Prompt for June 5 – Virtual Carson McCullers House

In a sixth grader's notebook
      only two lines are written:

      I go outside. I look at the stars.
            Then I'm sad because of death and stuff--

It is difficult to think about all the news that’s hitting our screens these days. Thinking has become exhausting. I think the way a poem sometimes works is to help stabilize this process of taking in and breathing out by keeping us company through it in a very generous way.

Poet Jamaal May’s collection Hum does some of this, investigating phobias and asking questions. When I first met him at Vermont College of Fine Arts, he spoke about how to write racially inclusive work. I remember the very pointed comments he made, and how things so obvious still needed to be said.

At a funeral when I was her age, I punched
       dots into the program with a bow
               compass then held it to the light

to trace paths I drew between holes.
       Those constellations. The paths
               drawn between neurons. Their firing

       is how I think.

She adds in pencil

       the castle of the mind is full
               of hundreds of bright specters--

and I wonder what's going on in her head
       and mine. What sky did we fall from?

sounds like an appropriate question,
       when I think about it

but it's too much to ask a child, right?

from “Thinking Like a Split Melon” in Hum, by Jamaal May (Alice James Books, 2013)

For tonight’s prompt, borrow a line or two from this poem and use it as a springboard to your own writing. Then join us on Zoom at 7pm for our online salon; share your writing and enjoy listening, talking together.