University of Minnesota
minnesota writing project
center for writing

Minnesota Writing Project.Center for Writing's home page.

Jane Davin

© 2003

Here I am Without a Pencil

Here I am without a pencil
or even a piece of paper upon which to write
what most likely could be my award-winning
turn of phrase…an irretrievable moment.
Perhaps this bisque-white paint chip the size of
a jelly jar label might serve as a paper-thin possibility
peeling loose, inviting me to tear off a sheet from the heavy duty notebook pillar
securing whatever is holding up this porch swing,
the very spot upon which inspiration soars and short term memory takes flight,
or that smooth, flat, drooping leaf extending gracefully
from its healthy stalk – not yet ripe I suppose as any kind of
parchment; sad that it will otherwise and soon enough be rendered
useless – decaying on the ground like a crumpled, trite, third draft,
or the recently shaken quart of external latex (over here to my left)
with its stir stick posed atop as if to invite certain desperate and pencil-less
poets to dip deeply in and out, dripping blots and puddles of paint to form
the word “piccalilli” on the wood slatted porch floor in ostrich feather gray.
I wonder if several lilac blooms can be crushed in one’s hand and
made into a light purple paste for scrawling bird names like
“green-winged teal,” “Eskimo curlew,” or “nene,” (nay-nay)
on the sidewalk with the end of one’s fingernail,
or if Mary would notice all the fuchsia blooms suddenly gone from her
six hanging baskets after I have concentrated all the giggling magenta/violet
beauties in my fists, creating an entirely new font upon her long white
folding table that leans on its side against the window ledge like a chalkboard
ready for me to smear across its flatness,” a breeze ruffled all our feathers.”
Moments come and pass away quickly whether you are prepared for them
or not – whether you have a pencil or not.
The cherished phrase simply and softly…”whispers like a
…yellow-winged phoebe”?