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I need to admit this: I have barely written anything for weeks. It happens, these times of creative famine. The famine always ends, sometimes with a sudden abundance of thought and inspiration, so I try not to panic during the famine. This time is no different.

My journal tells the tale. A small poem that I squeezed through my pen over the course of a couple of days, followed by snippets of … well, not much. A few words, two sentences, a random phrase that was probably clever at the time but has by now lost all meaning. None of these are likely to spark any inspiration, but I will dutifully save them just in case.

Turn the page, and you’ll see two sheets of notes about my grandparents’ accident – the date and time, the officer’s name and the report number, phone numbers, claim numbers, the name of the young girl who had drifted into their lane at full speed. They are all thoughts that I captured by tossing them onto the paper. Between the lines is breathed my relief and amazement that everyone walked away from the scene. The words just lie there, a scattered mess that represents the disorganization of my mind.

They were written between and during phone calls and meetings at work, or over dinner preparation and quiet time at home. They are ideas that came to me while medicating my ailing dachshund, while grabbing a granola bar for breakfast, while trying to save a closing that had slid sideways, while preparing for unexpected company. They are jotted down at the end of a weary day in an effort to shut off my mind for a few hours’ sleep before it is time to get up and do it all over again.

To create is to see beauty. I find it in creation, in lovely moments, as I interact with people, or even in tough times.

But lately, I can’t look up from my pages of notes long enough to notice anything beautiful. All I see are these pages and all they represent of my life right now. I know this famine will end. Meanwhile, I’m hungry for inspiration.

Seaside

The rocks
Cool and sharp under my feet
The waves
Splashing up to my knees
The mist
Spraying me all over

The sun
Peeking through the clouds
To shine on all
To shine on
Me

So I stand
Toes gripping wet rock
Wrinkling in the wet
Hair damp and flat
Skin sticky with salt

Deep breath
Peace

 

Seaside

Hey Look! Don’t you see
How well I’m moving on? Oh —
You already have.

This one calls me bright
Smart
Witty
Intelligent.
That one says I’m efficient
A little worker bee.
Another calls me kind
Affectionate
Loving
Compassionate.

Their encouragement makes me soar.

But you say …
I’m dumb
Slack and lazy
Selfish and prideful.

Dozens of people are in my fan club
But yours is the voice I hear
That taps me on the shoulder and says
“You can’t do that. You’ll fail.”

And for some reason,
I choose to believe it.
And I am earthbound.

Should

I should be better by now.
I should be settled
Into my new normal,
A routine that no longer
Includes you.
I should have moved on
At least a little,
Taking steps toward healthy.
I should be beyond
Denial, anger, bargaining
And well on my way
To acceptance.

But in grief
There is no should.
Only is
Or isn’t
Can’t … for now.
There are no deadline or timelines.
No finish line.
One day, there will be
May, will, shall.
Acceptance.
Today, I simply take the next step
And move along as best I can.

Hot summer at the curb
The webbing of the mini lawn chair
Making my sweaty legs itch
A big tub of grape Kool-Aid
Ready to sell
Dixie cups
A giant ladle
And a fly swatter
To keep away those pesky, non-paying customers

We wave to a car that barely slows down
To read our sign
Confidently penned with
Magic marker
From our set of twenty-four vibrant colors
Puffy letters
Each decorated differently
To catch the eye
It really has the opposite effect
Since they are so difficult to read
The sedan drives by
Home
To ice-cold lemonade
And a window air conditioner

We dismiss it
And squint up the street
Waiting hopefully for the next one
Or someone on a bicycle
Or a thirsty jogger
Who may happen to have ten cents handy

But very few
Seem to have time
Or money or desire
For our kool-aid
So we drink the warm, sugary solution
And count and recount our coins
As the afternoon drags on
We talk about our latest crush
Wearing makeup one day
Going swimming
Training bras and Barbie dolls
And all the in-between-age stuff of girls

All the while
Grinning wide
With purple lips

Contents:

While cleaning out my purse
For the first time in months
I find …

A post-it note with a phone number
And a first name
That goes with a face I no longer remember

A paperclip
Good for holding things together
Unless it floats alone

One last cracker
Still in celo wrap
From a pack I opened
While waiting for
Another delayed lunch date

Perfume
A gift for my birthday
(But we won’t discuss my age)
Several years ago
Back when gift-giving was still done

Two ticket stubs
From the last movie we saw together
And discussed until wee hours of morning
We disagreed on the ending
Whether it was right for the characters
How they had grown
And where they were in their lives
Should they have stayed together?
I said no
You said yes
And there was really no in-between

There rarely is
Really
For two who have grown so close.
How do you ungraft a tree
Without cutting it down?

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