Sweeping

I am writing at dusk,
unusual for me,
but out my window
a dark grey cat –
almost black –
is stalking a firefly
and makes a sudden move
every time
the light blinks.

Between blinks, however,
it seems lost for what to do.

* * *

Last week
Wally used a broom
to help a baby bird
finds its way out of the garage.
It was stuck behind a screen
that was propped against a wall
and just didn’t know which way to go.
Occasional gentle nudges were needed.

* * *

I was 9
the winter day
my grandmother
went to live with her sister
in NYC.

I rode along into Manhattan
and cried when we said good-bye.
I was still crying, hard,
an hour later
back at home.

I sought solace in my room,
but finding none,
ventured forth to see what my siblings were doing,
tears the whole way.

I sought distraction
from my grief
in front of the television,
but my brothers said
“Get outta here”
when they couldn’t hear the TV
over my sobs.

I went to the kitchen
sat at the table
and kept crying and crying and crying.
Stuck.

My older sister,
primping for a date
in the hallway mirror,
popped her head in.

“Why don’t you write Gram a letter?
Sometimes that helps.”

I took a piece of paper
and managed 3 sentences:

“I am so sad.
I miss you.
Have a nice day.”
My first letter.

By the time I got to signing –
both first and last name,
as though she would not know
who “Marilyn,”
written in a child’s scrawl, was –
I wasn’t crying anymore.
UNstuck.

* * *

When we are stuck….”
writes Julia Cameron,
“it is usually because we are clinging to a situation…
or we are unwilling to explore a new risk
that we sense that we really must take.*

Cameron is talking about writing, of course,
but I think it applies to so much more.

I could not entertain
the thought of my grandmother being gone
no longer available on a daily basis
to listen
to play.

I wished the pain to go away on its own.
I wished to escape from it.
But it was only in looking hard at it,
paying attention to it,
giving it voice,
that I became unstuck.

* * *
While away last week
I gave some thought
to what’s in the pipeline,
my next step
and whether I’m onboard.

While sweeping a porch
I was reminded,
it’s best to go
in the direction of the wind.

This is helpful to me
as I sweep things together,
stories strewn along interstates.

___________
Source:
Julia Cameron, The Right to Write: An Invitation and Initiation into the Writing Life (New York, NY: Penguin Putnam, 1998), 169.
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About Marilyn

Reading, thinking, listening, writing and talking about faith, creativity, ESL for refugees, grief and finding the story in a story. Student of Spanish. Foe of procrastination. Cheez-it fan. People person with hermit tendencies or vice-versa. Thank you so much for reading.
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9 Responses to Sweeping

  1. laura says:

    What a precious story, Marilyn. How wise of your sister to encourage you this way. I wonder…does she know what she started? This is a beautiful piece.

    Like

  2. I really like these words,

    “looking hard at it,
    paying attention to it,
    giving it voice,”

    I enjoyed this today.

    Like

  3. L.L. Barkat says:

    I like the way you framed your path in terms of the sweeping. So often, the simple things around us are clues, if we dare pay attention.

    Like

  4. Cheryl Smith says:

    UNstuck. Whew – powerful timing today! Your post brought me to tears.

    So much to process and thankful for your willingness to share this beautiful story.

    Like

  5. Pingback: On Coffee and Caves « A Different Story

  6. deidra says:

    I always love it when you write about writing. So much wisdom here and a bit of storytelling thrown in for good measure. I understand being stuck, and unstuck. Thanks so much for letting us in. Thank you.

    Like

  7. This story is true.

    Often that’s how I get unstuck, too, by putting words on the pages in front of me. Amazing, isn’t it? Such a simple thing…

    Like

  8. I came here for a dose of beautiful writing and that’s what I found. 🙂 I loved the dark cat, almost black, who seemed stuck for what to do between blinks of the firefly–and the bird stuck behind the screen–and your big sister primping for a date–and your poor broken nine year old heart. 🙂

    Like

  9. annkroeker says:

    Writing helps me get unstuck many times–as I pour it out, the ominous and frightening events might seem less overwhelming; the heartbreak seems survivable. I love your story of the letter. It reminds me of an NPR segment I heard the other day. I’m going to try to find it. If I do, I’ll try to write something about it this weekend. Thank you for sharing the power of writing to turn a situation around, to help you see it more clearly….and fly.

    Like

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