On Why I Write
I write out the dark places, but this does not mean I live in the dark. My home is loving and good. It does not mean anything except that I’m normal. Like everyone, I get backed into corners I didn’t even know were there, and then I have to write myself out of them. Sometimes I have to ask for wisdom and then dig myself out with words, and digging requires a memory and one that seems completely unrelated to the corner I’m in.
A tire swing hangs at the high point of a hill and looks down over the deck my daddy built and painted red, the one attached to the trailer. It overlooks the field that my great-grandmother owns, the one we can walk through to her house, the one a man rents to keep his starving horses.
Around here are copperheads. I always watch. I never didn’t, even though I am only four. I am so proud of the time I pushed my sister back hard and kept her from stepping down on the coil. We ran together up the hill to daddy, and the trees were skyscrapers. He took a hoe and chopped it in half, and the head still hissed and bit, the mind still left without the heart.
I write it. Remember the tire swing. Remember my home that was loving and good. Finally, I can play at the swing. I’m allowed to go out, maybe after picking up toys, and my whole body enters in to swing high from a pine, and when I do, the wasps swarm, and even though I bear stings all the time, this time it hurt so that I will remember it years later, when I’m a grown woman with children and a favorite coffee mug.
The swing was a safe place. I didn’t know then how I would always love to hold on, push my feet hard a few times and then close my eyes, let my hair tangle, feel the safe vertigo, the giving up of a foot hold. I will always love to feel the wind. I didn’t know.
Rather than getting in the middle, I sit on top of the tire, full body round the rope, and a wildcat screams so close to me that my ghost lets go a bit, almost leaves my body, floats over the catfish pond. I know if that cat came out I am only a little girl on a swing.
I can’t always keep my grip. Another time, I hear a long, deafening roar that shakes the rope, and I think I must be confused about Jesus coming back, think Satan is coming first. I get so scared that I fall and hit the ground hard, and then I see, for the first time – living near NASA – a wide formation of huge aircraft skim the pines so that my heart hammers through my skin.
This is a lesson in safe places. There is but One. I write out the dark places, because when I expose them, when I remember truth, when I see the little girl in me, and I run to Invisible Daddy, I am safe, the snake’s biting mouth in plain sight.