Writing At the Edge

“Some days, the first line of a poem interrupts me and insists on being written down – NOW! Other days, I write the words ‘This is what I have to say to you’ at the top of the page and see what comes. Like a faucet dispensing water from a hidden reservoir below the earth, this kind of writing allows the formless mystery to flow into my conscious life. What I tap into when I write from the quiet of my meditation cushion feels limitless. Each morning finds me at the edge of my current experience, writing about where I am stuck, where I am learning to let go, and what is calling me forward right now. Words on the page, both poetry and prose, are the bread crumbs left behind as I move beyond my comfort zone and into the unknown.”

–Danna Faulds

When I write at the edge of what I know…

Comments

  1. Fran Stekoll says

    Today I feel scared. I’m 78, three months from turning 79. The same age Mom was when she experienced her radical Mastectomy.

    Yesterday I spent hours at the breast center. Several x-rays, ultrasounds and finally hearing from the Doctor that there are new micro calcifications that look questionable in my right breast.

    Usually I negate all negative news and have tried to hang on to my faith and be positive over everything; but this time I’m scared. Probably because breast cancer runs rampant on both sides of my family.

    Tomorrow morning I’m having a biopsy. and i will know the results on Friday afternoon.

    My Mother refused chemo and radiation. She was given 12 days to live and lived 12 years by changing her entire life to holistic. She meditated, ate healthy, was quite the role model of mind over matter. I know I can also do this; however there have been great strides in cancer since she passed away, so I’m conflicted.

    I am grateful that my daughter and son-in-law live with me and that I recently purchased more life insurance.

    I am also thankful that I have lived a very fulfilling life. Always taking each day as if it were my last. I am blessed with a loving family, three grown kids and 10 grandkids. I am on the brink of having Mom’s dream become a reality with the retreat, “Total Wholeness”. I’ve been a Death and Dying counselor for the past 10 years- guiding others through the process of making their transition; but it’s quite different facing my own.

    I knew one day life would meet me face on. I guess maybe I thought it would be later. All I can feel now is satisfied that I’ve come this far and accomplished almost everything on my bucket list.

    If I’d known this was going to happen I would have taken better care of myself. A wake up call, a reality check, Is this all there is?

    • says

      The lines that struck me here were that you thought it would be later–and that despite your work helping people die, it’s different facing your own mortality. Thank you for a post that is the perfect entry into this week’s topic. And good luck Fran making the treatment (or lack of treatment) decision that is right for you at this time in your life.

      Does life feel more vivid right now? That’s what I remember from my diagnosis. It was as if the diagnosis woke me up to the beauty of everything around me.

      • Fran Stekoll says

        Yes it does feel more vivid now!!!
        It’s like waking up from a dream, lifting my head out of the sand, and meeting myself for the first time.

    • Lee Xanthippe says

      Thank you for opening up this very “on the edge”-feeling moment. It is powerful that there is this sort of echo (fear?) of your relationship in relation to your mothers and her decisions and noting that yours may be similar or different. I was also moved by the realization that experiencing these things are different oneself vs. in counseling another. Thank you for writing this…
      And I wish you the very best…
      Lee

    • Polly says

      Fran, my heart goes out to you. I hope the results of your biopsy come back benign. Thank you for having the strength to share this. Will be thinking of you on Friday.

      • Sheila McGinley says

        I will be thinking about you, especially Thursday and Friday. I will hope for the best. One thing I learned from having a strong mother is that it is a gift of imagining your life that few people have. But I also learned how important it is for you to do what you believe is right for you. No matter how well she did, you can put together pieces that are right for you.

    • Judy says

      Fran–not sure what’s more powerful in this writing: the piece itself or your response to Laura. Thank you for both. You are in my heart. Be well and hugs, J.

    • Adrienne Drake says

      Fran, your well told story shows me that no matter what our ages, we are always vulnerable to (more) wake up calls. Because of your story, I will try to remember (again) to be grateful for all that I have in my life!
      Adrienne

    • Terry Gibson says

      Fran, thank you for sharing this. Am also thinking of you and wishing you the very best. I understand that heightened vividness.

    • Janet says

      Fran, I am thinking of you. I hope you are alright. My heart goes out to you.
      Much love to you and your family.

