First thing

I attended a Zoom workshop on creative writing hosted by Open Book Unbound yesterday. We had twelve minutes to write a poem on morning rituals. It is short enough to include a revised version here.

First thing

Kettle’s on.
I greet the sun with obligatory stretching
In the valley, chapel bells chime Ave Maria
I inhale on the first divine smoke of the day
As I look to the hills while
tomatoes redden and pumpkins fatten.
I am the early riser, my feet planted in wet grass
I am the quiet one in quiet time
The dog barks, yet no one wakes
Coffee’s done.

©2020 Allison Wright

Playing

Right now, there is not too much time to play. But now that I have a decent phone and software can be synchronized by a techno-eejit, the techno-eejit can also draw with her left index finger.

This is a huge creative leap forward in the genre formerly known as finger painting.

Untitled from the artist’s second childhood phase

That’s all there is time for now. Typing was also achieved with the same finger as the drawing, a true testimony to the wonders of tech.

2020 Allison Wright

In crooked lines

Deus escreve certo em linhas tortas. God writes straight in crooked lines. I heard the Portuguese saying long before I came to Portugal, and long before I even had a smattering of the language.

Caring for the other one, my beloved, that taught me compassion. I prayed constantly to Jesus, pleading to know what it meant to have a compassionate heart. He showed me all right. It is the finding of a soft, sweet voice and a firm kind touch, when all around swirls blood and guts and gore, rank with the smell of excrement. Pure love, so it is. Not earthly love. Pure love. Simple.

I have to recall this, for a spiritual reckoning is necessary as I embark on my next copyediting job, a book about the message of Our Lady of Fátima. You see, in the three years since my beloved died, I have not deciphered much in the crooked handwriting of God.

It seems He has taken up His pen again. Via a long and winding path by word of mouth half-way around the globe and back again, news of this work reached my ears.

So, thanks, Jesus, for the lesson on compassion. And the lesson on grief. (And the many blessings you shower on me daily – lest you think me ungrateful.) Can we move on to the power of discernment and finding le mot juste now?

©2020 Allison Wright
[229 words – more than a few stray minutes]

Mangoes

I remember holding his hand as he led our family in prayer when his father died.

The strength of his faith coursed through his firm grip, but I saw he had tears in his eyes and his voice plummeted to gravel now and then. One or two adults among us shifted awkwardly, for their faith was not as strong, but they persisted in the ritual. For all were joined by sadness and family ties as we held our similar-looking hands together.

The catapult of years is swift and now he, my uncle who loved his Lord — for that’s what he said years later — is dead.

All I can think of, apart from the warmth of spirit in his hands, was that he told us kids that there was an insect inside a mango pip, and we should try to get it out. I don’t know if that’s true. In the forty-six years since, I have never been able to open a mango pip.

©2019 Allison Wright
[161 words – 12 minutes total]

Placement of the pile

I sorted through T-shirts this evening. The purpose was to find items suitable for donation.

The secondary purpose was to put like with like. Although my body size has not changed in decades, I have T-shirts of many different sizes. So sorting by size and colour occurred.

And then, the big decision: Dare I put the pile of short-sleeved T-shirts in a place of prominence in the wardrobe on this, the coldest night this winter?

The art of living dangerously said yes. Do it. Okay, okay! Done, already!

The long-sleeved T-shirts, I’ll have you know, were already in a neat pile of their own.

©2019 Allison Wright
[107 words]

Jitters

I am writing an online test today. That is what was scheduled to start five minutes ago.

I have just shot a quick e-mail to the agency managing the tests. Should I mention that these tests are a repeat of a test done in late October in the previous decade? My enthusiasm for this activity wanes with each passing minute. Next, my patience will begin to erode.

In the meantime, I have received three e-mails. One is advertising cheap accommodation near an airport I travelled to 18 months ago. As if I would go back there…

Oh, look, a new e-mail from the agency telling me that the tests for translation in the direction opposite to the one I travel in have been received. Let’s wait a little longer, she says, for the test that I am supposed to be doing. I don’t have all day, I think. And then I remember that there is always that expression beginning with F.

I still plan to have T-shirts, or tea towels emblazoned that on it, by the way. Ah, but what about my reputation? The test people have got another 15 minutes of my time. And after that’s done, forget it.

I have other things to do. Who knew?

©2019 Allison Wright
[199 words]

A lesson in arithmetic

My builder father was very good at mental arithmetic. He played games with us as kids. How many years’ difference between his year of birth and my mother’s? 4. How old would I be in the year 2000? 36. And how old would he be? 65. And how old would I be in 2020. I said 56, and I was right. And then I said he would be 85. He said oh no, he would not be alive by then. He was right.

©2019 Allison Wright
[79 words]

 

Biscuit

Like a Marie biscuit divided in half. That’s how I described the moon to myself the other night.

Even though it was the big half, I did think my little phrase bordered on the maudlin.

And then I became so, as I imagined a world without Marie biscuits, and only the big half of one to look at every now and then when the night sky is bright.

©2019 Allison Wright
[89 words]

 

Blank, but moving

I am writing an article. Not for me, but ghostlike, behind the scenes.

The Intro. That is where I start.

Some, I have heard — the other ghosts — bash out the middle bits quick-sticks, then tag an intro and a conclusion on the ends, like slices of bread around bacon, lettuce and tomato.

BLT ghosts. They are silent like me, for the most part.

I caught myself staring, half blankly, not at the screen, but at the glowy space between my head and the white wall, some one metre distant.

The small voice – the one in charge of the time and its alarm, neatly dividing what remains of my deadline into quarter-hours, as if oranges, starts thrumming, sotto voce, then booms, crescendo.

You must go on. Continue, stop dreaming.

I am not, replies the Thought. Wait.

And then they come, the keys on the keyboard stutter out aloud, like the rhythm of a fado from my long-ago heart: the perfect words. They’re here.

They stand astonished on the page, and look at their new neighbours, then settle into the space allotted. They agree: We like it here, they say. We’re staying.

©2019 Allison Wright
[192 words]

P.S. In this fado, Barco Negro, sung by the famous Amália Rodrigues, there is a rhythmical, short sequence of notes that helped lend form to the half-sentence that started out life as a blank stare.

Mrs Rouault’s kitchen window

The image of a painting by Sally Swain was hard to track down online, but no matter. In the end, I photographed the image I have.

I have often thought of the wife of Fauvist artist Georges Henri Rouault and my sister while washing the dishes. Let the record reflect that her name was Marthe Le Sidaner. My new abode has the perfect window when engaged in this activity.

The colours are frequently as bright. The colours are either in the glorious sunrises or in my imagination. Sometimes it is a touch of both.

Artist Sally Swain published a book called Great Housewives of Art. The image here is of the greeting card my sister sent me thirty years ago, full of the news of her adventures as a young woman in London.

Alternative caption: Allison does not wash windows, but thinks about it while washing the dishes.

Oh, the dishes I have washed in my life! Oh, the colours I have had the enormous privilege of seeing! The ink of the letter has faded; the colours in my mind’s eye do not.

©2019 Allison Wright
[172 words]