Saturday, December 12, 2009

#193 Bravery . . .

Something so simple
as two boys riding a red wagon
down a hill, all the way down.
the sun shines brightly;
the air fills with their cries.
I think to myself:
This is the meaning of life,
no remembering, no forgetting, only this moment,
and they come down the hill again.

Something so simple
as two men riding a tank
down a hill, all the way down,
the sun shines brightly,
the air fills with their cries,
no remembering, no forgetting,
only this moment,
the objective, the target,
the result
plotted on a map,
and they come down the hill again.

Something so simple
as a man walking down a hospital hall,
thinking of red wagons and tanks,
The sun shines brightly,
the air fills with remembered cries,
no remembering, no forgetting,
only this moment.
He continues down the hall, out the door,
back in the world.
This is the meaning of bravery.

Read more of bravery at Sunday Scribblings, this week's prompt.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Love Story

You came into my life as stragglers
flee a bar, not wanting to hear the clink
of glasses, smoke-filled vulgar
rooms where you sat reading
well past sundown.
You had my number,
with your gifts of apricot,
warmed within, past any sense of solar
burn, the color orange wearing
thin, your lips stretched to park
all the way to California,
and after, in the back seat, sandwiches,
greasy on our mouths, your ears
so tuned to my gray
stories, you so willing to walk
out with me. No felonies,
each step a cadence,
I thought it was another episode.
You thought?

Here's a challenge from Sage Cohen's December Newsletter, Writing the Life Poetic . Her newsletter is not online and is delivered via e-mail, just once a month, well worth reading.

This month, Sage describes a poetic form that began as a game, Bouts-Rime, from the French, meaning "end rhymes". Someone gives you a list of words; these words must appear at the end of each line. The writer cannot even change the spelling or tense. So here's my bouts-rime and here are the words that Sage listed. Try this and post a link in comments, if you like!
1. stragglers 2. clink 3. vulgar 4. reading 5. sundown 6. number 7. apricots 8. solar 9. wearing 10. park 11. California 12. sandwiches 13. ears 14. gray 15. walk 16. felonies 17. cadence 18. inconceivable 19. episodes 20. ?

Thursday, December 03, 2009

#191 Game . . .

The first time I seriously went hunting with my Grandfather, I was twelve. He taught me to shoot a rifle, his old 22, and to carry it, muzzle down. I nearly shot my foot off as I forgot about the safety catch, but I was game, the only girl in the family to go hunting.

He had started me on easy tasks at first, using his hunting knife to gut fish or strip game birds of their feathers. After I was grown and gone, he called me once to come over and help him with a deer. We worked through that hot October afternoon, peeling the hide off that deer, the fleas still jumping. My grandfather's gone now, though he lived to be 100. I could dress out a deer today if I had to. I still know how to use a knife.

When I was a kid, I only saw my grandfather excited once. We were camped in the Siskiyous. Early mornings, we two were the only ones awake, hiking through the trees, our feet crunching on pine needles, our breath coming out in little white puffs.

“Hush,” he said, and we took off as fast as I could walk, following the ridge line. He stopped suddenly and stared at the track in the path, pointing out the soft indentations in the muddy trail, and hand signalling me to follow.

We crested the hill and looked over the lake just in time to see an elk with a tremendous rack enter the water and then swim across the lake to an island. The mist rose above him. He walked up the beach, shook his mighty head, and disappeared into the brush. My grandfather said, “You don't see that often.” I knew he regretted that elk season hadn't opened, but I was glad. The lake was as still as if the elk had never come or gone.

Then the day came when my grandfather decided I needed to shoot the gun for real. We had been car-hunting along some backwoods road that twisted through the wooded hills, getting ready for deer season. He pulled the car over to the side, as close to the dropoff as he could. We looked out on a deep gully, a brushy hill on the other side.

“Think you can hit that?”

I was game. I nodded. I levelled the shotgun as good as I could, and squinted my eye down the sight. I could barely see the rabbit he wanted me to shoot. I took my time, waiting, following the rabbit's slow movements along the hill.

“Nah,” he said. “I don't think you'll do it. You're a girl, just like the rest of them.”

At that, I shot. I felt a thrill of exultation. I had done it. What he said I couldn't do. And then the rabbit started screaming. The shot wasn't a killing shot. The distance had been too long.

We were silent all the way back to camp. I remember everything my grandfather taught me, but I never went hunting again.

This week, Sunday Scribblings asks us to write on "game". This story came immediately to mind. I was raised in a family of women, so my grandfather was pretty important in my life. I still wonder if I could stand up to a hard task if I were needed. I completed a Police Academy training for citizens a few years ago. When we got to the firing range, I held that gun as if I knew every aspect of it and hit a bulls eye. I like to think my grandfather would have been proud of me, though there are no guns in my house and I hope never to use one.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Writing at the end of 2009 . . .

I wonder sometimes why it seems easier to write when I'm on the road, as if I need some separation from "normal" life. Today we landed in Costa Rica for the next three months, found our house, and I'm already looking forward to tomorrow morning. I will start with writing. Or, I should say revising.

Writer's Digest posted a link to this lovely summary of the 43 most inspiring posts for 2009, and so I shall begin reading.

This list of articles made me want to think back to what has been most inspirational for me this year: Allen's cheering and steady support that makes it easy for writing to begin my day, technology that brought me a tiny netbook, only 2.4 pounds, just right for writing on the road, Google, for starting Google-docs that allows me to back up daily work online, my friends who have read early drafts with kindness and helpful comments, including critters from Internet Writing Workshop, and finally, the characters I spend so much time with. They have grown this year, and for that I am deeply grateful.

Maybe 2010 will mark the completion of Standing Stones, as other stories are starting to crowd in as well. I'm not so overwhelmed by revision now, as I was just a year ago, and that feels good. The threads of the story are winding tighter and tighter. And so tomorrow, the writing continues.