Last week I sat down with a writing friend to study a small piece of literature. We met at a nearby coffee house. Sitting across the table from each other, books open in front of us, surrounded by the high whine of the espresso machine, the peppered staccato of other patrons’ conversations, and the brace of our own thoughts and imaginings on the world of other people’s writing, we read over the first part of a recent Salmon Rushdie novel and talked about what we did, and did not, understand in his work.
Then we wrote.
This is what came out of my pen, and it was so strange and yet oddly fascinating, that I thought it would be fun to share with you.
“. . . So she slipped out of history, he took it with him when he left.” – Salmon Rushdie, “Two Years, Eight Months, and Twenty-Eight Nights”
The things he took
the empty mayonnaise jar of receipts
a poem from her porch
the treasure of loneliness
his history dig
chocolate cake (he left her a slice)
the formality of loneliness
the good fortune in a Chinese coin
– that went bad after he carried it away
mercy to others
the parallel life of a transient philosopher
immaculate linen she saved for her wedding night
olive oil to make pesto
the paralysis of over-analyzed love
attraction to miracles
the safety of warm skin
imaginary ills in a pillowcase
the red-orange of a setting sun
paranoia, just enough to sour a life
wine she never cared for
his resumé and business cards
the last taste of summer.
She slipped out of the way and he left with no dust in his tracks
no unfinished meals
no canceled dentist appointments
no strangled crabgrass
no sparks on the 4th of July
and when he was gone she swept the floor with his ashes
and put out the garbage for the trash man to pick up
It’s a little sad in places, sorry! The original work was something of a lament for the character, a female jinn, who is abruptly left by a philosopher-historian when his career is reinstated … I thought about changing what I wrote to make it more cheerful, but I decided to include an explanation instead.
My favorite line might be “a poem from her porch.” Such an interesting image!
Do you ever write down stream-of-consciousness thoughts? Do you use stream-of-consciousness as fuel for your own writing? Thanks for reading!