I think of the children who will never know, intuitively, that a flower is a plant’s way of making love, or what silence sounds like, or that trees breathe out what we breathe in.
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Heather Sellers is the author of a guide for writers, The Practice of Creative Writing, which is coming out in a fourth edition this fall. She lives in St. Petersburg, Florida.
I can’t see the virus, but I feel its seeds in me. I can’t see my faith, but I feel its seeds in me, too.
I was not afraid of alligators or snakes. I swam past them with some vague feeling that I was safer in the water with these creatures than on land with the humans.
You do not have cramps. That’s invented by women who want attention. We don’t go in for that kind of malingering — that’s what it is. You have cramps because you eat too fast. You don’t chew.
Gingerly, creeping, my mother drives her “safe” back way home, winding through the subdivisions bordering downtown Orlando, Florida. The little truck doesn’t have air conditioning. I stretch my arm out the window as if I might be able to feel the Spanish moss hanging from the trees like witch hair.
On a bike I have wings and a kingdom. On a bike I’m a taller, stronger, wiser version of myself — the person I wish to be on land. It’s always been this way.
My mother regularly told me, Heather, if you are ever in danger and I’m not there, make your way to a house with flowers. The flowers show they care and are kind and will help.
It didn’t occur to me until years later that we had not a single bloom in our yard.
The night Cole had followed my orders, I couldn’t believe it had worked: my taking the rifle, my telling him no. But I hadn’t discovered a bold, brave part of myself. It was nothing like that. What I’d discovered was that I could pretend to be someone I was not, and that people could be fooled by this, and that this could save my life.
I feel when he enters the building. I get out of my chair, stand in the doorway of my office in the English department. He comes around the corner. I put my hands on my hips, like a kid, and call down the hallway, “Hey, you!”
To Jerry, everything was potentially interesting. When parents say, “Pay attention,” they mean, “Know in advance when danger will occur” — which, of course, is impossible. But Jerry showed me how to pay attention; how to look and then say what I had seen, precisely, accurately, truly. Jerry embodied attentiveness. His gift to his students was to pass on this process of attending to the world.
My mother’s hair turned in two weeks from chestnut, as she called it, to shocking white. “I am shocking white,” she said that morning when I came into the kitchen, awakened by the smell of toast.