Sunday, May 1, 2011

Public Readaround

This week is the public readaround at my writing class.  The first time we had one, I opted out.  My doctor's were fairly convincing that I had thyroid cancer, to the point they were recommending preventatively removing my thyroid gland.  The tumors turned out being benign, so it was OK - at least until I get it re-scanned next month and have to worry again.  I wasn't in the mood to read.  I sent in something and someone read my words for me.  I got no feedback whatsoever, so it was like it never happened.

Last term, my daughter came with me to the public reading.  I invited my mom, who declined just like she has my whole life.  Completely out of the blue, she called back and apologized.  She said her excuse was that she is getting too old to drive at night.  She said she would love to come if I could pick her up and drive her. 

I read the story over the phone, a piece of a story that was based on a visit to my grandmother's house.  But the story was fiction - it wasn't meant to be about her at all.  I wanted to read this piece to honor my grandma.  My mother busted out in tears, sobbing on the other end of the phone.  I told her she couldn't come.  I didn't want to cry because she was crying.  But I cried anyway, remembering how much my words touched my mother and knowing how nervous my teenage daughter was for me.  I cried while I read my story.

This week, I don't want to read.  I have had a terrible time at home the last two weeks.  I have somehow lost my confidence as a writer along the way.  I want to read to not be defeated, but I would rather sit and listen to everyone else.  We only have three minutes, not anywhere near long enough to read a meaningful excerpt of fiction.  That only leaves time for a poem.  But my poems tend to be dark and sad - no chance I can read them without a tear. 

So I wrote a new poem this morning.  I think the first two stanzas are pleasant enough that I won't cry until the end if at all.  I might make it to the end.  My kids approved of the poem.  I think it's good enough for a room half-full of friends, half-full of strangers.  At least it describes how I've been feeling the last few weeks....

If I Could Make a World

If I could make a world
Perfectly just for me –
I would sit outside
In a cool summer breeze
While butterflies hover
Around me and my kids
And creatures we imagine.
We pet a baby Zion –
A zebra-striped lion –
That purrs and coos for us
And never makes me sneeze.

We sit together on soft grass
Under a rainbow tree
With fruit hanging low.
An apple for my baby,
A nectarine for me,
A mango for my daughter,
And a red plum for my son.
We smile and sit together
And eat just what we love
While we breathe in fresh air
And cuddle up like one.

Instead my baby’s crying
With snot beneath his nose.
My teenaged girl is whining
And makes my forehead throb.
My middle son plays quietly
Alone without a hope
Of getting anything from me.
Today there’s nothing left.
I retreat with pen and words
And write a better story than today.
I wage a silent battle every day.

1 comment:

  1. Tonja, we did it! Congratulations! I have an award for you!!