Yesterday was the last meeting of the Art for Recovery Healing through Writing workshop for this spring session. One of the prompts I offered was a list of quotes from Alice Walker’s, “In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens”:
- Only justice can stop a curse
- Creation often needs two hearts
- Our best poets write poetry full of holes
- I am so tired of waiting […] for the world to become good
This was my response:
This is from the Art for Recovery/Healing through Writing workshop last Thursday — the prompt was a poem from Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, (“Words For It”), and then we started with the phrases, “I wish I could take language and…” or “This is what I want my stories to do…”
This is what I want my stories to do: I want the stories to do the work for me, I want them to go back in time and change what happened, I want us to be able to breathe again.
What I want is for my stories to open me to you — I want you to see what I hide. I want you to look under the metaphors and sentences for the scraps and facts of me. I want you to see what’s left of my childhood behind that poem. I want you to welcome my badness with open arms, the way you welcome the sing-song of my lines.
(One of our prompts at the Art for Recovery writing group last week was this: “you wake one morning and you are expecting…” (from “The Crows,” Evelyn Fitzpatrick)
You wake one morning and you are expecting to believe again, to fall into the foreshadowing that the dreams brought into you, or you into. You remember the doves, the way they carried you, and the pelican’s dipping heads, feeding under your feet, and how you walked over the water til you got to the other side of the lake, and to nearly dry land, where you sat back and cried because you were exhausted, desiring, and hadn’t noticed your ability to talk on water while you were doing it, you just needed to get somewhere, and now that you’re there, you know with out trying that the capacity has left your feet.
You poke one toe at the water and it sinks beneath the surface. Minnows startle away like dreams, like longings, like small children—you remember, after waking, the streaks of water down your cheeks and, too, how the surface of the lake undulated with a presence beneath your soles, like no surface you’d ever before encountered but it felt so normal all the wile you were crossing the lake what had you needed to get to? Why couldn’t you pay attention?
(This was the prompt…)
“What would you tell young friends who are afraid?” what I want to say is that the night sweats happen and then they are gone, the same nightmare appears for years and then its terrifying physics and grammar begin to transform around the dreaming you: suddenly you can pseak, you can move, you can run, you can say, now, No when before the word could only push from your lips into a screaming wait that woke you and your lover at midnight.
You see from those dreamtime changes that you are healing, your seams are coming together and it’s a slow, it’s an interminable process it will seem like it’s never ending and it ought to. Feel every minute of it, let the loss and terror burn through and be done with you. Someday it will be done with you, because you stayed with It, because you were not thrown by the fire and rage that you yourself contain.
(My own response to a prompt I gave at the Art for Recovery writing workshop a couple of weeks ago — read the Hafiz poem Now is the time):
Now is the time for you to step back into that voice that you thought was forgotten, the voice that was left by the bedside, the missing night table, the history book, that was tucked into the upper corners of old rooms, long since painted over, a mouth wide open and unspeaking. Now is the time for this one loss, this one untenable thing, to unthread through: What if history got named something else besides seeking for revenge or – what’s the word? repercussions, retribution, or, yes, revenge?
What if this one loss weren’t anything but a life, what if that which was stolen becomes the anxious frame I built a life upon what if all the survival is the fragmented foundation what if history meant more than terror and emptiness, I mean what if a life is made up of more than what wasn’t there once upon a time. Now is the time for pleasure to be in history’s creeks and cracks, for memory to flood into the center of loss, for the green cicada throbbing to flesh out the night, the barren mornings.