Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Memoir from Reading on the River

Sometimes writing by assignment can bring some surprising results, This morning Michael led the teachers in his memoir activity. In my brainstorm I felt compelled to write down "prom dress." I started to censor myself. Prom dress? Birds. Lice. Prom dress? But I just decided to go with it. Then Michael said we had to use all the details in the brainstorm. And the memoir had to start with a line chosen by my listening partner. 10 minutes to write. (prom dress?) mmm . . .

I tried to be a good Samaritan and got lice.

Lake Erie was tossing under the shy April sun that afternoon as I raked up the previous autumn’s leaves under the singing pine in the backyard. The muffled groans of lawnmowers echoed from house to house, the giving, soft earth embraced my feet. This time of year sweatshirts replace down coats and the Indians kick off another losing season.

A naked baby bird wiggled on the pine needled ground, mouth upturned and gaping.
I picked the bird up and stretched to put it back in its nest and continued raking.
Again, I replaced it in the nest.
I must have put it back four times.
A warm feeling on my arm made me lift the cuff of my sweatshirt and there it was, a cloud of lice moving up my arm.

I darted like a deer into the kitchen to scrub them off with a brush from under the sink.

Which is all to say, when you see a bird colorfully dressed this summer, it’s like a teenager in a prom dress. There’s a lot going on under there.

I did not get lice in my hair.