Delia was the first one to arrive, anxious to be on time. She picked the chair at the top of the table, directly across from where the prof always sat. She had to get a chance to ask her question. Lucy and Mark and the others came in. One after the other. Rushed.
My dog threw up this morning. Oh, I love dogs. My boyfriend wants to get one from the Humane Society. Yeah, I am taking my boyfriend to a wedding; I am the bridesmaid again, spending too much on the third new dress this spring. You have too many friends. Looking after a pet takes so much time.
The prof walked in a minute to ten. Good morning. How is everyone? Give me a moment, and we will get started. Alright …
The chatter had quieted. Delia was waiting for the prof to look at the group. Then she said – just a little too loud – I have a question about the assignment you gave us. Lucy closed her eyes. Mark sent Delia a smile. The prof laughed warmly and leaned forward, looking straight at her.
No, I don’t do that. There are no trick questions. No trap door. I am interested in what you know, not in what we all don’t know. Just do your best. There is nothing to worry about.
Students nodded with each sentence. A short laughter from Delia, her voice relaxed. But don’t you know: worry is my middle name. The prof laughed again. Lucy opened her eyes and looked at Delia. You know he is not like that; he is just. A mensch.
That’s when the small group picked up the discussion on linguistic minorities from last week.
This took a while. Text 9 from my 52-week writing course. It looks like I will take more than a year for the 52 weeks. The prompt this time: how others see you. If you’d ask me what the genre of this text is, I’d tell you it’s a shortest story. Shorter than a short story.
God exists in good faith while all live a second of serenity.
I wrote this American Sentence in reply to ben Alexander’s American Sentence on the Skeptic’s Kaddish. His sentence was:
Jews wouldn’t exist without faith, regardless of whether God exists.
Just in case, he also explains what an American Sentence is.
Home is where the heart is. I was editing a chapter in a book on migration and acculturation, and the Transylvanian author said so. I scratched the back of my ear and thought, is the heart where home is?
Home addresses I had too many to count. When I learned to count, I also learned to spell. The return address on an envelop. Ponnsdorfer Weg 15, 7980 Finsterwalde. The word Germany I learned much later. It was the only house I knew, until I wanted to leave to see this globe. I shared barren rooms with young men, neatly shaven, hairs trimmed, and in a grey uniform. Home addresses changed in those years and had cryptic numbers. I was discharged and began to learn. My home station was a shared dorm room with bunkbeds. We debated and changed the world in our minds and only snored exhausted after midnight. One dorm room for four was special and surely not home. It was Russia. Kutuzov was in town briefly and plotted Napoleon’s demise in a winter almost two centuries before. I could still feel the continued cries of Mother Homeland, listening from my bed to the cacophony of church bells next door. And the learning continued. The rooms changed. Into apartments that I shared. With a fellow migrant I went to England. The apartments changed. The learning continued. I changed apartments. All had a bed and none was home. Until I bought a repossessed semi in Chorlton-cum-Hardy. We made it our home with sanding and sweat, with plumbing and paint. After I covered my study in dove grey, my son was born. For this room to be his first home, I changed its walls to morning light yellow. And then we crossed the Atlantic to Ontario’s southwest for a new house. At the corner of Marshall and Montclair, it was in the center of my Canadian garden. The trees I planted, the roses I kept were my safe space. My home from home. I left them behind to search to settle and found a century house in one of the many Cambridges of this world. Gothic Revival – the architecture of my house and life then. Moved on. Gone west again. West coast. San Diego. Million dollar houses. Sold too soon.
Objectively, home is an object. Of what? Subjectively, home is where the heart is. And the heart is my center …
This is prompt 8 – Objects – from a 52-week online writing course, with a prompt each week. Week 8 came and went almost 8 weeks ago. And I have written about the first 6 prompts. I am committed to re-alingning the number of prompted texts and prompt weeks. 45 to go …
do I wish I could draw
that is burning
into my mind
a beautiful bulwark
shaped shaved crushed
I am still
The writing prompt was a photograph by Ansel Adams from the book “The Georgia O’Keefe Museum.” Georgia O’Keefe sketching …
Spring cleaning today
Clean as spring
Spring as clean
Lean his song
Ring has rung
Rust my ring
Mean thy lean
Ring in on
Spring has sprung
Sensitivity to initial conditions. It was that kind of day. I was in that kind of thought. And the writing prompt was spring cleaning. This is how I played with it. The Troubled trickster, I wrote in the same workshop.
may bridge the stream and swamp —
Forsaken, forbearing, and fortuitous —
Eventually on transit seven or six
Near the land strewn with rocks.
Yearning for silver not sand, I’m
Alluding to all four letters
spelling them with my digits:
twelve fifteen twenty-two five
make it count
This poem, I wrote a few years ago and have polished it a little recently, in my writing group.
In case you are wondering … Yes, she did make it count. Then, we stumbled in the land with rocks. The Troubled trickster marked the end of my stumbling.
If you have the time and energy to read more of these texts you find them in blog order on this website. Let me know what you associate with them, what you like, what you dislike, …
then I thought I stand to steer
on the backseat watching out for her
playing thimblerig with my marbles
whirling wayward off my cozy cushion
lying in her desolate sedan
on roads running close sinking in
potholes bumping in bends bare
trees too swiftly swished away
troubling tricks jolt my ejection
seat unseeded in the race restless
moves on no avail ability now
the motor stalls still in the dead-end
The prompt in my April creative-writing workshop was, you guessed it, trickster. The organizer of the writing workshops here in San Diego has contributed two poems to this blog: Ashen grey and The flower of thought.
Some texts reflect points in my life. The Troubled trickster and Only words mark points on the same nonlinear trajectory.