--I had coffee with a friend and reconnected after the holidays.
--The meeting with my department went well. We even had lunch, which our school has not always been able to afford. It would have been great to have taken the faculty to a fancy restaurant, but given the stresses of the past few years, I was profoundly grateful for lovely trays of sandwiches, perfect fruits, and delectable veggies, all delivered on time by a colleague in a different department. So much could have gone wrong during that meeting and lunch, but nothing did.
--After the meeting, I hung out with my friend who meets with me periodically to exchange short stories. She told me again how much she likes my work, how happy my work is. I said, "It's a good thing I never went into an M.F.A. program--they'd have seen my work as light and fluffy."
--I challenged her to write a story with a happy ending, maybe a marriage. She looked aghast. She challenged me to write a story in which the narrator realizes she's dead.
--As I spun my way through spin class, I thought about the possibilities.
And this morning, I started composing! Will one of the characters be telling the story from the dead? Or am I simply writing an apocalyptic story like the ones I read over Christmas break? I'm not sure yet.
My plan is for the narrative to be broken up with chunks of text like the one below, with which I am well pleased:
I am the pianos abandoned in the early miles of the Oregon Trail, and later, the finer furniture, and later still, all the possessions of any weight at all. I am the bones of a hungry people moving north, desperate for water, finding only stone.
But it occurs to me that perhaps those chunks are poems that have wandered into my short story. Or maybe they'll appear in both. Hmmm.
It makes me happy that I spent some time on fiction this morning, even though I'm not sure where the story is going or how it will fit into my longer manuscript of linked short stories.
What else is making me happy today? My essay on getting more rest and rejuvenation is up at Her Circle. Go here to read it.
I'm also happy that my poem "Conserving the Scraps" has just been published in the latest edition of New Plains Review. What a lovely journal. If you haven't discovered it yet, you should.
Here's the poem, for your Friday reading pleasure:
Conserving the Scraps
The homeless woman sits in the library
and reads about the art of quilts.
Surrounded by all her worldly possessions, three
grocery bags full, she discovers the history
of this odd art, born
out of desperation
and poverty: the lack of basic supplies, the need
to conserve every scrap.
The homeless woman thinks of her own clothes, patched
so many times that she can’t remember
the original contours of the cloth.
She fingers her garbage bags,
the modern feedsack with multiple uses,
many a rainy night made bearable
by their plastic presence.
The homeless woman reads
the tales of modern quilters and their quest
for quality fabrics.
Unlike them, she appreciates
the durability of polyester, a rugged fabric
well suited for life on the streets.
Later, the homeless woman settles
her garbage bags around her in the shadows
and waits for scurrying sleep to come.
She thinks of cheerful quilt tops,
the differences in batting,
and wishes for warmth to call her own.