Welcome to new subscribers to Writing in Company. I’m glad you are here! Each week I share a brief thought and a writing prompt. They are meant to be a jumping-off point for you to do some writing on your own about what matters. Use the prompts however you like—to journal, to draft thoughts for your own writing project, as meditation ideas, or for another creative endeavor. Grab your pen and paper, and enjoy.
I’m not much of a gardener.
I insist—along with poet William Stafford—that “a writer is someone who writes” so perhaps a gardener is just someone who gardens.
I still don’t think that’s me. I grow basil in the summer, and not much else.
I did recently trim the dead daisy stalks—solely out of shame—and that one afternoon gave me both a callous on my index finger, and enough garden practice and pride to last me through the spring.
I do appreciate a garden. The last family that lived in our house included someone with a degree in horticulture. He left us green and growing gifts scattered around the yard that I’m just trying not to actively harm, even if I don’t tend them as he did.
We’ve got the aforementioned daisies, all trimmed but not yet flowering. We’ve also got a full and glorious azalea, a hydrangea I’m worried about, fragrant lavender and rosemary, multi-colored Sweet William, and a just-discovered patch of what I thought might be milkweed, but are actually seed pods for an iris hiding at the corner of the house. Will she bloom again? I’m hoping so.
The most surprising gift in our yard has been the peony. I honestly thought the plant was a weed, and almost pulled it up in my daisy-trimming frenzy. My laziness has been rewarded now with peony buds in various stages of glory. I’ve read up on why ants love them, what the “marshmallow stage” of the bud is, and when to cut them to bloom indoors later.
I haven’t yet cut the one blooming beauty to bring inside, and perhaps I won’t. She seems to like being right where she is.
The surprise of the peony I did nothing to earn, and the visceral delight she evokes each time I take the dog out, primed me to take notice when this gift of a poem by Barbara Crooker appeared in my inbox. I love the images of every flower opening its mouth, rejoicing, and the blank canvases of road/field/paper/screen to be filled. I read the transcript of a 2017 interview with the poet who said “writing as my spiritual practice is looking for the sacred in the everyday.”You can certainly see that here.
I want to tell you something. This morning is bright
after all the steady rain, and every iris,
peony, rose, opens its mouth, rejoicing. I want to say,
wake up, open your eyes, there’s a snow-covered road
ahead, a field of blankness, a sheet of paper, an empty screen.
Even the smallest insects are singing, vibrating their entire bodies,
tiny violins of longing and desire. We were made for song.
I can’t tell you what prayer is, but I can take the breath
of the meadow into my mouth, and I can release it for the leaves’
green need. I want to tell you your life is a blue coal, a slice
of orange in the mouth, cut hay in the nostrils. The cardinals’
red song dances in your blood. Look, every month the moon
blossoms into a peony, then shrinks to a sliver of garlic.
And then it blooms again.
a writing prompt (or three)
Find a starting place in the poem or my post—an image, an idea, a phrase—then see what happens as you fill the open canvas in front of you.
Or start with, “Listen, I want to tell you something.”
Or “I can’t tell you what prayer is, but I can.…”
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There should be little icons above or below where you can like, comment or share this post. Let me know what you think about the prompt, or come back and add some of what you write in the comments. Know someone who might enjoy this prompt or others? Please share!
Here’s a women’s chorus with Crooker’s poem put to music. Enjoy!
This comes from a long interview but one full of gold about poetry, grief, and the writing process. It’s from 2017 and you can read it here: Barbara Crooker: Poetry as a Form of Love
I love peonies and would love to have some in my yard, but so far I don’t have the space. :(
The prompt I will likely be noodling on is “Listen, I want to tell you something!”
I love this prompt...thank you so much Julie. I can't wait to write on this today. It's wonderful to find your work. Thank you