Lemon picking

Sunday 29 June 2008

I have returned to writing my morning pages ee cummings style, with no grammar or punctuation. It really works for me for so many reasons that maybe I will start writing all my first drafts like this. Maybe that will give more of my first drafts a chance to (a) end and therefore (b) make it to second draft instead of stalling on the side of the first draft road (how pitted with holes that road is :)

Writing ee style would bring some kind of freedom into it, the freedom from grammatical rules and structure. But also, the way the sentences flow one into another would give a fluidity that says first draft first draft first draft. I like that buffer, that space. I need it. It would be like a safety helmet, a cloistering of this draft into myself, for me, no one else. Writing in that way would keep the fear at bay enough to write at all, would say with every word I write, "This is different to the stuff you see that's been typeset printed bound and transported. This is a lump of clay, and the very words you are using and the form says that, just in case you were thinking that what you are writing is maybe not too far away from being kiln fired. This is 300 million kilometres back the other way, where you get to play and swim in something to find out what it smells like, looks like, feels like. This is to remind you that this might not even get kiln fired at all, might not even make it past the stage where you discard it like an old boot. Or, headsmackingly, like a brand new, exquisite shoe that still, needs discarding. This reminds you that those questions of quality or possibility don't even exist in this space; how can you decide what to do with something that has barely begun to exist?"

There's something really freeing about being constantly reminded, this is first draft, this is first draft. About being reminded that what you are writing into being is so far removed from what it's going to be that friendly eyes reading finely parsed sentences of an ended piece would only ever be raping eyes at this point in time. Even my own. Just in the way that a mother's eyes would be invasive and deadly if she gazed on her unborn child (apart from those amazing in-uteru operations that are being performed today like some kind of wonderful creative dance). Even more so would be the neighbour or friend gazing. It would mean death, the unborn child always remaining and never cocooning out into a born child that runs, claps, loves, dies.

I have been fighting off a cold or flu again, just for something different. But I almost welcome the onslaught, of the bugs trying to congeal in my head, trying to get a foothold. Then, I get to bathe them in a beautiful blend of olive leaf extract, lemon juice and neem tea. That holy trinity of green and yellow fruits and leaves are helping in the healing of my very own nation. I love this nation more with the war-torn scars than I did in its seasons of peace.

I feel more able to access hope today. Yesterday was unfruitful. I couldn't get there, to the hope plateau of being able to write another word that would make any kind of sense to anyone anywhere. But today, the cavern crack has leached itself open again and I can see a faint shard of something up ahead. The best way of knowing is unknowing. The most uncomfortable way of knowing is unknowing, but it is a way for the left hand to not let the right hand know what it's doing, because the right hand has a tendency to squeeze the left hand so hard it goes numb and drops off.

Yesterday in my unfruitfulness I went to the house of a woman so fruitful I was scared I would fall pregnant just walking through her back gate. She had advertised lemons on Freecycle. The lemons I get from people whose eyes I look into always taste juicier than the ones I buy in the supermarket. The woman gave me a hoe, to use to pull the lemons down with, and asked me to pick my own, because she had a bad back. Off she went inside to do the dishes that hadn't been done for two days. I picked four plastic bagsful of yellow fruits, accompanied by the woman's twin daughters who were climbing in an accompanying tree. Five girls in all, in that house - a nine-year-old, five-year-old twins, one-year-old twins, and the woman would like a son. I picked four bagsfuls of lemons off a tree so rooted in its own soil, it's own lemonness, that coming away at the end of an hour's picking, it barely looked like I had picked any at all.

Her house and yard were full of stuff, things in the middle of being sorted, discarded. It was messy and unkempt and productive and exhilarating and I wanted to curl up in the corner of her decking and sit in the midst of all this life for a day or two. But instead I spent an hour pulling lemons down from the tree, chatting with her daughters, stopping to watch their requests that I admire their tree-climbing skills (very impressive). Two magies warbled from the large leafless trees of the house next door and I just knew that these lemons, the ones I had picked myself, from the tree belonging to a fruitful woman whose eyes I had looked into, would be the juiciest tasting lemons of all. I was accompanied to the gate by one daughter, who hugged me as I left.

To make lemons that are so ripe that they fall off the tree with a slight shake, the tree must, in the cycle of its life, lay dormant unto death.


  1. i totally think you should do a post ee cummings style because it would be so much fun trying to figure out where one thought ends and the other begins and wondering if the idea i thought you were expressing was really the idea you were expressing or if i just made it up you know kinda like abstract art where everyone comes to it with their own experiences and their own point of view and it says something different to each person and its all kind of subjective just a thought

  2. you are so cool shelia and maybe i might i really thought about it actually but then thought well the way i write with all of these long sentences and tangential things and stuff in brackets and everything that it would be hard to understand for the people reading it but yes i see where youre coming from about it ending up being like abstract art you know its funny my art therapist said to me a few weeks ago she said i feel like all your different forms of expression all fit in together and then she did this swirly thing with her hands and it reminded me of like vines all trailling together and i think this is why writing like this resonates for me and maybe i will go buy myself some clay next pay and start making abstract pieces to illustrate my abstract ee pieces of writing on here but you know the main reason why i didnt post it was because i thought sheesh that's making people work awfully hard especially in the age of limited attention spans but yeah maybe i'll just do it anyway dammit



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