Eight straight years of intensive writing instruction in high school and college make me shy of writing exercises. I’ve been there, wrote that.
However, on the occasion a member of my writer’s group suggests an exercise, I put on my big girl pants and I make good.
Below is a dot of fiction, based on a song (Deb Talan’s “The Gladdest Things“), which follows a poem (Edna St. Vincent Millay’s “Afternoon on a Hill“). Fast on the heels, and interspersed, I’ve included photos of the location I had in mind while working on the exercise. Turns out, this a piece I quite like, so thank you Megan.
For a Song, for a Poem
He touched my hand. It wasn’t to make a statement. The touch felt light, as though he was attempting to tell me, without disrupting the moment with the sound of his voice: hey, this is where we’ve been.
On the hill we biked up, we sat not on the boulders placed for lounging, sharp edges that jabbed into your hip. Instead on the grass, trodden and pokey with sticks and branches torn down by the same late summer winds that kept the trees on the hill growing only-so-tall.
In the far distance, our city. In the near distance, hazy and harder to make out, our neighborhood. Houses that fit well in either city or town; where we grew up being some sweet in-between.
In less than two weeks, the two of us would leave. No longer come to this spot where tussling dogs forced their owners to interact. The crab apples dropping, and rotting, without us. Each chipmunk feeling that much safer with two fewer humans.
I to my West Coast college, and my friend to the Navy. We laughed about his new white suit. How hot he was going to be when he came to shore on the occasion like a sea-mammal up for air. The girls passing by who would turn their heads without realizing they’d looked. Some boys, too.
We used up our laughs, and smiles. Just tears left that neither of us felt brave enough to spend, so we stood, dusted our butts, and started down.