Wednesday, October 26, 2011


This poem in progress was provoked by a writing prompt by Nancy Takacs at the Cliff Notes Writing Conference.


My right hand smells of basil
from sitting on my heels in the garden
picking flower heads from leafy shoots.
Someone told me to do this so the plant energy
could focus on growing more scented green leaves.
The smell is heavy on my fingertips.
I should be able to taste it
but there is only a flavor of dirt,
slightly salted and August sun.

My left hand smells like the dog
I have shooed through the garden gate twice.
She waits until my head bows,
my squat so close to the ground,
she thinks I am hers. She tastes my left hand
which must be warm whipping cream on her tongue.
My grandson wanders through this garden,
squatting his own few inches from the dirt
while he breaks pea shells to release round bb’s of green
to his tongue while his words circle peas.

My hands disappear into those of my grandmother,
her same age spots and wrinkles as they pushed deep
into raised white bread dough, heels of her hands
pressured into the table. Flour-dusted fingertips
glide across smooth loaves, like her hands
on my six year old calves as she helped me
pull on white cotton socks, folding back the lace edges
around my ankles. I reach out my hand to hers,
wanting my fingers protected inside the soft apricot of her fingers
so neither of us is afraid; her fearing my return
to a city she does not know, only a mother to protect me.
Me, afraid my father, her son, might not need me now.

I stand, the smell of basil everywhere in the garden now.
My grandson digs trenches next to pea plants.
I wave the hand that looks like my grandma’s at my grandson,
place her fingers on my lips and blow him a kiss.
Wait for him to come to the gate
where I will hold his hand deep in my palm
before releasing him to a city I chose to leave,
his mother finding the dad there to complete his family.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

I'm Back

You may have noticed that I quit blogging last spring. I thought I was punishing one of the two people that I know read my blog. I actually thought they were the only two reading my blog and I was sure this blogging was taking time away from my actual, real writing. An amazing thing happened in my non-blogging fit throwing, I didn’t write anymore than while I was blogging in fact I probably wrote less and I also had two other people ask me why I wasn’t blogging anymore so there were actually four people out there with enough time in their day to check into my blog on occasion. Of course my usual pleaser personality kicked in immediately and I felt that I had in some way disappointed them. So I’m back, at least for today. I’m hoping I can provide a moment of entertainment or escape for my four fans and that I don’t piss them off too much with what I choose to write. I’m also hoping this act of writing will spill over into the rest of my life. Winter is coming and I’m feeling very compelled to use this winter of my quiet solitude to write something meaningful or at least write enough so it is easier to call me a writer than to call my husband a writer who faithful writes in his journal every day. I should at least try to accomplish an act of writing daily and see what happens.

I was incredibly inspired in the creative generally and the written word specifically at our recent Cliff Notes Writing Conference held each fall here in Boulder. It does something to the soul to just hang around creative people for days. It causes my brain to act in ways I’m not able to direct on my own very well. I begin to see the world from my right brain and feel very compelled to put what I’m observing down and see if the words can in any way match the observation. I wander through my day seeing everything as a writing assignment because there have been so many great ones shared during the conference. So what did I gain from this conference?
1. A writing prompt can be an excellent tool to get the writing going when the left side of my brain is resisting and suggests that I write a grant, clean the house, do something more productive than writing words that will mostly be crap.
2. One of the most important things I learned from Craig Child is I always have time. He gave prompts and then gave us 5 minutes or 2 minutes or 10 minutes. Surely I can find that kind of time in my busy retired life. In fact it seemed that I got to the heart of the writing better with this kind of time limit. Where was this message when I had kids, I could have gotten a lot of writing done with that kind of schedule.
3. I also loved his beautiful journals. I need to figure out how to have journals serve me. I did steal from his journal. I hope I find a good place for the words taken while he was busy teaching.
4. The reading of the written word is incredibly beautiful especially when it is rich in observation and authentic voice. That would include all those who read at the workshop. We need to keep reading our work outloud to one another.
5. I was reminded that I may have some ability to write. Thanks to Dave for proofing my poem and providing feedback which reminded that I can write and maybe someone will notice. From this experience, I am committing to sending a few pieces out this winter and see what happens because of his words and suggestions.
6. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the photography. I had recently had a discussion with my sister about this creative avenue as well as my pottery. I wondered if photography and pottery were truly creative enough because there isn’t as much wild abandon in these forms of creativity. They seem to just happen, the photo is what you pointed at, the pot is what the clay becomes before I really screw it up. But this workshop helped me to understand that photography is internal and external. How we choose to frame the scene in front of us is the internal creative just as the pot becomes more and more internal with each step of the process.
7. I especially learned a lot about drawing and our landscape at the workshop we set up for the elementary students. I’m ready to try out some of the skills they learned that day in capturing my own landscape.

I recently read Soulcraft by Bill Plotkin, a book I discovered in such an unusual way and then found I had actually met Bill, I just didn’t realize it was this Bill. After reading this book, the search through the creative process to determine the soul seems so much more important. I have even dabbled in sketching and painting since reading the book. I think I always believed I was not very artistic but maybe I have just been a bit afraid of venturing into the realm of my own creativity. I’m probably still afraid but it is time to journey to my own creative. I am dedicating my winter to this journey. It will be interesting to see where it leads me. I’ll keep the four of you posted.