Fierce and Lonesome

by Elizabeth Kirschner

     These words—fierce and lonesome—hold hands, become mates. A dynamic combo, explosive ammo for the writer. I can’t help but think my lonesomeness makes me fierce. Out of hours and hours of being just one in a universe of many, there comes not a torch song, but torched words, each with its own touché.

      It has to be that way. Every word in a poem, story, essay, needs to be a flash in the pan. Generative destruction—that’s how I write. I break down the irreducible into the rich roux of language. Beginnings must have ends, middles must have tides. Sound waves  wavering on light years, yes, that’s the particular music. Writers need not hit the pretty keys, but most certainly, the perfect ones.

      I who am afraid of so many things—staying up too late, traveling, unraveling—go into writing full tilt. I put down my truth and each line or sentence comes with a death threat. I bear to carry, I carry to bear. The word becomes pregnant and although I’ve only given birth to one child, the birthing of words is perpetual, the clock by which I sing.

      I am persistent, insistent, almost demonic about doing the work and doing it right. Others talk about how brave I am, but that’s not exactly true. I’m driven, riveted to the page upon which I write and what emerges is a whirl of words furiously spinning like Sufi dancers or a weaver at the loom. Rhythmic dancing, rhythmic weaving. Sometimes the words are woven together with webs, other times, Whitman’s ductile thread.

      Poem, story, essay, click into being with the tip of the whip. I hear it snap. Breaking into any body of writing is like breaking bread—kneaded, risen, shared. So here’s a thought—my lonesome self goes into the tunnel, the dark tunnel, like a train—into,  through, out of which, the cars come flying, electric, lit. And fierceness—also electric, lit—is what creates beauty.

      I turn to a manuscript now defunct, but the title sticks—The Fire Bones. I imagine flaming ladders lending structure, the fire, the passionate heat by which our hearts are given warmth. I imagine walking into burning buildings to save what can be salvaged. It goes against instinct to perform that act—perhaps writing does, too. Think of the fire dancing, then whirl and weave, weave and whirl.

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