In this final edition of our series, we are sharing writing that happened during AWA’s marathon weekend of writing workshops, Write Around the World. This is one way we are celebrating the AWA-certified workshop leaders & writers who joined together to raise money in support of AWA. Thank you to those who shared their voices in each workshop and especially to those who have offered their words to be shared in this space. If you’re inspired by our work and would like to be part of the fundraiser, please donate! If you’re a workshop leader interested in leading a Write Around the World workshop this October, please email us!

Writing from Write on the Boulevard with Patricia Bender in North Bergen, New Jersey:

The world begins at the kitchen table.
from “Perhaps the World Ends Here” by Joy Harjo

The kitchen table was the hub. It was where we ate all our meals. It was the place used, at times, to prepare things to be cooked for our meals.

The kitchen table is where we sat and did our homework after school. When we came home from school, we changed out of school clothes into play clothes, went to the kitchen table for a small snack and immediately began doing homework. My brother and I along with two to four cousins stayed with our grandparents during the week. As we were doing school work at the table, our grandmother came to the table and looked over our shoulders. She did not have to come far because she was already in the kitchen busily preparing supper. As we sat a the table with our books, notebooks, pens and pencils, she was usually at the stove seasoning something or stirring something in a big pot or looking in the oven at something that was baking.

By the time homework was done, it was time for dinner. As soon as Granddaddy came in from work, we sat down at the table for one of Ma’s delicious suppers. Supper always included fresh vegetables like string beans, lima beans, stewed white potatoes, homemade biscuits and some type of meat. Over dinner we talked about our day and gave an account to Ma and Granddaddy about what had gone on in school. After dinner, the table was cleared, the dishes were washed and the kitchen floor was swept.

If anything had gone on during the day that Granddaddy needed to know, he and Ma, our grandmother, sat at the kitchen table and quietly discussed it. As grandchildren, we knew when they were talking at the table, we did not come to the table or join in the talk. We stayed in the living room, just out of hearing distance of their conversation.

Yes, for as far back as I can remember, the kitchen table in my grandparents’ home, in my mother’s home and now much later in life, my home, was and is the hub. Somehow things get sorted out, problems are solved, food is served and everyone comes together around the kitchen table, the center of our world.

Mary G. Bennett

*
My Heart Remembers the Smell of Wet Earth

I remember the smell of wet earth.
Worms poking out from the ground.
Some peeking from dirt being lifted on the shovel.
Digging small holes for flower seeds.
Portulaca seeds kept
in baby food jars
tucked
on shelves in the cellar.

There is another seed I can’t remember the name of just now that needed to be soaked and soaked in small bits of water. Even after the soaking you needed to take the tiny round seed ball and move it between your fingers for several seconds. Even after the soaking and the squeezing the seed would still be hard but ready. The hole for the seed didn’t have to be big but space between seeds was wide because when the flowers sprouted they were mighty.

Planting these seeds was not like planting tomatoes or beans. The tomato and bean plants are kept inside until there are no hints of frost on the horizon. The tomato plant feels sticky and the bean plant feels cool.

Is that right?
Or I am misremembering?
Does it matter?
Like the seed name I can’t call to mind.

Patricia Bender

*
The World is One Big Hole

The world is one big hole,
each side deeper
Than the other.
But how does a circle have sides you ask?
You see everything has sides to it.
They might just be sides you can’t see with your eyes.
Dirt is the thing we dig from.
Taking from the Nature Mom.
Why we dig ourselves into deep sided situations
I will ever understand.
People have tools to go deep, deep,
deeper.
I’d rather dig with my hands.

Bridget Rose Fajvan

*
Digging a Hole

The decision to have a fresh live Christmas tree for our first Christmas in the house brought us to the tree farm where the owner allowed us to dig up the tree. We had made plans to do this and although it was early December and freezing rain, we decided to go through with it. Michael met us with some hot coffee which we needed ten times over! We selected our tree and started digging. The rain helped us get the dirt moved. The rain helped us fall deeper in the hole. With each thrust of the shovel into the dark chunky soil removing scoops of earth, feet slid down into the larger pit about the tree. The roots were found and all sides of the tree were dug into in order to free the tree from the ground. Into the cold, wet hole our feet and legs sank. Frozen feet, wet pants, coats, heads, hats as the freezing cold rain kept drenching us, trees, ground. The tree was pulled from the hole! The rain and the wet ground fell into the openness where the roots and trunk once abided. The bottom of the tree was plunked into another hole of a large bucket. The hole in the ground would now be reclaimed by the earth around it. The soil, rocks, sticks and any creatures daring to exist in the top part of the earth’s crust during winter would now be in a slightly new neighborhood, yet still in the earth where they resided. There was evidence of the fact we had dug a hole and a space between the trees on either side, yet with the torrential downpour of freezing rain and wet soil, the hole was reclaimed by the powerfulness of nature. We had dug the hole and plucked the large pine tree from the ground with much effort and time, yet nature spent no time reclaiming her own.

Eileen Ann Fajvan

*
Digging A Hole

She is digging a hole. One that stops at her elbows, blackened and snake skinned. One with an earthworm, coiled, when poked by her finger. One deep enough to hold a fire. One flame that is big enough to take the rawness off a haunch of rabbit or a squealing possum or a piglet of a boar caught, too far from its momma. One orange flicker that does not peek over the edge of ground to bring boots and leashes and noses of shotguns. After her mouth and belly one bit off empty, soil seeping into palms, lifelines push mounded dirt to cover secrets, doubts, lies told by foxes.

Rachelle M. Parker

*
Sandbox

We used to love playing in the sand.
The sunlight was warm. We were with other children.

Sometimes we were in a sandbox.
Sometimes we were on the seashore.
We were digging with old spoons and little plastic trowels and putting sand in little plastic buckets.
We just dug because we liked it.

Then some adult would suggest to us that we could dig a hole
All the way to China.
We dug and dug with our spoons – but we never got there.
That feeling of disappointment
When we never got to China –
Wouldn’t it have been better to leave us alone
To play our own game?

Do kids even play in a sandbox anymore?
Or do they play in cyberspace with software?
Or do they push all the buttons on the computer, just to see what they do?

Do the adults reveal to them that they can connect on the Internet
All the way to China?

Roberta Tipton

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