February 26, 2012

The Geography of Sentences

Two years ago I reread one of my favorite books, Love Medicine by Minnesota writer Louise Erdrich, and shortly thereafter began writing the essay that would become my MFA graduate lecture. I called it "The Geography of Sentences." I examined word-nerdy terms like syntax. I referred to the psychological ways we react to beautiful phrases and why. And I ended up with a dozen pages that meant something meaningful to me.

I've read The Writer's Chronicle for as long as I've been a serious student of writing, so it is an immense honor to open up its March/April issue and find my essay there. Feeling a bit out of my league, to tell the truth. But happy, too. And reflective. There are so many paths we can take, and today I'm just grateful that mine has led me here.

February 2, 2012

The Winter It Didn't Snow

The winter it didn't snow,
I lost two pairs of slippers.
I stood in steaming showers.
I left the blinds broke-open after dark.

The winter it didn't snow,
I peeled and crunched on carrots.
I trailed a hawk out hunting.
I practiced yoga, cat and cowed, pigeon-toed.

The winter it didn't snow,
I met the sunrise, sunset.
I listened to those engines.
I tended potted plants with faith and fuss. 

The winter it didn't snow,
I scribbled a.m. hope notes.
I remembered California.
I found myself entranced again with techno.

The winter it didn't snow,
I held my love like hunger.
I warmed my feet along him.
I dreamt of us as children, us as grey.

The winter it didn’t snow,
I touched the fine lines forming.
I finally took my vitamins.
I tried to hush my mind, to let it slow.

The winter it didn't snow,
I wanted truth. But vastness.
I wanted peace. But Future.
I sought simplicity, the cool white sky.

The winter it didn't snow,
I waited for that foot fall.
I waited for that banner.
But as each month passed on, it whispered, No.

So, the winter it didn't snow,
I curled my breath each morning.
I studied frost like scripture.
I waved, Hello Moon, my dear shy friend.

The winter it didn't snow,
I made promises on car rides.
I laughed into my muscle aches.
I failed. I cried out. And I tried again.