Wild Animals

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The morning this week I returned home to find a hawk perched on the V of our roof surveying her grounds to nest, hunt and kill after a my pre-dawn run with Virginia, I decided the time to let our kittens out into the wild jungle of suburbia would be never.

But I know in my heart that's not true. From my own experience, caging an animal ruled and dictated by the laws of nature is not really the best way to keep it safe. Outside of an Alanon meeting this weekend I told a scared, grieving mother that when my own mother tried to hold me down I clawed and bit and raged until she let me loose to do what I was all along hell bent on doing. The times she released me to my own fate were the times I loved her best, seeking her arms or council all on my own.

And so, eventually, I too, will have to let the kittens out even if I do try to lure them back through the cat door every few minutes with tasty bits of raw meat. 

My own birds have been circling lately, but not those old predators in for the kill, the flighty ones inside stirred up inside by the music I've allowed myself to listen to again after along time away. I used to drown in music, or maybe music was just what I heard when I was drowning. Pieces of myself with which I've been playing hide and seek, shadows of nights under the stars able to wander any way the wind blew, remnants of that heartbroken beautiful little girl who had no idea who she was or what she was worth. I've been listening to that old music once again, allowing myself be taken all the way in and under with the hope, the belief in my new ability to rise, to resurface, to not stay down and under too long. And the only reason I'm here, who I am now, is because my mother finally gave me her blessing and let me go.


These Young Writers Will Save the World.

Life in 10 Minutes RYW class chilling and writing at the VMFA.

Life in 10 Minutes RYW class chilling and writing at the VMFA.

Today is the last day of my ninth year teaching summer camp for Richmond Young Writers. Back when we first got started in 2009, RYW was just me and a handful of brave, intrepid students sitting around some folding tables I borrowed from a friend in the art gallery above RVA's most amazing indy bookstore, Chop Suey Books. Now, with the direction, leadership and inspiration of my magical friend and cohort, Bird Cox, RYW is a year round program creative writing program with multiple teachers, brilliant offerings and a beautiful space all its own right across the street from Carytown, in the heart of the city. 

While the young writers are always shining beacons of hope, I might have needed the warmth of their rays just a bit more during the chilling political climate of this year. Writing is a tool for changing the world and the students we've worked with this summer know how to powerfully and peacefully wield the pen. I am grateful to all of our students, teachers, parents, families and the community at large for helping us create a climate in which writers of all ages can express themselves, process, create, explore, invent and heal. We are never too young- or too old- for that. 


The Life in 10 Minutes students write about what writing means to them:

Writing is an outlet to express your feelings that are sometimes too complex to be spoken aloud. 

Writing is what movie reviewers criticize when the events of a movie don't make sense, fail to follow a narrative continuity, or seem lazily designed.

Writing is magic in real life.

Writing is fun.

Even on the days when I have nothing to say, writing helps me speak.

Writing is the adrenaline rush most people get from a roller coaster. 

Anything is possible on paper; you just have to write it down. 

Writing is conjuring a spell to create a portal to a faraway land.

Being alone with your thoughts is scary, but writing holds your hand and asks you to share.

Writing is my story, your story, and our story.

Writing is a release sweeter and shorter than death. 

The sign's Bird's poetry class made for our workshop door. 

The sign's Bird's poetry class made for our workshop door.