Writing Ancestors // a poem

At the blank page again, lost in my thoughts, Ernest Hemmingway seizes my throat and like a leiutant giving orders, commands me “All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.”

Dorothy Allison enters the room the way nurses do in an emergency. She gave me her sagely wisdom: “I want hard stories, I demand them from myself. Hard stories are worth the difficulty.

“It seems to me the only way I have forgiven anything, understood anything, is through that process of opening up to my own terror and pain and reexamining it, re-creating it in the story, and making it something different, making it meaningful – even if the meaning is only in the act of the telling.”

And then Maya, or Mrs. Angelou, says gently, her eyes are looking through me. “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you.”

I try to type the pain away.

except it hurts to find the words to say what I mean.

A small terrible voice, it’s Shakespeare. I have nothing to say to him, I am so ashamed and can feel tears in my eyes, the words bursting around me like grenades.

“I must break free and live, or stay and die.”

 

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