  2. Ritch Brinkley says

    The edge of what I know is that I have today and assume that I also have tomorrow to learn more. I have already lived longer than the actuarial tables expect with three co-morbidities (impersonal terms for the Grim Reaper’s arrows.) Now waiting for some other poor soul to die and surrender his kidney to be installed in my gut life is too uncertain to ruminate on my graduation into The Great Beyond. What that translates to in my perception is a bottomless pit of indistinct possibilities. They range from complete eradication of my oneness to unending fraternization with those who those bought the farm who abandoned the ship of life before me. My parents found surcease of sorrow in an ideal heaven not so far from that of “Clarence” the angel in “Its a Wonderful Life.” I’m not sure of what the appeal is in alabaster benches (without padding or back support?), endless harp practice, and an unfocused horizon of ambiguous clouds-but more of that comforting reassurance gains purchase with my expectations. Each day I hear about noted others who have bought the farm at around my age. The casual acknowledgment of their passing sends a chill through my creaking bones upon the realization that no one else finds expiration at this age unusual or unexpected. Like teenagers, I cannot grasp the concept of ceasing to be. But as the clock runs down the attempt to grasp the concept picks up momentum. I carry on with a patina of guilt that I am not more grateful for today, nor productive in its potential. On the edge of my existence I know that I am not alone but certainly accompanied by every still living soul. May we all rest in peace.

    • says

      Ritch, this reminds me so much of something my mother said to me about ten years ago, when she was 75 years old. “I’ve reached the acceptable age for death.” In other words, no one would consider her death “untimely” or “tragic.”

      I’ve been teaching at Commonweal for my annual writer’s retreat–it just ended a few hours ago and there have been a number of discussions about aging and infirmity and limitations. I wish you could have been there!

      • Janet says

        Though not the same in meaning, this reminds of walking with my mom at the cemetery. We were “visiting” my younger brother, Jimmy, who had died 5 years before this. Mom was only about 67 then. She walked between the headstones, reading them and then glanced back at me and said, “You know a lot of these people are not much older than me.” .

    • Lee Xanthippe says

      I love the language in this piece–from the actuarial tables to the uncomfortable alabaster benches to the “patina of guilt”. I feel a certain wrestling with mortality at the same time there is a sense of play around mortality and the pondering of it.

      Thank you! (I’m going to go “rest in peace” for the night, as long as I don’t “buy the farm”, that is.)

    • Adrienne Drake says

      Ritch, I really admire the honesty with which you face your own mortality, for example, ” I carry on with a patina of guilt that I am not more grateful for today, nor productive in its potential. ” In its openess, your story has given me permission to be “less perfect” and more human. :-)
      Thank You!
      Adrienne

    • Lucy says

      To be vulnerable is not what most of us like to do yet we must share our vulnerability to let the world know we are scared. That life is showing up and sometimes it’s too hard to do alone. You have given others guidance and comfort when others have been scared. They showed their vulnerability with you. And you were there to help them. Let others do the same for you. I hope all goes well.

    • Janet says

      Beautiful writing…”On the edge of my existence I know that I am not alone but certainly accompanied by every still living soul.” I love this. It captures how I feel when I’m feeling good.

    • Judy says

      Rich, Beautifully written–clearly down to the bone. You write with such honesty of your own mortality. I’d have to cut and paste the entire piece as an example of how impressive I find this writing. Each word seems choose with great care and tenderness. Thank you so much for sharing this piece.

  3. Lee Xanthippe says

    “When I write on the edge of what I know”…this is the prompt and somehow I don’t like this prompt, writing on the edge of what I know—it is not so clear what I know and what I do not know, I do not think of this so consciously.

    It is like holding something in your hand and turning it over and over or each time you see a friend learning more or rather the deepening of relationships—the edge of what I know—hell, I jump into all sorts of stuff I don’t know shit about—I am always when writing jumping in, diving, not caring, or, rather, when I am free and writing that is what I am doing.

    1) Write about edges/
    2) Write about what I know.
    3)Write about what I don’t know.
    4) Write about what I’m not sure if I know or not…
    or about what I’d like to know…
    or about what I wouldn’t like to know.
    5) Write about prompts and resistance.
    6) Write about prompts I trust and prompts I don’t and the difference…
    Or, rather, write about whose prompts I trust and try to explain why and whose prompts I don’t trust and try to explain why.
    7) Write about last night’s blueberries.
    8) Write aobut the Saturday dusky long walk alone and seeing all the people who stand and live and sleep on the streets and what it feels like to have a bag full of 2 pints of blueberries (abundance), best smelling nectarines, one too bitter cucumber, three packages of pudding.
    9) Write about getting to work on time or not because I am writing too long.
    10) Write about what it feels like to stop writing when you want to keep going.
    11) Stop.

    • says

      Lee, I loved that you named your resistance and then wrote anyway.

      And this: “Write about the Saturday dusky long walk alone and seeing all the people who stand and live and sleep on the streets and what it feels like to have a bag full of 2 pints of blueberries (abundance), best smelling nectarines, one too bitter cucumber, three packages of pudding.” A fantastic prompt. I hope you write it and share it with us here.

      • Lee Xanthippe says

        Thanks, Laura, for your response and for a forum, comments, and prompts that make me want to respond and embrace (or resist?, but in a good way) whatever comes out my fingertips and onto the screen!

