Ordinary Life

Coffee in a blue and orange pottery mug. The indigo sky pushing at the cold window glass. J. emptying the dishwasher. The dog dozing at the top of the stairs, waiting for his first walk.

A dream drifting on the morning peripheral: a goat pestering me, persistently biting and tugging the sand-coloured wool sweater I’m wearing, that a friend sent to me and there it was, getting destroyed.

A bit like Mowat, I realize now, back when he was a puppy, a tiny Tasmanian Devil of a dog.

Be a tree, we tried, in our yard in The Pas with him flailing on his leash, wild.

It didn’t really work, and more than a few times I dropped the lead, ran away, let him race circles in the clearing we’d ploughed in the snow, hoping he’d drain his energy.

But he’s Mowat. Five years old now. Not even slowed by arthritis from the double knee surgeries he had when he was two. The other day, he chased a coyote.

Ordinary life…. Mowat on the run.

Coffee in a blue and orange pottery mug, my timer on for five minutes because this long winter and the last few years have left me soul-tired, left me feeling some days like I don’t have much to say.

But I do. I always do.

If I can just arrive at the page, willing to prod.

Last night in my writing class, we all surprised ourselves. Following prompts, seeing what came out. One woman wrote her first poem and when she read it, the power of her words filled the room.

It was a poem about ordinary life. An ordinary setting (for her). Pain rose out of the simple details. She almost cried. I did, too.

What is this magic of writing? How, if we have the courage to open the door, the stuff of our lives pours out. Random, beautiful, weird, ordinary stuff.

Meaningful stuff.

Stuff that can then be shaped, clipped, prodded, restitched, delicately maneuvered into form – if it needs to be.

Like the dream I had last night. That aggressive goat tearing at my delicious clothes with its yellow teeth, fraying the hem and sleeves.

How this bit of story seeps out of my pen.

How I don’t need to analyze it, explain it, but can just put it on the page in detail so the ordinary gives what it has to give. Starts, all of a sudden, to sing.

Try this: 

Write a poem (in which ‘you’ is you) beginning with:

“The news says:                              and                           and                                .

But you……. ”

(Inspired by the first two lines of Ariel Gordon‘s fabulous poem How To Prepare for Spring Flooding in her collection, Stowaways).

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2 Responses to Ordinary Life

  1. Pauline Clark February 11, 2018 at 9:26 am #

    Such an accurate description of writing groups. I’m off to attempt that poem now. Thanks for the inspiration.

I would love to hear what you think!

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