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-posted on red Ravine Sunday, September 11th, 2011, 9:02am

-related to the piece: Remembering – September 11th, 2008

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By Linda Phillips Thune

 
 
 
 
 

This Wind
 
     (For Annie and her sisters — Mother’s Day, 2010)
 
 
 
This wind lifts through
the grass and leaves and curtains
taking with it some dreams
     but not all
some tears
     but not all
some joy
     but not all.
What weighed unbearably
becomes light
riding away on this wind
brushing by my face —
invisibly, softly, sweetly —
on its way to where ever wind begins.
A fresh chance remains.
A clear view remains.
Prayers remain.
Love lives.


_________________________

 
 
 
 

About Linda: My name is Linda Phillips Thune. Writing, for me, has long been a series of offerings, gifts, to those who needed a thought, a prayer, a part of me. Now, as the focus of my life moves away from my children toward my self, writing is becoming my raft… I’ve loved words always, and after a long road to a Master’s in Literature, I am fortunate to share that love with my students. Recently, I lost a daughter. Her father, her sisters, and I are still wavering in the pain of her loss…hopefully, words will keep us looking to the light.

To read more of Linda’s writing, please visit her blog, In the Margins.

 
 

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By Charles Ederer


Should have been in the letter I don’t remember
Where I wrote in cursive script that I was lost
In the trailing wind
An oblique horizon levitating with the sun
Setting on me

I told you about my life then asking
Whether things lost are never found again in daylight
Only in dream and night
I said this was a French ballad sad and strong
With an audience that sings with me

And now I press my hands to these salted floorboards
Thinking of you my English Channel
My Rome 25 years on
But few things are so close
Not tomorrow if all we have is stuffed into bags
Shut to the rest of us

There is a snowflake in this burned-out house in winter
If there is one in you
Drift with us
Over charred postcards and Polaroids
Under kitchen-sink faces
Through rays of diamond summer dust

Near the well where I watch unicorns play
Is a fallen tree on which to imagine
The ride home or some such scheme of war
In haste as the nights of Oostende
Flee tonight again

But the last you will see of me after tomorrow
Is reaching far into space
Footsteps outside this door
That every mile or so leads to my nobody name carved in ice
An arrow of pine needles crudely angled
Toward anywhere but here




Door, photo © 2010 by Charles Ederer. All rights reserved.





Charles is marketing executive who lives in San Francisco with his son, Alexander. About writing, Charles has this to say: It’s surprising to me how long it’s taken to move my writing to a place where I’m finally satisfied, though perhaps my gestation process has more to do with finding my voice than anything else. Having a reason to write is important, but having something to say with a road-proven voice is altogether more challenging, especially if my themes are to be universal.

About two years ago I completed my first official volume of work, titled A Perfect Vessel. In reading it from time to time, I often wonder where I found the grit to complete it the way I did and have it render the intensity I hoped it would.

Poetry to me is an iterative process, part of which is brutal editing. I’ve gotten to the point where I know (usually by the next morning) whether it’s good or not worth anyone’s time. Everything I need to say is contained inside me and it’s not so much a matter of writing well but finding myself through the journey of selection and placement. I’m seeking to be in love with what I’ve written, and if I’m not there yet I work it until it forms into something that speaks true for me and, hopefully, for the reader. It’s similar to the process of painting on canvas, really.

This piece was inspired by red Ravine’s post WRITING TOPIC — DOOR. The door icon speaks for me in my present state of life.

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By Bob Chrisman


It was a dark and stormy night on May 3, 1952. I’ve always wanted to write that cliché opener. Flood waters had swept across the area around St. Joseph, but the Missouri Methodist Hospital was high on a hill. My mother delivered a healthy baby boy. The nurses told her that I looked just like my father because I had thick black hair and sideburns like my father.

I thought I was the second child. My sister was almost ten years older than I was and no one talked about another pregnancy. Had my parents not decided to go to the World’s Fair in Montreal, Canada in 1967, the year I turned 15, I would have lived and died not knowing about the other pregnancy.