    • Judy says

      Lee, You did it. Bravo. A wonderful piece with clarity, determination and highly creative structure. You spur me on to write this week, thanks.

    • Adrienne Drake says

      I liked the easy flow and lack of self-consciousness of this piece….and then the very poignant ending, so unexpected as I was just breezing along your piece. Thank you for making me think about the entire creative process, and what prompts us all to finally put what we must say down on paper!

    • Terry Gibson says

      I love where you went with this, Lee. Now I’m thinking,’Hmm, what’ll I come up with?’ No clue. I’m intrigued by yours and muddled about mine. :)

    • Lucy says

      I feel like I was in your head processing the prompt! You put me on the edge of your thinking spiral roller coaster ride!

      • Lee Xanthippe says

        Thank you much, Janet, Lucy, Terry, Adrienne, Judy, and Laura for your feedback! I appreciate it! ~Lee

  4. Lucy says

    I lack practice.

    I have not taken myself to the edge of what I know because I have kept the words hidden safe within me. I have not taken the risk to do so. I lack practice.

    I must start practicing.

    I must bring the words out into the open. They no longer need to be hidden and its time to take them out. Dust them off and let them shine. They deserve the attention. I must start practicing.

    I will start practicing.

    I will toss my words out like pebbles into a deep, still pond and watch the ripples dance on the surface allowing me to get closer to the edge. I will start practicing.

    I am beginning to crave that feeling of being so close to the edge that I can’t stop. To a place where I don’t want to stop but rather plunge forward and believe that I can fly with my words as my wings.

    I want to take myself to the edge.

    • Vicki says

      As I read this I said to myself, Ah…this is me. Thank you for putting down in words what I have been trying to do. And, yes, I will start practicing, too.

    • Lee Xanthippe says

      I love the focus in this piece around the words “practice” and “practicing” and the subtle variations on that theme as the piece progresses : )

      I also found it fun that while talking about wanting to practice, the author was practicing which was fun and the images that started to come out–the pebble rippling in the water or the word wings…thank you, Lucy! Oh, and I like the opening line, “I lack practice.”–that line drew me in–short, direct, and putting it out in the open which made me want to open to that in the reading and in myself.

    • Judy says

      Lucy–hooked from the beginning. Love reading this line, “Dust them off and let them shine. They deserve the attention. I must start practicing.” Oh wait, if I cut and paste favorite lines it would include the entire piece! Nice writing. Go to the edge more often, please.

    • Adrienne Drake says

      Lucy, I loved the image of the tossed pebbles that created the ripples that took you closer to the edge. I used to love to toss pebbles in a still pond and watch their ever expanding rings move closer to the shore. Your story brought me back to that deep reflective time, the kind of time that does bring one closer to ones edge. Thank you!

  5. Deb Mansell says

    I am on the edge
    On the edge teetering
    Almost tipping off into the unknown

    I am on the edge
    Testing out the water
    Dipping in my big toe

    I am on the edge
    Waiting for the traffic
    Watching for the green light

    I am on the edge
    Waiting for the signal
    Watching for the flare across the sky

    I am on the edge
    On the edge of my seat
    Waiting for the right moment to say things out loud

    Is it time now?

    • Lee Xanthippe says

      I enjoyed the poetry and the mystery of this piece : )
      When I read the last line, I wanted to answer, “Yes!” (but of course that line also speaks to a universal question of when is the right time to speak and open up truths…).

      When I read this piece, I had the sense of waiting, of being on that edge, of watching for the signs, the green lights, the flares..thank you!

    • Terry Gibson says

      I love this poem, Deb. It is eloquent and says so much while retaining its simple beauty and images. If it’s your ‘now,’ I don’t think you could be in better hands than on Laura’s blog.

      • Deb Mansell says

        Thank you all for your lovely comments and words of support, I am off to see my chosen mum, Christine, to stock up on healing hugs, walks by the sea and to make lots of positive memories for my children.

        I’ll be thinking of those of you who are preparing for your Scotland trip, I’ll be right down on the south coast of the British isles in Hastings. :-) Hope you have a productive workshop.

          • Deb Mansell says

            We almost could, just a heartbeat away, maybe one day I’ll get to Scotland again, I have very special links there too, but that’s another story…..

            I wrote this on the breaking the rules whilst you were travelling which explains my links with Christine and Hastings.

            “I broke the rules when I spoke out loud about what had happened to me, I broke the rules when I told, when I broke the silence.

            I tried to tell when I was being abused, when I really small, through temper tantrum and night terrors. When I was older I tried to talk about it, I told a woman I babysat for, told her I didn’t like what was happening and she told me as long as it wasn’t her husband she didn’t want to know!

            Whilst I was still being abused ,aged 15, I went for youth counselling but couldn’t tell, sat in silence through every session then cried at the end because I hadn’t managed to speak.

