Some of what we do, we do / to make things happen...
The rest of what we do, we do / trying to keep something from doing something...
~ Miller Williams
No matter how she tilts her head to hear
she sees the irritation in their eyes.
She knows how they can read a small rejection,
a little judgment, in every What did you say?
So now she doesn't say What? or Come again?
She lets the syllables settle, hoping they form
some sort of shape that she might recognize.
When they don't, she smiles with everyone else,
and then whoever was talking turns to her
and says, "Break wooden coffee, don't you know?"
She pulls all she can focus into the face
to know if she ought to nod or shake her head.
In that long space her brain talks to itself.
The person may turn away as an act of mercy,
leaving her there in a room full of understanding
with nothing to cover her, neither sound nor silence.
[Miller Williams is the father of singer-songwriter Lucinda Williams.]
how to do it from the beginning.
First notice everything:
the stain on the wallpaper
of the vacant house,
the mothball smell of a
Miss nothing. Memorize it.
You cannot twist the fact you do not know.
The blond girl you saw in the bar.
Put a scar on her breast.
Say she left home to get away from her father.
Invent whatever will support your line.
Leave out the rest.
Use metaphors: The mayor is a pig
is a metaphor
which is not to suggest
it is not a fact.
Which is irrelevant.
Nothing is less important
than a fact.
Be suspicious of any word you learned
and were proud of learning.
It will go bad.
It will fall off the page.
When your father lies
in the last light
and your mother cries for him,
listen to the sound of her crying.
When your father dies
If there is a heaven
he will forgive you
if the line you found was a good one.
It does not have to be worth the dying.