Concrete: An Abstraction on the Bed


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Lately as I consider voice, a writer’s voice, I wonder how it is for you. If we all have one, I wonder about other things, other things that most of us have. Like your bed, for example. If voice is cadence and music and space, how you write out the matter in your life and the meaning it gives, what about your bed? It’s certainly different than mine. So how is it for you?

We’ve had the same bed, king-size, since the day we came home from our honeymoon. I leave it unmade mostly, shut the door, and sit on the side of it to eat my chocolate in the dark. I bring my books there to help me sleep or bounce the baby there in tall squealing leaps when I can’t hold him anymore. I’ve leaned into it in pain, in submitted labor, where my water has broken twice. I’ve leaned into 13 years there with my husband, the babies made then suckled.

To-do lists manifest there until I unhinge nestled in the deep divot for my body, a pillow’s space and miles of dreams to the other side. My bed is portal, my knees work like rubber bands, we share a lake, I’m in front of class without a stitch of clothes, I’m calling and you can’t hear me, and then whoosh I’m awake fully present to my baby when his feeding pump beeps. I fiddle with the tubing and reset. I lay there many hours feeling exactly 33 years old, awake.

Start with the concrete, the bed, the topper, the ink stain on the sheet, the stories in that quilt (whose hands there), and those meaningless throw pillows. The material things right in front of our faces are the tools we use to speak of spirit, of ghosts, of things we can’t grip with our hands – like love and anger and the weight of consequence.

On Mondays I’m going to write ON WRITING, which means that mostly I’ll write out Spirit by practicing a little with the concrete things in my life and maybe in a fictional life. We’ll see. If you want to mess around with these little prompts, I’m always happy for you to put your link in my comments. Write on writing; practice writing; share it with us. Next week is on The Cup. Thanks for coming here.
amberhaines
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27 Comments

Lynn Morrissey
Reply September 3, 2012

You're a wonderfully gifted and refreshing author, Amber. I have been immeasurably blessed of late to discover such a wellspring of new, younger authors whose liltingly poetic voices and lavishly profound insights have offered me such richness. It's so good to have found you! When I have time, I think I will write about our bed. Thank you for this challenge. Actually, I have thought about this before and, sadly, how often my bed has been a place of pain because of some very difficult physical "issues" and health challenges I have faced over the years, which have often kept me awake throughout long, hard nights. And I have thought that it should *not* be this way--that a bed ideally should be a place of rest and peace, a place to sink down deeply into the sweetness of slumber. Wow! Until writing (don't we often discover insights we didn't know we had until we write?!), I just realized that one's bed is also a place of death--a place where we have to lie down and die to the day and to ourselves, a place where we must completely submit our lives to God, who holds our very breath, a place of trust and surrender, not ultimately knowing if we will arise with God's gift of life and light the next day. But because we know and trust Him, who holds our lives in our beds and in the very palms of His hands, whether we rise to the dawn or to the eternal dayspring, we can know that we are secure. Just to share personally, my husband and I sleep in a beautiful, mahogany antique half-tester bed, over one-hundred-and-seventy-five years old. It is richly ornate, carved with scrolls and swirls and enclosed in a voluptuous curtain of golden fabric. Certainly, my bed has also been a place of life and sweet conversation and comfort. And, most fortunately, pour moi, my husband does *not* snore! :-) Thanks for your invitation to think on this, Amber. I do intend to explore it further.

    Amber
    Reply September 3, 2012

    I hope you do it. Please do. Oh Lynn, you know I didn't let my mind wonder to other beds I've attended, and THAT would be an interesting thing to explore. I've doula-ed 3 loved ones to Heaven. Writing about it is hard to do in the concrete.

    Let us know if you follow the prompt! Thanks for coming here.

      Lynn Morrissey
      Reply September 3, 2012

      Now *that* would be a great post, Amber.....to write about other beds we've attended...like tucking in wee ones, kneeling at the foot of beds to pray, visiting hospital beds, make-shift beds in airports or shelters, etc. Look what you've started! Thanks for commenting. Oh.....and if you'll permit my facetiousness, I just recalled the makeshift bed of straw that Clark Gable made for Claudette Colbert in the old classic "It Happened One Night." Ah.....
      L.

Diana Trautwein
Reply September 3, 2012

Ah, beauty here. Thank you, Amber.

