By Vicky Edmonds, WITS Writer-in-Residence
When we sit down to write we are writing a window into midair and then opening it and looking through. We can look outside of ourselves into different places in the world that exist or don’t exist, or we can look inside ourselves, where the air is sweet and every realm of possibility is also waiting for us. Neither is greater than or less than the other, both allow us to see things we’ve never seen before, but going inside – that’s where I want to go. I want to walk down every hallway that exists in me, I want to be in every room before I don’t live in this house anymore, and I want to bring every beautiful thing that’s in there back out into the world and somehow leave them as gifts before I go.
When children pick up a pencil I can almost hear the drawing of the frame beginning, and I can hear the pulleys and the weights behind the frame that will almost make it effortless for them to open and go through.
I give them instructions… “This is a simile.” “This is how you write details of imagery.” I make little templates like blueprints where they practice, filling in the blanks to see how it feels. It’s almost like an art class. We put down the paper and show them the blue, green, pink, then something catches inside them that makes them gravitate to that color and that paintbrush. We have never really known what causes that choice, only that when we let it happen we are amazed to watch the results. All artwork has this effect on us. We try putting it down but it keeps calling us. It takes different forms, but whatever we seem to make (or love in someone else’s work) shows part of us back to ourselves that we couldn’t have seen without that mysterious mirror.
So there they are, 30 children in a room, all with paper in front of them, pencil in midair, and I try to help them find the window so they know it’s there. Underneath logic, underneath expectations or grades, lies an entry point to their own truth that only they can find. I try to take away any worries… tell them they never have to share. I want to make this a place where they can come and explore any time they want to. But there is this paper calling, like white walls they’ve never been able to see through before, and the pencil is the tool that cuts through the sheetrock, and suddenly they can see more… and then they can see more…
Feelings Poem… permission to tell the truth
[He said he couldn’t think of anything to write, that his mind was just blank. So I asked him to write about ‘blank’. He couldn’t believe that was allowed.]
My mind is blank, fleeting of thoughts, ideas, just blank.
The writing is not singing to me, it is not resonating
with excitement, eager to tell me the words.
No inspiration, no spark, just emptiness.
Looking for the components, the parts required to write,
looking for the key that I am so clearly missing.
Lost, searching to no avail,
trying to find the words on the page that fit.
Then I realize, I have already found them.
Apology Poem… finding all the unspoken regrets
that have been caught in our throats, just under our breath
[Her teacher told me that she had been sad for a long time because her friend had moved away and she couldn’t find the words to talk about it. But there was another friend who was trying to comfort her, and she found the words to say everything to her.]
I’m sorry for being mean to you when I’m sad or mad.
I was like dark clouds storming at you.
I was like 1000 pounds hurting you,
being mean to you, pushing you away when I really needed help.
I want to be more like soda and popcorn
at a movie, nice and funny. Will you please forgive me?
Yes Yes Yes or No (please circle)
Of course I’ll forgive you.
You may have pushed me away,
but we were only an inch away
in my heart.
Nature Personification… being grateful for the gifts so generously given
[I love it when you get to see them watching the world through the window.]
The rain rushes
to help plants and grass and flowers grow.
Rain is water rushing to help.
The rain whispers a rain song.
The rain reaches for my hand.
The rain sings the song softly,
and the rain dances with me.
Inquiry & Passion Poem… sinking deep into something they’re passionate about and then finding all the questions that call to them
[I loved that he found the words to describe his love for this.]
Can you hear it? That sound of knowledge and teaching?
Can you feel it? The touch of a reassuring hand spinning you in the right direction?
Can you smell it? That old, musty stench of history and a story never heard?
This is learning, the love of knowing more than before.
This is the teaching of worlds long gone by.
This is the force that keeps dragging you back for more.
This is an adventure, an always exciting plot.
This is history, the never ending story.
Invisible Beauties Poem… finding the unseen qualities inside us that can shine so brightly inside that they can help us find our way
[And when you’re through the window, when you’re in the inside place, all the instructions disappear, and you can see everything…]
My voice is like
a bright silver arrow
racing toward the target of my life,
till I stop pulling back
the bow of my spirit.