A Rose, Patricia Grace, Opening Lines and Swinging

A Rose, from a market in Stuttgart. c JHarjo

No. I haven't posted in awhile. My life continues, made of a weave of travel, landings, unwindings, inspirations, dead lack-of-inspiration (rare), exhaustion, caffeine buzz and stories. I have been reading the Maori writer Patricia Grace, in the middle of her novel Potiki. What I am learning from her is the grace of story. She writes the reader into the story. We are part of the family, and indeed we are, for the storyteller makes a circle of participation. We are in the midst of ancestors; we ARE the ancestors. They are animated, and so are we, by memory and how it is evoked in story and song. We ARE memory. And memory is not linear, nor can it be bought and sold. Mvto Patricia Grace.

Here's an opening of one of my new stories (and I promised students in Oklahoma City a few weeks ago I'd post How To Get to the Planet Venus. I haven't forgetten. Just moving between scanners.)

"One two three four five six seven eight. It’s two or three, now it’s four or five. That’s how I counted myself through the dark after my father left, when we got a new one who didn’t want us. I used to stay awake until I heard my mother’s alarm. She’d get up, flush the toilet, and turn on the radio while washing and dressing for work. Then I could relax and sleep hard until school…is why, I told Odie I counted under my breath. Odie spat. She would have left the mess. Odie’s edgy; she’s ready to climb out the window and head for town. We’re shot with speed from weight loss pills, though we’re both skin bones. We’re higher than the moon. My heart is a freight train. We listen for the night matron who makes periodic sweeps through the dorm halls. We see the detective poke of her flashlight under the door as shines it up the hall, as she opens each room, making a count. Mrs. Perez is terrified of ghosts. This place is choke with little Indian girls who died of grief. They still haven’t found their way home. I’d jump Perez and have fun, but she’d shine that flashlight in my dilated eyes, and that would be it. I’d have to run."

Shiwi and her Brothers Swing c JHarjo 2007

Here is a place I touched down and found peace, one dusk in Albuquerque.


Angela said...

Thank you for mentioning Patricia Grace. I haven't had any luck finding any Maori writers.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for all you share. Please keep recommending or reminding us of writers, artists and muscians, old and new. Please take care of yourself in all the sharing - you are a precious gift to so many.