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After Page One: Perceptions

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A Guest Post

Airborne Trees
by Yelizaveta Renfro

A sudden wind sends the maple samaras twirling out of the trees, the air abruptly filling with a squadron of gently descending helicopters, and my children run among them, looking up, laughing, their arms outstretched. As I stand at the kitchen window watching those silvery whirligigs glimmering in the yard, I think about writing.

Writing is like trying to capture in words that sudden launch, that complex spiral motion downward, each story or essay attempting to freeze that corkscrewing fall to earth, and yet the effort is doomed to fail every time, doomed to incompletion, inadequacy, because the words can never be the thing itself, the captivating whirlybird loved by children, but the words are what I have, and the words are what will remain--and so I will continue to write, and to fail, and to write again. I will continue to chase samaras.

But just look at the children: how they run and laugh among the twirling dancers released by the trees, as though this tender rain of samaras exists entirely for their joy. For them, a samara is a word and a word is a samara; for them, these maple fruits are the very keys to their existence, unlocking something from their hearts for which there need to be no words--and, indeed, there are no words.

Meanwhile, I stand in the kitchen and calculate, trying to find the words. Always, I am seeking the words, while my children chase samaras all over the yard, with their very motions asking: where will they land and what will they become and how can we be involved in their journeys? Perhaps they recognize better than I that this moment, though commonplace, is a miracle: this moment at the inception of its life when a tree, that most earthbound life form, is airborne.
Yelizaveta P. Renfro is the author of a collection of short stories, A Catalogue of Everything in the World (Black Lawrence Press, 2010), winner of the St. Lawrence Book Award. Her fiction and nonfiction has appeared in Glimmer Train Stories, North American Review, Colorado Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, South Dakota Review, Witness, Reader's Digest, Blue Mesa Review, Parcel, Adanna, Fourth River, Bayou Magazine, Untamed Ink, So to Speak, Literary Mama, and elsewhere. Find her blog here.

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Yelizaveta P. Renfro’s fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Glimmer Train Stories, North American Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Witness, Blue Mesa Review, So to Speak, and the anthology A Stranger Among Us: Stories of Cross Cultural Collision and Connection (University of Illinois Press/OV Books, 2008). Her short story collection, A Catalogue of Everything in the World, won the 2008 St. Lawrence Book Award and is forthcoming from Black Lawrence Press. “Mother Muteness: Writing My Way Out of Silence” originally appeared in So to Speak(Winter/Spring 2008) under the title “Mother” and also received the Karen Dunning Women’s Studies Award from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Yelizaveta’s essay, “A Letter to My Daughter (To Be Sent in the Future),” received third place in the Demeter Press/Association for Research on Mothering Creative Nonfiction Contest and appears in the Journal of the Association for Research on Mothering Special Issue on Mothers and Daughters (2008). Yelizaveta has an MFA in Creative Writing from George Mason University and is completing her Ph.D. in English from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln She is the mother of a four-year-old daughter and one-year-old son.

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How beautiful.
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