Things from the Writing Box…

In the early nineties, I began my quest to look at my heritage and find more pieces of what makes me who I am.  I imagined that any journey toward that knowledge would be good for my little box of things to write.  One day while home from my day job, a man stepped out from between two cars in front of me.  I had to swerve to miss him.  Later that night in my apartment, I had a visitation from the man in the street. Not his physical self but his spirit or so it seemed.  I write about things of the spirit a lot in my work…it just shows up – like he did.  I have been trying to put the vision I had that night in a play but am not sure when, where or how to enter as I really do not want a literal interpretation of that experience.  I want to capture how I felt in those moments…  Over the years, I’ve tried different things but can never quite get that, “this is it” feeling.  Two years ago, I wrote this poem:

the Medicine Man

he stepped out from between the cars

with his staff

magnificent, authentic, ancient, familiar

he was tall like my uncle huron

with chiseled facial features

in headdress/ high moccasins/ native attire/ regal/ warrior-like

the feathers hanging from the staff caught my eye first

they were real

and i wondered if they were eagle

then i noticed that he was looking directly at me as i approached

our eyes locked for an instant/ for an eternity

my car seemed to be driving through a time warp

as i slowly passed him there in the street

looking through me to some place

we must have met before

in the rearview mirror

he turned his entire body to watch me drive away

i could not watch the road for watching him

he was a shaman/a medicine man, i knew

but why was he looking at me

did he know me/ daughter to native ancestors

i should have stopped/asked

later that night as i lay on the floor in prayer

i could hear and feel footsteps vibrating on the floor

moving toward me

a hologram in moccasins was all that i could see

his…

he placed one foot on the back of my head and pushed me into a vision

of the past

afraid/ unable to resist/ unable to move from the floor from the smoke

what is that?

i could hear the rattlers and sounds of war

the screaming women and children

i could smell the smoke and see its fog

then it lifted just enough for me to see

i was there dressed in buckskin

lying face down in the rubble

watching the boy as he searched through it for

his family

i was there

he knew me, daughter to native ancestors…

he knew me…

As a writer, do you ever wonder just how long a story can germinate before you can write it?  Have you ever come up against any story that just doesn’t seem to have an “in”? What do you do?  One of the greatest things about theatre is that the playwright doesn’t have to limit their approach to conventional ways in order to write their story.  Stuff just needs to be pulled out of the box, lived with for a while and looked at it from several angles…

 

 

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