Aynur

We lived on Incirlik Air Base when I was in second grade, a southern military base in Turkey.  I spent warm afternoons in the ditch near our home catching miniature frogs, so many that they squirmed and sprung out of my grip if I couldn’t scrape the wriggling pile into a jar first.  My sisters and I took our dimes to buy ten-cent fudge bars at the shoppette or on more sheets of scratch-and-sniff stickers to put in our sticker albums and trade.  Our maid, Aynur, helped my mom with her six wild children, bouncing my brother with his blond curls and round pot belly on her round hip.  She wore floral head scarves and floral salvar pants and laughed with a smoker’s wheeze that we regularly tried to coax out of her.

Sometimes on the weekends, we would get to spend the night at her house, a white-washed home surrounded by a white, cement wall coraling a scattering of scraggly chickens and a stretch of crumbling steps leading to the upper level living area.  For dinner she would hand me a bowl of potatoes and use hand motions to show me how to peel the skins away.  But often I wasted too much and she’d scold me and snatch away the dull knife and produce a pile of feather-thin skins in minutes.  After that I tried to be more careful.

Aynur would let us look through her wedding album and I was amazed at how different she looked, in a white lacy dress and her hair piled on her head, pearls poked in throughout.  But then we’d come to the pictures of her with her husband and each one showed his body with a finger-sized hole in the place where his grinning face must have once been.  She’d say in her gutteral voice, “Cok fana!”  Which I knew to mean “very bad.”

Sometimes we would go up on her roof that had no enclosure, using a tiny, rickety ladder to ascend the distance, to hang up her laundry, a long line of floral pants and t-shirts extending across from one side to the other.  I’d look out over the city, a greyish smog hanging along the horizon.  Minarets poked into the sky and a whippoorwill competed with the man doing the call to prayer, singing out praise to the sky.

Aynur would light a cigarette and lean back on a plastic chair, blowing out her sorrows too.  It didn’t matter about the language barrier.  Some things need no words and understanding is felt like the sound of a bird against the sky.

These memories are rubies and stones held together in a dirty, brown palm.

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Bones

Pale grey branches brace into the slate grey cold,

leaves clattering and spinning,

wafer-thin bones hushing against the morning

Hushing me

There is a lyric and peace even in the dying

 

The orbs hunch and stoop and, cut off from the phloem,

spin and dance away to find a composted bed to lie in,

feeding the ground and the seed

There is life in the dying

 

And the tree holds still against the changing days and nights,

a deep rest wrapping the skin in hope,

a gentle knowledge that this is important

There is strength gained in dying

 

Then the earth tips back to the sun,

filling the veins with rivers and sweet,

Green life dots each fingertip,

swelling and bursting and unfolding into hands

fanned against aqua-blue

singing of fortitude and renewal

bones long buried, reaching out again

There is rebirth after dying

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How I start…

I’m a stinky blogger.  I prefer to be in my own world, writing and cozying up away from notice.  But I love the idea of connecting with people and hearing their stories–hence I am embarking to blog weekly.  I thought I’d begin with how a story begins for me.

To put it simply, every story begins in my mind with setting.  Place.  Which, of course, is made up of a tapestry of people.  Having lived in 6 different countries and visited countless more, I look back on my childhood as a connection of people and places.  Time periods are marked by locations.  My kindergarten days were spent in Norway, cross country skiing and picking blueberries in the mountains near the Hansel and Gretel cabin we stayed in every summer.  Elementary days conjure images of minarets, a moan of a prayer echoing across my adventures on dusty roads and ancient Roman ruins.

Turkey, especially, is vivid for me–an impression of a hand in soft clay, then baked and fired.  The smell of a red diesel worker’s bus pulling away, leaving a cloud of smoke behind.  The sound of a young vendor calling out his wares.  The taste of rose flavored Turkish delight coated in a dusting of powder sugar.  The view of an old man shaking the reigns across the back of an old mare.  The feel of Aynur, our beloved maid, pinching my cheeks and then offering a kiss on each one.

These images inspire me.  They all grow like flowers out of the soil of setting.  And each story comes from that rich loamy spot too.

What about you?  Where does your creativity come from?

 

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The Real Story

Most people wouldn’t know I’m an introvert.  I love being with people and am comfortable in a crowd, but it makes me tired.  I don’t shy away from interacting but I like nothing better than curling up in my bed and watching a cooking show or hiding in a little cove and writing a story.  Words spoken on the page allow me to express thoughts and go amazing places but also infuse me with life and energy.

I’ve been thinking today, what drains me and sends me to my quiet place?

*Conflict–nothing makes me feel worse inside.  But conflict in a novel?  It’s delicious.

*Struggle–What I don’t get is why I can’t learn life’s lessons the easy way, like in a simple how-to manual.  I wish I could just say things like, “I’ve heard that when hard things happen…” Versus having a first-hand first-name basis with pain and sorrow.  But on the page, the story wouldn’t be a story without the struggle.

*Change–It stinks and needs to get a life.  Yet it grows me and it stretches me out of my easy rut, my old wheels bumping happily along those worn-smooth grooves.  Same goes for characters–they can’t stay stuck and have to change by the end of the book or none of the struggle feels worth it.

Is the same true for me?  I’m just thinking, maybe all this, the conflict, the struggle and the change, is part of a beautiful story.  My beautiful story.  And without them, I’d have nothing of value, nothing authentic, to even write.

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