We stand hand-in-hand leaning over the railing of the little bridge that crosses the river in the park behind our house while the city behind us becomes a kaleidoscope of light in the icy water below. We’ve been here a thousand times repeating the same ritual, repeating the same wish, repeating the same crushing weight of always knowing the answer is no, but we come back anyways because hope is all we have left now. We drop the last tiny paper crane into the water, a silent plea cast out through the darkness like a message in a bottle to the world, and we watch it flutter to rest on the water’s surface and bob up and down as if replying “Your resilience and faith has been rewarded – wish granted” before its pulled under by the current.
This was the result of a creative writing exercise I did while attending a conference in Amsterdam this April. It all points to identity and the things we desire if we could just drop the social pretense and requirements and be ourselves.
wear jeans for professional dress.
Don’t teachers teach better in jeans?
I heard that was true,
and if not, it should be.
just sit down and cry,
release the expectation that I have
all the answers even though I sometimes
don’t even know what I want.
etch “Carrie was here”
into the glass ceiling
and shatter it
as I dot the i in my name.
forget the shame
of bad decisions past
and prevent them
from haunting my quiet moments.
speak my mind
even if I lose my eloquence
and revert back to the girl on the ranch
doing a man’s work.
Featured Image: Pixabay – “Ranch” by skeeze (CC0 Public Domain)
There are these moments when I picture myself benevolently aged, a bittersweet smile of the past playing about the crow-footed corners of my eyes. What I wouldn’t give to have a conversation with her. The woman who weathered storms. The woman who brought storms.
What would she think of me with my self-pity and social angst?
“Child,” she would say, sipping Zinfandel through her favorite My Little Pony mug a lover from long ago gave to her, “It is not the darkness in the life of an artist that creates art. It is the hope that the darkness will end that helps the artist create life through art.”
I would cast a side-eyed glance at her, but since we occupy the same mind and body, she would guffaw at me and kiss her teeth as she knocked back another swig.
“It’s just like that story we loved as a girl and would always cry at every time we came back to it. You know… the one where the guy crashes his plane in the desert and meets the alien boy and he tells him this story about a fox and a rose,” she would prattle on.
“Le Petit Prince,” I’d sigh back. “Everything that is essential is invisible to the eye.”
“Exactly. Except there are also scars the eye cannot see, but that doesn’t mean we let them pervert our heart,” she’d sagely nod in the annoying way old people do right before she takes another gulp which causes Twilight Sparkle to mock me with her smug smile. “Like this wine. The fruit of which is sweet from the vine but fermented can leave a bitter aftertaste both in the mouth and in the actions taken under imbibed persuasion.”
Adding punctuation to her words, she would put the mug down and lean forward in her chair, donning the doggedness that my mother wore when you knew she was right, when you knew she didn’t bring the storm but was the storm, “We must savor the delicacies of our lives, no matter how bitter. We must not take for granted the world within the smallness of us.”
In response to Daily Prompt: Savor
Featured Image: Pixabay – “Storm” by Free-Photos (CC0 Public Domain)
These words were actually written a month ago. Not a lot has changed, but at least I’m writing again.
Each day I do in exercise in self-loathing. I turn on the shower as hot as I can stand it. I disrobe and step into the billowing steam. The water flushes my skin scarlet with anger, humiliation, confusion, and remorse. I lay my head against the tiles and I close my eyes. As a literature teacher, I know water is supposed to be a symbolic cleansing. As a human being, I know this is just a figure of speech. There is nothing that can expunge shame.
It’s been a long time since I did this – poured myself out onto a page and shared out for the world to see. These past few months have seen irrevocable change, and things are much darker than they ever have been. It’s as if the light optimism of my youth reeked like the dead and was buried in secret haste. Only something foul clawed its way out.
Once upon a time I knew who I was or at least had solidly clung to its semblance has to have that perception. I am still amazed at how that concept is so fluid and temporary, how the winds of fortune or misfortune can shift the sail of the H.M.S. Identity.
I don’t expect understanding. I don’t expect sentiment and encouragement. I don’t expect any words I put down to make any sense to anyone let alone myself. Without a rudder, I am aimless, and these words I’m stringing together do not provide the relief I so desperately seek.
In response to Daily Prompt: Bury
Featured Image: Pixabay – “Shipwreck” by tpsdave (CC0 Public Domain)
the taste of vanilla
melting into a concoction
of pecans and bliss
when the warmth
of family is rising
like homemade bread.
The laughter plumes into the air,
and I smell the stale cigarettes
on my Mother’s hands
as she kneads the dough –
their strength molding my world.
A twinkle of teeth flash
through open mouths
as a symphony of guitars
crescendo in a sense of urgency.
These are the moments I remember
while I lie in bed wrapped
in the warm embrace
of my mother’s cashmere blanket.
Salty tears catch at the corner of my mouth
and the bitterness
of these life moments irrevocably lost
stings like the wooly worms
I stepped on as a child.
“Baby girl, you need to stop worrying.
Dry your tears. It’ll sting like hell today,
but in the morning it’ll feel better.”
If I close my eyes tight enough,
I can still smell her hair, freshly washed,
as she bent down to kiss
my seven year old foot.
In this moment I can taste
the bittersweet mix of
3 Musketeers, Dr. Pepper, pain medication,
and the release of a final labored breath.
In this moment I remember
and I am.
Featured Image: Pixabay – “Heart” by castleguard (CC0 Public Domain)
This is a notion I’ve heard many times before but which didn’t fully realize until I shared the room with individuals from all over the world: Hungary, Croatia, the Netherlands, and Italy. The full gravity of it hit me when a Syrian refugee and educator shared stories of how she would play music for her students to drown out the sound of airplanes and bombs. Carl Sagan says we are all made of stars. Instead of trying to dim them because of their differences, I think it’s time we celebrate the things that make our fellow stars shine.
We all are made of
We all feel
There are a million things that we aren’t.
There are a million and one things that we are.
When we look at comparisons,
holding ourselves up to
or someone we think should be our mirror,
we always look at the one thing that makes us different.
By doing so, we either
negate the other person
because we believe our difference is more important,
or we negate ourselves
because we believe our difference makes us somehow deficient.
we should be looking
at the one thing that makes each of us unique
and celebrating the miracle of improbability
that created it.
It’s all in the connotation of things.
The way we see things in either:
lightness or darkness.
love or hate.
lament or celebration.
We all try to dim
our fellow stars,
but it doesn’t have to be this way.
This post initially appear on Miss Ross’s Blog via my school district.
Featured Image: Pixabay – “Stars” by skeeze (CC0 Public Domain)
I went on a nature walk with my creative writing students a few weeks ago. A week of lazy afternoon suns had warmed up the little bit of winter we received here in Texas, and Spring was vividly pulsing through the air. The Texas mountain laurel had just put on their blooms, and the smell of grape kool-aid made me light-headed as we walked the trail behind our school.
We had begun to study haikus, and it seemed the perfect day to experience the birth that nature gives to writing. After our brief repose, we came back and wrote haikus about things we noticed the world was saying to us. It has been almost a month since then, and our work with haikus has undoubtedly improved. Here are a couple I wrote on that first day:
what are you doing here, sir?
Your flowers sleep still.
Breathing quiet life
like frozen pond lilies do –
Silence calls to me.