The Bone Cairn

The trail rises, higher and higher.

A left foot lifts and slaps down,
bringing along a skyscraper of bones, stacked
helter skelter above its webbed base.

A right foot lifts, the skeleton rises and falls,
rotates, twists, strains upward, off balance
As a rickety shack, almost toppling,
But not quite.

At the summit, the bones settle to the ground,
elbows propped above raised knees, hands folded,
spine rests in a gentle curve, head tilts back. Still.

photo (3)

Heart—Posterior View

Made up of two halves,

the heart is divided by the septum.

 

Where did the rift between us occur?

Left subclavian artery or aortic arch?

Perhaps the right atrium, always pulsing,

pumping out those feelings.

 

Or was it the oh so superior vena cava?

Most likely the inferior.

My inferior vena cava has always felt, well, inferior.

 

After all our history, your footprints

were all over my pericardium.

How could they not be

after confessing every heartbreak

every fear, every shameful secret?

 

And each triumph

when shared with you

more meaningful.

 

When you abandoned me

my left common carotid artery

bled out.

I was half a person

with half a heart.

 

I blame the septum.

Always divisive, controlling

what comes in and what goes out.

Published in Soul of the Narrator Anthology Vol. III, Fall 2012

Mixed MediaLinda Townsdin

Mixed Media
Linda Townsdin

Anniversary

One year ago this month I stepped into a room to begin my first writing group experience. I’m taking a moment to reflect on some of the positive changes that have taken place in my writing and in my life since that first Friday evening.

More Confidence

As an introvert, my weekly Amherst Writers & Artists writing group has given me more confidence in my writing, and more confidence in speaking in front of a group. We read our work aloud and offer feedback and our group can be as small as six or twice that. Learning to be comfortable in a changing setting has been another benefit. Writers from other AWA groups frequently drop in and interested writers are encouraged to join.

More Curiosity

It renewed my interest in poetry, both reading and writing it and learning about new poets. My writing group has generated a willingness to experiment and put myself out there with new and different writing forms.

More Writing

I’d gotten into a rut with my writing after working solely on a mystery novel for an extended period of time. Now, my mind has opened to new writing experiences and my writing group work enhances all my efforts: short stories, mystery novel, postcard fiction, poetic fiction, flash fiction and this blog.

More Publishing

It’s opened my mind to submitting my short pieces even while working on a long project. I’d thought I needed to pay attention to one thing at a time until completion, when in fact, working on many projects has made me more prolific. I’ve recently submitted seven short pieces to an online fiction contest and received an honorable mention and one story was a finalist. I didn’t win but I felt like a winner every time I submitted.

More Giving

Best of all, through my writing group, I’ve been introduced to a wonderful group of writers who are giving back to the community in so many ways and that’s encouraged me to want to do the same. One example is 916 Ink. It helps Sacramento youth improve their literacy skills by providing free creative workshops that end in a beautiful publication. Check it out!

Even a small step like joining a group can feel like a big challenge to an introvert. I’m hoping my enthusiasm will encourage others, particularly introverts like me to take one small risk and find out how much more your life can hold.

Rescued by Pen and Paper

Welter. A confused mass; a jumble; a state of turmoil, confusion, or a disorderly or chaotic situation.

Last week my writing life went awry. A short vacation, out of town guests, and other interruptions had kept me from working on my mystery novel revision, and I was worried that if I left it too long I’d be lost and have to start at the beginning again. Several other writing and editing projects were pending as well.

I opened my laptop. But my laptop did the unthinkable. It dumped data, blue-screened and made scary demands. I did everything it commanded but that wasn’t enough. I hit Safe Mode but I was too late. My laptop froze.

I bundled it up and raced to have it repaired. The kindly technician reassured me he would run diagnostics and call me as soon as he found out anything. I reluctantly left it behind feeling unbalanced and confused, all jumbled up.

Goldilocks and the three computers

Back home, I pulled out my old Dell laptop and booted it up, but it was slow and much too small for me.

I sat at my husband’s 22-inch giant screen computer and attempted to work on my projects but it was too big and cumbersome.

Only my laptop was just right. And it was not there.

Enantiodromia. The changing of something into its opposite. A principle introduced by Carl Jung that the superabundance of any force inevitably produces its opposite. It is equivalent to the principle of equilibrium in the natural world, in that any extreme is opposed by the system in order to restore balance.

Could this be an opportunity for me to do a diagnostic on myself? I’d set up goals and deadlines to finish my book but wasn’t making as much progress as I projected. My inner landscape was a welter of imagined obstacles.  I was forcing what couldn’t be forced. I’d put too much importance on the result and forgot to enjoy the process. I even forgot I could pick up a pen and paper, which is exactly what I did. And happily wrote for four solid hours.

Many thanks to Laura Martin and Jan Haag in my writing group for a couple of writing prompts that jump-started today’s blog for me. My laptop is healthy again. Dirt in the fan caused overheating and a few corrupted files were fixed. It wasn’t the huge catastrophe I imagined after all. All is well. Balance restored.

Spirit First

I meet once a week with an Amherst Writers & Artists writing group. Our group leader plans a theme for the evening’s writing using poetry and prompts (pictures, phrases, props, etc.) to jump start our creativity. Of course, we always have the option to write about whatever we choose. The piece below was inspired by the poem, “The Poet Visits the Museum of Fine Arts” by Mary Oliver. I was drawn to the lines, “the answer was simply to rise in joyfulness, all their days.”

I believe in spirit first every day, and the ideas below are like daily prompts that help to restore spiritual balance to my life. 

Never get out of bed until you manage your motivation

Yes, count those blessings. Don’t stop until you have a hundred if that’s how many it takes.Bad dream, anxiety, illness, mean people? It doesn’t matter. Figure out how to transform it before starting your day. Your life depends on it. And remember, emotional pain is also a blessing. If something hurts that much, it means it’s time to change—yourself.

Make yourself a toolbox

Keep a poem in there. Read the poem. Write down everything and everyone you love. Put that in it. Add something new to your toolbox every day.

Use your eyes

Look at what’s right in your world. Look at what’s beautiful. Are daredevil hummingbirds zooming outside your window like miniature pilots? Watch as they fly straight up into the sky, then drop into loop de loops, their mighty motors going a million heartbeats a second. Clap for them. They love to entertain you.

Dream with your feet

Is your arthritic dog racing through golden fields, legs galloping from his horizontal position on the floor? Pretend you’re with him. It feels wonderful to be so free.

Photo by Artistry by Adele

This checklist makes my day and I hope you find it useful as well.

By the way, if you want to participate in a fun flash fiction contest or read the stories, check out Writer Unboxed. My last week’s entry is a finalist!