            I eventually managed to break the silence and started to talk about the pain.

            Then I told my mother. I told her that my uncle had abused me. She screamed back at me, “Why didn’t you tell someone? “ “Why did you let him?” “Why didn’t you stop him?” I knew then that whatever else I decided to do I was on my own, that she would never understand how I felt or what had happened to me. So I broke the rules again and found myself a new mum, someone who would listen to me.

            Christine was the wife of our minister I chose her to be my mum, she already cared for me, made me endless cups of tea, wiped away my tears. We went on long dogs walks through the woods stopping on the way for a chat, a tear and a hug. The hugs I remember so well, I was so cuddle starved and Christine’s hugs are endless. She took me into her life and made me a part of her family; I know had 2 new brothers and 2 new sisters! Aunts and uncles even new grandparents, all who cared about me.

            And now for two weeks of every summer break I take my family to stay with Grandma Christine and Granddad Michael in their home in Hastings, which is by the sea, and stock up on all those hugs I’ve missed for the year. The best one is when we step of the train and there she is open armed waiting for us.”

            Warmest wishes

            Deb

  6. Sheila McGinley says

    I am , right now, standing on the edge of what I know. My life is standing on the edge of what I know. My daughter will be leaving for the university soon and I will float in this house, in this life, without my solid (though sometimes tiring) anchor of the last 22 years. My dog, the dog that was to be my daughter’s, the dog I didn’t intend to love, is just steps away from leaving me too, at 100 doggie years. I do not know what it will be like to inhabit a quiet house, to go for days, at times, without speaking. I stand on the edge of my water and feel the shifting underneath me, lonely already for the solid ground of child, of dog, of a filled house and yard and meals that I stand and cook for someone besides me, a house to keep for someone else besides me. Well, at least and as always, I still have my cats.

    I stand on the edge of what I know with my body. I try to make peace with it’s slow abandonment of me. I try not to think too often of how strong I felt when I was the mother carrying her daughter on my shoulders, in my arms. I try not to remember, hiking up slow and climbing hills into quiet beauty, or walking barefoot in shifting sands at the water’s edge and feeling peace flow over me. The sand shifts now, every day. Somedays I see a wheelchair coming, other days I plant my feet firmly on the ground. Somedays I ache so badly that I have to talk myself into moving, into getting out of the car. Others, the pain is little. When I stand here, at this point, and notice myself, I cannot see the future yet. I stand and wonder. I stand and hope.

    I am standing on the edge of sorrow, of loss, and this time the loss is of me. I yearn to move, to travel, to fly and then to get out of the plane an walk everywhere I long to go. I stand at the edge, though, and remember to whisper thank you to my legs, to my feet to everything within me that still works. I stand at the edge and wonder if I am also saying goodbye.

    In my writing now, I stand on the edge of darkness. Literally, on the edge of black darkness. I am trying to write about the six months of my life so horrible that my mind has shut it down. My mind sees only emptiness, blackness there. And yet as I stand and peer into the darkness, I am beginning to sense shapes of monsters that I did not notice before. I see form to the darkness and try to help it become something that I can know. The shapes shift and fade, then fly across my vision. I feel exhilaration when I catch a glimpse of what I do not know, and I find that strange. I laugh at myself.

    In my writing, I stand on the edge of reality, following in my mind some advice to walk into the darkness and make of it my own life, my own story, some mix of made-up fiction and true. And I feel exhilarated, as if the story that I make up to bring to air will be the story that I lived all along. I am floating somewhere familiar and yet feeling as if at last my feet are reaching the ground.

    In my writing now, I am letting loose in free-fall and feeling no fear. I know the fear will come, but it is not yet here. Each morning I wake up with another thought, another trail to go down. And I just want to keep falling, slowly, looking at last at my life all around me, soaking in its shapes and colors as I fall.

    Each little piece of story that I write, I let go like a small boat let loose on the river, a candle floating in its bow. I watch it and I feel satisfied, relieved. People ask me if it is painful to remember and write and I say no, not often. It was painful to NOT remember, painful to feel that I must not remember. Writing is a golden gate, opening to me, and with gratitude I am coming. I am going. At last, I am writing.

    I am on the edge of everything lately. I am on the edge of too much pain, on the edge of calm, on the edge of joy. And my heart is so full that I know that it will overflow soon. Lately, I feel my mother’s spirit close to me and I feel filled with her love. Sometimes I wonder if she is back, floating just out of my awareness, because my girl is going soon. Or is it because I am folding back the edges of pain, of shame? Or is it just my mind,my heart that is feeling her?

