We are far too busy
to be starkly simple in passion.
We will never dream the intense
wet spring lust of the toads.
- from “Toad dreams,” by Marge Piercy
In my dream, I am preparing for a workshop in an unfamiliar space — I’d been planning to move the group to another place, my office or something, but then I woke up from a nap and the group was meant to begin in under an hour, so I had no choice but to set up where I was — and anyway, that’s where the people were coming to; I’d never mentioned to anyway that I might move to another location; how would they know where to find the group if I moved? So I clean up, set up snacks, and put the poems and other handouts down on the writer’s chairs. Then I go downstairs to wait for folks to arrive — down into a warehouse space, filled with boxes. It’s a small group, only four or five people. One man arrives, and he says he’s changed his mind, thanks anyway, but he doesn’t think he’ll be joining the group. Someone else hears him and tags along out of the warehouse back into the night. I wonder if I’ll have enough people to write with, whether I’ll have to cancel the group after all.
The next Write Whole series begins this evening — I’m not surprised that I’m having this sort of anxiety dream. These are the concerns of facilitators: do we have the space set up right? Are folks going to join us? Will what we offer be enough to keep people in the room?
This morning the sky is a clear pastel baby blue and the birds are shouting their morning songs above and around the kids shouting in the playground a block away and the morning traffic rising like rush of tide. The dog fits herself into the splotches of sun on the deck. I put on a jacket over my pajamas and go out to write on the deck. This morning I am thinking about the choices I have made in my life to bring me to this place — a writing place, a life with space in it for percolation, growth, surprise, creative expansion, a life with room to stretch. I don’t have a career per se — no big paycheck, true, but also no big commitments: I have been told that the latter tends to follow the former pretty swiftly. This morning the garden is bright orange and red beneath me, the garden shoes lined up at the back door, the gloves dirty and cobwebbed (that’s how often I use them) hanging over the railing.
On Saturday I wrote with a beautiful group of folks at this month’s Writing the Flood — we gathered with sourdough sweet potato bread for words and sharing and more words. For our first prompt, I offered the poem “Renewal,” by Jeffry Harrison, a poem about the DMV, about driving and freedom, and about connecting with the people around you. Here was my response to the prompt:
I want to give you what I’ve got today. I can’t remember if this happened before or after she kissed me and I’d kissed her back, whether this ride was a part of our courting or the blossoming into desire that we let ourselves into after that, but I remember that it was summer in New Hampshire, so it must have been after. All the car windows were open in her godawful excellent Suburban, that tan and white behemoth she piloted through the streets of our tiny college town like a boat she was navigating through a no-wake zone — once we broke free of the city limits and hit the open back roads, she’d hit the gas like opening the throttle and we were free. The fields were all deep summer corn and queen anne’s lace, the sun that shallow bright, the sky an enormous blue, and I leaned my head out her window like a dog, my long hair flying all around my face.
I wasn’t supposed to be there with the smell of new cut grass and pastureland and musk coating my face. I wasn’t supposed to be with her, to be out of reach of the phone in my tiny single dorm room, be anywhere my stepfather couldn’t reach me. Later, when I went home the following quarter, I would admit to the affair, to my desire, and have it used against me like a knife — but I would tell no one about how we road in that giant truck like we mattered, listening to her worn-out Two Nice Girls tape, me without even my license yet, vibrating with hunger and terror — I can’t remember if I thought it was just a momentary escape from the true webbing of my reality or if I saw a glimmer of what my life could really be like if I could get away from him. But get away from him wasn’t a part of my vocabulary yet then. All car rides ended eventually, and led right back to his front door.