Someone told my mother that we needed certified copies of our birth certificates to come back into the United States so she ordered a copy for each of us. They arrived one morning in the mail and she took the official looking, Manila envelope into her bedroom to open. I sat on the floor in anticipation of seeing my birth certificate.

She handed it to me and I read every entry. “Mom, my birth certificate is wrong. It says you have had two other children by live birth.” I showed her the line of the certified copy.

“No, it’s correct.” She walked to the chest of drawer and put the other birth certificates in the box where she kept all the important papers.

“Was the baby a boy or a girl?” I asked because the idea of a missing sibling intrigued me.

“I don’t remember. It was a miscarriage. Something was wrong with the baby.” She kept moving away from me and I was too enthralled with this new knowledge to let it go.

“But, how could you not remember?’

“It’s been a long time ago. I don’t remember anymore.” She walked out of the bedroom.

I let the topic drop because she wouldn’t give me any information. I didn’t take up the question again until years later when my mother, then in her 80s, wrote a short autobiography at my request. She mentioned the loss of a baby somewhere around 1946. My sister would have been going on four years old.

My sister doesn’t remember anything, but she would have been three going on four. My favorite aunt and uncle said they didn’t know anything about a pregnancy which seems hard to believe if the child was a live birth.

As I reflect on that lost baby, I wonder how that colored her reaction to being pregnant with me and to my birth. Maybe that accounts for the way she protected me against everything and everyone. I’ll never know the answers to my questions, which are a circumstance of my birth.




-Related to topic post WRITING TOPIC – 3 QUESTIONS. [NOTE: This is the third of three questions mentioned by actor and writer Anna Deavere Smith in an interview with Bill Moyers (see link). She talked about the questions in the context of interviewing people and listening to them. The three questions came from a linguist Smith met at a cocktail party in 1979; the questions were, according to the linguist, guaranteed to break the patterns and change the way people are expressing themselves. QuoinMonkey, ybonesy, and frequent guest writer Bob Chrisman take on the three questions by doing a Writing Practice on each.]

-Also related to posts: PRACTICE: Have You Ever Come Close To Death? — 15min (by ybonesy), PRACTICE: Have You Ever Come Close To Death? — 15min (by Bob Chrisman), PRACTICE — Have You Ever Come Close To Death? — 15min (QuoinMonkey),  PRACTICE: Have You Ever Been Accused Of Doing Something You Didn’t Do? — 15min (by Bob Chrisman); PRACTICE: Have You Ever Been Accused Of Doing Something You Didn’t Do? — 15min (by ybonesy), and PRACTICE — Have You Ever Been Accused Of Doing Something You Didn’t Do? — 15min (by QuoinMonkey)

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Atlanta Airport - 1952, Augusta, Georgia, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved

Atlanta Airport – 1952, family postcard, Augusta, Georgia, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



I’ve been thinking about the lost art of writing postcards and letters. A few weeks ago, while staying at my uncle’s place in Georgia, I began the long process of scanning old photographs and historical documents for the family archives. I asked my uncle if he would pull out his collection of memorabilia. He showed up the next day with stacks of old black and white photographs. And a wide, faded brown shoebox containing bundles of newspaper clippings, letters, and postcards.

Most of the postcards were to or from my Great, Great Aunt Cassie. My Great, Great Uncle Claude had worked for the Georgia Railroad and they traveled a lot on their vacations. But there was one in particular that caught my eye – a postcard that Mom’s older brother, Jack, had sent her in high school. The postmark was July 24th, 1952. A postcard stamp was only 1 cent back then. One cent.

My Uncle Jack would have been 16 at the time. He must have been on vacation with relatives. On the front of the postcard, where we might now see a digital photograph, was a 4-color illustration of the Atlanta Municipal Airport, the same airport Liz flew out of on her way back to Minnesota from Georgia in July.

In scratchy, adolescent handwriting, he wrote:



Dear Amelia,

I am having a good time here. I have met a lot of girls here and I have
had 6 dates since I got here. I’ve got another one tomorrow night and
Saturday. We are coming home Sunday. We have an air conditioner
here and it is cool.

