a longer song

graffiti: listen to the universe singThis was the prompt: take a few deep breaths, get quiet, and just listen for a moment. Then choose one of these three (or more than one) fragments/quotes as a starting place for your writing:

  • Change, when it comes, cracks everything open (Dorothy Allison)
  • The rim of the sky is on fire and the flames are rising (Annie G Rogers)
  • It was her/his/their/your idea to…

This was my write to this prompt at Saturday’s Writing the Flood:

Sometimes, the cracking open happens before you know about the change, doesn’t it? How can I fill details into this fabrication? She said, “Are you in danger of hurting yourself?” and I thought, you mean, more than I already have?

How to find a language, a translation, for the long messiness, the way my cluttered house fills with books and plans, the terror of the unscheduled moment. I’m too much at the edge of the sky — how to dive down in? That day was like orchestras blaring — the question is, where did we go when they were in New York?

My hand comes unnumb as the Lidocaine loosens its grip — I needed more than one numbing, like at the dentist, give me 2 shots, no, 3, don’t let it happen again, when the Novocaine wore off during the drilling and the bald dentist had his warm hands in my mouth and I can feel the plasticky leather of the long chair beneath me and see the dark-haired boy-apprentice dentist assisting the hairless man who says, “We’re almost done here — it’ll just be a minute” and he keeps on drilling into my unnumb tooth and nerves.

And so today they washed and swabbed the cut that happened when the broken jar dug glass into my hand, but that was only after she pushed the needle into the skin around the wound to feed the numbing agent in and after a second she pricked around the site with the needle point — Does that hurt? — and I jumped at the pressure, I didn’t look, I said, Yes yes yes. I don’t want to feel it. Maybe that’s a longer song, isn’t it? Haven’t we been working not to feel it for awhile now? How to know what it’s all right not to feel?

The Marin suburb emergency room was super calm, so quiet you could hear the muzak, and we watched the family who brought the grandma in for testing — the woman said to her father, If she gets out of here, she’s gonna need 24-hour care. The man’s doughy face pressed itself into a line and he raised his eyebrows. A totally-fine-looking young man went back before us. They took his blood pressure and then we watched him take off his shirt and put on a gown; I guess there wasn’t a door or a curtain to pull closed.

I sat acting quiet and calm, acting familiar and cohesive, I lay on the bed where they put me later, I watched the hand on the clock push its dark way around, I squeezed my husband’s hand, I was 7 or 9 and without my mother in a hospital emergency room. They brought me the bill before they brought me the stitches, then splinted what was left of our morning.

Thank you for your questions, the space you make for unfamiliar answers. Thank you for your words.

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