A Sweeping Prayer

Acorns are dropping in my backyard. I find them on the porch in the mornings. They are plump and the color of ripe avocado. I can slice their outer layer with my thumb nail.

I graduated with my Master of Fine Arts a few weeks ago, and I have tried to fill each day with becoming a master. A master reader and writer. A master editor. A revisionist. But really, I excel at sweeping my porch. I am good at this.

The day I submitted my thesis, I made a list of professional titles I do not possess but suddenly felt the need to earn. These included pro dirt bike racer, UN translator, and pastry chef.   My one hundred and twenty pages of creative nonfiction felt like Swiss cheese, and these skills would fill in the holes.

Sweeping acorns gives me a sense of purpose. I whack them with a broom, and they land expertly in the grass, though I am not certain of the soil’s pH balance. Writing feels like a wilder act of faith. There are no promises for a quick and clear story. Nine times out of ten, the story, like this post, is not sure of what it is or wants to be.

I get nervous thinking about what may be under my porch. There’s a small crawl space, and the previous owners covered one section with a mesh screen to keep critters away.

My best writing will never appear in this blog because my best work is swirling around somewhere inside, and the best I can do is grasp at sentences. They feel like quicksilver, as elusive as dreams.

There are times when I sit on the porch, and acorns drop to the ground as if a powerful wind passes through the branches, but the air is still. The acorns drop in multitudes, smacking the porch in random thuds. Their unpredictability reminds me of the time I slept on a mountain spine in western Montana. I was above tree line, zipped in my sleeping bag. No tent. Just me, the mountain, and a black sky smudged by the Milky Way. I counted shooting stars and fought the urge to sleep. Each streak of light jerked me awake. I later learned they are not actually stars. They are meteoroids burning as they enter Earth’s atmosphere. Once in a blue moon, enough of a meteoroid remains to land in a place people notice.

Soon, this season will pass, and I will sweep mountains of oak leaves. The acorns will decay and become something else. To die each day with the blank page, I hope the words that trip and stumble onto my computer screen are more than flashes of light. I want to feel something dark and earthy between my fingers.

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