Third person singular

Posted on 04 August 2005


“What do I feel,” the woman asks herself.

She sits on a log by the water early morning, watching two brave souls in swimsuits jump into the icy cold. She has been up since 4 a.m. when she had to find a flashlight to light her way to her garden house.

She thinks she could update her live journal but can’t think of anything to write. Still, she tries: “I have been home three days…. Blah, everyone knows this.” She has done little since she returned even though there is much she could do. There are papers on the diningroom table that were there two months ago when she left. Her husband and son tell her that they have not been home much. They have not eaten at the table since her departure. In fact, after throwing too much rotting food from the refrigerator, they stopped buying food.

Earlier, she had walked to a local coffee shop, bought coffee and a muffin (no croissant alas) and sat reading Naomi Shihab Nye for she thought, since reading Winterson the week before, that poetry might ground her. After ten hours in the sky moving across eight time zones, even Nye’s words do not help.

“How do I feel.” she asks herself again.

There is a flutter in her stomach. Every time she leaves her city home and flies to her village home and returns, she wants to bring something… something tangible, back with her. She is not sure what. She only knows that she breathes easier there, that she runs less.

She wraps her arms around herself and rocks. She is mother and child inseparable. Several weeks earlier, when feeling ugly and grim, she had imagined roses blooming inside her body (though this was something she would not write about.) This was another of her secrets.

At one time, she had too many secrets. She was so weighed down by them that she had to let them go, one by one, until she was light enough to climb up on tables and dance.

But new secrets are weighing her down and she doesn’t know if she has the courage to begin again and open up. She recalls a quote a friend sent her: “… and the day came when the risk it took to remain tight inside the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom…” (Anais Nin)

“Damn it all anyway,” she thinks. “I am not a rose. I am ‘as common as a field daisy.’” (Mary Oliver)

She becomes cross with herself. She would like to throw all the quotes stored in her brain in the garbage and rely on her own words, her own wisdom, her own voice even if it means using third person. And she wonders if there is anything original about her. Who is “I” she wonders. “Is there any eye.” She cringes at her spelling. Too cute, she thinks. This is not the way she likes to write. She wants to write from the body, from an earthier self. She is afterall the daughter of a daughter of a farmer.

She has been home three days and she has allowed herself to do as she pleases. She eats, sleeps, no matter the hour. She cuts blackberry bushes but not the ones with berries. She scrubs the refrigerator until it sparkles. She redoes every display in “her” store until it pleases her eye. When she looks through the doors into these spaces, she feels content. For a moment or two. She worries that she is too flighty, that she will never get down to the serious business of writing.

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