A thousand words are worth a picture.

June 29, 2013 § 4 Comments

There is no photo, except in my mind. A family portrait in sepia, and a voice, an old voice, recounting a day long gone: 

It isn’t in the picture, but beneath the photographer’s feet was a rare dusting of snow on the frozen grass, spring taking it’s time that 1895 April in Natchez, Mississippi.

You can see we are all still wearing our woolen winter leggings, even Mama and the aunts, although their skirts hide everything above the ankle.

That’s me, Amsy, in the middle of the bottom step, in the middle of the boys, in the middle of the picture. I hold Rastus and Remus, the tiger kittens. Both lived to be fifteen, which is long in cat years, but it took them just a short way into the new century, while I’ve traipsed nearly clean across it.

That’s Aaron on my left. He died in the trenches in the Great War not too many years after Rastus and Remus, one after the other, crawled under the porch and quietly died. Wish it could have gone as easy for Aaron.

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B & A

June 20, 2013 § 10 Comments

B, showing off my orchid design.We’re Barbara and Adrian to everyone else.

B & A to ourselves.

We were partners in a business in the sunny Florida Keys that failed. One day B said, “A, Are we out of business, and nobody’s told us?” And I glanced up from my usual daydream and realized she was right. We were.

B has an uncanny ability to see what is, and call it by its proper name.

But locking the door for the last time and turning in the key didn’t harm a friendship that is now about 30 years old. It just sent us spinning in different directions—but  that comes later.

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The club.

June 14, 2013 § 5 Comments

IMG_5296 079Sometimes I feel sorry for humanity, sitting thick-ankled, bored and exhausted under the bus shelter passively waiting.

Or checking its face in the mirror, first for pimples, then for wrinkles, with about a week of grace in between.

Or holding up its out-of-work, out-of-luck signs, or driving past those signs staring straight ahead.

Or leaning always toward the future, but being perpetually taken by surprise when it arrives.

Humanity, I love you, one, by one, by one, but I often want to apologize to the earth and every living thing on it for your collective sloppy careless voracious ways, your myopic selfishness, your smug certainty that you are the crown of creation.

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Dermis.

June 7, 2013 § 8 Comments

Ray's brother Dave, in flight.Beneath the epidermis, the very visible, dead, outside layer of the skin, is the dermis, cloaked and hidden—and alive.

This human arrangement is a more subtle version of an insect’s chitinous exoskeleton. No question an insect keeps its soft parts hidden, the living quick protected.

And so do we.

How do I write about that living quick we work so hard to hide? I don’t know. And that is why I am so often confined to writing about the epidermis.

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Eenie Meenie.

June 1, 2013 § 4 Comments

tumblr_static_thumbsup.php[1]As humans we look for meaning.

Even when things are random, we search for pattern, imposing order where there is none.

The idea that “things happen for a reason” is so much more reassuring than “things happen.”

As a writer of fiction I take this one step farther. I construct the pattern in which “things happen” so that everything “happens for a reason.” And as the God of that small world I supply those reasons.

A writer, like a runner, has to build the necessary muscles for the task, so I’ve filled notebooks with writing exercises. For one that I do regularly I grab a dictionary. Yes, the old-fashioned kind that feels heavy in your lap.

I open it and take a random stab at a word. Archaic, bland, or esoteric, I’m stuck with it. I continue to play the literary equivalent of pin the tail on the donkey until I have a noun, a verb, and an adjective (if I get a second of any one of them I throw it back).

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