Karen Rivers

my mama said there'd be days like these

Karen Rivers

There will be days when you'll be brilliant.   Let's say you're in a tent, the pillows bunched up behind your neck and back, the laptop balanced on your legs for so long that it will leave a hot tattoo of itself on your skin. You'll think fleetingly of cancer and you'll listen to waves crashing on the sandstone beach and the way the wind lifts the tarp and slams it back down again, but mostly you'll just write and everything you write will fit, just so, and you'll feel complete and whole in your skin and good.  You'll feel good.

 

On other days, you'll be too hot and the freezer will break and your kitchen will smell like slightly thawed chicken and you'll hear a pipe gurgling and those damn rats will start chewing somewhere on the exterior wall and then the school will call because someone has thrown up and you'll realize, actually, that it doesn't matter because the book is terrible, you are terrible, everything is terrible, and what does any of it matter, whether you write or not or take a day off to wipe melted popsicles off the scratched bamboo floors?  

 

That's how it goes, mama said.   Except not your mama.  Your mama didn't say things like that, not to you. Maybe it was just implied:  Some days are better than others.  

 

The skylight is open and the trees are rustling and still green.  Someone is cutting their lawn and it smells like the waning of summer, damper than August but still verdant.   The sky billows its blueness everywhere like a painting that's leaking out the sides of the frame.   There are light shadows on the wall that move left and right in the breeze.   What could be wrong with today, after all?   It's just a day.  The floor is clean now and the freezer is empty and the words are still there, saved in two places, just in case, and tomorrow when you read them, you'll remember how you were moving through the story, driving in a car, forgetting something in a motel room that will turn out to matter, later.  

 

You sat down in the first place to just write a blog about summer and how it felt to write and how it felt to not write and the exact way the barnacles felt when they cut into your foot as you climbed the rock to jump in again and how the salt water blurred your contacts and how you walked so many miles every day that at night your hips ached in that good way that only happens when you rarely stop moving, when you're never inside.  So why don't you write that?

 

You were going to write about the blackberries and how quickly they sagged into juice and seeds in the empty margarine bucket.  You meant to write about driving and forgetting and remembering and finding the end of the novel you didn't know yet that you'd written on the top of a mountain on the Oregon coast.  You wanted to mention how singing, loudly, in the living room to Simon and Garfunkel songs with the kids, was actually the answer.  You tell them, "Remember that YOUR mama said to sing, OK?"  You had something to say about bad dreams and childhood fears and the movie, Frankenweinie.  You wanted to write about how The Bun cried when you played the YouTube video of the funeral of Israel Kamakawiwo'ole, the boats all filling up the bay and the joy of his music floating them all along.  

 

But maybe tomorrow.  It's time to go.  And anyway, there's all of this, in any one day -- all this possibility, all this promise, all this cleaning up.