Concrete Words: An Abstraction on The Scale


In the shower I re-evaluate it all. It’s the mother’s sanctuary, where I cry about how good God is and how little I’ve read to my Ian. It’s where the should-haves drain. If a shower is to be in the story, I’ll have earned it. I’ll turn the water on hot and let it steam. I’ll evaluate the laundry situation, and then I’ll shirk my clothes along with the desire for more space.

Our house is used to capacity, and I haven’t found a way to hide the broom and vacuum along the wall or the pile of shoes. Titus got in the bath fully dressed yesterday, so his mocs lay there drying. It’s not neat. I can’t hide it, my laughable whirlwind attempts to keep things put away, how the scale just floats about the tile floor.

When Grandma used to live here, she would say, “A place for everything and everything in its place.” For the scale and for so many other things, there’s just no good place, no way to explain or get the numbers to add up.  There’s a number that used to make me feel secure, but it doesn’t anymore, and good thing because I haven’t seen that number in months.

Every thing in its place. Food for the mouth, did you say? I know it was that saucy bread pudding during the holidays and the chikfila brought by dearest ones during hospital stays. It was the toffee my sister-in-law makes: Christmas Crack. I couldn’t stop. And then at the funeral, the homemade fried chicken. I ate it like grief’s demand, three pieces in surrendered enjoyment.

From time to time, while the water steams, I balance on the scale, a naked mother of four, not to worship the body, but to call it temple. I see. I see. Cut back.

In the balance of self-control and no control, I push the scale to the side. The food won’t help the missing or my lack of control over the safety of my family. The right digital number doesn’t mean that I’ve done well, that I have my fingers in the marionette strings of my own life.

When I ate that chicken, I didn’t feel guilty even an ounce. I threw my head back and laughed in my pearls and black dress. It was worth it. For someone who loves to laugh, I tightrope best I can, net of grace if I fall.

 photo credit here

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As I consider 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 scale, 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 scale? It’s certainly different than mine. So how is it for you?  —  On Mondays I write out spirit by practicing a little with the concrete things in my life and maybe in a fictional life. If you want to join this small community with these prompts, send your readers this way, and link up below at any point this week. Practice writing, the craft; share it with us. Next week’s topic is Rock. Make sure to use #concretewords on twitter. Thank you always for coming here and walking with me.

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Concrete Words: An Abstraction on the Box
February 04, 2013
Concrete: An Abstraction on the Bed
September 03, 2012
and I’m already wearing elastic waist bands
December 28, 2010
flying monkeys
June 25, 2009


Reply January 21, 2013

this relationship to the dictates more than we believe sometimes. it takes work to shut our ears....

Jessica Y
Reply January 21, 2013

I'm a waffler when it comes to the scale. I vascilate between king cake and fried chicken for months then jillian michaels and asparagus. My set number has crept up...I'm 36 now. It's okay.
I do long for that fruit, (self control) to be more evident in my food choices. Balance is good.

Reply January 21, 2013

Hilarious...When I read the prompts the other day I say 'scales' and went a very different place...oops. Linked it anyways!

    Reply January 21, 2013

    Seriously, when I chose that word, I knew it could go so many directions. It's awesome. I glad you did it. Honestly, when I sat to write this, I had the hardest time using the concrete. I wanted to go all metaphor.

Lore Ferguson (@loreferguson)
Reply January 21, 2013

Love this, sweet Amber. So beautiful.

Elizabeth W. Marshall
Reply January 21, 2013

You, friend, can take a concrete word and turn it into softly rounded marshmellow, sweet and delicious. Oh Amber I am standing on the tiles and under the heat and amid the steam with you. Beautiful words. For all women. I know you will touch and bless many with this write.

Tanya Marlow
Reply January 21, 2013

I recognise myself in here so much - the feeling of achievement if it's the 'right' number, the need just to be a little bit in control - not too much, just enough. And the shower as a sanctuary, I know that too!

Loving joining you this week. It is a victory for me to be well enough to write today, thank you for giving me the prompt. (Although I also went in a very different direction!)

Sarah Bessey
Reply January 21, 2013

So beautiful. So glad you're writing again.

Annie Barnett
Reply January 21, 2013

Beautiful, Amber.

Danielle King
Reply January 21, 2013

I've greatly enjoyed your posts and your ability to induce collective creativity. I hope I followed your assignment correctly :) Matthew Henry's commentary on Psalm 45:1 exhorts those who love the pen to toil to produce its fruits as they "spread farther and last longer." I'm glad you've taken this to heart.

Reply January 22, 2013

First, It would be in all ways wrong not to eat fried chicken at a family funeral. So of course, no worries there.

I enjoyed your rendering of this battle some of us face between controlling and being controlled. Sometimes the safe space is razor thin...especially in a household of four kiddos. I feel you there. Beautiful as always.

Reply January 22, 2013

Hi Amber
How I would love to have a heartfelt talk with your thoughts and emotions when you strip down to the bare essentials under the shower. I love how you allow your heart to undress as well when you have that alone time.
Much love

Margaret Feinberg
Reply January 22, 2013

Beautiful words, Amber, and beautiful picture!

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