    I no longer, not for now at least, worry about who thinks what of me, or what shame will undo in me. I want to write everything and then choose what I want to tell. I feel such peace at times, and that old song comes to me all that time, night and day: “Wooden ships on the water, very free (and easy), easy the way that its supposed to be….. silver people on the shoreline let us be, talking about very free and easy……………………”

    • says

      Sheila, I love watching your heart and your writing crack open week by week here on the page. Thank you for sharing your process with us. I feel so honored.

      I loved this line, ” Writing is a golden gate, opening to me, and with gratitude I am coming.” And I’m humming “Wooden ships” as I get up from my computer…

    • Adrienne Drake says

      Sheila,
      Reading this I felt like I was having a dream that I did not want to wake up from! I want to know about all of the unknowns you are standing on the edge of!
      Adrienne

    • Judy says

      Shelia, I echo Laura and Adrienne’s comments. I find your writings and journey beautifully expressed. I love the vivid descriptions, especially this line, “I stand on the edge of what I know with my body. I try to make peace with it’s slow abandonment of me.” Well crafted and lyrical conclusion using a favorite song, ‘Wooden Ships.’ Very hopeful ending. Thank you.

    • Lee Xanthippe says

      Wow! I felt like this piece went there and I went with it–into all the edges or emotions–yes, the cracking open of things–I too loved the golden gate line and the realization of losses–the description of the daughter going and soon the dog…and I felt with this piece. I loved the mother who seemed to come back–a supportive figure…and I felt like the black darkness was also a sort of mysterious character–I felt myself peering into.
      I like how this piece slowed down and slowed me down…the metaphor of the each piece of the story written being like a small boat let go. I was struck by the part about it being painful NOT to remember. I enjoyed the “exhilaration” coming from the recognizing of shapes or the getting to figure out the puzzle in the darkness. Thank you!
      And the song lyrics, beautiful…

  7. Michael Dorenzo says

    Sheila, Lovely writing. I like this line: “And I feel exhilarated, as if the story that I make up to bring to air will be the story that I lived all along.” This thought. Thank you for posting.

  8. Adrienne Drake says

    PICTURES TELL THE STORY

    An elderly gentleman gracefully holds his aging wife in outstretched arms as they float across a sepia ballroom, not for a minute looking at anything other than each others smiling eyes. She wears a beautiful though outdated gown and he wears a dark blue suit.

    A stately evergreen stands all by itself on a mountain ridge, towering and powerful, holding wisdom in its gnarled branches. It has weathered many storms on that exposed and windy crest and is the only tree left standing.

    A blindfolded runner sprints smoothly along his narrow track. His lean and muscular legs carry him seamlessly over every hurdle. He has left the competition in the dust and will surely win the race.

    To loosen us up and get the creative process started before we actually begin painting, our wise art teacher has passed around photos she has taken from magazines. We are to choose three of them, with or without first looking. We are then to write a story about what they evoke in us. We are not to think about our stories, but instead, we are to write what immediately comes to mind. I briefly wonder how these images have spoken to our teacher and what determined how she picked the ones she neatly clipped for us.

    With curious anticipation and without hesitation, I choose my pictures blindly. The dancing couple, the magnificent tree and the self-confident athlete are the images the universe handpicks for me today.

    I do not write about the tender loving couple, whose marriage has lasted a lifetime, for I can not face the fear that someday soon, I too will be that old. I do not write about the solitary majestic tree, proud though it is, for I can not bear the thought that in the end each of us must stand alone. I choose instead to write about the blindfolded runner who never swerves from his assigned lane, hurdles behind him and hurdles in front as far as the eye can see. Now here is a concept I can effortlessly embrace; running blindly while trying to stay on track is a challenge I often relate to.

    Life is a series of hurdles randomly placed upon our path creating chaos along the way. If we do not blind ourselves occasionally we surely will go mad. How far can we run the gamut of our hectic lives without seeing?

    Are we like certain elephants whose search for salt takes them so deep into caves that they must find their way by smell and touch alone, probing the cavern walls for this essential nutrient with their restless and sensitive trunks? In this darkness their weak eyesight is rendered useless. Or perhaps we are like some strange and colorless deep sea creatures. The filtering of light at the depths where they lurk is so complete that their skin has little pigment. They don’t even develop eyes.

    What courage it takes to navigate our personal darkness without knowing what lies ahead. We are much like children whose first faltering footsteps are based on pure faith and on the inborn impetus to move and grow.

    Can we let go and trust our inner promptings that are always there to guide us? Can we still our busy lives and minds long enough to listen? Our precious gut sees without seeing, feels without explanation, and taps into the perfect knowledge of the collective unconscious. Do we dare trust it? Do we really have a choice? Our health and wholeness utterly depend upon it.

    Today in art class the universe hand delivered three important messages to me. Although they entered through my eyes, I felt them with my heart, and heard them with my soul.

