Present Tense

Laptop, writing pad, mug
Photo by Alejandro Escamilla on Unsplash

Because no one could gather, we gathered in the residue of pixels. I was and remain full of my mentorly questions, trials, risks I float toward them, dare them to board.

We meet every week; we return to each other. They come with disclaimers, fast fingers, approximations, entropy. Formless futures, blank pages. This world we’re in glowers, made as it is of strangeness. Of strangers. Ruin. Removal. Of anger. It tries to defeat them—has closed them in.

I ask how they live how they lived who they loved what is current about their previous selves.

I want their caramelized history. I small cheering sermon. Ask to specific. Even more I trust they’ll turn over a nerve when I wedge the space open. As they come through I gentle them.

From face to face I swift on my screen, seeking their worry. I lean in, my spine like a spigot. Flicker my hands to grab attention. Also, simply to move. I aim to unsluggish them. They watch me.

Ritual: Some days we cover half the world. Say and can’t. From Covid lonely empty we tunnel toward their past. Clarity. I give them to sloppy and punctuate where they want. I give them to silence, to argument. They catch up catch on. They commit and they tingle. Wednesday afternoon unity.

I propel them to lift their extinguishable lives to the paper. Make them phrase the neighborhood the city afterwards; what it means. Write about courage, and who; write echoes of you as diplomat, doctor, senator, chef.

To look back shows us forward. We plunge deeper. I prompt: Write about how you. Write when. Write something done in reverse. Best meals. Bodies before children. Before aging. Before 80. After.

Any insecurities show up 2 inches high. Some lie down in their square. Boxy screen fuzz or vigorous presence. Because home is a consistent answer and they cannot unlock it, I give them a window. Write about confidence. Write about that day—and more. Let it march through you. Write into a glass out of a corner out of a pandemic. Suggest. Insist.

We pixel together harder. Wounded inside, intimacy widens. Sadness joins lessons, each other, the example, the page. Whatever I propose they quorum around me. Gush. Tolerate. Navigate. Same day of the week.

Am I ok or am I pissing up a rope he asks then apologizes two times. I need to simple she says and I see the space between the space of what she’s written. A mouthful of hope. I call on them.

Write a last time, a garment. Grasp the when almost gone. Tend the sweet smell of childhood, a parking lot, a bedroom, a tragedy. Write about then. All of it matters. Let it creep back.

This contract is two hours is too particular to ignore is how we interlock. We’re in front of each other. They wait all week to get to the writing pad, and they only do it here, saving each other.

Listen: They remind me what it is to be new and show me the ongoing subject of aging. Listen: settle back. Start.

I prompt: a party, a return home, lonely. Writing lets you change lets you accept change lets you handle what doesn’t or hasn’t or won’t.

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