Stretched

by melissakiefer

I’ve stretched. These travels stretched me well. My brain’s been pulled, my humanity broadened, my dreams expanded. I’m growing words, and returning to a normal state will prove difficult. I’ve locked eyes with an idea, become infatuated with the pain and the work and the writer-bliss. And I don’t want to give it up, watch it get carried away—examined to see if it’s acceptable and okay, measured and weighed. Most women my age birth a baby, but my ticking clock tells me it’s a book I must create before the age of thirty. With mad motivation, I’ve set a hard and fast deadline. I can’t go back to writing as a “hobby,” not when I love it like I love a life.     

I’ve stretched by meeting people, people who teach me about religion and worldviews and travels and grief and romance and books they love. They are naked with the details, so naturally, automatic bonds form from feeling that type of comfortable with bruised knees. The workshop writing had already forced us to put our hearts on the plate. We’d already confessed. We’d already learned how to “show” in our essays. Now we further “tell” over thai food and tacos and while walking endlessly through a campus cloud of sweet-smelling pipe smoke. Sophisticated. Sophisticated like the red wine served at the cocktail hours, the Virginia Woolf pieces we read aloud in cafes, the blazers with the elbow patches worn by the MFA men.

 My mind is clouded during lectures and genre seminars. My eyes burn and my throat chokes and my biology ticks and my whole face stings from intense desire to be the visiting writer, the professor, the mentor, the expert on some element of craft. I dream and doodle pen names, the words I’d write on dedication pages (for my students), the chapter titles for the table of contents. I’m star-struck at the readings. Books are my movies. These writers are my celebrities, my superstars who, even in their fiction, allowed their own hearts to stretch right out of their chests and onto those best-seller bookshelves.  

And while I’m waiting to deliver, I’m at home and growing big inside this sweet and sweaty pocket of the South.  

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