Stop, (Gink)go

In fifth grade, Ms. Presley, my homeroom teacher, told my mother I was too slow at handwriting. (This was the same teacher who pulled the girls aside one by one when it was “time for a bra.”)

I nurtured cursive. I loved the art of it— the p a duck with its head underwater,
the m’s three rounded pauses like the end of The Lord’s Prayer: kingdom, power, glory. Ms. Presley advised my mother to “move her writing along, or she’ll fail.” And then: “Perhaps a trip to J.C. Pennys for a training bra.”

Certain childhood moments stay with us. I remember the report I did on Japan, how I drew kabuki and sushi in colored pencil and glued a drink umbrella from Kanki Steakhouse onto the cover. And I remember timing my cursive. I didn’t have a stopwatch so I used a digital clock with a blinking red colon that I pretended was green: hurry, go faster, seconds are wasting and piling. I raced to write Ikebana is the Japanese art of flower arrangement. I wrote it out like punishment. I saw myself winded and lagging behind the rest of my class, like in PE when we had to run a mile in under 8 minutes to qualify for the Presidential Fitness Award and I cramped and clutched my side.

I’m thirty. I still watch the clock. I’m afraid of dog paddling through life when what’s expected is a strong forward stroke. Why can I only finish a poem a month? Why did I lose my heart to a man I won’t see again until December? I think about what T.S. Eliot wrote in Prufrock: and indeed there will be time. Then I picture Ms. Presley patrolling my desk, favoring her good hip and pointing a fat finger at another of my unfinished paragraphs.

Yesterday My Poet asked if I knew how to recognize a ginkgo. I said no, so she drew its leaf, serrated and fanned like a moth, like a kind of cursive. She explained how years ago, in the early 70’s, she collected money from her building to plant a row of ginkgo trees. “They grew slowly at first,” she said. “But I was patient. Look at them now, after 30 years.”

Later that afternoon there they were, just as she said, a tall and time-biding green.

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3 responses to “Stop, (Gink)go

  1. I’m doing my periodic “Search for babe avatars” and wound up on your site…

    Love the strategically placed braids.

    Your hot, Mama

  2. See now I actually read your post, and I’m quite fascinated by the fact that you’re a personal assistant to a “Poet”.

    Your page has sparked me to action. Occasionally I like to make a quick header for pages I like, and I did so for yours. It’s an animated header, taken from the header you already have, and if ya like it, it’s yours for the taking… if not, it’s coo too.
    You can see it on my test site at:

    http://boxtops.wordpress.com/

    I’ll email it to you if you dig it.

  3. ooh, use the animated header! that’s cool!

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