Archive for the ‘Prose’ Category

the boy who gave me writing

(being prose bordering on poetry)


my mother’s penmanship was the practised grace of her generation.

styled the way she was taught as correct, a smooth flight of pen, letter into letter, like a swan might move tracing curves of a creek.  maybe that’s what was taught as an expectation of proper hand movement for a young woman then.

maybe it was meant as a sign of obediance and acceptance within the greater whole – how, as they say, to rightly behave.  I some so surmise as that’s what they tried to teach me in my schooling too.

they tried.  tried and failed.

mother took it inside, becoming another right hand, part of knowing who she was – to us who read her mothered pen, yet more, to herself as well.  even the secretarial short-hand she later learned to craft – it carried the same regard.

not me.

oh, I learned, my writing was good and proper enough, I passed my grades, but it never belonged to me.  their pen, their paper, their script in shallow heart.

seventh or eighth grade says the clock, and Larry Mukai, that was the name. my best friend.  of rather few those days.

left-handed he was.  me, nothing in particular – stew.  so I wanted with all my intent – be like Larry, write like Larry.  I trained my right-handed me to write inside a left slanted stroke, falling the way his did naturally.  I became second-nature to my intent.  no labor at all.

yet it was still the shell for that unwelcomed school-taught-script.  still not me.  ask, and I wouldn’t have said, but the feeling was true.

maybe it was some meteorite of fallen far space, too slight to draw a crowd, yet still, landed in my finger-tips, made an accident of purposeful result.  there was probably a sign, forgotten now.

building under construction, fingers being counted still, results uncertain yet.  watch your step!

inside that mystery, script turned to block print, lord knows precisely why, with only a hint remaining to tracks in the sand.  now an upright block script that runs near so swift as anyone’s hand.

there’s the hearth, the fire, the pen come home, albeit two steps to the left of expected perhaps, and said with some slight glancing grin.

and now this day, these shapes retain their stance.


neil reid © june 2012


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How to be lost, part 1

Something different.  A diminutive prose experiment.  Thanks to Amanda Ward for the title I am borrowing shamelessly here.  Perhaps the first of a small collection of experiences about being “lost”.  Not meant to be anything more, nor less, than whatever it is.  Maybe I should apologize dear friends, offer cordial caution for any less than fair or conventional craftsmanship, but to what purpose, so I won’t.  Suffice to say the topic raised my brow in curiosity.  And now this.


How to be lost

       Part 1


Steal something.  A title will do to begin.


But then the title is only a short string of pearls.  The story is mine.  First time lost was when a cousin of mine, sort of a bully to me sometimes, like he was that day at school.  That day when we were young enough to still ride our bicycles to school and home, like then.  And then there was some sort of veiled threat I couldn’t any longer even paint, but for whatever the imagined risk, taken seriously.  It was a small town, but we were as children are, even smaller by eye in that vast world of streets and close hand countryside.  He knew my route home on the bike.  It was his route too.  Meeting somewhere along that much worn path wouldn’t be a matter of chance.


I felt desperate.  Classes over.  The ending hour chimed.  Beyond the shallow dip of dry asphalt, a lake in winter, I was first to arrive, begin starting home.  Standing beside the stable of nested spokes and rubber wheels inspiration arrived to question mundane.  I looked, I turned, I went the other way – away from home.  Up the short street, half a block, then orchards and only a few scattered homes, mostly, mostly unknown from behind the handlebars.  He’ll never track me in this direction, he’ll never move away from the habitual direction home, was my certain thought.  But turning left at the top of the slight grade, neither was I certain of how to get home.  But surely the world, including my little hometown, wasn’t so big that I wouldn’t in time circle around, arrive home from the other side – and all unseen, all inside a child’s living mystery.


Pedal circled pedal, reaching for breath, wind blew into me, but not so much as to make a struggle of my labor yet was a reminder that all familiar was behind me now.  Maybe I should make another turn, make my route more complex lest he follow and find despite my maneuver, unexpected as it was.  But no, all speed ahead, deeper and deeper into unknown distance, surely better, was my thought.


I suppose being lost felt better than the imagined alternative.  So there wasn’t really any regret or doubt or fear about being so far far away from where I’d ever ridden before.  Maybe there was even some excitement!  Charting unknown common streets, yet there might be dragons ahead, didn’t the old maps say at the edge of the world?


And finally, finally, a crossroad, and one that offered a turn east instead of west.  Might not have known where I was, but I knew the compass and how to draw a circle, yes.  Neither however that the turn brought anything more familiar.  It did not.  And now I was one more turn and miles into where I didn’t know.  Yet my spirit was rising anyway.  Open fields, dry summer brown grass whistling in the wind.  Narrow pavement but few cars to push me onto the broken asphalt and dirt beside the road.  The road was mine, undisturbed!  Another half mile and a slight hill impeding sight of the next same companion of open farm country.  Another farm house and another, empty of anyone in sight except for me taking the road and wind.


There’s the highest peak of rolling road and more houses now.  Far ahead, red and green, a crossing street.  Then recognition all unexpectedly!  Moving from mystery back into the streets I knew.  Pedal fast now, common territory.  But he never guessed, no clue that I had sailed completely around the world and home from the other side, never found my trail.  But I had for the first time in my life found that state of being lost, made a friend of it, and maybe never felt doubt about being lost again.  After all, like Columbus they said, the world is round.  Isn’t it?


Sometimes being lost, is not.



Neil Reid © August 2009

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