Writing Workshop
For Kate and Hudson

We all praised most the details:
“he left four lonely purple cone 
flowers, two brown eyed Susans standing
in an etched vase against the September sunset”– 
or: “we laughed the stars
from the sky, smoking on your porch;
your fingers pulling and twisting
my hair into braids, my fingers
tucked inside the borrowed sleeves
of your old green sweater”– 

In revisions it was always Chris:
I liked the details you added, then
Vanessa: I really liked the detail you
added, and finally Mark: I have always
liked to read revisions, and I especially liked...
the details you added.
I kicked you under the table, or when
I couldn’t reach, I winked you
into a fit of helpless giggles.
Later we repeated every inflection

over steaming bitter (detailed) coffee.
I elbowed you before class, whispered
urgently, what the hell do I say
about this one?  Rolling your eyes, 
smug, you hissed back: Just say
you really like the details.
It could be a bumper sticker
following every would-be writer, 
a mantra: show, don’t tell.  Add detail 
here.  And the undetailed passages, underlined: trite!

But here, in the wet dusk of a spring
evening, I long to skip the damn details.
Without preface, without textual support, 
without description or metaphor or imagery, 
I want to say: I will miss you.
And plead, please don’t forget.  Me.  Us.
I have been too well trained in the world
of fiction to tell, have been forced into a language
of hyper-truth, believe – as any writer must – 
that any unbridled sentiment is (cliched! Add detail here!)

You are leaving.

In your absence, I will look for you, will
catch a glimpse of you in the corner
of a room, with absent-minded fingers will dial
your number and then remember: she has gone.
To wit: I will miss you. (Trite!  What will you miss?)
And when I hear the Canadian ‘aboot’ or better, 
“I liked the abootness of your details here” –
You will be laughing in my memory, your
grin conspiratorial behind your rings of smoke, 
(I like the detail you added) eyes twinkling in my margins.


13 May 2001

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