Friday, January 13, 2012

Thursday Morning Coffee (on Friday) - The Canvas of Myself

I suck at remembering to post on Thursdays.

But in my defense - I finished a short story, 18 Dead, yesterday and sent it off to my crit partner. Now I anxiously await her response. If it's favorable, a new read will be available by the end of the weekend. I really fell in love with this short story. It's about 7,000 words long, and hopefully I've made every one of them count.

And then visited with my 3 year old grandchild (could almost choke on that word) and her mum, whom I haven't seen in at least three months. I let the little one eat too much vanilla frosting though, and so was perhaps responsible for the ensuing temper tantrum. Epitome of the over-indulgent silly grandma who lacks common sense. Doh. Will attempt to reintroduce the word "No" into my grandma vocabulary.

Anyway, here's a sweet little, well, I don't know what it is - a personal essay, I guess. I know the new and "improved" blog promises fiction for Thursday Morning Coffee. Will you accept personal musings, instead? On Friday?

Thanks, darlings!

The canvas of myself

The first was born of pain. Long had we planned to experience this first together, clutching hands and gritting teeth, we two. Instead it was me alone, clutching spite and bitterness to my breast and nothing at all in my hands. For this moment I was the brave one, to counter all the times I held back and was afraid. And she would be the one left with bitterness. I didn’t know that all the moments before this one, the moments I thought were perfect and beautiful, were already stained with jealous hate. And while the sweet burn cleansed and soothed my rage, he drew a pansy, when I'd wanted a Johnny-jump-up.

Years of loneliness pass and I emerge, aching to feel the burn, to mark myself with pure joy.  I am a person whole within myself. Art and tolerance and ink pens… overwhelmed with the love of the women who drew me out and then sustained me while I grieved. And so full of myself and my invincibility that of course it had to go badly. The drawing was poor and the execution worse and my symbol of happiness disintegrated into a pus-filled wound rendered unrecognizable by antibiotics, ointments, and vile bleeding color.


A new person comes into my life.  All my joy rushes forward, too fast, too fast, threatening to overwhelm. “You can’t settle for that,” he says, and knows where to go. “We’ll clutch hearts, it’ll be okay.” And it was better than okay, it was all I had wanted to express – no longer a broken symbol of bad decisions – but a work of art, the feather pen and inkwell so unexpectedly beautiful it brought tears to my eyes.  This is not only mine, but perfect.


Impulse, a city I never expected to visit and a moment of dreams come true.  I want to freeze this time in my life, immortalize true love, a treasured child, and trusted friends.  I choose a simple flower, hand drawn and imperfect.  Not a pansy – no, – this is black and red and stark. Too stark? Maybe. But later I know where to go, and the skin artist does what he does so well and uses the black and red as a foundation, and he adds two shades of green, two shades of pink, and there is depth, a subtle passion, and I have another work of art.


Being impulsive, he says. "Give me blank canvas next time and let me do what I do." And there is this girl, and I am so in love with her that I am exploding with happiness. The canvas of myself feels incomplete, and I visit my friend who knows ink. "This is what I want," I say, and give him stolen images. He takes a ball point pen and draws on my back. I don't think he even looked at the images, because this is not what I imagined. It's bigger. But I am not the artist, so I sit down, shut up, and accept the burn. One tiny symbol I need, otherwise I close my eyes and trust. And it is perfect.

And I will finally admit that I cannot control the ones I love through will alone, nor through kindness, nor through my blessed imagination. And it doesn't matter, because I know the answer is clutching hearts, not hands.

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