Saturday, August 18, 2012

Past & Present

I’m currently working on a piece about a woman named Laura. Attempting to shut the door on the absence of her husband Fred, and the ever-present circumstances of his departure, Laura moves into an apartment with her daughter Wren. Laura vaguely senses a certain familiarity stirring within her daughter. Caught between obsessing over Wren’s upbringing, the growing claustrophobia of being sandwiched between the hidden lives of apartment tenants, and a man who appears from 
the fringes of the property, Laura struggles to bring stability to their lives.

Believe it or not, I’ve been good about setting aside an hour or so after work to tinker away at Laura’s story. So I don’t jinx the flow, I’m going to keep Laura on my laptop and typewriter for now 
(Weird – right after I typed that sentence, I opened a Magic Hat and the message on the bottle cap was “Get Jinxed”).

Despite the suggestion of my beer, I’m going to travel back to the 5th grade. My mom recently moved, and in helping her go through piles of boxes, I re-discovered lots of crazy stuff. Including a typed (as in typewriter) copy of the anthology that the Enrichment program associated with my school put together. Sitting there at the bottom of page 15 was this little ditty of a poem I wrote about my home state:


Black-capped chickadees chirp
in evergreen branches of pine,
Golden potatoes grow
in blueberry-scented air,
Children play in salty Atlantic breakers
sparkling in the sun
As beautiful as
a gem

Fiona Clifford
Grade 5

OK – so the title is a little uninspired (coming up with titles has never been my strong point), and the last four lines are pretty cheesy, but I like “black-capped chickadees.”

As the search through musty boxes continued, I found a laminated booklet of poems that I wrote and illustrated when I was 12 (The “About the Author” section I wrote on blue-lined notebook paper and pasted in the back clued me into how old I was). I’m not sure if this was part of a school assignment, or something I did just for the heck of it. But lo and behold, the third poem from the end was my Maine poem. Even back then I liked to recycle my work!

I originally wrote this poem in the 5th grade, then used it again a year or so later when creating the above page for a homemade poetry collection. Don’t be alarmed – the dimpled brown lumps floating in my Maine illustration are supposed to be potatoes. The dark brown blob is a pine cone. Even better is this “About the Author” write-up that I included at the back: Fiona A. Clifford loves to write. She was born on October 31 and is 12 years old. Already two of her poems have been published.


  1. Clearly Laura, Wren, and (absent) Fred have a lot going on beneath the surface .. at least I don't really know the details about these three people. The first 3 paragraphs of this post feel like a teaser/trailer for something bigger. Yet I don't know where to go to get "the scoop". You know I love that poem, however the first 3 paragraphs left me hanging. Help me. Maybe you can have an online project for all of your faithful blog followers.. and another project you intend to take to publishers. That or you have to let me read over your shoulder when you write about this Laura character because you hooked me in your post and now I want more ... (I am so glad you are writing for yourself again.) Love ya!

    I like your idea for keeping followers aware of you current projects and also analyzing older works. Be aware if you describe works in progress in detail to me and it makes me want to read that piece, then I am left yearning to discover an outcome but we don't know when the outcome will be created let alone available to read. You've always wanted a critic and I will try my best even though I love everything you write! Keep it coming!

    1. Good to hear that you are intrigued by the Laura piece! The things bubbling beneath the surface of Laura and Wren's "ordinary" lives - and their inescapable connection to Fred - is one of the main things I am working to explore. It's good to have a push to share some of what I have written on this. Stay tuned for next week's post :)

      Thanks for the support! xo