Avoiding the Question


IT WAS AFTER THE SHAMPOO and scissors
that she asked me.

After the mousse and blow-drying,
after the chair was lowered
after I paid,
just when I thought I was free and clear.
That’s when she asks.

“How’s the writing going?”

And I was doing such a good job
keeping the conversation on her,
arriving prepared
with an endless stream of questions
about things in her life,

things I AM interested in
almost as much
as I am interested in NOT talking about me.

But she hands me a mirror
and spins me around
and I say I’m delighted
and she says she’s delighted, too,
and I thank her
and pay
and thank her again
and am almost out the door
when she says the words.

“How’s the writing going?”

Almost made it.
And now there it is, hanging out there.

* * *

I MENTALLY REJECT
a dozen possible responses –
LIES all,
but she won’t know –

“going great’
“comin’ right along”
or even
“hardly any time right now,
what with estate matters to tend to” –

and
I fall back on my propensity for the truth,
a leaning for which I have been faulted
(but not in the last two months)

and think of the stack of pages
I take almost everywhere with me,
the white binder
I take out in the morning
and put away again in the evening,
the pages I keep fumbling back-and-forth through,
making little notes,
nothing more.

How is the writing going? she wants to know.

“It’s not.

I add
something about
being in a period of mourning
and transition
and dust-not-yet-settling and all….

“you know how it is”

as if showing a hall pass to the vice-principal.

She nods.
I flee
just as slowly and as quickly as I can.

* * *

IN THE SAFETY of MY CAR
I check my hair in the mirror
and catch a glimpse
of the white binder
on the passenger’s seat,
NOT seat-belted in –
it’s very life in jeopardy.

AT HOME
I find a theme list waiting for me,
the annual chance
to say
yes I have something to say
and will write for you.

I can’t believe they have kept me on the mailing list.

Maybe they know about writers,
how silences punctuate the landscape
and never to rule out any writer
because
like cicadas
they return
to make a big noise again
…just about the time you’d forgotten they existed.

How’s the writing going?
It’s not.
Not today.
But maybe tomorrow.

2 thoughts on “Avoiding the Question

  1. perfect post for me today. I’ve tried to tactfully avoid answering the question as well lately. Glad to know I’m not the only one.

    Like

  2. Oh, that poor baby! No seat belt…life in jeopardy! Yes, I definitely think you have something to say, my friend. And maybe those words are just waiting to jump out of that white binder. But…those silences? Maybe the calm before the storm. Those cicadas sleep for something like 17 years, you know…:)

    Like

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