In response to the theme:
Charles Dickens’ classic A Tale of Two Cities infamously begins, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” What time in your life does this remind you of? Use this opening in a contemporary setting to describe something you’ve experienced.
A Tale of Two Cities 987 miles apart:
It was the best of times
And the worst.
That crystalline summer sun
smelling of chlorine and cardboard boxes
and black Sharpie marker
pushing its way through elliptical skylights
in what I never thought I would have to call The Old House
made anything seem possible
made everything seem surreal.
Two friends gathered in a spidery cement basement
wove tulips out of pipe cleaners
(I still have those, Christy)
wove friendship from embroidery floss
wove laughter and slivers of light into that
cold silent time.
Cat’s Cradle by the pool,
prancing through prairie like fools,
both faces plastered with elementary school smiles,
not knowing how it would feel–
how impossibly, utterly, awfully real,
is the difference of nine hundred eighty seven miles.
“I’ll call every day–”
“Wish you didn’t have to go away–”
“But we’ll keep in touch, you’ll see.”
No way for either to know
Of the way things would go
Once “me and her” became just…me.
I whisper her name
and something like shame
on the tip of my tongue, starts to sting
And I know I should call
But can’t work up the gall
For fear that that phone will just
It’s a good thing I’m so contrary.
Dialing anyway now–
so many zeroes–
pity nothing rhymes with zero–
pity it’s the number for nothing,
squandered dreams, squished hopes,
no value, worthlessness, the epitome of emptiness-
No, stop, positivity.
Now at the end of the line
I hear the silence of the buzz of her room
And then that voice known so well–
Again weaving that spell
A friendship two years abandoned can so easily resume.
I’m drenched, now, in Pacific Northwest rain
(Cell reception is only outside)
But now I am sure: Whether they bring us bliss
or a pain of the most needling kind
Once in your heart, people permanently reside.
This poem is not quite positive, but not quite negative, either. Three poems already brings me to (almost) the halfway point of this weeklong endeavor, and in the latter half I’ll strive even more away from this neutrality–on the last day, I’ll take on the ultimate challenge, and write about happiness itself. Until then,
–-The Girl in the Orange