Saturday, May 7, 2016


Nope, not that kind.

Nope, not this kind either  ...
it's an exercise I undertook last night
during a wonderful writers workshop
at a nearby conference center;
led by folk singer/songwriter, poet,
Indiana born Quaker and
"prairie mystic",
Carrie Newcomer
A woman with a soulful voice and a spirit that sees the sacred in the ordinary .

Maybe some of you heard her being interviewed by Krista Tippet
for her NPR series, On Being.
If not, go listen now!

I'm late to the party of becoming familiar with her talents,
but it won't take me long to catch up!
I'm a fan,
eager to hear her again at a concert tonight.

I'm sure the purchase of CD's will be involved.

Anyway, at this workshop
we started out by writing a short observation,
a description of something we'd seen during the week
that had stayed with us.

The room descended into near silence,
the only sound was of pens traveling across paper.

Minutes later, as others around the room shared their sentences,
I knew my 'inner ER' was showing and I'd need to tuck it back in!

While men and women bravely shared their descriptions of
peonies with the centers held tightly in bud or
red-winged hawks and the grooved pits of peaches,
my descriptor
"Purple, white and red loops marks on chocolate colored skin 
creating maps in bas relief 
with highways of pain 
all leading to despair
and no relief at all."
beat a hasty retreat to the primordial ooze from whence it came.

Our next exercise was 'diving';
the practice of using a 'prompt' and then writing longhand without stopping
until given a signal from the leader;
not letting our inner critic judge, exhort or even speak,
just writing and letting it flow.

Here's what followed.
The prompt:

because i couldn't believe that she'd kept it at all. a black, mini tray, no bigger than a large index card, painted with blue and pink flowers, with a crooked pink zigzag border; made at the 'sleep away camp' to which i was exiled each summer for 6 weeks. i was 9 when i made it. a token, an offering that i gave her on Parents Day midway through - a bribe so she'd remember to come back and pick me up again after the last interminable 3 weeks; an unspoken plea so as not to be forgotten. i found it after her death, wrapped in a silk slip in her 'unmentionables' drawer. it traveled from her house in new jersey to missouri, from assisted living to skilled nursing care; a companion on her journey through dementia, declining vocabulary and awareness and total physical and mental deterioration. did she even know what it was and who had made it for her? why had she kept it all those years? what memories and feelings did it evoke for her? i found no childhood tchotchke from either my sister or my brother; had they not made them? was their faith in her love that secure? few objects from the past accompanied her on the road through old age - she proudly proclaimed to all in hearing that she wasn't a sentimentalist. my suspicion and ongoing curiosity about this object and its

several minutes had passed when we were interrupted by another prompt:

i hope she kept it because she knew i loved her -  even when her brokenness and mine formed mountains we weren't strong enough, or courageous enough, to scale. i hope she kept it because she knew i poured all of my love into a shitty piece of metal covered with craft paint, putting my inadequacies on display along with a total lack of artistic ability; i hope she kept it knowing it stood for all my fears while in exile and that i wasn't as afraid of losing her love as of never having had it in the first place.  i hope she kept it because of the love it contained and not because she was haunted by the accusation and the anger that was painted there too. i remember the pain and longing in every brush stroke. i hope she knows - now that she's safely on the other side - that i put down the 'blaming' brush several years ago.
i hope she knows i'm sorry i never told her i loved her  -
and felt like i meant it.
 I was crying and gasping for breath when I came back to the surface;
who knew writers got the bends?
 who knew you could be both spent and energized at the same time?

Who knew Mothers Day is still a trigger for me?

I learned a lot at the writers workshop last night.

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