April 5, 2017
Building Fictional Worlds through Evocation
Try this exercise from John Gardner’s
: Write a passage describing a building, a landscape, or an object, but imagine
that you’re writing from the point of view of a parent whose child has
just died. Describe the object without mentioning the child or death. The
idea is to see if you can evoke a feeling of loss and grief in the reader
without mentioning the emotions themselves.
The house is silent, dark, still, even on this cloudless day. A sadness falls about the place, all one story of it. The small patch of lawn in front of it still holds a few scattered toys like weeds in a garden of otherwise happy memories. No one has the will to disturb them- they might cry out. Lost and lonely, they await their fate, too. Anything that was ever born has a fate. A final moment.
Some things come into this world with broken wings and never learn to fly, but they can sing. Music once flowed from this house, the happiest on the block, but everyone knew the clock was ticking.
This house, A broad stucco face with shuttered window eyes and a tall bright red wooden mouth would smile on the cloudiest of days. Those were they days when the chorus of engine sounds or the imitations of conversations with happy endings made their way through the low slung fences and scattering of trees and in through the windows to me.
The rope swing, partnerless, ever so slightly sways in a gentle breeze, longing for company. All the birds have moved on. Nothing more to see here- for now. Maybe someday a new child will move in and start the youthful circus once again. Maybe then springtime will be permitted to plant some new happy flowers in the yard along with their enevitable plastic and metalic weeds.
Gardener wanted. Young. Happy. Carefree.