By Tania Pryputniewicz
My second blog entry ever was written from my desk, next to the bed where my nurser slept, overlooking the yard where the toddler and older child romped. I titled that entry, “The Desk.” I remember realizing I’d have to eventually wean my writing life from my sleeping life. How many times I’d open my eyes to the empty chair, the desk calling two feet away, a two feet I often couldn’t traverse due to the exhaustion of steady nursing. Or, if traversed, the rustling of a page would startle the baby, and back I’d head to the bed, smitten.
Here, five years later, I have a cabin, 11 by 7, cinderblock based, wood sided. The ceiling slants down at a jaunty beret’s degree. The interior walls sport swaths of drywall putty my husband smoothed in wide semi-circles. I like the visible arc of his work, his muscle, in the room.
My cabin’s one window looks directly over the incline of our one acre of redwoods. My best books sleep inside here from the women poets I romped through grad school reading to guides for seven different tarot decks to the requisite un-cracked spines of the latest books on the craft of writing, sister shelves of synonym finders, dictionaries in Spanish and Danish, and best of all, a shelf overflowing with signed books written by friends.
Two works of art by my friend Sandy face one another across my futon. On one side, one of her magnificent male torsos, clay, with a poem penned across his chest, faces a color charcoal sketch of a nude woman looking over her shoulder at her headless male companion. Both works of art remind me that poems, unlike sculptures and drawings, don’t really measure up as immediately marketable tangibles. Can you imagine? “Open studio, the poems you see printed here are for sale…” And, because I’m a poet, of course, I don’t mind…what a beautiful life long affliction.
On the far wall I’ve placed one of my brother’s early drawings: a muscled man, his skin a dusky green, pushes his way into the zenith of light/womb, an image I plan to ask my brother for permission to use for my poetry of fatherhood class when I teach it again. The symphony of green continues with a small painting on a circular canvas by my photographer collaborator Robyn, a Luna moth with vibrant lime wings, its “o” echoing the porthole mirror above my desk.
And on the remaining wall hangs a painting with those thousand shades of blue only a true Midwest eye can see, by my friend Jack: an Iowa barn, out-building lamps just lit, dusk coming on, casting the blues of the snow toward violet.
This cabin is where I supposedly write. In actuality, my friends, my daughter’s friends, and my family spend more time sleeping in it than I spend writing in it. What keeps me from disappearing into that cabin, say, rising at 5 ahead of my three children? I could blame chores tiny and large for the good of the family, lunches to make, permission slips to sort, checks to write for field trips, proper gear to pack daily, volunteer hours in the classrooms, my obligations as an editor and a teacher, all the pieces of a life I adore.
And so, before I know it, another day passes and I haven’t walked the 20 feet down to my writing cabin. The writing goes on, but most often, at the family table (five planks wide, covered with the pencil gouges of emphatic nights of homework with frustrated third graders, table top stained permanently with Easter egg dye, anchored merrily by the glass fruit bowl we suspect really belongs in the garden due to the trio of green bronze birds circling the bowl’s stem).
From this family table, you see, I can hear the kids, I can hear the kettle. I no longer have a nurser, but the six year old, the nine year old, the 11 year old, they still need to have me in earshot, and I suppose, I need them to be in mine. Even when they are sleeping. Am I crazy? Or just still smitten. For in ten short years, they will begin their one by one flight from my home, and the years of no-child-in-earshot-writing will stretch before me.
Tell me, then about you…Where do you really write? In the car waiting for a child to get out of soccer? Hunched over a journal in the sand while the rest of the family surfs? At midnight perched on the rim of the bathtub? I aim to reclaim my cabin this summer… I’ll let you know….