An ex-lover and I have decided to switch off offering writing prompts to each other on Wednesdays. I have decided to share my side of that process with you. Because writing, like living, is a process. So here are the raw beginnings of my writing from last week:
In the morning, in the car, on the way to drop my son off at the public school I have never been able to afford considering not sending him to, before I go to the teenage boy’s freshly built house to tutor him while he completes an alternative online high school program run much like a corporation, the man and the woman on the radio have a passionate debate about funding vouchers for private schools versus using the funding to enhance public education. The woman arguing for public education keeps referring to them as community schools. The man supporting vouchers keeps saying the poor children should have access to private education regardless of means. The woman reminds that community schools are state regulated and private schools are not. We pull up to his school and instead of telling him to learn something, or to have the best day ever, like usual, I say: I love you. The passion of the radio guests strikes me. Sending our children to school seems so simple. So routine. We forget the power of it all. Schools have been the tool of genocide. Forced assimilation. And Hitler trained his army of boys in schools, too. And there were so many other things, things we aren’t even aware of.
Emily Dickinson once wrote: “Hold dear to your parents, because it is a scary and confusing world without them.”
A postulate is a thing we accept as true, in order to reach common understanding.
Does one first have to understand herself, before she can participate in this common understanding?
I am afraid I don’t understand.
I am afraid I don’t understand myself.
Even now, writing, I wonder what purpose this serves.
Is this a monologue? What is your role?
Is this an aside? Who is my audience? Did I intend for it to be you?
Or is this a soliloquy? My insides projected, almost shouted, because how else will you understand?
Can you help me understand inside of me?
What the hell kind of bird is that? With a breast so daringly orange, wings so shamelessly black. If that weren’t the beauty that could save the world, I might consider it an outrage. At this moment to be so bright under such circumstances.
Like the difference between cohesion and adhesion. To become one with oneself, one with others much like the self. Or to latch on to something different, to latch on to the other. I am wondering about assimilation and appropriation. I am feeling about her. Always feeling about her.
Did you know so much of the language of geometry begins with the prefix co-? Collinear, collateral, and there she is again, in biology. And more pairings. These things that exist together. Are defined by their relationships to each other. Bonds. Van der Waals force and the improbable joining, but the attraction too powerful to resist. Inescapable, still the bond is so weak. Ionic bonding, where one element gains and the other gives up. And covalent bonding, harmony. Balance. The world is filled with these, co-s. The relationships. These meant to bes. And I think, each part must know who she is. She must understand her insides, to take her place. Follow these postulates. Usually I would be questioning this postulate, but I am preoccupied, wondering, desperate to figure out: Which bond are we?
Once I saw her in the garden, licking her knees. Licking and biting her knees like a wild animal.
But she wasn’t her. Not my she. She isn’t in the garden. She wouldn’t lick or bite her knees. Inflexible and tame. Too tame. The way children who are taught to be nothing but obedient obey the pedophile. But now I don’t know if I mean her danger or mine. Even if it were an ionic bond, who gives up and who takes away? Nothing static, everything contradicting. Like her bending, too flexible, bent up to please me. But she doesn’t understand what is inside. I don’t understand. We can’t co-. She is wild, too, but of course she is, bent up and licking her wounds.
Before this, the radio was discussing the purpose of art, primarily literature. Art as art. A postulate. And art as a tool to change. The radio talked about art as political commentary. About the use of art by the lower class. About the waste of art as nothing other than art. Paired this with painting something beautiful as you sat on a sinking ship—useless in saving lives.
And I understand the resistance. Inside of me, but I don’t look inside when I see her. And I wonder about art. And I wonder about purpose. And supposed tos.
The Dadaists refused art, art the middle class etiquette, to fuel a revolution. Nonsequiturs and scribbles and randomness. Anti-art. Isn’t that beautiful?
I used to be desperate for a dialogue. I used to need so much to engage with you. Forgive me here, as I abandon art, and propriety. As I get naked, in this garden, in this trash, and crawl inside my gapping heart-wound.
Emily Dickinson was right.
Dim the lights.
All co-s are postulates. What happens if we deny them?
It is amazing how easy it is to overlook the obvious.
Don’t applaud. Don’t throw tomatoes.
Crawl inside yourself.
Lick your wounds.
Shamelessly flap your wings.
You are the beauty that could save this world.
The Prompt that began this:
Make a list of 5-10 new things you learned this past week.
2. Emily Dickinson quote
3. Funding for public/private education- vouchers
4. Ionic bonds, covalent bonds, and van der Waals force
8. Overlooking the obvious
Write whatever speaks to you from this list. Use these sentences:
“And there were so many other things, things you weren’t even aware of.”
“What the hell kind of bird is that? What the hell kind of bird is that? With a breast so daringly orange, wings so shamelessly black. If that weren’t the beauty that could save the world, I might consider it an outrage. At this moment to be so bright under such circumstances.”
“Once I saw her in the garden, licking her knees. Licking and biting her knees like a wild animal.”