OF CLICHES AND COLLAPSING HOUSES: A WRITING TEACHER’S LOVELORN LAMENT

fire

I teach my students to choose their details carefully.  Don’t write everything, I instruct them.  Give readers a few telling details, which they can use to construct the whole in their imaginations.  But I cannot verbally reproduce the parts of you that would make it possible for anyone to construct the whole in all its glory.  Three parts lightning, three parts blue jeans, four parts God.  Is that what I should write?  Should I say something about the fire in your eyes, or is that cliché? That is really the telling detail, if ever there was one.  But to paint it, I’d need actual matches, maybe some lighter fluid.  And even when you were there in person, no one seemed to notice the flames but me.

Are they blind?

Should I mention the dent in your throat?

I teach too about load bearing scenes.  Make the moments that matter matter, I tell them.  Give them space on the page.  If they aren’t strong enough, the whole house will collapse.  But how do I write that my entire life hangs on one split second, when I first saw you standing under a night reeling with stars, and my molecules reconfigured themselves?  In an instant, every cell in my body flew to you, the way metal filings fling themselves at a magnet.  How do I tell them that you are gone, and I have been collapsing ever since?  How do I say that I am a walking black hole?

And here I am, defying the laws of physics while mixing architecture and science metaphors.

Should I even be allowed to teach?

And then I go all Clint Eastwood on them.  I tell them to loosen the reigns, let their imaginations ride like palominos through the deserts of their psyches, but when I let my horses run free, they always gallop straight to you, and what does that say about me and my artistry?  I am a one note piano, a lone trick circus monkey, a yellow bird that sings the same song

again

and again

and again.

You told me my cage was in my head, so I bent the bars until they broke.

You untethered me from this world, if I might draw upon a playground metaphor now.  You know that white ball on the string the mean kids bounce around and around?  I was that until you found me and cut my rope.  Before I broke through to the other side of the atmosphere, my journey was a mother fucker.  Now it’s just me and the stars.

It is quiet here.

I am not happy, but I am at peace.

I am not alive, but I am not tortured.

Some days, I wish I would fly straight into the face of the sun.

 

 

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