writings from a workshop #2

(the writing prompt was an acorn)

She is walking today — short stumbling steps — her chipped cane prodding the gravel choked weeds along the length of driveway.

We are walking today because she can, because it’s a mild early-fall morning, because the pains of her age are not so bad, because I am here to help her if she stumbles.

We walk along the property line, a slow unsteady march through light and shadow. The unkempt ground is littered with the leavings of the season — withered crabgrass and dandelion stalks, weathered leaves, and an early harvest of acorns.

I hold her free arm while she beats the ground with her cane, grunting angry words that I can’t understand.

A sharp white stone catches her attention, and she prods it with her toe, strikes it with her cane, sends it out of her limited sight.

She stops before a scattering of acorns, a barrier to her shuffling gait. Grunting, again, she swings the tip of her cane, stabbing at the offending shells, missing more than she hits, the cane tip knocking aside small stones and sending too few acorns rolling into the underbrush.

She is shaking now, from fear or frustration or just plain tiredness. I can’t tell.

I lead her back inside to her chair by the kitchen table, where a doughnut and coffee will take her mind off the recalcitrant acorns.

She will forget her battle with the acorns in the driveway.

But I can’t.

(the prompt was a memory of a piece a jewelry)

How sweet it is to be sixteen. At least it’s supposed to be. I know that I am not nearly as sweet as my parents want the world to think I am.

So they give ma a heart. A 24 carat solid gold heart, heavy with considerations.

A prominent diamond chip marks the day of my birth on the calendar etched into the center of the heart’s face, and lines like rays of the sun streak from the edges of the month of March to the edges of the shiny heart.

I am sweet sixteen, and my wrist is shackled with a heavy heart on a heavy gold charm bracelet. Look, Look, the clanking metal announces: Look how much my parents love me.

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