    First, I must face that I will soon grow old. Just as the universe made room for me when I was born, I must step aside in time. This was ordained from my first breath. This is the lifecycle.

    Second, I must learn to stand alone. This separation is how I honor the unique vibrations of my DNA and fulfill my personal destiny. This is the truest manifestation of my identity. This is what it means to be me.

    Third, I must have faith in my inner knowing. Letting go into this innate wisdom allows my spirit to align with the pulsating life force that surrounds me. This is grace. This is how I heal.

    Care to join me?

    • Judy says

      Adrienne, What thoughtful and beautiful writing. It resonates with me on many levels as you skillfully craft how art and writing can lead us. I find much wisdom from this line “Can we let go and trust our inner promptings that are always there to guide us?” to your concluding graph. Thank you. I always enjoy your posts. Judy

  9. says

    I love that you shared this wonderful art practice–so much like the writing practice I advocate here and teach in my classes and workshops. I love your process and where that process brought you. I love your insights. I feel inspired!

    These were my two favorite parts: “How far can we run the gamut of our hectic lives without seeing?” That’s a question I’m certainly living with.

    And this insight: “First, I must face that I will soon grow old. Just as the universe made room for me when I was born, I must step aside in time. This was ordained from my first breath. This is the lifecycle.”

    Thank you.

    • Adrienne Drake says

      Thank you, Laura, for your encouraging words. If I can inspire, the journey has been worth it!
      Adrienne

  10. MaryL says

    Writing at the Edge

    Some people think I am edgy … off-center, a bit eccentric, outside the box –and I love that!
    These days, when I speak about an injustice or a strongly held view, I feel strong!
    The problem is that inside me lives a little girl who is afraid to speak out,
    scared to offend, worried about abandonment,
    needing and not receiving reassurance,
    and she tugs at my sleeve, as if she could hold me in check.

    Little Mary does not understand that her fears were balanced by a wonderful power.
    She forgets that she alone held the key which no one else could take from her … the truth!
    And her imagination – which could cause her to tremble – also empowered her to fly away,
    seeming to look up at the ceiling, while going somewhere safe until the coast was clear.

    Having to keep secrets is quite frightening …
    You never know if the One who told you to keep quiet really will kill you or leave you on the street corner with no one.
    You never know if you’ll make some horrid mistake and the teacher who seems to like you (and doesn’t know about the secrets) will pull away.
    You keep quiet in school, never the one to whisper while the teacher is talking, or slip a note to your girlfriend. You take the rap for “chatty Cathy” who drives you bananas with her staccato questions, then won’t fess up that she/ not you talked in class.

    You know that your Mother knows, because she asks you, and when you answer, she walks away. Nothing happens! No sirens! No whistles! No calls to the uncles to talk to/attack the offender. When you really would prefer thunderous noise, there is silence.

    I can tell my story and tell my story and tell my story,
    but only when I venture to the edges … to the scary places with the sharp cliffs and cold rocky shore below …. into the desert sun with no water to drink …
    Do I feel in my bones, feel in my bones, feel in my bones,
    that the edges take me beyond a stagnant resignation about an “unhappy childhood”
    and into the realm of – you can’t even imagine this! – a swath of orange-purple-rose-green-purple ENERGY where I am renewed, where the hope fills me and my TRUTH is writ large.

  11. Judy says

    WRITING AT THE EDGE

    This is a ghost story. A true family story that happened many years ago: some members remember it; others simply smile and look away bemused.

    This is my telling.

    They were married months after his mother’s passing. The new bride never met his dying mother, but heard stories of her big personality. It was said she was funny, in a vaudevillian kind of way, and said what was on her mind, filtering nothing. She was not shy in dispensing hugs or bawdy jokes.

    While the newlyweds’ home was being completed, the couple and her two boys, six and nine, moved into the garden apartment of his sister’s home and ate evening meals with the sister’s husband, daughter and two sons.

    Long ago, the man’s mother bought a lakeside cottage in a Michigan resort town, ninety minutes from their Chicago home. One night over dinner with the sister-in-laws family, it was agreed that a weekend at the cottage would be a great treat for the newlyweds and the two young boys.

    Both families piled into a large van and arrived at the cottage before sunset. After the van was unloaded, the sister-in-law asked the six year old to take his backpack upstairs to check out the cool bunk beds.

    As the boy reached the top of the stairs, a sudden wind blew the front door wide open. The cat in the daughter’s arms gave a larger than life screech as if someone’s foot had boldly planted itself on his long fluffy tail. Flying through the air, the cat embedded its claws into the cream colored window coverings; then sliding downward; it blithely left tattered chards where once beautiful sheer drapes caressed lake breezes. Reaching the floor, the cat slithered behind the coach making one more screech that turned to a tentative hiss.

