Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Winter Writing

Words! Words have come back to me, marching foreword, onward, with a mission! Determinedly. Demandingly. Commanding my attention. It's as if the tiny slice of time that I have between now and next semester has opened up a flood gate I've been thirsting after for years. All at once. Here and now.

Is it because she has been there, pounding at the door, herself? Calling out to the muse, wringing it out of her, preciously, painstakingly?

I notice that a part of me has grown up. I want to read everything I can get my eyes on. I want to study the craft from the crafters themselves. I want to listen. I want to consider. I never had this desire before. I only wanted to talk. I only wanted to chatter, compose, create, communicate. The one-way street has become the two-way.

I read Didion's latest book and skipped over the recommended Magical Thinking predecessor. I haven't the gumption for weak endings. Blue Nights is no weak ending. I could see it rising somewhere in the middle, about half way through. What I thought it was about, what I'd been told it was about, was not at all what it was about. It's an existential think-piece. She's asking, and yet not quite asking, the proverbial question that's been asked again and again since the beginning. It's about our own personal relationship with impermanence, change.... Death. Our death. Mine. Yours. The elusive way in which we deny it, cover our eyes, stick our heads in the sand. But the covers we erect over this disturbing truth, the reality of our lives, eventually dissolves. We are left with only the simple, plain fact -- and the task of acceptance.

There's something about Didion's writing -- her voice, her style -- that strikes a deep cord of familiarity. As I read her words it's as if I can hear my Grandmother's voice reading to me. It's as if she, not Didion, had written this memoire. I felt suddenly close to her again, admiring her matter-of-factness, her tactful grammer, her flawless poise. Images of Gramma walking away from me, when she didn't know I was watching, her shoulders perfectly rolled back, her spine straight, her gait sensual and sexy (even at 70!), flash across my memory. Her elegance ever striking. It could take your breath away.

I find myself wanting to invent this word: Deloquarious. I don't even know what it would mean, but it would somehow describe this writer's voice.


Poetic preludes keep entering my thoughts. I take a drive down our street to Jessica's house. I pass the converted funeral home with a lawn full of black birds. Hundreds of them. Pecking away at the ground. I look out the window smiling excitedly and let out a "HA!" alone in my car. Imagening them as my audience I throw out a few playful words. "The black birds taking in their winter feast. Winter starlings feasting. Winter birds feasting on the prize of Autumn's left overs." Reinventing lines. Turning them over. Examining their edges. Rotating them through the kaleidoscope of my mind. 

The day got away from me before it even began. It's been the oddest time sheet on record. I woke and did yoga. Rita called and we spoke. It was suddenly five o'clock, so we had dinner. Hadn't I only just awoken?

I think of Didion's book again, and fear I'm marching blindly towards my own death, letting minutes and moments I'll never have again leap off my page and take a nose-dive into the past.

Am I awake?

I lower into plank pose. I slither into snake pose. I bend and fold and push into downward dog. I inhale the foot forward and move to bring the body back into standing and it all takes a heavier sigh than I have ever known. The entire body -- my entire body -- felt in that split second, radically old. I've never felt that before. The tightening. The slowing down. The creak and crack and crumble of my bones, with nothing springy between them restless to move again.

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