Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Workshop Inspiration

At my small-group writer's workshop tonight, I assigned this writing exercise: "Write about what your mother's or grandmother's hands have done."

(The assignment, incidentally, was inspired by my aunt, who, gathered around her mother's deathbed with her siblings, said, "Imagine what those hands have done." It's a fantastic thought, isn't it?)

Usually, while my students are writing, I review the day's workshop pieces and prepare for the second half of class. Today, however, I scrawled out my own brief response to the assignment. It reads:

My grandmother's soft, vein-lined hands did not...
latch necklaces
apply rouge to wrinkled cheeks
play piano
write high school assignments
dip their fingers in the Rhine, the Danube or the Thames
hold the hand of her evil stepmother
soak for a manicure

They did...
Pour molasses
Flatten lefse
Deal cards
Wash plastic straws
Fold in prayer
Open the cookie jar
Knit socks and mittens and a thick pair of taupe legwarmers I refused to wear
Form popcorn balls for 30 Halloweens
Spank sons
Throw away the half-full bottles of whiskey they found in a can of nails in the garage
Hold six newborn babies to her chest
Weave their fingers in mine

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