Getting Out and Finding the Words that are Waiting

if I pulled the covers up to my neck
and laid there
until things straightened out in my head,
until I knew what was to be done and said and written,
until I knew where to start,

to stay,
as it were,
in a cocoon.

But I was all slept out
and it was time
to go find the words that were waiting for me.

Writing starts with living. Living starts
with somebody caring so much about something
that they need to drag you out of your writing chair
and take where you’ll be surprised to find your words.” – L.L. Barkat*

I’ve been thinking about this idea of
going out and finding the words.
And sure enough, they are out there, waiting.

* * *

HEADING WEST on I-70 last Friday
for the tests
that precede
the start of the clinical trial,
it was all blue skies and trees turning.

We have made the trip enough times
and he’s had these tests enough times
that we are jaded
and count the trip as routine.

We bring books and magazines for the waiting
and plan our Panera stop
for just before
the fasting period for the scans.
We barely need to have a conversation about all this,
it’s so familiar, the routine.

The story of this day
will be all blue skies and trees turning and routine,
no doubt about it.
This is what I think.

BUT there are words waiting for me there:

gloved hands,
IVs being started,
the string of questions we can recite by heart, asked 3 separate times (this is not a complaint – it’s an important caution),
the way he answers “no” to all,
the way they always say, “So what are you doing here then, you’re so healthy?”
and the way we always laugh at that,
the free coffee machine on the 11th floor (just like on the 2nd, a benefit only in the r-e-a-l-l-y serious waiting areas),
the staff in their Friday Buckeye garb,
the wheeling in of the vital signs machine,
the way the nurse waits until the second hand reaches the top, everything done to the exact minute in a clinical trial…

Slowly and increasingly
on this day deemed routine
I feel a weight
I cannnot at first identify
pressing down on my shoulders,
though none stand near me.

And the story of my day is changing.

* * *

it’s those very words, gathered,
that reveal to me
what’s happening
in a nothing-really-going-on day
where I think the main story is the weather,

how they
and probably a hundred other sights, sounds and smells
have triggered memories of treatments past,
the marathon run through a minefield,
and all the emotions that attend.

This is helpful to me.

If I am going to make it
the long haul,
the marathon run,
I need to know the truth
about my stress level
so I manage it
instead of it driving me.

There are things you can’t know sitting in the chair,
waiting for it to come to you.
You have to get out
and go find the words that are waiting,
go word gathering
and discover what the story really is.

* * *

*Rumors of Water by L.L. Barket, T.S. Poetry Press, New York, 2011. p. 29

You might also like:

Rumors I May Actually Write Again

Everything Seems Impossible at First

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.
This entry was posted in book recommendations, cancer, discoveries, Rumors of Water, writing. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Getting Out and Finding the Words that are Waiting

  1. This is beautiful and expresses so much. I’m striving to achieve meaning with an economy of words. You are a wonderful example to me.


  2. Yes! This is how it works! Look at how much life you and your husband have been living–a treasure of words waiting to be written. You’ve started right here.


  3. HisFireFly says:

    oh this…
    the words that wait for us to find them before they find us first


  4. Emily says:

    Brings tears to my eyes, really. Triggering memories, marathon in a minefield, managing stress levels….all words that resonate with me.

    On a lighter note, perhaps a trip to Trader Joe’s would make it less routine. 🙂


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