NaNoWriteMore (Vocab Lesson)

November howls with word storms. Across the world, people are writing novels. In my little house, I only appear to be alone.

Courtesan: Upstairs, pint-sized, in furred boots, she entertains invisible guests. Her tongue and jaws make tiny, busy noises.

Harmonize: In the kitchen, silhouetted musicians banter in a yellow light, following along with the hum of the mini refrigerator.

Personified: Buckets of leaves rustling with laughter while budded rainbows swim in the shower. Goats on a canvas host tea in the parlor. Milk?

Mutualism: In all the cracks between my hand laid floorboards, arthropod enemies are ambushed and lovers vanquished while the experienced movers transport crumbs to their hidden queen. My benefit? I dream of their epic, tragic stories.

Combustion: On the wood stove, a pot of chicken bones bubbles with a wet beat. My feet squirm six inches from the iron. Two plants spared from an outdoor winter gossip in an alcove. Meanwhile amethyst and lavender work purple magic.

Transform: Fading dahlias in a vase of stagnant water will soon meet the worms in the bin outside their window. Gritted abdomens will send them to their next life so quickly they’ll barely notice the death.

Circumnavigation: On my screen, I puzzle with order. My story takes place in time, of course, as everything does — animal, vegetable, mineral. I only hope to resist the obviousness of it. Beginning, middle, end ignores the fact that the end foretells the beginning and the middle invents both its neighbors. Life is complicated, but nobody said a pile of bound paper must represent something linear.

Diversion: The fuzzy courtesan descends. Is my presence required at the feeding station? No, she tucks her paws underneath her to gaze out her plexiglass door. A clunk off the porch. What was that? I get up to look but see nothing through the windows of my own door, which is the container for hers. I open it and she moves around so that we are both looking out, one head above the other, squinting at the rain.

There, I see it, I tell her. The wind blew my camp chair over. I guess summer’s over now.

We sit back down.

Molting: There’s something in here about death, about how it’s not always what it seems. Crab go through a life cycle that involves a near death. A literal withdrawing, where their flesh becomes liquid and they are little more than an exoskeleton. Then they crawl out of it. White, rubbery, defenseless with a new shell soft as fall’s first mushroom. They hide under the sand. In a matter of days, the new, roomier exoskeleton hardens. The crab expands to fill it.

Undulate: I haven’t washed my hair in a week. My wood pile is abundant and I have a full tank of propane. I have descended into four or five notebooks full of scribblings from a time blasted by tricky emotion and physical transformation. I have emerged more or less unchanged, but the story changes beneath me, like a wave moving towards shore.

Persist: A dictionary of distractions in this home that only appears to be simple and neat. The widest is the open land outside my door. Is my future in the soil, in the stories dug from long-composted lifetimes? Or am I building something whimsical in the sky? Will words continue to fill the humming icebox and power the faithful hard drive? If past is future I have already won. If the middle knows the beginning and the end, all I have to do is keep moving, hauling my crumbs, passing them forward.



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