The following is a copy of the piece I wrote last week, titled, Breathe, and an explanation as to why I won't edit it.
These shoulders of mine slumped in pain.
I could no longer stand on my feet, my knees buckled under the strain.
In circles the ground lifted; top soil gathered and skittered side to side, the particles landed and flew...up, up, and up once again, filling to blacken the sky. Dust flew past, and into my eyes.
The soil, once goodness of labor produced, now hard pan, a cement to destine our journey across this land.
Bouncing and skimming the cracks, sideways, forward, and backward, we hold on, hold on to the words and memories we once knew.
Hand to mouth, we tried to hold on when the dust rose up, but now rains in these clouds come down, and down, floating life away, taking breath in smothering rain.
Starving words sailed out of my mouth to give thanks, the wind blew them away.
God help us all!
Wind whipped the earth
Breathing is shallow
Lungs filled with mirth
Land lay fallow
God help us all!
Until we die.
Last night I read this piece of writing to my writer-critique group. A line and a word were discussed, to possibly change the word, and delete the last line.
To omit the last line of this piece, and to change the word "Mirth", which means happy, or gleeful, etc., would change the effect of what I had in mind when I wrote this story. And I do have to admit, it’s hard for me to clarify my intent at the time of writing, therefore I was hard pressed, after reading it last night, to give an explanation to why these words can’t be changed. As I read over what I had written, again today, I felt the need to explain this intent of mine.
1) The last line, “Until we die”, reflects the line, “We cry”, and appealing to God, as these people were God fearing people, didn’t feed their mouths. Over and over their lament was to God, and even their last breath was for help, but they died anyway. The reasons for their dying is in their story, but they did die, as we all do eventually. It’s a given, but it is how they died that touched me so.
2) The word, “mirth”, was written in a place that sounded out of context. I agreed, last night, I didn’t know why I’d written that word in that particular place. My mind doesn’t always let me in on why it wants one word; opposed to another...I just write what I hear.
The wind is whipping these people to death, and as their lungs filled with the dirt they were standing on, their land that was being taken with so much force, it was as though the land was laughing at them...they were inhaling that laughter...it telling them they will only lose against this mighty force called nature.
I don't try to make excuses for what I write, nor do I usually give explanations, but in this case I tried to give an explanation, only because I have the feeling this story is going to continue at a later date...this is just the being of the first chapter in these people’s lives.
I have yet to write a review of John Steinbeck’s story, The Grapes of Wrath, written over eighty years ago, because it’s a story that continues to this day. It’s hard to know where it began, and where it will end.
I wrote this piece in response to how Steinbeck’s migrant workers left me feeling, after I closed the last page. It was a hard pill to swallow, let alone digest...I hope I can continue this story....