Concrete Words: An Abstraction on the Path

Tomorrow I’ll wear black again. I’ll drive to Alabama all day today, and when I leave I’ll have burial mud on my shoes. My dear cousin and friend is gone now, so I’ve played our music to myself and can’t help but write what I remember. He was such a boy, and I puppied up to him at around age 13. He taught me poetry, munchies, cigarettes, and how to argue. He mostly thought I was a dumb girl, but he looked on me with brother kindness, and I aspired to earn that love, how all do with Jeremiah, hope to attain to his genius.


My house was down a long dirt road, and that road was the path to his house. At the end, turn left, and there it was. Sherri taught me how to climb in and out his window. Somehow the fear of my daddy didn’t stop me from waiting till bed to walk there in the pitch dark. I battled fear like a warrior. I heard footprints in the woods, and I kept walking. I heard Uncle Byron’s screen door slam, and I just kept walking.

He was strange, an A with circle drawn around. Punk as a country kid ever dreamed of being. He wore All Stars every    single    day, carried a walkman in his pocket.  I sat on the mattress in his floor. Listen to this … Listen to this … Now tell me what you think about this …. But then … But then … But then …

I swam in questions all the way back home every time. I wrote poetry and handed it off to him in the linoleum hall at school. He opened the pages, and said awwww, look at the cute little four line stanzas. I studied poetry for 6 years in college, but I never wrote a four-line stanza again. He was like that, knew how steer a life. I make him sound harsh, and he was, but he was gentle, too, so gentle always.

When I left home, I left running. I didn’t look back like I’d turn to salt if I did. In Arkansas I’ve ached for my old friends and have hardly known how to find the path back to them. I loathe that I’m going back this way.

We visited together a few years ago, and he went straight to it. He told me he believed there was a God when he saw the face of his child. He knew when to stop and let a thing wash over him. Again, I’ve seen him several times after that, and he was softer like older men tend to get. He was old when he was a child. He hugged and said I love you.

My sons wear shoes like him. I suppose they always will.

Please join me in using concrete words to describe the abstract things in your life. As I consider a writer’s voice, I wonder how it is for you.  —  On Mondays I write out spirit by practicing a little with the concrete things in my life, and next week the amazing Tanya Marlow will begin hosting these prompts for a season, and she’ll update all with the prompt soon. If you want to join this small community, send your readers this way, and link up below at any point this week. Practice writing, the craft; share it with us. Make sure to use #concretewords on twitter. Thank you always for coming here and walking with me. The path this week was a bittersweet one.


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About me


Wild in the Hollow Book Club: an Introductory video
August 28, 2015
How Right Living Was My Brokenness: a guest post from Kelly Smith
August 11, 2015
Marriage Letters: On Home
July 06, 2015
A Final Haines Home Companion: a Secret I’ve Kept
June 06, 2014
On Broken Parts in Regular Towns: Alabama, Arkansas, and Haiti
April 03, 2014
On Losing Place
September 05, 2013
How the Light Peeks Through
August 26, 2013
A Haines Home Companion: A Little Eden
March 13, 2013
A Haines Home Companion: Alter
February 22, 2013


Julia Wreyford
Reply February 11, 2013

Beautiful. My condolences. I didn't know him well, but this painted a good picture.

Reply February 11, 2013

Be brave. Love you!

Reply February 11, 2013

So sad. His son is a joy! Be brave. Love you!

Amber C Haines
Reply February 11, 2013

Pray for the ones who kept him within arm's reach. Their grief is a concrete thing today.

Jody Harrison
Reply February 11, 2013

That window was a pain to traverse. Now it's shut for good and all I can think about is trying pry it open and crawl through.

Tanya Marlow
Reply February 11, 2013

Oh Amber, I feel homesick for heaven reading this. Such a beautiful tribute. Praying for you all. May you grieve well.

Tanya Marlow
Reply February 11, 2013

Concrete Words Community - here are the prompts for the next few weeks:

Feb 18 - the cupboard
Feb 25 - the instrument
Mar 4 - the dress
Mar 11 - the bottle

tammy@meadows speak
Reply February 11, 2013

Praying for you Amber and those who were near to him. I too had that A with a circle 'round it when I was a teenager ("wore" it on my arm once). Thinking of you and family today.

Darcy Wiley
Reply February 11, 2013

Such a tender tribute with real stuff like grave mud on all stars, him making fun of poems, and the rest. So sorry for this loss in your family especially as I remember you grieving your aunt's passing not too long ago.

Reply February 11, 2013

Holding you close in my heart, Amber. Keeping you and your family in my prayers. Much love to you.

Brandee Shafer
Reply February 12, 2013

Sorry for this separation, glad for your ability to write pain in your very own way. You always do it; it's like a punch. So many (concrete) lines, here, to love: Uncle Byron's screen door and turning to salt. Scrumptious.

Hold on; hang in; let go; be blessed. It wouldn't hurt if it weren't worth it.

Liz Eph
Reply February 14, 2013

Hiya, I've come here via Tanya Marlow and am looking forward to joining in with the concretewords. I'm sorry I left 2 pics by accident and couldn't get rid of the first one. I'm a learner. Please delete the first one which is pretty old now.

This is a beautiful piece. Very powerful. I'm sorry you lost him but glad he will have gone home. I hope you can mend up gently.

Reply February 17, 2013

I'm very new to your blog & love it. I just read this post tonight. You may've explained this before, so forgive me if I'm asking a question everyone else already knows. Was your friend the father of your son? I wasn't sure if that's what you were alluding to. I could totally be reading too much into this, but I wasn't sure if that was what you meant.

Liz Eph
Reply March 19, 2013

Dear Amber, I have only recently come to concretewords in the last few weeks via Tanya and was wondering if it will continue as I enjoyed it very much ? xx Liz xx

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