Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Beneath the Water

I finished the revision on my memoir tonight.  I've worked on it about 3 hours a day all month and I actually started the revision process last spring when I was here.  I've dropped the ball completely several times since Mr. Ex left me in July of '07, but I kept picking it up whenever I could.  The book got several rejections when my agent sent it out at the beginning of '07 and I realize now, it was not ready.  I have to figure out how to get it out there again.  Here's the beginning. 
             I come from black dirt.
             I come from tee totaling Presbyterians, fallen Catholics, and a small town where nothing is taller than the church steeples. 
I come from the river and all the muck that lies at the bottom of it.  I come from snow-white cranes on water and the hidden places in the woods that shelter a mushroom so delectable it melts your taste buds like a hot skillet melts butter.  I come from red-winged blackbirds, and the shock of a flash of scarlet as they flutter up from a ditch beside the road.  I come from fields and bare feet watching out for thistles and cow shit.  I come from people who mind their own business and yours, from whispers, party lines and pointing fingers. 
I come from weather; hail of all sizes, lightning bolts big enough to rip the sky wide open, tornadoes that will turn your town into a pile of sticks, and summer heat that just might last forever.  I come from the relief of a sigh made visible by the cold on a morning when a blizzard blots out the road and school is cancelled. I come from rain that entire counties pray for day and night.  I come from corn, and more corn--fields you can hide in where the shiny leaves are sharp enough to slash your arms; corn on the cob on a butter-soaked paper plate at a barbeque; corn in the feed trough stuck to the shiny wet-black nose of a steer that’s next summer’s steak.
I come from pitchers of peonies on old oak tables, and a girlhood of hats and gloves.  I come from children should be seen and not heard, and don’t do as I do, do as I say.  I come from mind your manners, and you know that girl was asking for it.  I come from the deer at the side of the road that bolts when your headlights blind him, and the next thing you know his antlers are embedded in your grill, and the rosary hanging from your rearview mirror won’t stop swaying.
 I come from ice-slick bridges, backseats, and beer.  I come from gravel roads, and highways coal-colored even under the full moon.  I come from red barns and hay and sweat that equals money.  I come from mom and pop businesses on a narrow-minded main street where you can see the church steps from the door of every tavern.   I come from the specter of hell and the promise of eternal salvation.  I come from litanies of saints and hog prices.
 I come from the place where a mistake can follow you as close as your shadow and be forever spoken of in the same breath as your name.
The prose style in rest of the book is not quite this lyrical.  It tells, in a fairly linear fashion, the story of giving up my son for adoption (when he was a newborn and I was 17) and of our reconnection when he was 21. 


Jules said...

Oh, my god, I love this!
I can't wait to read more.
You don't need dead weight.
None of us do.
Do you do poetry?

Elizabeth said...

Oh, Denise. That's all I have to say. Bring on that memoir. Bee-yoo-ti-full.

Gen said...

Wow, your writing is incredible! You can feel it! I can't wait til you publish!

Photocat said...

Wonderful prize. Do let us know when your book is published! Can't wait. So you come from a rural area with cows and corn and a big river. Not to mention the presbiterians. And Divorceville... I bet you have stories to tell.