I have a short poem that came out at Dwelling Literary today. Pots of Hope is a feature in the GREENHOUSE Issue. It can be read on page 22 of the downloadable version.
I enjoy Dwellig Literary for their interactive monthly publications. If you visit their home page on a computer the green house is a clickable fun place to read poetry and flash fiction on the theme of GREENHOUSE, this month. Next month Dwelling will be redecorated for a new theme, but the GREENHOUSE Issue will still be available to read via the archive.
Writing for themes is something I have been enjoying the last few months. Thanks for reading!
We often overlook the power of quiet in our world. For many creatives, finding that quiet space can be difficult.
What do you do when the quiet finds you, and won’t leave?
We have been subjected to isolation few have known before. For some, this has created safe spaces to create, even given us a boost. We have taken stock and finish projects. It’s been thrilling!
But, It’s been over a year. How do you keep your creativity thriving when you can’t watch the hustle and bustle of everyday life from your favorite coffee shop window, when trips that feed your inspiration are discouraged? What do you do when it’s been weeks since your last conversation with another adult, and all you hear in your own brain is baby talk and cartoon theme songs? Or even just silence, and the silence is weighting on you, crushing your creativity.
It’s time to remember your ‘why’. What do I mean by that?
Every person engaging in their creativity has a why, an underlying reason they create. What’s yours?
For me, it’s not a choice. I must write or I get sick. It’s how my brain puts pieces together and manages stress. It’s how I entertain and am entertained. I dream, think, and live in a world of words. My why?
I write to understand myself and the word.
What is your why?
Whatever form your creativity takes, revisit your why. After you hold it in my mind and heart again, ask yourself, is it still enough? Has it changed this past year? Should it change?
I can’t answer those questions for you. I will trust you can find the answers. After you remember your why, it’s time to practice.
Practice? Yes, practice.
Sometimes creatives believe the lie that, “We always need to have a project going.” That is not true.
When you are tired, lonely, depressed, give your brain and heart a rest. Revisit things you know best like the beginning strokes of a painting, the simple forms of poetry you played with as a child.
Hop, mop, clop!
Let your brain wonder through small things.
What does your coffee smell like?
Is there a word to describe the wind chimes outside on the back porch?
If your art is more physical, return to the exercises your body knows. Muscle memory is powerful.
Pick up your guitar and play Mary Had A little lamb. Let your fingers roam over the strings, finding the notes your heart loves best, a favorite song. Just sing.
Then take a brake.
Put it down, walk away, play with the kids. Phone Mom! Send your girlfriend a hand-written letter. Let creativity grow. Once you start something, it will call to you. Your heart and mind will tell you when to engage with creativity.
Do you hear her calling you?
When you do, it’s then that your heart is ready to learn from her again. This road of creativity in loneliness is difficult. But if you feed that flame inside, it won’t die. Be kind to yourself.
I used to choose a seat closest to the doors, in the single cubbies to either side of the true passenger compartments.
“Why do you sit here all alone? It’s dangerous for a single girl.”
I had never thought of it as dangerous before the question. I enjoyed the nods and light conversation with strangers. Many of them dressed roughly, carrying bikes, or oversized backpacks.
I remember one early morning two backpacking couples joined me in the cramped space. The men sat on the ground closest to the sliding doors. I moved my backpack to make room for the two women, tired and clearly already stressed. They didn’t speak Dutch or French or even German, but their chitchat was earnest and careful.
One man wished me well on my journey in English, nodding at my bag as proof I was a kind of comrade, before departing.
The contrast from those small cubbies to the larger passenger compartments with row after row of benches is striking. Few words are ever spoken. Everyone keeps their heads bowed, their minds busy on themselves, appearing to ignore everyone else on the commute. Even so, with the clatter of the train, the call of the ticket master, and the shuffle of shoes, there is a strange companionship.
I have spent quite a few hours waiting on train platforms. In the early morning, or late in the evening, I have found them to hold a strange peace.
Everyone has somewhere, and nowhere to go. Everyone is expectant, yet bored. Isn’t that just like life can be?
I would finally reach my destination in the shadows of night. Night grows and shrinks things. It hides and reveals. It is a different world than daylight, and many people fear it. But I don’t. I know that is only because I have been kept safe. I am blessed.
Night has always been my refuge. Not a time of hiding, but a time of quiet. A time when others retreat, leaving the streets almost empty. The dirt of the day is pushed to the sides, and lays waiting for the morning to come. It’s hidden in the shadows, but it still whispers to the world all the stories it holds. Every cigarette butt, every discarded coffee cup that missed the trash can. Even the caked on muck, scraped from boots at the end of the day. It will all tell you a story, if you only stop and listen.
