take up each old need

graffiti of heart and flower and moreHere is the workshop write that I said (last week) that I’d share —

remember, the prompt was: “What would you do differently if you knew you only had the rest of your life to live?” (from “Mortality,” Marcia Davis-Cannon).

Did you write in response to this prompt?

How was that writing for you? You’re always welcome to share your writes here, in the comments section —

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This was my write in response:

You would dance. You would stop crying, hang the long sorrow up on the bathroom hook to dry, tremors still shaking its rough surface, you would walk away and lea e it lonely and damp, surrendered to its impotence.

You would walk out into sunlight, let fingernail scratches of heat bear deep into old wounds, into hardened muscles, greening something aged, something hiding and wizened, something grown grey with too much fear that lives deep inside the broad-branched muscles of your shoulderblades — it’s been lost for too many years, this old angry place, and just wants to breathe again, needs this photosynthesis; we are plants, after all.

If you only had the rest of this life to live, you would feed all the oldest hungers, the ones long locked away, the places in you that have held their mouths open for generations, all those dusty, pink-tongued, bitter-skinned children, the ones who didn’t show their faces, who you hid away, the ones who knew about lying and swallowing bile and crawling through the dirt and spiderwebs beneath the porch just to find some privacy and magic. If just the rest of this life is left, then why not pry up each of those dug in bodies–the one who wants to taste the smell of salt spray on an empty beach in Baja; the one who wants to taste the work involved to learn how to be really quiet inside; the one who wants to taste the love that might come if you throw off your armor and stand naked and fully violable, utterly protected and free, there in the middle of Mission St. on a Tuesday morning–why wouldn’t you take up each old need, gentle its dirty mouth open with your two long fingers and give in? Feed it. Feed yourself.

Why wouldn’t you turn up the music, turn down the volume on what doesn’t feed you, even if it’s what the parents and boyfriend and girlfriend and boss say is the absolute most important thing? If there is just this life in which to live it, why wouldn’t you put the dream, the hard rumor of passion, at center stage, right up front in the floodlights — the true dream that the six-year-old in you has been holding up high in her two hands for thirty-two years. Take that one.  Her arms are tired now, her muscles aching, her earnest, hopeful eyes tearing, purposeful — yes, this is maudlin, but you know what’s in her hands, what she wanted for this life, and you haven’t let her have it yet. Not all of it. Not that. So take it in your bigger hands and then wrap your palm over five of her fingers and let her drop her arms.

Don’t say anything. Don’t make any promises. She knows about words. Just take action, while she sleeps. Surprise her, this time, by doing what you said you would, to make her best dream ever, your best dream, come true.

(Thanks thanks — more soon!)

2 responses to “take up each old need

  1. Thank *you* for your presence and comments, Sarah — you’re doing amazing work!

  2. I am sitting here at my desk, trying very hard to not cry, and failing miserably.

    Thanks for this. I love that poem.