Friday, February 8, 2013

"Fifteen Minutes," the freewrite

Ten years ago, a roommate who knew my penchant for obsessive editing and polishing said he'd like to see one of my first drafts. 

Phil, this one's for you.

Last Saturday I hunkered down at a library to critique my workshop partners' submissions. 

When the critiques were done, I had fifteen minutes to kill before leaving for the workshop, so I cranked out this run-and-gun freewrite

The text shape is a one-page paragraph in my notebook, but I'm breaking it into verse here to convey the accents, the music, the way the piece is meant to be heard.

Fifteen minutes.

Fifteen minutes to pull back the veil
look into your soul 
and dump everything out.
Good, bad, indifferent,
onto the floor
over the carpet
a mosaic,
stand back and stare,
a lifetime's worth of ups and downs
and over-arounds,
a forward roll
back on your feet
stand up straight
rest your head on your neck
take a deep breath
air in,
raise your arms overhead
smack your palms together
bring 'em to your heart's center
look at a spot on the wall
a white wall
no spots,
smooth as a glassy lake
plunge in and break the surface
ripples break all around
your hair flies back 
as you swim to the bottom
touch the wet sand
dig your hand in
scoop up a handful 
then plant your feet on the bottom
bend your knees
launch up to the top
like a torpedo,
straight up, 
break the surface again
the sun is in your face
presiding over all,
raining down love and happiness 
as you swim to shore and towel off,
a clean white and not starchy or stiff towel,
a towel that soaks up the wetness of your torso 
then is slung over your shoulder 
as you walk down the beach,
down the coastline,
a dot,
an ant,
as seen from far away,
far above,
a man in the seat of an air balloon
some hundreds of feet above the ocean
eyes running along the sand because
he can't look down into the deep blue
too scary,
a friend talked him into this
he didn't really want to go 
but here he is, 
actually enjoying it,
with this one modification; 
we all gotta start somewhere.

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