    The people in the room froze as they observed the cat. Then froze again as they heard the young boy yell from the landing, “Who’s this little old lady up here?”

    Time slowed. Mouths opened wide. Jaws dropped as a large collective question mark wound its way around the still-life figures in the room.

    All were suspended in disbelief until the cat’s tail slowly seeped from the under the coach’s dust ruffle to make gentle left to right sweeps along the floor.

    Some people moved slowly. Others let out nervous giggles as the sister-in-law’s belly laugh echoed through the room. Then, in a soft lingering manner she said, “Oh my gawd. It was Mom—I just know it.”

    Eyes flashed. Heads shook. The boy came bounding down the stairs in his swim trunks and goggles shouting, “Which way to the beach?”

    The spell seemed broken.

    A movement at the edge of the new bride’s peripheral vision gave way to her sons rushing past her and out the still-open front door. The group went about their unpacking and made plans for dinner as chatter of the event faded.

    For many years the ‘now-divorced-new bride’ wondered what really had happened. When she asked the boys their recollections of the incident, they would drop their eyes and say,” I didn’t remember that, Mom. “

    It is said there is a crossroad at the edge of the universe—a kind of veil. Nobel Prize winning science says that only three percent of the universe is visible to humanity.

    This has been a family ghost story. My question has always been–what do the departed see?

  12. Diana says

    My Edge

    I step to the cliff edge. As I look down, a tsunami of vertigo floods me. My toes curl over the rim in an instinctual grip to keep me from falling. I gaze straight ahead at the horizon and fool my body into feeling on solid, far reaching ground. As my trembling stills, I close my eyes and turn my focus down and look over the precipice. Poised at the edge, I take ink pen and notebook to tell you what is there….. then the phone rings
    and I must listen to the automated message from Target pharmacy, then the dog barks and I have to bring her in lest she disturb the neighbors, then I notice my daughter forgot to feed her and her water bowl is empty and when did her nails get do long?, so I have to go find the claw clippers and give her a mani/pedi, now I’m hungry so I need to go get a snack lest I go into a hypoglycemic coma and need to be rushed to the ER, while eating I check my cell phone messages, then my Facebook page and right now I really have to answer all of my Facebook posting lest my “friends” think me rude and “You never answer me on Facebook”, then I have to clean up the kitchen, and oh that Mt Everest of laundry on my bedroom chair has to be folded before it becomes an alien beacon and now it’s time to go get my daughter, drive to dance class, make dinner and now I am so tired I can barely utter an intelligent word much less string then together.
    Perhaps tomorrow I will tell you what I see over the edge, unless I have to dust the fireplace, put my books in alphabetical order and group them by genre, and clean out my e-mail in box……………………………………………..
    And so it goes with my writing most days.

  13. Bobbie Anne says

    Yes, I can identify with when “the first line of a poem interrupts me”
    and insists on being written down-NOW.” So true. I find that as a poet, I write at the edge of what I know. Quite a bit. And I get inspired, as most writers do.

    I had a haiku poem published in a magazine last month. It went as follows:

    SUMMER SOUNDS HAIKU

    My cat Tara strums
    the guitar with her pink tongue
    Summer night music

    So I read in another magazine this haiku by Jacqueline N.:

    LOVE SOUNDS

    Burying my head
    in a mass of silky fur
    starts my cat purring

    Hmm. Seems we have the same muse. Same vibration. Thank goodness it’s not the same poem. It’s not the same cat either.

  14. Bobbie Anne says

    By the way, My haiku poem was published first. And even though the idea is similar, the poem isn’t. Certainly there is room for both cat haiku.

  15. Terry Gibson says

    Writing at the Edge of What I Know

    I hear a sizzling sound so close, I am afraid for my friend. She lies a foot and a half away from me, adorned in a soft white dough that spans the length of her body. I look down and realize that I am similarly dressed. A crop of her crimson hair is sticking out. I can’t see her expression as her back is toward me. The bubbling oil flings tiny droplets of itself at us and I feel her flinch from the searing heat. I had to something urgently. Somehow, I must scootch over to switch places with her, plopping myself down closer to the plate’s lip. I try to move. Damn. Perogies slide easily in this dream. I open my eyes, see my partner and, like her, wrap myself tightly in my white down comforter.
    *****
    I do not focus on the psychological theories rattling around in my head. ‘Cognitive dissonance.’ On Facebook, this term came up regarding Trayvon Martin’s inner conflicts, as depicted by his brushes with the law. These words jumped off the page at me from my psychology text in first-year University. It was and still is a weighty term for me and has a starring role in my memoir.

