I can’t write sonnets so I’ll write a story instead.
Not about anything useful, not anything that will topple governments or stop people throwing garbage out their car windows.
I’ll write about my bike. Not the giant green one I had when I was eight or nine and had to choose between sitting or pedaling, but the yellow one I had after that when I was eleven or twelve, old enough to ride alone across the canal into the countryside to find streams and tadpoles and pretend I was Henry David Thoreau before I even knew who he was.
I’ll write about Mackintosh toffee and sponge toffee and favourite chocolate bars (Crispy Crunch) and cereal (Cheerios) and how I’d prefer corn chips to sweets any day and Bugles on my fingertips, pretending they were nails.
I’ll write about how anything eaten in a tree tastes ten times better than at a table and about the Bundt cake my mother made every Saturday with swirls of Nestlé’s chocolate milk powder mixed into the batter.
And stolen peaches and reading for hours in long cool grass and freedom.
Picnic dinners thrown together on a Tuesday night when my mum came home from working at Towers and my dad came home from the factory. I’ll write about a thin blanket spread on a sandy beach, swimming with dad while mum laid out melmac plates, a bowl of potato salad, a few slices of meat, a thermos of KoolAid, another of coffee.
I’ll write it all for some young child, young enough not to find it too dull, young enough to want to go in search of tadpoles…
If any still exist.
…and I’m at the beach and I see the guy walking there.
And I watch, hoping he’ll walk right past the gulls, disrupting them for a minute so I can get a shot of that feathery disruption.
And he does.
But I’ve been watching him for a while, waiting, and in the watching a story idea has hatched.
So I walk away, along the beach, alone, where I don’t watch anything.
I mutter out loud, unraveling this idea, repeating and layering and repeating the layers.
I make a few notes but mostly walk and mutter until the idea is pretty solid in my mind.
And then I go home and write it all down.
Turns out it’s a good story… that in itself a small miracle.
…sometimes that’s how they come.
I have the title! (for a book of short things I’m working on)
This is the-shirt I had made for someone who recently amused me with the edifying mantra that wordsmatter.
I am nothing if not an excellent listener.
I was writing with a group of women at the shelter recently.
I do this once a month; they call it a workshop, but really we’re just writing together.
I’m always amazed by what gets said on paper by people who aren’t always used to holding a pen.
Amazed also that in the middle of the madness that is currently their life, in the middle of everything they’re going through, have gone through for god knows how long, that they can write with such clarity, such honesty.
They’re surprised when I tell them their words are beautiful.
At first they don’t believe me and then, something happens, the magic of unlocking, of tapping into a part of themselves that so rarely gets out, the magic of being heard… and I can see something change and I know that it’s a tiny thing, but even that is big, because, even for just a while…
…they believe, they know, that something about them is beautiful still.
“I hate the rain, but I love puddles.” ~ (shelter resident)
This couch, these cats, this morning, my handwriting, breath, this page, that light, the sun waiting to rise, the way my mind wanders to pumpkin soup vs puree the moment I congratulate myself on achieving something close to a state of meditation, the backyard, the large hostas that need dividing, a bushel of garlic, fresh string beans, tomatoes in a silver bowl, friends for lunch, the wine last night, the olives and raw milk cheese and crumbs of baguette, the new tradition of running away at xmas (already exciting), the poem about Edmonton, the pillow of peace and a shoelace with feathers tied to either end, the Benjamina and the fern, the ferns outside, the way something smells both sweet and spicy under the honeysuckle arch but I can’t work out what—catmint?, the beautiful green success of the kale and spinach and chicory, the nasturtium leaves (in October!), the way the red dress hangs in the park and the boy who said to his mother after they stopped to read the sign on it: what if we get to 30,000? , that painting of oranges and a vase of yellow flowers, a laundry line, the homemade chairs on our porch, always enough toothpaste, these feet and these hands and the way Laura Smith sings about joy, that open window, these books, this tea, breath—I said breath already, right?
New kid = The Litter I See Project.
A thing I’ve been thinking about for ages.
In support of Frontier College.
It’s a blog of litter-inspired writing for literacy, by Canadian writers.
The opening post ‘Cherry’, is here.
And what it’s all about, Alfie… is here.
Matilda will continue, if a titch more slowly over the summer.
yours in litter and literacy,