jeannineatkins (jeannineatkins) wrote,
jeannineatkins
jeannineatkins

Ways to Listen to the World

The journals I keep these days aren’t records of my life, but I sometimes jot down notes of sights or incidents that touch me for reasons I can’t always know. Sometimes we’re lucky enough to have someone tell a short story, perhaps just a sentence, that goes right to our heart, but often it’s what’s overheard, an attention to accidents, that give me what I need for a book. When my husband and I visited our daughter in L.A. this summer, we did some touristy things, some hanging out, and I wrote when I could find time, to keep the stream of my collection of poems moving.

We toured the La Brea Tar Pits, marveling at the very old black muck that is still being excavated. We went through the museum with its hundreds of wolf skulls in a case on the wall, and through the garden where turtles sunned on logs. We saw the models of mastodons and lions that once roamed in California, and, to get a sense of how thick tar is, I tried out a model, lifting a handle with most of my strength to pull it from that thick, sticky tar.

But I think what I most took away was the sight and sound of a little girl with many braids and a well-pressed dress who’d spotted two orange dragonflies flitting over the tar. She kept calling: “Look!” I did, through a lot of sky and over ground and tar. The dragonflies were gorgeous, but her parents and brothers didn’t seem to look. Maybe she’s always calling out. Maybe they rdidn’t care about dragonflies. Maybe… well, there are all kinds of reasons they didn’t seem to look. I thought this touched me because I liked the girl, and I did, but she’s come back to me as I’m writing about another girl from thousands of years ago. And it just struck me that the theme of not being heard is embedded in my manuscript and that small memory.

That little girl is now helping to bring out what I didn’t entirely know I was writing. I wish she could know how much I thank her.

For more Poetry Friday posts, please visit our lovely Susan Taylor Brown, hosting at: http://susanwrites.livejournal.com/
Tags: conversations with the world, poetry friday, writing process
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  • Metaphors

    Sometimes I wish metaphors weren’t often taught as their own unit in elementary school. It makes them seem sort of precious, like a necklace…

  • Deepening

    I’ve been revising some poems, which means while I trim and polish, I’m also kicking up dust, going deeper, a tricky term that…

  • Final Pages

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