Gillian Barton

Writing this Year

Gesticulating first one hand, then the other, she makes a flat broad plain. It falls at the end into an empty land. Gesticulating with her arm: a white bird. It flies off in a loop over the horizon. She gesticulates with her long body a dream story longing for a tablet. The Small Stone Man still waits. On a hot rock. Perhaps the form found now can settle into the body, gesticulating fall away, so that one hand holds the paper steady while the other scribbles a barefoot poem, follows the thread like a stone skimming the silky water. Gives the Stone Man a chapter. Then another. Good sitting bones and a solid stance quieten the song and dance. The gesticulating year of writing has gone with the smoke in a straight shot; dissolves into sky. She gathers the gesticulations, the grey stone, the groans, the low ground – all the pieces to look and see. And begin again.

“It’s a sentimental, unfortunate piece and I haven’t given it much time or thought. I’m sorry. It fell between the cracks, the floorboards, down into the bog beneath the page, disappeared with the dead men and women, lies in a shallow grave. But it’s all I could do. I know it isn’t very good or pretty, this my year of writing, doesn’t rise with the wave, white birds sailing the restless sea. I’m sorry. It’s not saying yes, saying yes. Sadly the poems, stories, efforts, scribblings wait like the small stone man for his diary, his musings, rememberings. Thoughts of my dead brother long gone and scattered, ash to ash. The children live on but the story hovers still.”  She is still wringing her hands, wringing her hands.

“You should take a long stick and poke and prod the recalcitrant, lazy wringer towards her desk. Demand she finds the form. Or perhaps more kindly, take her arm, and help her hush the words along. Not wringing, writing!”


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