alone. You know there’s a dropoff just before the breakwater which tells me you’re local. I am sorry that when you said “Maryland” all I heard was “Merlin,” my foolish concert ears are ringing, and it’s hard for me to hear you. And why, in all the gin mills in all the towns of the world did she have to say that name? Anyway, I look forward to meeting you again, young lady, and I wonder what you will teach me next time.
I sat with my neighbor who needed a friend last night. She is looking for focus. Our lives intersected when I stepped outside to see if Ms. Doorslammer was coming or going (she was going), and here comes my neighbor from her day at work. We sat in her apartment, and I loved on her sweet little hound (oh Nikki, thank you for coming into my life). We ate pizza and drank and talked about finding ways to heal our pasts. I drew a card for her, and it was “Experience.” It’s not the one she wanted, but this is life.
I drew a happy face and a heart in the condensation that appeared on my bedroom window this morning and felt glad. I spoke to my plants who are growing but one seems dormant. I know a snowstorm is coming and it feels like cheating because we have weather reports so we can prepare. When I walk the beach and take note of the wind direction, the sky color, I wonder, did the indigenous before us know when a great snow was coming, long before NOAA? I drew the death card this morning, and that’s nothing to be ignored. I will make soup and biscuits for me and maybe a neighbor if she’s so inclined. “Crime Don’t Pay” plays in my head. Thank you, Mike Ness, for being the band-leader in my head before the snow falls.