Reasons not to Write #3: Boys in Trees

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Yesterday, on my run through a nearby park, four ten-year-old boys stopped me to ask the time: Hoe laat is it? I changed my watch from GPS to clock. Half (two syllables) vijf, I said. When they giggled on in Dutch, Ik sprek Engels, I said. Engels? Well, um, how old are you? one asked. Twenty-nine, I said, You? When do you go back to England? another asked. I live here in Den Bosch, I said. I don’t know when I’ll go back. And your man? Is he from England too? Amerika, I corrected. According to my GPS the boys then ran with me for half a kilometer, longer than I had expected, the tallest of the group, though, out-striding me for sure. I made the rest of the lap around the park alone without event until I saw a fifty-foot-tall tree shaking and calling my name. If I’d been writing, I would have missed it.

I’d like to think that when I forgo writing, it’s for adventure. That life simply sucks me up in a whirlwind of exploration, and that’s why I didn’t get my quota in today. But, a lot of times, it’s neither: no writing, no adventure, just me and a lonely computer screen trying desperately to make something up. Which never works, by the way. I don’t suggest it.

So, as much as I hate New Year’s resolutions (besides, it’s Feb. 11), that’s my pledge from here on out. If you don’t hear from me in a while, I’m out on an adventure.

On Fridays I Steal Things

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On Fridays, my brain is nearly finished with me. And so, on Fridays, I steal things. I write only what shows up in front of me. Words the three Turkish children yell as they run up the sidewalk. Songs the construction workers sing between beats  of hammers as they make patio doors for our New Zealand neighbors. Sometimes I write the ambulance sirens. Sometimes the church bells. The meows of the impatient cat who likes to sit on the hood of a matte black BMW outside my office window. This Friday, I stole words already eaten. The dictionary page I had opened to yesterday, still wide-eyed on the dining room table, gobbled by a small still-green Asparagus Fern.

Page 571: Something that Looks like Asparagus Fern but Isn’t

Verb: To beget.

Born upon the surface,

especially the upper,

as fungi on leaves that no one can reach.

Noun: A poet from the earth,

growing closer to the ground.

Relating to the epiglottis,

Something always upon the tongue,

the upper mandible,

as a parrot, a gull,

a piece of something that

hangs from the page.

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