Love,

Jack



I called Mom after I got back to Minnesota and asked her if she minded if I posted Jack’s card. She lost her brother in 1954, two years after he sent the postcard, only days before I was born. It was the year he graduated from high school. He had been ill with mono but wanted to go and celebrate with his friends anyway. They went swimming at Clarks Hill. He drowned on what is reported to have been a second swim across the lake. His body, still recovering and weak from the mono, must have given out mid-swim.

Mom said she didn’t have any qualms about me sharing the postcard. “No, I don’t mind if you post it,” she said. “We’re open about things like that.” Then, in one last thought, she sounded a little sad. “What did it say?” she asked.

I told her he wrote about what any teenage boy would write about: girls. But what struck me the most was seeing his handwriting; it was over 50 years old. And that he took the time to write, to send Mom a few lines letting her know he was thinking of her.



Dear Amelia, Augusta, Georgia, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.       Dear Amelia, Augusta, Georgia, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



When we were on St. Simons Island, I looked high and low for postcards to send to friends. I finally found a rack in the corner of a novelty store along the main drag near the lighthouse. It was the same place Liz and I got our soft cotton Georgia T-shirts. But then, there were no stamp machines that sold postcard stamps. And we never made it to the spot on the island where the  post office was located. So I waited until I was back in Augusta to mail them.

Postcards are becoming a thing of the past. But I have one writing friend who sent postcards every week as part of her practice last year. And another who sends herself postcards when she goes out on the road to write. She says she has many insights while traveling, jots them down on a postcard, and mails them to herself. After returning home, it centers her to read them – a gift to her creative self.



I am running into handwritten letters at every turn. Boxes turned up in storage with letters from my mother and grandmother. And I’m midway through the letters of Flannery O’Connor; you wouldn’t believe how much I am learning about this great Southern writer (and the South) from reading her letters. Should I begin writing letters again?

I am getting closer. Last Saturday, Liz went to three garage sales; at one she bought me an antique Royal portable typewriter. I started using it that day. At the same sale (it was run by an artist/photographer; she took me back with her later), we bought some vintage vinyl for a quarter a piece, and three great literature books for 50 cents each. One of them was Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo by Hayden Herrera. It is full of her letters.

Later that day at the studio, I started thumbing through Frida’s biography; sticking out of the middle section, was a faded postcard sent from Colombia. The front of the postcard has a photograph of a Cuna woman in traditional garb. A small 2 was circled at the top; it was the second of a series of three. The title, URABA (ANTIOQUIA) COLOMBIA — India Cuna, was in block print. The handwriting was loopy cursive, written in Spanish. A studio mate read it to me. She recognized the sancocho, a traditional Colombian soup.



I think the postcard is like a letter haiku. Think of everything you’ve learned in brief intervals of 17-syllable haiku from our regulars on haiku (one-a-day). The postcard from my uncle spoke to me; half a century later I gained a glimpse of who he was. I got a postcard from ybonesy that arrived right after I came home from Georgia. Maybe she’ll send me one from Vietnam (smile).

I’m considering a postcard/letter writing practice in the coming months. I want to use the vintage Royal. When is the last time you received a handwritten letter or postcard? If you have insights into the art or practice of postcard and letter writing, please share them with us. All is never as it seems. And life letters only add to the mystery.



Postcard From Uncle Jack, Augusta, Georgia, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Postcard From Uncle Jack, Augusta, Georgia, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



-posted on red Ravine, Monday, August 25th, 2008

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What Have You Lost, Rainpainting Series, outside the Fitzgerald Theater, downtown, St. Paul, Minnesota, night of Ann Patchett, October 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


If you want to know someone, truly know someone, ask them about the things they have lost. No matter how long it’s been. It doesn’t matter. The things we have lost stay with us.

These are the words of Ann Patchett, author of The Magician’s Assistant, Bel Canto, Run, and Truth & Beauty: A Friendship. She wrote the memoir Truth & Beauty to grieve the loss of her friend, Lucy Grealy. The book was her grieving process.

What are the things you have lost? Have you ever lost face, your faith, time. When did you lose your virginity? What about your innocence. Did you lose your childhood, your dreams, someone close to your heart? Did you lose your keys the day you hiked the ocean cliffs of an Oregon beach and were left stranded in the dark.

