This is a completed writing assignment from my writing group. The assignment was to write about a sensory perception in the environment where we were meeting.
The wall of exposed brick picks at my sweater sleeve like Velcro and doesn’t let go. By some mindless expression of need—a need that seems textured and clinging—the mortar longs for the fibers to linger. Strangely, these same grasping, pining bricks seem to reject the shiny duct tape desperately losing a battle to hold images to the wall. Gleaming in the slanted light like an overly painted desperate woman vying for attention amongst younger and more beautiful creatures, the failing tape sticks to the grocery bag sketches. Not sketches of grocery bags but charcoal images scratched onto slightly rumpled paper garbage bags. Wilted by humidity, they hang loosely apart from the bricks that seem to completely ignore them.
Nails poke into the wall in odd places like bizarre acupuncture designed to cool a desperate spirit. Or are they poking through the bricks from some unseen soft underbelly? Perhaps the wall is a fortification to protect a tender place, mushy and soft from years of neglect and lack of love and light. Perhaps they are desperate pleas of ‘save me!’ coming through the wall. Perhaps the very desperation of the brick is, in truth, the longing of this pale flesh heart seeking relief from self-imposed isolation.
The images on the garbage bag paper feel a mix of damp and gritty in my eyes. Pictures of people, a couple, a woman. None smile, as if they are old daguerreotypes brought almost though not quite to life. Perhaps they, too, are projections through the crumbling battlements. Maybe they are the soft pale one’s memories thrust through to us.
See! Once I was here! Once I was touched voluntarily not accidentally. Once I was a breathing woman. Once, I did not hide behind emery blocks.
But even the picture memories are rough, half-remembered sketches scratched on top of the brown paper’s wrinkles and rejected, by the very wall designed to protect, in favor of the accidental fibers of my sweater.
The light changes and for a moment, the duct tape flashes a mute silvery beauty. The light also, for just a moment, brushes across tiny shiny flecks in the bricks. Like bits of glitter, normally invisible, showing themselves in dancing afternoon light on carpet or cheekbone or couch that had previously claimed to be clean. Small reminder that all the mortar and emery and garbage bags in all the world can never fully cover a touch of magic. And for that moment, the wall’s picking of my elbow seems less like desperate grasping and more like blessing from the soft one beneath.