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January, 2008

The Shy Writer

Dissonance (Excerpt)

By  Lisa Lenard-Cook

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y earliest memory of my father is a winter one.  I am five, and he is kneeling at my feet in our front yard’s snow, strapping cross-country skis to my heavy boots.

What I am seeing is the top of my father’s head—the dark, slicked-back hair, the tops of his protruding ears, the brown fuzziness of his leather bomber jacket’s collar.  I see his breath, too, translucent question marks that come up over his forehead and then dissipate into the blueness of the sky.

Behind me, I hear my mother open the front door, and I try to turn, but only succeed in twisting the upper half of my body.  My mother, wrapped in a navy blue cardigan that is far too big and that I have never seen before, leans on the doorjamb and twiddles her fingers at me:  a wave.  I wave back, mittened.  My father looks up, sees her, jumps up and runs to the door in what seems like two incredibly long strides.  Rooted to my skis, I remain half-turned, watching as my father kisses my mother’s forehead, touches her elbow, and guides her inside.  Then, closing the door behind him, he’s back, strapping on his own skis and handing me two sawed-off poles.  “Okay,” he says.  “Let’s go.”

It does not occur to me to say I don’t know how to ski, that he has never shown me how.  My father has said, “Let’s go,” and go I must, and go I do, in short mincing steps and then longer gliding ones to catch up with him.  He never looks back to see if I am there, because he knows I am, and I know I must not disappoint him.

At first, I stay in the twin tracks my father’s skis have traced for me, but as I become more accustomed to my feet’s lengthy extensions I move parallel to him, although still behind. Under my skis the snow repeats the same soothing sound over and over, sh-sh, sh-sh, its smoothness so reassuring that I fall into it as if we were one.

We ski at the edge of the canyon, and we ski for a very long time.  We encounter no one, and we never say a word to each other.  It is only hindsight that tells me that what I experienced that afternoon may well have been my only moments of pure joy.

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Dissonance (University of New Mexico Press) © 2003 Lisa Lenard-Cook. Used by permission of the author.

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IN This Issue
Easy Readers
Write Angle
Writing Piffle
Remember The Reader
Making It Real
Out Of Order
Reality Suspension
Devilish Details

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Writer’s Block
The path to inspiration starts
Upon the trails we’ve known;
Each writer’s block is not a rock,
But just a stepping stone.

Poetry Is Not
Penned to the page
Waiting for us to admire.
It is only a lonely thought
Caught by tears on fire.

Silent Echoes
A quiet rhyme upon a page
Is what a poet gives;
Some gentle words whispered in trust
To see if memory lives.

Bard From Deadlines
What makes a poem finally work
Is not the time it takes;
It’s how the poet used the muse
To prophet from mistakes.

Be Mused
The art and craft of poetry
Are not so far apart;
The craft comes from the cunning,
The rest comes from the heart.

Fine Vintage
Don’t plant your poem on the page
As though you’re hanging drapes;
It’s shape and flow should come and grow
Like wild summer grapes.

Getting It Write
Writers write what they know best,
Their passions, fears, and dreams;
Writers rarely write about
What other call their “themes.”

Double Vision
A writer’s life is paradox,
It’s more than what it seems;
We write of our reality,
The one inside our dreams.

The echo of a promise,
The thunder of a sigh,
The music of a memory,
A child asking why.

Letter Perfect
Twenty six symbols arranged on a page
Can send a soul to heaven or torment it with rage,
Can free a fragile world or hold it in its net--
The power and the magic of the mighty alphabet.

The Write of Passage
The jump from writing just for fun
To getting paid for it
Begins when you first realize
You know you’ll never quit.

It is not the magic of his wings
That sets us free from our bond.
It is the muse within ourselves
That lets our words lift us beyond.

Photo Poet
Consider your mind the darkroom,
Consider your life the lens,
Consider your eye the camera
On whose focus the poem depends.

Rising Moon
A poem is a rising moon
Shining on the sea,
An afterglow of all we know,
Of all we hope to be.

Star Light
Writing a poem,
Reaching a star,
In making good art
We find who we are.

Spider Web
A poem is a spider web
Spun with words of wonder,
Woven lace held in place
By whispers made of thunder.

The final draft upon the screen,
At last my poem’s through;
A verse of only four short lines--
I rewrote twenty-two!

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