Tell Me a Story

Tell me a story
with a happy ending
with lots of adventures in between
with love and laughter
and averted disaster
and pictures I can see.

Tell me a story
and I’ll tell it again
in moments small
in snatches of time
tell me of your days gone by
so I can be there too.

Tell me a story
of the places you’ve been
the people you knew
the troubles you’ve had
how you made it
how you didn’t
how you lived to tell the tale.

And when you’re tired
your stories all told
your days full
your life calm
you’ll ask for my stories
and when you do
I’ll have them waiting for you.

I’ll tell you a story
with a happy ending
with lots of adventures, today, yesterday,
with love and laughter
and averted disaster
and plot twists all the way.

Ink Runs Dry

When the ink runs dry
the stories have been told
the thoughts written down
the loose ends tied

there’s more to life
than a book and a pen
there’s more to stories
than writing them down

this is why writers have to get up and live
feel their stories
make their own choices
be fearless like heroes
be a little bit mad
and see what others don’t see

get up and look.
leave the desk and go live.
write every day
but not every day
if life deserves to get in the way.

The stories will stay with you
draw your hand to the pen
but don’t force it
not today
let the ink
run dry.

Lonely Open Country

Cool glass presses against the side of my forehead. There are so many stars out there in the North, all around us. We’re driving along a ridge between rolling hills and valleys. The land is dark. Headlights are the only artificial light I can see, ghosting off reflectors on the sides of the road. I stiffen my neck, try to change position so that my head doesn’t wallop the window. Little success, but no matter. I’m determined to watch the stars and the empty landscape pass.

It’s a chilly Autumn night, and it’s so alone out here. It feels that way after leaving the dance, but it’s a pleasant, full feeling. The dark woods and the memories of whirling skirts and smiling faces remind me of past times I never knew.

Enter the barn in the twilight, yellow Christmas lights strung up under the eaves. Farm folks and others, but mostly farm folks, have gathered from miles around to this barn in the middle of nowhere. They’re gussied up in their overalls and old-fashioned dresses. Everyone’s talking, and slowly, everyone finds a partner. That’s the hardest part. Once paired, we walk out onto the cement dance floor. It’s an open-sided barn with yesteryear’s hay still scattered around in clumps. The dancers wait for music, some patiently, some impatiently. Finally, the MC grabs the mic. The band is tuned up and ready. The music begins, and boy is it lively.

My flats slip on the concrete as I skip around the outside of the square. I nearly fall a couple times that night. Dumb shoes. It’s great fun. After a few dances my feet hurt from pounding the concrete floor, but I never sit out if I can help it. I came here to dance, and dance I shall.

Music echoes in my head on the ride home, head bumping against the glass, riding through lonely open country.

Song of Hope

Late afternoon sun lights up the end of the long hallway. It’s quiet and still. I’m here alone, sitting on a convenient chair just outside the closed door. I’m waiting for it to open.

I know the drill. Somebody’s in there right now, another homeschool highschooler, presenting their interp to the row of judges. I would love to watch, but I never watch right before I give my own speech. I need time to focus. Rehearse the lines silently in my head. After that, just wait.

The nerves start to play with you when you’re waiting for the door to open, but that’s nothing new. You find ways of calming yourself, and though you always stay a little afraid, the thrill of performing soon overcomes the butterflies.

I have space in this hallway, in this Korean church and school in New Jersey, to settle down and mentally prepare for my speech. The diffuse glow on the linoleum floors is soft and pleasant. Once again, I feel the nerves tie my stomach in knots.

Go away, I tell them. I shift in the kid’s chair. Still nervous. Quietly, I begin to sing to myself, sing the nerves away.

It’s Song of Hope, and it’s one of my tournament theme songs. At least, it became my theme song that day. It’s a song that makes you feel small, in a good way. It made speech room stage fright up and disappear when I needed it to.

Typically fear follows me into the competition room and remains for the first few seconds of performance until I find my groove and stay there. Not this time. This time when the door opens I’m ready, standing with an easy smile.

I enter and walk to the center of the room. The judges are finishing writing down their thoughts from the previous performance. I hold up my name tag where they can easily see.

“My name is Kira Gregory. Are the judges ready?” They nod. “The timer?” Yup. “Let’s begin.”

Words Fall Short

To me, the centuries are yesterday’s wind
I’ll show you the thoughts of ages past
of people gone
of weak and strong
of all who wield a pen.

I am the language of the mind
I am the road thoughts travel down
ideas and feelings
reasoning and reaction
through me is the closest minds can come.

I can’t show you everything.

I can’t bring you the sweet spicy scent of sensitive fern in July sunshine, a smell that is summer and woods and past and light and life.

I can’t bring you the feeling that comes when you hear the wind whisper through a million pine needles in a forest of ancient evergreens.

I can’t make you understand the peculiar squish of moss between your toes, the weird fuzzy sharpness of astringent chokecherries in August.

But I am the language of the mind. A dark, silent, scentless, sensationless inner world that is alive with more than senses could give. I am the bricks and mortar of your world. I am your stories, your thoughts, your memories…

Memories. Those strange things I never quite understood.