from After the Parade by Lori Ostlund


…Aaron wondered whether Melvin was the sort of person who felt hopeful when he looked at the ocean’s vastness or overwhelmed by his own insignificance. p 332

I don’t know where the words are this week. I try to make this blank page safe and inviting for them. But still they won’t make an appearance. I’ve tried bribing—promising any and all of my Halloween candy— but they just won’t come. Who knew that words could be as distrustful and stubborn as feral cats?
But I am nothing if not patient and persistent. I put my faith in the idea that words can be coaxed and cajoled. If I keep putting my fingers to the keyboard, perhaps they will come quietly forth.
Words that will allow me to write about the effects of after. How the actual event or happening has an impact, but it’s the after we must live with. Dropping your child off at school is heart-breaking, but the eerily silent house must be met head-on each evening after work.
Or maybe I could write about oceans, beaches, or vacations that turned out differently than as planned. Who knew so much of the Cape shut down after Columbus day? Now we do, I guess. That ice cream, those french fries and doughnuts will have to wait for another summer season.
Or insignificance. That’s a topic that could fill pages. How standing in front of a mammoth entity can make one feel miniscule and tiny. Taking in that awe-inspiring beauty can fuel a whole paragraph-creating fugue. Or block you up like a bathtub stopper in a claw footed tub.
So many emotions, so much inspiration. So few words…

In the vastness my hopefulness lingers.

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