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Picture
Giant Saguaro in the foothills of Mt. Lemmon
A few weeks ago I attended a workshop at the Josephine County Library put on by Paulann Peterson, Oregon's poet laureate. I'd been concentrating on fiction and hadn't written a poem in over a year.  She had us do two exercises that I believe would work well for fiction writers as well as poets. In one we made a list of places where we'd felt safe. From that list, we chose one specific place. Paulann prompted us to remember as many details as we possibly could--what it looked like, how it smelled. What we saw when we looked straight ahead or to the right or left. What sounds did we hear? How did the sky look? I chose Mt. Lemmon in the Santa Catalina Mountains near Tucson, Arizona. My family once had a small cabin there. Though it has been many years since I've visited that cabin, I was amazed by the details I remembered and the way the poem took a strange and unexpected turn. Rereading it, I felt as if I held a gift in the palm of my hands--a memory I could return to the father who'd lost it to Alzheimer's Disease. The magic of words. 

In another exercise, we made a list of flamboyant people we'd know, chose one and wrote down (with some prompting from Paulann) all the details we could remember about that person. It was magical. A great way to create extreme or "off the bell curve" characters.  I plan to use this technique again--both in poetry and fiction. Try it. I think you'll be surprised how well it works. Thank you, Paulann.


Mt. Lemmon

There are places that reach out,
beat in the soft wrist where pulse lies.
Pine-sapped places where shadows lengthen at dusk
and remain after others shorten and disappear.
Nestled in a campfire and honeysuckle clearing,
atop the Santa Catalina Mountains,
a one-room cabin with eight shuttered windows
and a field stone fireplace waits
forty years to find us—ours for a decade. 

Escape from Tucson valley where two hundred
and eighty days of sun bake
river beds and wither even young Saguaros.      

Two children ride a rope swing into the treetops
through a narrow slice of sky that bursts forth
into constellations so bright their eyes glitter
until morning. Monopoly and Scrabble by firelight.
Aspens painted with ladybugs. A skunk caught
in a light beam on the dirt-worn path to the outhouse.


From a cane-seated porch rocker, I watch
my four-year-old weave through clumps of Douglas fir
and ponderosa pine—her arms stretched out like wings.
Nearby, my son digs rocks from the moist earth. 
A swish of wind releases pine-needled showers
onto their sun-bleached hair and shoulders.

They fling them off, then bend to gather
indian paintbrush and mountain lupine—poking
red and purple heads through a quilt of coral bells. The sky,
a blue cotton bowl, holds the scene like a snow globe.


Now, thirty-five years later, I seize that globe
and shake myself back into that brief moment of pine needles,
wildflowers and lives that were never mine for the keeping.
Their father has lost this memory to Alzheimer’s and I
understand lives speed by if we don’t brake to slow them down.
Defying time, I return to that place where the sky is big
and the children are small, and their father smiles
as he captures them on film. 



Today, I reach out and trap the wind--
hold that globe steady enough to feel 

its pulse beat against my fingers.
And for one, breathless moment, memory restores and
pine needles still hang, suspended, before they fall. 


   
Picture
Sabino Canyon in the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains
 


Comments

Laura
05/03/2013 5:48pm

Love this totally felt like I was there

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The essay writing is very important and significant for the magnificent and significant living of students. The teachers and intellectuals are playing a big role and never ending part in the building of the nations and their prestige.

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Barry
02/29/2016 5:53am

This Mt. Lemmon cabin sounds like an amazing place for adventures that would be fun to visit especially in the snow but even more delightful just for its journey to and fro given all the “brown-centered yellow flowers” one could behold along the ride. It sounds like blissful escape from Tucson’s “hustle and bustle” (and heat) where no one needs to be told to “slow down” given how the nature of the season engulfs these cabin goers. Indeed, as the snow globe assists the memory: “The most beautiful adventures are not those we go to seek.” ― Robert Louis Stevenson

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03/02/2016 3:38am

The flowers are having the lots of types and you can not count them, every flower have own specialty and they are growing to the different places on different season. You are having the writing skills and you cover the whole story very well.

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05/17/2016 2:28am

An extremely exciting article thanks for sharing it to every one of us. Searching foreword for more information and this subject has constantly interested me.

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06/09/2016 2:58am

I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article. I am hoping the same best work from you in the future as well. In fact your creative writing abilities has inspired me to start my own BlogEngine blog now. Really the blogging is spreading its wings rapidly. Your write up is a fine example of it.

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08/16/2016 1:12am

Very interesting looking post and I must appraise your efforts to write this post.

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08/29/2016 12:52pm

Hi susan! I have read some of your books you really is a good writer. Your comic mystery “ Murder at cape Foulweather” is one of the master piece. Really enjoyed while reading this. Wish you lost of best luck for your future life and will wait eagerly for your upcoming master pie.

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10/19/2016 4:09am

This technique is awesome indeed. I definitely should try it too!

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