Learning What We Think We Already Know

One of my favorite things from Saturday’s time spent at the Industry City Open Studio event? Getting to stand in the Colson Pastries window watching the very skilled baker make croissants. I was there with Mopsy, and we were both just a little bit mesmerized by the process. One highlight moment for me was the step after the cutting of the dough but before the rolling of the crescents. The baker took each piece of the dough he’d just carefully (but so quickly) and cleanly cut and tossed it on a scale. The idea that every croissant would be the same weight (ish) pleased me enormously. Quality control in action!  Even more impressive was that only two of the many, many pieces of dough he threw on the scale didn’t pass muster.  Amazing.

The rolling of the crescents was more elaborate than I’d expected, too.  Each piece of dough was an almost-isosceles triangle — but where there should have been a point at the top with the two equal sides meeting, it was flat instead, as if the point had been cut off (it hadn’t, the not-quite-triangles never had pointy tops to begin with).  The baker took hold of that not-pointed end and stretched it out in front of him before beginning to roll up the crescent from the base to that stretched end.  Then he looped the ends of the rolled down around the join in the front, making a closed crescent.

I love getting to see how things work, particularly when they are things I think I already know about.  And maybe that’s a nice move from random information to tonight’s poem.

Today’s Poetic Asides prompt is to write a “realism” poem or a “magical” poem.  Or, of course, a really magical poem.  Or even a magically real poem.  Or,yes, a magical realism poem.  Right.  Perhaps I would be better off being realistic about how tired I am, how close to midnight it is, and how unlikely it is that anything like any of those possibilities will be happening. No. Instead I’m thinking about teaching, about a thousand years ago when I taught high school and gave Marquez’s “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” to my students for the first time. Feeling their brains, their hearts, their whole beings expand and contract as they worked to come to terms with the printed pages in front of them. That might have been one of my first “Whoa” moments as a teacher. (And another would come not long after when I gave them Octavio Paz’s “My Life with the Wave.”)  Marquez and Paz were firsts for my students, forcing them struggle with the realization that things they thought they already knew — this is how a story works, this is what an angel is, this is what love looks like — might actually work some other way all together.  The work they had to do was far more dramatic and difficult than my experience observing the Colson baker, but I like that I found a weird little connection between that and this.


they read
him, students
took his stories,
shook them hard, rattling
the real, known.
Not everyone
reached the far side.  Some
stayed angry.
Those who came through
flung wide all their doors.

I’m doing it again — ending before the real end has come. But I’m giving myself a pass because I’m that tired. And because this almost works. I told myself the other day that I’d come back to some of this month’s aruns and write them until they were really finished. We’ll see if I do. That could be interesting. I don’t usually come back after April passes.


Please consider donating to my indiegogo campaign to support my participation in the VONA Voices graphic novel workshop this summer.  “Support” can be as simple and cost-free as sending the Indiegogo link out to your friends and telling them why they might want to help me get to VONA.  Any and all help is appreciated.  To date, I’ve received just over half my goal amount! I am encouraged and humbled by everyone’s generosity.  Thank you all!

SOL image 2014

It’s Slice of Life Tuesday!
See all of today’s slices at Two Writing Teachers!


An Arun is a 15-line poem with the syllable count 1/2/3/4/5 — 3x.  It may be a new thing in the world, made up by me last year.  “Arun” means “five” in Yoruba.


2 thoughts on “Learning What We Think We Already Know

  1. I think you describe the experience of reading Marquez so perfectly – it is wrestling, hard work, anger and frustration at perhaps missing something and knowing it, and then the doors flung wide. What a writer!


    1. Thanks, Tara (sorry for the months-late reply!). His work is so amazing. I think I enjoyed teaching his stories most when I was teaching high school seniors who wanted to be doctors. Pushing them to let their sense of what’s “real” shift was always interesting!


Your turn ...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s