Posts tagged "sensory_detail"
Walking with the Widows

Walking with the Widows

There is a bluebird on the limb of a tree in a yard near a house that is painted fairy-tale yellow. Like a piece of the sky with a rise of dawn on its chest and a fiesta necklace. I’ve walked these streets for twenty-seven years, and I’ve never seen a bluebird. Not here. Then...

Good Noticing: A Whole-Body Strategy

Several years ago, I took a beginning mindfulness class. It was held in a sad room in a hospital: no windows; buzzing fluorescent lights; uncomfortable plastic chairs. But I loved our instructor. She was probably in her late forties, with long russet hair and thick bangs that almost covered her eyes. When she sat in...

Odd Objects: In Praise of the Wunderkammer

No matter how abstract your topic, how intangible,your first step is to find things you can drop on your foot.—John Maguire The world is too big today, so I close my pandemic journal after I’ve made my notes for the day, and head to various mudlarking Twitter accounts, marveling at the clay pipes, Roman pottery,...
When We Say No

When We Say No

1. I’m trying to live inside my body for the first time. If my body were a building, it would have boarded windows, leaky pipes, collapsing beams, poking wires, graffiti. I’ve been hiding at the top, a run-down attic inside my mind. For the first time now, I’m flicking the lights on the rest of...

No Ideas but in (Beautiful) Things

Like so many writers I know, my writing-self grew up on “show, don’t tell,” a maxim that demands sensory details and descriptions, action, scenes, and showing, and cautions against too much summary and backstory, exposition, and telling. Unfortunately for me, the advice show, don’t tell! written in the margins of my early attempts at creative...
Two Septembers

Two Septembers

1. Blink We forgot to drop off the gas bill until 4 am, but that was just an excuse. Really, we drove out because we wanted to be in the storm. The usual thunderstorm things happened: rain blowing in on us, which was a refreshment at first, then a call to close the car windows;...
Numismatic

Numismatic

I was a child once, and had no concern for cash but did, and still do, have a compulsion towards coins. The curve, the jangle, the shine. A coin is kind of magic, how any circle charms the human eye: halo, hollow, sun. We scraped circles on rocks before we could cobble together tools from...
The Cremation

The Cremation

In the cremation chamber, a solid wall blocked us from the furnace. This was new, I heard, as it used to be that the furnace was in plain view. Perhaps the sheer horror of watching a loved one turning into ashes had led to the change. On the wall, a small, low window opened to...
Meanness   

Meanness  

One: I awoke to my mother’s weeping and walked over the jail bars’ shadow the Venetian blinds made on the kitchen floor. Her chest heaved as she smoked across from me at the table, sobbing about doctor’s bills and my father’s lousy job, how we were going to end up in the poorhouse like she...

Capturing the Numinous: Mary Karr’s Sacred Carnality

When I want to pay attention, I make bread. The dough feels like skin against my own, drawing my focus as something to be attended and held. It demands lifting and patting; it asks to be placed on a bed of flour and coaxed it into a loose loaf, shaped and smoothed and weighed in...
Boiled Sugar

Boiled Sugar

Santa Ana, Costa Rica, smells of boiled sugar. Mangoes drop like heavy bells and rot along the streets. The city is fermenting. Brahman cows collect on one corner, eating dirt. Their ribs ripple beneath their skin. I buy coffee and chocolate and cheap earrings at the corner store to take home, tin bells clanging as...
Xenia

Xenia

They brought food on Tuesdays because my mother’s chemotherapy happened on Mondays. Later, when my mother was regularly hospitalized, they rang the bell on Thursdays too. Their hands balanced hot lasagna, cold vegetables, yeasty bread that made bright steam in the dark winter air. They brought pork roast, beef roast, squash, potatoes. They brought their...

What and So What: Loyalties

Childhood offers most of us ample trauma and exuberance and discovery for several lifetimes of writing. Folks say that Gabriel García Márquez told his friend Mario Vargas Llosa, “Everything I have written I knew or I had heard before I was eight years old.” (We will assume that his awareness of sex perhaps showed up...
Dog’s Search for Meaning

Dog’s Search for Meaning

I grab the walker and pull myself out of bed. I rub the six-inch surgery scar on my back and test my feet on the hardwood floors. They work today. The room is too quiet. The dog bed is empty. I walk to the living room and scan the back yard for Sheldon. He is...
Roots

Roots

I’m sorry I couldn’t pull up those roots. The ones twisting under the pine tree that you and Mom planted when the two of you first bought the land and decided to build a house on it. The ones that, on a blurry August afternoon over a decade later, I tugged at desperately, really I...