Thursday, November 28, 2013

Newsprint and coffee and marble-soft clouds

Happy Thanksgiving, fair blog readers! I've been meaning to post this for a week or so, just haven't had the time/memory... But now, as I wait for the house to wake up and Thanksgiving with the family to commence, here's a bit of free-flow that's come to me in the last couple weeks. Just to prove that when I'm not blogging, it doesn't always mean I'm not writing...

- - - -

The marble-soft clouds spread thin and flat like whipped froth on water's surface, and deep below, deep down through miles of clearwater sky, turbulent hills are branded with geometries of highways and farm plots, white-sharp curves of rivers and lonely clusters of small cities. From up here the world is bigger, and smaller--more manageable, less weighty. From this narrow seat, my neck and shoulder at odd angles in order to press forehead to throbbing window, it is imaginable that life could be similarly carved and sectioned into autumnally technicolor forest, mercurial lakes, paint-by-number pastures. In the thrum of jet engines that is its own kind of silence, everything falls into perfect order, nothing is remaindered. 

But a second look, and the froth is all there is to see: squint-requisite whiteness marked occasionally in winter reliefs, and then the hard cut of horizon, even up here: water and air, but more muddled than sea and sky. And this is the life I know: impossible to fathom or arrange, unknowable, a cover for something deeper. I peer harder and harder into the white, longing for the happy geometries of the ocean floor world I know but cannot prove. The white is solid still--still like marble, firm enough to send sun glares back at me. But in minutes, we will fall, we will take a breath and break the little surface tension, feel the weight of water as life surrounds us again in all it's unfathomables and depths, and what were drawings will return to structures, enclosures surrounding and owning us down in the bottom of the sea.

- - - - 

Listening to a pair of our authors talk about mentor texts--children's book language that plays in deep verbs and hyphenated adjectives--I wonder when it was that I ended the affair.

I remember, still, sitting at the boxy Mac--my mother asleep upstairs, the instant coffee in the tan mug with the apple, the strange silence of midnight burning in my ears. There was work to do--a paper, a report, I don't remember. But I couldn't. A grip to write--not facts and regurgitated opinions but words and sounds that were all mine--had closed over my wrists as sure as rope, and I felt suddenly accompanied by myriad predecessors: mustachioed men and unstylish women who knew what it was to sacrifice small things and big--sleep, jobs, lovers--in the irregular affair we hold with words.

Because that's what it is: a back-and-forth love affair. A hot-and-cold, bruise-your-heart, cry-and-scream-and-go-for-weeks-not-speaking affair with a thesaurus and an empty page. And here I am, years later, the one who got away. The novels I planned to publish remain unfinished, a waiting cursor blinking expectedly, and forgotten. The very definition of my teenage, my college-age self utterly abandoned in the name of those small things and big, and I don't know if the exchange was a worthy one.

Because this old love still so easily circles and swirls into me--I can stand on the bluff, but without trying at all the water can spin around ankles and sink me into sand smiling, grateful, home. I am never, have never been out of love--but like an over-selfish lover, I insist on what my life fails to prove. I assure my old love, my ageless love, not to read into my silence, my too-many-left-blank pages. And like a lover unmatched on earth, she welcomes me back. No where-have-you-been, no if-this-is-going-to-work, no that's-what-you-said-last-time. Just the sound of a page turning, offering the possibility of new. The smell of newsprint and instant coffee. The burning of midnight silence. A waiting cursor.

- - - - -


  1. You must be a real use a thesaurus! Even this English teacher doesn't have one at her beck and call. Tsk tsk. I relate to all of the above, and I especialy love the last paragraph. Thank goodness that the ability to write doesn't really have an expiration date.

  2. Haha, well, I use, anyway... I used to have a thesaurus, but I think I ditched it before my last move, which still makes me a little sad. Confession: I am nerd enough to just sit and read it sometimes. But that doesn't make me a real writer, just a loser with no life. :P