Free Association Writers: Saturday Morning Edition

She hunches over the library table, and rubs planed fingers over an already-slick forehead. Canadian forests are burning in the northwest, and the haze is thick, humidity high from last night’s rains. Her other fingers wander back and forth across a college-ruled composition book, cheap pen jagging with arrhythmia. In search of inspiration, but there is none to be found. 

She and the rest of the morning writer’s group splay around this island of tables, like sailboats loosely-tethered two-deep at a narrow wooden dock, bumpers lashed between them to allay any damage from getting too close, a few more anchored out in a narrow bay, dinghies trailing behind and open to the morning dew.

Picture these boats: Last night there were guitars and laughter, beer and cheap wine, and whisky passed around the foredeck under a full moon. Now, each boat rests separate, gently rolling in the dawning pre-coffee silence. Thankfully, there is not sufficient wind and wave action to turn queasy stomachs and pounding heads to harsh words and harsher vomit.

But where is she, again? Oh yes…at a table in one of Minneapolis’ many public libraries with the rest of the Saturday morning writers, trawling for inspiration. She had no idea what kind of a Friday night they’d had, whether there had been beer or wine, guitars and moonlight, or maybe just grinding it out on the dance floor with a stranger. Nor did she know what kind of a night they’d have tonight.

What they share now is the clicking of a keyboard or two, tables softly snapping against each other as they lean in, and lean away again from their pads and pens. The others seem to have found inspiration. Or perhaps, like her, they were wandering, images scattering across still-night skies, hoping the quality of mercy might coalesce and drop as gentle rain upon the page beneath. Maybe a lucky few are bumping through schools of minnows, bare feet wavering in cool lake water, memories collecting and story lines gathering like clusters of tadpole eggs that are just beginning to form a hint of belly and tail. Or is it tale?

No surprises here. We gather, and dismiss our editor to go grab a cup of harsh, hot and dark editor-espresso to juice up the critical mode. Editor having been distracted, our thoughts are free to limp, flow, and maybe form some kind of primordial ooze that processes feelings, creating a rhythm from our rock-polishing cranial tumblers filled with rough words. Or maybe we simply follow the meadow path, past bees and dragonflies into the deep woods of that which has not yet been named, that which is terrifying. And beautiful. And which sometimes rolls and smooths with a skipping bit of comedy.

© Liz Husebye Hartmann (2019)

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