What do I write about now?

Alex Katz, "The Walk," 1970, postcard, gift from my mother

Alex Katz, "The Walk," 1970, postcard, gift from my mother

What do I write about now?

The family drama feels like it's past the most dangerous beasts in the jungle (at least the ones we already know, for this moment, today, right now).

When I do the internal body scan, all of my immediate family members are in the right place. My heart is in the heart cavity, lungs beneath the rib cage, brain nestled in the head, stomach and guts anchoring the whole thing together from the seat of their own wild ocean.

Husband and son are limbs and skin and bone and blood. No unnecessary appendages hanging on, no painful amputations either. 

The body of my life is not in a state of emergency and I don't know how to write about that. How do you write about things going well?

I know how to write about my own grief and longing and chaos, from the place of shame and humiliation, from fear and the inner rings of hell. But when all the clothes are hung up in the closets, the bodies are accounted for and I feel like making dinner for the people I love, what is left then? 

Should I start reporting the pain and hurt of other people's lives? Writers who are the mouthpiece for the suffering of others are so brave and so noble but I'm afraid I'll never resurface from those waters, never recover, drown. 

Every grief, dysfunction and shred of my own suffering quivers in the fire of my first manuscript waiting for my edits swaddled like a baby or a bomb in the corner of my room and I'm afraid to even peek in its general direction lest it cry or explode. 

Can I just enjoy the simplicity of life for a moment when things are going well? Am I allowed to? Can I even stand it, or will I stir it all back up just because I can? The honest truth is I've been praying for peace but at its arrival it;s like I've allowed a stranger through the front door who sits awkwardly on the couch in the living room.

What do we have to say to each other? What do we talk about now?


Valley Haggard1 Comment