Writing Around It

thHow do you write about nothing when there's something? How do you write around the thing that occupies every waking moment when the people closest to it need privacy? When driving home, I need to remind myself what a green light means and when I arrive home, I double-check that I put the car in park before I get out. Writing fiction feels impossible, let alone useless. Running is not an option. That sounds like a euphemism. It's not. I've bullied my Achilles tendon to the point that I'm in a boot. Reading has long been an emotional refuge, but after reading the same paragraph five times, I push the book away. Instead, I attack my bathroom with bleach, cleaning out the space beneath the sink like I'm clear cutting a forest because life's too short to have so many half-empty bottles of conditioner, worn down eyeliners and gauche shades of lipstick.

While walking the dog, a soccer ball clangs against the chain-link fence and I jump like it's a gunshot. Loud music and laughter is shrapnel in my ears. I try the news, but I can't digest the stories of war and death and discord and I can't look at this computer screen for another minute, so I pull out the hose, the bucket, the sponges and that cleaner that smells terrible and I scrub the porch furniture even though it's half-past September and the season for sitting outside is pretty far gone.

When a snatch of peace arrives, I sit on my back porch in one of those portable fold-up chairs that you take to watch your kid play soccer. My dog lies content in a patch of sunlight. A single bird sings. And I know that though I've been changed permanently, I will be okay. We all will be. Eventually.

(image from alisonlongstaff.blogspot.com)