Greens & Dragons

June 19, 2010 § 1 Comment

Very hot out. I bought collard greens and strawberries at the farmers’ market. I’m not sure I’ll actually eat the collard greens, even though I’m going to try. I was going to buy kale because my mother always tells me to eat it and she’s the poster oldster for greens-eating benefits, but I’ve tried kale recently (it’s the vegetable du jour in NYC $25+ entree restaurants) and I still don’t like it. But collard greens…I don’t remember when I last had those. And the many voices from books and plays about the downhome delights of collards can’t be all wrong though to achieve the desired effect might require cooking them in bacon grease.

I intended to spent the walking time from the market and back thinking about the characters in my novel but instead calculated how many calories I’d save switching from whole milk to low fat and not putting honey in my tea. Then remembered the NY Times article about how tiny cuts like that make no difference because the body wants stasis and will make up the difference. Then I tried to remember how I looked at each weight (in 2 lb increments); what clothes fit me then; what difference a few years might make re whether the fat appears/disappears from face, breast and hip; and so on. I was home without ever figuring out how Niles was going to decide to leave the uncle who beat him but would die without his help. I’ve already established Niles as exceptionally forgiving and don’t want to change that. It’s hard enough that he can’t have cinnamon colored hair because it’s just not cinnamon country; cedar’s close enough in shade but I like the associations of cinnamon…cinnamon toast, cinnamon buns, boys made of snips and snails and puppy dogs tails but also having a pinch of sugar, spice and everything nice…the first boy who kissed me: Chris Schultz. I was five. His hair was cinnamon brown. Niles isn’t like him, other than the kindness—but I wanted the hair, too.

I didn’t intend the uncle to be lame or widowed. It just came out that way. I’m not one of those writers who pretend my characters are in control; I can fix Uncle’s foot or haul Auntie out of her grave, and you, the reader, would never know it had been otherwise. But the pleasure in fiction is following the imagination as it romps. It’s what makes it not seem like work. I’m willing to work to keep that not-working feeling, especially if by “work” I mean lying in bed with a cup of coffee thinking about how why what if…

Also, I need to get clear about what’s wrong with the dragon.

When I Met My Muse 

I glanced at her and took my glasses 

off—they were still singing. They buzzed 

like a locust on the coffee table and then 

ceased. Her voice belled forth, and the 

sunlight bent. I felt the ceiling arch, and 

knew that nails up there took a new grip 

on whatever they touched. “I am your own 

way of looking at things,” she said. “When 

you allow me to live with you, every 

glance at the world around you will be 

a sort of salvation.” And I took her hand. 

–William Stafford 

Muse or Dragon?


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