She poses, one hand at her waist, one lifted as if to invite a question. One skate blade poised, toe and tip to ice. The other is ready to propel her body into motion. She stands there, frozen, every muscle straining then relaxing, waiting. Then it comes, gentle notes drifting out of her deep and buttoned coat pocket.
Arms move with grace to the music only she can hear. Sturdy legs propel her forward, around in a steady half spin, and stop. She bows to the woods. There is no human in sight to witness this dance on ice. The snow-ladened evergreens shimmer in the bright sunlight, the naked birch is unafraid to bare all its beauty.
More notes come. Arms and legs now work as one to propel her form across the sheet of ice. The air smells of cold crystals, mixed with sun. Her own breath reveals its presence in puffs of white.
“Count Mary Ann.” She speaks to herself in the quiet. “One, and two, then stop. Three, then four, and glide.”
Bare fingers stretch to the sky as one, a gentle turn while holding speed. One leg lifted ready, arms controlled but relaxed. Speed perfect, she punches the ice with power. The tip of her skate kicking up an ice shower. For a split second she is free of the earth, then down to touch the ice again. One rotation, but well done. Balance perfect, arms out and poised. The tones from her pocked lifted with her to spin and again down, slowing. Now they resemble the slow trickle of a stream, gentle and playful.
Wind sends the naked branches into a gentle clatter. Her steps become skips across the ice. Build speed, turn, then building again.
“One more time!” Her heart beating faster, her breath fogging the air behind her, her toque threatening to fall away, but ignored. “One and two and, oh!”
The blade of her skate finds ripples she had carved in to the ice some days ago. The uneven surface jolts her sideways and down she falls. Bare hands stop her face from touching the ice sheet. They are red from cold. The air chilled them as she moved through her dance and now pressed to the ice, it stings. The surface a beautiful shimmer but biting.
A deep sigh pushes itself from her chest out in to the daylight. She closes her eyes. An unexpected fall. Checking her lumps. One, two, three, four. Jared, but all in the right place. “It’s okay, Mary Ann. One more time.”
She pushes herself up, a slide and a momentary wobble are evidence her internal rhythm needs righting. Once firmly on the blades of her skates face to the sun, she checks her pocket. The phone is still in one piece. Time to start the song over again.
Ruby red fingers fumble for a moment as again a guest of wind rattles the branches. There clatter is the only sound until in the distance, a dog barks. The others will come soon, there is a need to hurry.
One more time around before the boys take to the ice, sticks in hand. James has promised to bring her hockey stick out for her. She will soon need to change her white skates for the black pair, waiting by the rough-cut log stools.
Breath in, breath out. Pose, one hand on waist, one hand in questioning greeting, toe out. As the notes once again hum from her pocket, just for her, so starts her dance, only viewed by the trees that line the west side of the rink.
Lavender crushed between finger and thumb. Only one blossom. The scent gentle but true, only for the person holding it. Squeezed tighter and then rubbed together. Another whiff of scent. Calmness, a brief shaking stilled. “Thank you.” She turned back to the house. “Carmen, down off the counter.” “But, Mom!”
A dribble is the modern term used for a story of exactly 50 words. The art of micro-fiction is something I am trying to learn. I don’t always get it right. To bubble the whole of a story into so few words takes something special.
I would love to hear from you if you write short fiction in any form. How do you make your stories a whole, and not just single seen?
To somehow tell the story without telling the story is part of it. Is there more behind it?
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“I didn’t put you there!” “But I found a drop of water and just couldn’t resist.” The painter scowled while her bit of Blue blushed and mixed with its cousin Brown. “Well now, we look like mud, and it’s all your fault.” If Brown had had arms, it would have folded them over each other, while holding a scowl on its face. Blue just twittered and slipped farther down the page, touching Green and making the artist see spots. “Oh, the possibilities!” It sung as it fingered out over each water drop touched. “Look, I am just a little happy blue. Can you catch me?” The stop was abrupt at the edge of the page. Blue hung onto jagged fibres. “Now blue, get back over here before you fall.” “Fall? Oh, but to fall!” And fall Blue did, right off the paper on to Artists apron. “Serves it right.” Muttered Brown as it dried and combined with the paper’s elements. “How will I ever learn when the colours never get long?” “Don’t worry,” Whispered Paintbrush. “They will all mature with you. Give them, and yourself time.”