Sarah Askins
Reply September 3, 2012

So lovely, Amber. This idea is perfect.

hamster
Reply September 3, 2012

Chicken Dinner peed on our bed within one week of joining our family. I've slept on that bed for eight years and I've never peed on it once.

    Amber
    Reply September 3, 2012

    Oh my gracious, you make me laugh! How's that Chicken Dinner doing anyway?

      hamster
      Reply September 6, 2012

      Trying to find him a dog-sitter or at least some bladder support for while we're at the KELLY CLARKSON!!! concert tomorrow night. He just had his jewels removed last Friday, so I'm feeling extra cautious of him these days. Yesterday he ate a rubber-band and last night he puked it up on my Rancid t-shirt. What a stinker! How's your fur-child?

Airs
Reply September 3, 2012

You made me go there too and it was a good, good, thing. Here's mine:

http://www.tothinkistocreate.com/2012/09/03/on-making-a-bed/

Elizabeth
Reply September 3, 2012

I love this!!! Can't wait to write on this prompt. This is lovely.

Elizabeth
Reply September 3, 2012

This is so so lovely, Amber. Can't wait to try to hop on this and give it a whirl. Thanks for your poetic voice. Thank you. And I am also intrigued by the cup prompt. That will be a blast.

Sarah Denley Herrington
Reply September 3, 2012

Amber, I am so thrilled about this "project". I latched on to yours and Seth's "Marriage Letters" idea late in the game and I was terribly sad to see that come to an end. My post is pretty short and is more of just a little piece of our story than anything terribly artsy or creative, but I so enjoyed writing it. Thanks for this!

http://inthewarmholdofyourlovingmind.blogspot.com/2012/09/a-few-more-inches.html

Nicki
Reply September 4, 2012

LOVED reading your post. Loved your prompt too - just fantastic. I found it difficult to stop once i started! See you next week, for sure ☺
http://www.anhonoredandbeautifullife.com/2012/09/the-life-of-my-bed.html

the Blah Blah Blahger
Reply September 4, 2012

I like these kind of prompts...it makes me think about the normal things of life in a more unique way. Keep em comin!

Here's mine: http://www.theblahblahblahger.com/2012/09/a-big-bed-for-one/

Jennifer@GDWJ
Reply September 4, 2012

I was sure of it: this one cherry sleigh -- stamped Thomasville on the underside -- would whisk me to city lights, skyscraper dreams, some place where I could kiss the top of the world and see heaven or hell or both from my penthouse window. I'd leave behind dirt and John Deere and bellering cattle forever. Forever lasted fifteen years. I sat on that sleigh, arms cradling one stretched belly the morning the Towers fell. And in that same year, that one sleigh flew home to the farm. This morning, under a charcoal duvet, I woke up in the sleigh, next to my man. I woke up inside my dream, the one I didn't know about until I lived it, right here where the corn grows in straight rows.

I've never been in a penthouse. And my husband drives a John Deere.

(Thanks for the writing challenge, Amber. You're so gifted, and I look forward to seeing what you come up with each week. I'm so glad God made you.)

Danelle
Reply September 4, 2012

I am excited to try this Amber. I've just read a whole book on voice called WHEN WOMEN WERE BIRDS and now I feel oddly silent. As if everything worthwhile might have already been said. That I am a mere echo or worse.
So these prompts are a lifeline. I suppose I shouldn't have to be prompted, but I am thankful for the inspiration today. I will write tomorrow morning about our bed, which is ironically the one thing my husband and I always refer to as our "best purchase". :)

imperfect prose
Reply September 4, 2012

oh, i love that you are doing this. setting aside a day to write about writing. i may have to copy you someday. and this, girl, was just plain beautiful.

Amber
Reply September 4, 2012

I may have to try this, too. Thanks!

Tanya Marlow
Reply September 6, 2012

Your mastery of writing is breath-taking. I love it.
Half of me wants to join in, and the other half is so awed by your talent that I kinda don't want to! I will admiringly skulk, certainly, and learn. :-)

Patricia (Pollywog Creek)
Reply September 11, 2012

I scooted over here from "the cup"...don't know how I missed it the first time. Love, love, love your writing, Amber - your sweet southern voice. It's like letting rich, dark chocolate melt in your mouth, leaving you begging for more. And these prompts? I just might adapt them to my photography - which like your writing voice, is difficult to describe...I just know when I lose it. Y'all remain in my prayers, Amber.

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