Monday, October 6, 2014

Day 218: What I Really Meant to Say

October 5, 2014

In June I wrote about the weightiness of seeing the full moon each month. (You can read that piece here.) Yesterday, as part of a writing course I'm in, I took that piece and rearranged the words to form something new. (Reworked piece here.) Today's prompt asks us to return to the original piece and select places that can be expanded. Where can we open up a bit? Here we're looking at the craft of writing inasmuch as the subject matter. It occurs to me that Gareth would have absolutely loved doing this with me/with his own work.

I read through the original and this part stood out as particularly thin:

It’s interesting to me the things that end up being extraordinarily painful after we lose someone. Some people have difficulty returning to a favorite restaurant or even entire city. A particular song may stop a grieving person in her or her tracks and knock the breath right from their lungs. My aunt recently told me of unexpected crippling grief hitting in the aisle of the supermarket when she suddenly found herself in front of a favorite food item of her daughter’s.


The first line uninteresting fact about my own interest. And is it really interesting to me that some things end up being "extraordinarily painful"? Not really. It's just a fact. I then list a few examples, in the most general terms possible. Here was an opportunity to show, not tell. 

Below is that paragraph rewritten, peeking into the corners of what I really meant to say.

Grief sits in my chest like a large, moaning cello.  I’m never quite sure what’s going to reach in there and pluck a string, sending the low, sonorous sounds to echo in the hollows of my belly. It may be a particular place. When I stepped onto the same escalator that carried us out of the underground subway station to the streets of Daegu above, strings were not only plucked, but the bow of remembrance sawed slowly across them. Here we stood and you faced me, one step below. Here we embraced the entire way up. And you are not here now. Long, slow moans of the cello. My insides are hollow.

A particular song may have the same results. Last month, I wound my way up a mountain, a backpack full of water and my own sadness weighing me down. Something about the freshness of the air and the stunning landscape of Korea seen from a high vantage point began to right me. My steps were lighter. Pine needles underfoot softened the way. Then, near the top, I discovered an elderly man resting on a large rock, his small radio in hand. “Starry, starry night. Paint your palette blue and gray…Look out on a summer's day…With eyes that know the darkness in my soul…” and I fell. I fell down to the earth with the sound of you, the missing of you, the unbearable absence of you all taking turns playing the cello in my chest. It played a deep and dark song. Inside I was weeping.

Sometimes I will avoid a particular place, a particular food, a certain route in my car- just to keep the gut strings from being plucked. This year I did not return to the Jinju Lantern Festival, despite how much I love the glow of the colored silks, the fireworks, the floats afire on the water’s surface. I could not go. The cello would play and I wouldn’t not be able to walk lightly under the weight of its tune.  And please, can I just please walk lightly for a few steps?

The sight of the full moon glowing in an otherwise darkened evening sky plucks at the lowest string and the sound reverberates long after I avert my gaze. I don’t just see that moon, that very moon hanging above like a ripe fruit about to drop- I see a spotlight that used to shine on me and Gareth. “Stop searching for him, Moon,” I want to say now. “He is not here.” I want her to power off. To go dark. At least direct her beam away from me. The sight of the moon that was once ours brings the sound of the cello. Pesante.  Pesante. Pesante.

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