I come into my writerly being by way of math and words and inanimate objects, which is to say, used desk of scarred Oakwood, a curved groove at top-center, perfect for holding a pencil or a pen. Two drawers, and carved, at the bottom left corner of the desk,
Nothing has ever felt so lonely.
The desk is perpendicular to the door, parallel to the windows, which open to the garden in my backyard. I have caught the rainbow, and it’s in a clay pot on my desk. This is the perfect desk for writing, placed in the perfect position, in the perfect, bare-boned, empty-except-for-desk-and-chair room, except for the barking dogs, the creaking floorboard, the too hot too cold too loud too quiet. Nothing has ever felt so lonely. But I have made a to-do writing list, on a piece of pale blue stationery paper five inches wide and seven inches long that has tiny white stars sprinkled across the top, with a fountain pen that bleeds black. And I wrote: “Note to self: Follow this everyday” at the bottom of the paper. My first poem will be about my racial identity. It will contain the following words: temple, skin, curry, brown, minority, outcast, parents, white, and model. I will write it in free verse, five stanzas, four lines per stanza.
The desk and the chair and the room provide fodder for imaginative thought and memories. Example 1: It’s summer, and I can hear the jingle of the ice cream truck outside my window. I am reminded of myself at five years of age. Then, I was curly hair and nerves, bone and flesh, laughter and smiles. Unlabeled. Example 2: If I close my eyes and sit still long enough, I can tattoo a whole poem to the backs of my eyelids, the tiny words dancing like kaleidoscopic colors. Example 3: I have bought a map of the world and hung it on the wall, right above my desk. I’m an explorer on the search for only the most perfect of words, to wade through maelstroms of nonsensical verses and find the most precise of phrases to describe me.
The paper lays bare still, save for a few doodles in the left-hand corner. I am creating a list of myself, of all that I am and all that I am not. I get to “daydreamer” and stop, stuck as I am on the movement of the spider in the corner, stuck as I am on the dog barking outside, stuck as I am on the flowers that have wilted, the rainbow shattered and turned to dust on my desk. I kill the spider, close the window, trash the flowers. The perfect desk is clean again and now I can go beyond “daydreamer.” I make up an experiment: If I close my eyes and write without seeing, just following the sound of my pen, I will get to my perfect poem written on the perfect desk with the perfect pen in the perfect room. And so I write. I write for myself. I write for my bookshelf. I write for all the bookshelves. I write for paper. I write for the prize. I write for my name. (I break down my last name into easily digestible parts and rehearse how I will tell people to pronounce my name. This will happen often. Eventually, it won’t need to happen at all.) I write despite the cramp in my hands. I write despite the fatigue. I write I write I write. I open my eyes. A mish mash of lines and circles: maelstrom on paper. I have captured chaos.
Photo By: Megan