    I see my young nephews’ faces and study them with a glowing pride and easy love. I wonder how they’ll cope. How will they feel? They are good, worthy and loved. They know this. I ache to imagine their battles against the element of society that spews contemptuous racist views.
    *****
    M. locked our door and I run ahead downstairs to check the mail. I unlock the battered mailbox, grab its contents, and let the tiny door slam shut. Let’s see. What do we have today? A sample of hair dye. Nope. I tossed away that cancer-causing stuff long ago and do so again. I flip thru a ridiculous pamphlet, another waste of tax dollars, sent by our Federal government. This publication proclaimed that their top priority was job creation and using state-of-the-art accessibility for all disabled people. Get this—the portion in Braille is not embossed! I laugh, while shaking my head, never surprised by the idiocy of our dictator and his party. M. also rolls her eyes after seeing it and then secures our mailbox and removes the key.

    I lean back against the stairs and realize that Pri, another tenant, stood in the doorway of her place, chatting to the stranger in the hall.

    ‘Who is THAT?’

    ‘Who?’ Pri said. They seem to whisper loudly for a few seconds.
    Really, ladies, we’re only three feet away, I think. Don’t eavesdrop, Terry.

    ‘The two at the mailboxes,’ the woman went on. ‘… in bright clothes.’

    I didn’t look at them. Pri laughed and I knew she had popped her head out the door. ‘The old folks from upstairs … trying to look young.’

    I always wear bright colours, I yelled at her in my head. I stuffed the damned junk mail in the recycling bin. M. and I loved my whitewalls. Turning the door handle to leave, my cheeks stung and tears welled in my throat. Nobody called me old before.
    *****
    I am writing at the edge of a rock face.

    No. While I am poised on the side of our bathtub, ready to check the water’s temperature.
    *****
    It is a blustery day in an Ontario maple sugar bush. I feel a light warmth from the large shack where they are boiling down the sap. I lift my head like an alerted deer and inhale the sweet odour. Grabbing a bucket, I take two steps and–I’m on my butt in the sticky snow. Giggling, I jumped to my feet and quickly looked around. None of my classmates notice and I scramble to my feet. Breaking into a run, I head straight to one of the spigots, which dangled from every tree like a cigarette from James Dean’s mouth.
    ‘Listen, class.’ I hear the teacher speak loudly. ‘Come together, students.’ She claps her hands for our attention.

    Yay. This was the bling end of a double rainbow. I milked the spigot and heard the clear liquid land in droplets in my shiny new pail. I tasted a wee bit of the sweet sap. Yummy.

    Three minutes later, my friends and I stood together while the bush owner poured fresh maple syrup on a patch of brilliant white snow. I hear birds sing while we wait. It was a toffee pull! I couldn’t take it any more. I dove in and tore away at one end of the longest piece of candy ever. My opponent? The boy I held hands with once while skating.
    *****
    While writing, I am pleased that my memory refreshes a vital fact for me. In a courtroom (kangaroo or otherwise), what people say is NOT evidence. Defence lawyers, prosecutors, fire-and-brimstone-folks, who burst out from the stands, will toss around hundreds of words. They murder you by hurdling daggers of their manufactured truths at the jury, sitting ducks in the box. However, the only true ‘evidence’ is what people testify to under oath. In other words, people will judge me in many ways but what really matters is what I know about myself. That and the mission of my memoir.
    *****
    So many paths to explore while writing at the edge. It keeps me fascinated and attentive. I settle in on my keyboard.
    *****
    Slipping into my runners, I tie them firmly but not too tight. I make my way out of our apartment and down the seven stairs to the foyer. As I dance down the outside stairs, I almost expected to hear a booming radio voice penetrating all the hideous noise around me—‘That’s one small step for woman… ‘ Okay. Okay. It was not of Neil Armstrong proportions but a biggie just the same.

    There are no trumpets or bagpipes. Nobody rushes at me, pulling me into a ‘yummy’ hug that jostles my bones. Nope. The traffic didn’t even stand still. There wasn’t a second take of any kind. This—while I leave the safety of my home, for the first time in twenty-one years, with my arms and legs fully exposed, baring my scars. Shorts and a tee shirt never felt more free or easy.

    PS: First draft.

    • Polly says

      PS: My favourite of all your pieces so far. At various moments, I felt the tears stinging, saw the elation and pride, heard each sound you so eloquently described. Nicely done! And thanks – I think you just inspired me to finally get to work on this week’s prompt.

    • Debbie says

      Terry – very nice! I admire how you can jump topics and scenes and still manage to take us along with you. There is a different tone and texture to this post – I like it.

    • Diana says

      Terry I am awestruck. I was taken in from the beginning and then along for the beautiful ride of this piece. I could smell the maple syrup, I could see the James Dean cigarette tree limbs. Write that memoir girl so I keep reading. Loved every word of it.

    • Ilana says

      Terry- I liked the way you put this into the separate vignettes. Each one was beautiful on it’s own. I especially loved the freedom of the last part. Nice job. Ilana

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