Today’s guest post comes from Marlene, who gypsies about the great white north, where she rescues abandoned books and grows poems. And I might add, who lives about eighteen hours closer to the North Pole than I; the type that thrives in Longer Colder Winters and Blissfully Sunny Summers amongst pine and moose. Thankyou, Marlene, for allowing me to share this piece; it has ground itself into my gut.
“How Is your grandmother?”
do I know? How
can I answer when I do not think
she has been very how for a long time? How
can I tell you how she stares,
how she stumbles, how she
How can I tell you how
she asks who I am and why I came, then immediately says
she misses my dad?
How I drill her
on her parents’ names, her children’s names?
How can I tell you
how she feels when she never knows
what time of what day of what month of what year it is,
who is at her table,
why I make her wash after going to the bathroom?
How can I tell you how she claps
and sings “Jesus loves me” all wrong?
How can I tell you how
she still plays Scrabble, pieces quilts, sneaks cookies?
How can I tell you how I miss her, how I’m mad at her,
how I mourn her?
How can I tell you how her querulous voice
softens and lifts
when she reads aloud the
Sermon on the Mount?
This is where they say the fun begins. Getting started when you really don’t know what is going to come next. We are always telling our students to write. Free write. Write whatever is on your mind. And your heart and in your soul. Write the color of the sky and the look of the land. Write the taste of water and the texture of yogurt. Write about the room you are sitting in and the acre outside your window. I think it is really cool to see how one can put words on paper and suddenly there are paragraphs borne that have not been before just like this.
Something I’ve noticed again about writing that I wasn’t as aware of before is that it takes a lot of munching to make a good paragraph. Yesterday it was Route 11 Lightly Salted Kettle Cooked Potato Chips. I licked out that bag to the last crumbs last night at 10:30 when I was typing up another assignment about faith and how faith plugs into our writing experiences. And oh yes, I felt a bit, actually very much, like Pooh–suddenly I needed hon- I mean chocolate. Now the chocolate that I pulled out of the cupboard, and yes, we have a Very Important Spot in the cupboard, which right now holds a Dark Chocolate Bar and Peanut Clusters from Sharp Shopper and I think a half bar of Hershey’s Chocolate, the medium-milk for fairer folk, the kind you break into little bars and put on smores. Yes, that. Well the little pink Tupperware container that I pulled out also contained chocolate, the left over crumbled bar of Very Dark Intense Organic Chocolate. A gift from my sister-in-law. It had ridden along in my purse for awhile, was melted and reformed, and you know how chocolate gets when it is very old and worn out, kind of whitish looking and a little bubbly looking. Well that’s the how the crumbs in the little pink container looked, but aha, they were perfect for a nine forty five snack when one is trying to put words about faith and writing on a paper. They sustained this student at the eleventh hour when the fifty-word assignment (which isn’t much, let me tell you) was due in ninety minutes. Between Kettle Cooked crumbs and faded Intense Organic bubbly chocolate nibbles we made it. Its called sustenance at Dark Hour. I hope today when the sun goes behind a cloud, you can find your way to that Very Important Spot and pull out your little pink Tupperware container and find energy for your assignments.