I’m thinking about the people I love who are in the Northeast, who are in the middle of winter already, who have been without power, who are well under this new snow. I’m remembering why I left, and I’m nostalgic for the chill of it, the work of living there, how strong I felt, bundling up against the cold, digging out, stirring the coals in the woodstove and blazing it up each morning when I came down into the kitchen — add paper and kindling, then one log, then three, get it really going. Then I’d pour my coffee, settle at the kitchen table, write into the daybreak. No power meant no electric heat or gas, I don’t think, because those were electric-powered. Maybe the gas heaters would work, but we couldn’t use the fan to spread the warmth around (not that the fans worked all that well, anyway). Not living there anymore, I’m left with the romance of my memory, chapped cheeks, sharp and bright red, coming in to work at Stone Soup or Family Crisis, how I was bundled in a plaid barn jacket and boots, hair shorn, smiling at everyone in our shared burden of cold and ice and snow. I forget the deep depression I fell into every winter, the seasonal affect business, how the cold got into my bones and wouldn’t leave, how I felt I couldn’t get warm, not ever. That part I don’t miss, I don’t even let myself remember. I miss the deep dark of rural Maine, and, too, the way the night spread itself bright through the woods when the ground was covered with snow, how I stood at my bedroom window on full-moon nights and the backyard was as light as midday with the reflection back up from the sparkling, ice-coated white.
Be safe over there, friends. Send me some snowflakes.
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Today’s day 1 of NaNoWriMo 2011! You can write that novel — are you joining in?
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Two poem-prompts for this morning, maybe to use to kick off your novel writing practice:
Pericardium by Joanna Klink
Am I not alone, as I thought I was, as I thought The day was, the hour I walked into, morning When I felt night fly from my chest where prospect had Slackened, and close itself off, understanding, as I thought I did, That the ground would resist my legs and not let them Break nor let them be released into air as my heart, in its Muscle, might be released from the body that surrounds it, Like someone who, placing a hand on a shoulder's Blade, felt a life move inside an hour and a day Break from the day the hour meant something more than weakness, More than fear, and flew forward into the depths of Prospect, your arms, where you'd been, before me, waiting For me, the way the body has always been waiting for the heart to sense It is housed, it is needed, it will not be harmed.
and one more, from Kwame Dawes:
Talk by Kwame Dawes
For August Wilson No one quarrels here, no one has learned the yell of discontent—instead, here in Sumter we learn to grow silent, build a stone of resolve, learn to nod, learn to close in the flame of shame and anger in our hearts, learn to petrify it so, and the more we quiet our ire, the heavier the stone; this alchemy of concrete in the vein, the sludge of affront, until even that will calcify and the heart, at last, will stop, unassailable, unmovable, adamant. Find me a man who will stand on a blasted hill and shout, find me a woman who will break into shouts, who will let loose a river of lament, find the howl of the spirit, teach us the tongues of the angry so that our blood, my pulse—our hearts flow with the warm healing of anger. You, August, have carried in your belly every song of affront your characters have spoken, and maybe you waited too long to howl against the night, but each evening on some wooden stage, these men and women, learn to sing songs lost for centuries, learn the healing of talk, the calming of quarrel, the music of contention, and in this cacophonic chorus, we find the ritual of living.
I invite you to read these poems aloud. Think about using one or both of these as your writing prompts for today — grab lines or phrases that stay with you, that spark your imagination, like:
waiting For me, the way the body has always been waiting for the heart to sense It is housed, it is needed, it will not be harmed.
find me a woman who will break into shouts, who will let loose a river of lament, find the howl of the spirit
and begin there. Show me what comes up for you as you read those lines, what voices you hear, what memories arise, what vision or fantasy or story. Follow your writing wherever it seems to want you to go! Take 10 minutes, at least — then give yourself another 10, if you really get in to the writing.
Thank you for the eloquence of your deepest heart-voice, the one that never stops telling the truth. Thank you, always, for your words.