Relic #2: And Then What

On the back of this photo, it reads:

"This was taken on Easter Sunday. I had long curls.

Keep this from me."

When she says, "keep this from me," she might mean keep this photo from me...keep this memory away...the memory of long curls and girls in neatly-pressed dresses, squinting into the sun. the memory of us, the way we were once on a dirt road in our white shoes. hopeful.  uncertain. careful not to get dirty. maybe what came next was just too much. the curve in the road. the bleached out sunlight halo. the lost dog. the lost innocence. or maybe what came next was so perfect, it's impossible to remember the moment just before. the perfection obliterating everything after.

Lately, I have been thinking of all of the things I keep from myself. deliberately. subconsciously. the things I know but ignore. the intentional muting of my voice. the hum of the voices of others around me--a busy hive of story and identity and flitting visibility on cracked glasspaper wings. one thing I keep from myself are the questions: who am I as a writer, these many years into this process? the post-MFA, post-scattered-publications, post-award, post-fellowship I want the next steps? what are the next steps? is it enough to me to sacrifice all to the silent, solitary, steady craft? isn't that all there really is?

When she says, "keep this from me," she might mean, "let me forget." lately, I have been thinking of what comes next. the moment after the photo is snapped. after the stories we live by and tell, over and over as currency, are done being told. after he breaks your heart. after you feel the death all the way to your bones. after the violation. the suffering. the brokenness. the loss. the poverty. the disease. this happened to me. yes. and on the other side of the stories that fence us in there is a wide expanse of possibility. this moment happened. yes. and then what.