Tuesday, July 16, 2013

What we hate but do

My mother hated roses, but she kept them. Red ones. In summer mugginess, she entered the cool garage through the side door, tugged on one green gardening glove, then the other, and with her shears, returned to the roses on their spindly stalks. With thorns the size of baby toes, every time she pruned, she pricked herself bloody. "Cut at the 5," she said to me on mornings I followed her, the leaf pattern changing down the stalk from 3 to 5. “That’s where they grow.”

My mother would have hated what I’ve published lately, but she would have read it. The poetry and prose I’m writing now feels like cutting roses at the 5-leaf stalks.

The poetry I’m honored to have published in Elohi Gadugi’s special issue on Home(less) try to make people and moments unforgettable. And the prose that I can’t believe is appearing in The Rumpus (All the Longing in the Body) uses a moment in a drive to Pendleton last fall to look at death and disability and love and moments that reveal loyalty and playfulness and devotion.

Lately I’m writing about things that cut us, that make us grow, that show us that the impulse to write comes from the complicated, loving messages we get, and we are obliged to write what even our mothers would hate but would love us for writing.