Make a list of the things you have lost. Choose 1 or 2 items off of your list and do a 15 minute writing practice on each. Let yourself grieve. Take the time. What do you have to lose?


Grief is a debt you owe. After you pay, you can get to the joy.

-Ann Patchett on Talking Volumes at the Fitzgerald Theater, St. Paul, Minnesota, October 2007

-posted on red Ravine Sunday, October 28th, 2007

-related to post, The Parking Is Free

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I’m more haunted by the things that haven’t happened, than I am by the things that have. Half worn radials rumble over the railroad tracks near Winnetka and Bass Lake Road, wipers slap another day of dreary fog and rain; I drudge up the things that haunt me. Porcupine quills in tender skin.

There were no trains in the distance. I thought of Liz’s photographs of mustard engines, rusty graffiti, barrel shaped cabooses. She stopped at a crossing to take a few shots; there were two other men there, shooting the trains. One carried a long tripod, stood firm with his son. The train backdrop blurred behind them.

It’s comforting to me that people still love what is old, what is dying, what has passed.

Nostalgia. I’m haunted by nostalgia. I don’t have many regrets. I’m not a regretful person. I try to make amends. And live with the fact that I made the best decisions I could, for the time and maturity. If I’m going to cut myself that break, I have to cut others the same.

I’m haunted by not knowing. Not knowing what will happen to Mr. Stripeypants. He’s clearly in so much pain and cannot tell us why. Not knowing the right decisions to crucial questions about my future – about money, writing, teaching, art. That haunts me.

There is risk in moving into new territory. It makes me uncomfortable. Do I have the strength and stamina? Or will memories of failure continue to haunt me.

I’m haunted that I didn’t go to my Grandmother Elise’s funeral. That is one regret I do have. I would do things differently now. I would love her, hug her, call her and ask all the questions I never got to ask.

I was 29. Maybe 30. Insecure. I remember when I got the call. No cell phones then. The phone clamored and rang. She’d had another heart attack and passed away. I cried and cried and cried. Sandwiched between Bitterroot Mountains and Big Sky, I drove the cherry red Subaru wagon all the way down to Hamilton, Montana. I cried some more.

I wasn’t thinking about the beauty. And Montana is a beautiful place. I was haunted by everything I had missed. The connections broken. I was grieving my grandmother. I was grieving the past. I wanted to let go. How could I let go of something I had never fully claimed?

I visited her graveside with my mother, Amelia, last June. It’s across the Savannah River on a slightly sloped hill, in a wide open, ancient cemetery, along the border of east central Georgia. A silk lily had flown loose from another grave. I picked it up, thought about placing it on hers. But then I noticed the tipped container near the flat granite stone of a stranger’s grave nearby, and slipped the lily back into the brass vase.

Empty-handed, full-hearted, I sat with Elise for a moment. It was brief, short. Silent. My mother was there. And my step-father, Louis. We visited a lot of gravesites that sweltering day in June. And I taped a lot of memories.

Last week, I started transcribing them. Each day, I stretch out with headphones attached to my laptop and listen to wav files, voices from the past. I laugh. I cry. I type. I rewind to catch obscure snippets of Southern drawl. I think, “This is my life.” I am not haunted. I feel a great relief to know the bits of truth memory has to offer.

I’m haunted by not knowing. By what I have yet to do. Not what I have done. The haunting is fear, I know it. And I use all the tools in my arsenal to work around it, move through it, sit with it, even in it, when that serves me best.

I know I have to go to these places. I’m willing to risk feeling. Deep, intimate feeling. In return, I understand what it means to feel joy. The payoffs are big. The gamble is great. I could fail. I could make a wrong decision, the right one for the time.

Speaking of time, it’s up. Rain pelts the windows near my desk. Billowing gray clouds give me a feeling of longing. Can I live with the past? Or not knowing the future? If I’m present, neither of them matters. My grandmother is with me every day. I can always go home.


 -related to post, WRITING TOPIC – HAUNTED

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