Mondays, I have been writing about slavery – history and now, facts and attitudes. Today, I could write about the man who challenged my knowledge right away in a talk, aching to prove me wrong, scowling and folding almost double on himself while I talked. I could write about the people who claim we should have “white history month” as if the other 11 (and even this 12th) weren’t that already.
I could write about the people who line up after I give a talk with the breath of “wow” and the sincere thanks of a handshake. I could write about the stories I find myself wrapped in, the branches of trees with no link to mine but humanity . . . and how they rasp their bark into my skin until they mark me theirs.
But today, today I am tired. I am tired of bearing up and tired of convincing . . . and I realize that my fatigue is pale, minor in comparison. I can almost not speak it is so light.
Today, I want to write about how Eloise Klein Healy has captured my heart in words, how I have copied out her entire poem “Exhalation” because I could not decide which line sang loudest.
Full, it is used up.
Empty, I am full.
All my virtues look like virtues to me now
when I fall into bed tired
and the food is all eaten
and my friends have gone home
I want to write about how work, words, stories caress the inner lining of my heart, velveteen, a dog’s soft, floppy ear.
I want to write about how they scoop me raw, carve out the back of my throat like a pumpkin become jack-o-lantern.
I want to write of their power – suture and blade, bomb and Super Glue.
What is said, written, thought cannot be un-. We mend, we heal, we find that scar tissue can bear the weight of lifetimes . . . carved into our skins.
I want to abide there – in that rough bark of language. To wrap myself in it like a satin-edged blanket. To lay its softness on my lips . . . and breath.
All the rest can wait.
In mid-March, I will be offering online writing workshops for fiction writers, nonfiction writers, and poets. Each workshop is six weeks long and includes readings, discussion, and writing workshop. The cost is $250 and includes all assignments and readings. You can get more information and sign0up here – http://www.andilit.com/classes/. Thanks for your interest.