Karen Rivers

falling up.

Karen Rivers

It's fall so it should be raining but it isn't raining and you sit at the dining room table and look at your new view over the neighbourhood and the sky is so blue it looks fake.

Maybe you are being punked.

The only sign that the season is changing is that the leaves are slowly turning and the heat is turned on, so the air smells of something metallic that is burning.  The dog is curled at your feet and the pages are filling with the ink-black footprints of your moving fingers on the keys.  The kids are at school, leaving a trail of papers to be signed and lunch containers to be washed and uniforms to be folded.  The dishwasher is full of clean dishes but hanging open so you remember to empty it even though emptying it seems like an impossible task.  Mundane chores can only be accomplished in the rain.

There is no rain.

So the dishes can wait.


Yesterday you did a school presentation and at the end, the kids rushed you like they were rushing a stage and you signed their hands with a blue Bic pen.  You didn't even know they made Bic pens anymore.   The pen pulled their skin.  You said, "Doesn't that hurt?" "No!" they shouted.  "It tickles!" You wonder what their parents said at dinner about the scrawl on their kids' hands.  You wonder about their lives, if they had dinner with their parents, what it meant to them that a local writer wrote her own name sloppily over the thin skin that covers their growing bones.  

What it meant to you.

"Draw a heart," they said.  So you did.

You think about who those kids will grow up to become.  You think about how everyone embodies hope, how you really are in the business of hope.   And all that hope makes you well up with... well.  With hope.

Hope makes you think of feathers, which makes you think of your new bird, twittering in the corner of the living room, occasionally blurting "HELLO".  His cage needs cleaning. 

Why isn't it raining?

You mentioned that everyone thinks they ought to have heard of you and they haven't.  But you don't take this personally because the only YA writer who IS truly, recognizably famous is JK Rowling.  

Two different kids put up their hands and said, "Who is JK Rowling?"

You laughed because it was funny.  

Writing is the most invisible job in the world and the best and the worst all at once.  You think about explaining that, but you don't, because you can't.  Instead you told them, "Fame is fickle."

Everything is fickle, you think now, typing the word.  Love, luck, people.  

You like the word "fickle" because it is a perky, stoccato word -- icicle sharp in the middle, but feather soft on both sides. 

You think about how you think about the shape of words.

You think you probably shouldn't say that part out loud because it sounds a little strange.

But we are all a little strange, we humans.

You are becoming that person.  

You know the one, the one who gets overwhelmed by emotion when she thinks about the astonishing beauty in all the strangeness of humanity.  In a class of kids with their hands in the air.  In the blueness of the October sky.