Monday 9 April 2012


Imagination is a key tool of any writer. Sometimes we start with an idea, sometimes we begin with a character, real or imagined. We open our minds and creative juices flow. We weave words and ideas into poems and stories that take us on fantastic journeys that touch our emotions and elicit responses.

In January 2010, the members of the Writer's Circle engaged in one such writing adventure. We talked about the idea of 'waiting', and we introduced a fictionl character, Dorothy, and waited to see what fabric we might spin from those threads. The following are samples of our efforts.

Waiting for Dorothy

Who is Dorothy?
We wait, speculation rife;
She does not arrive.

By: Brenda Quin

Waiting …

“She’s back…” One upon a time these words would have filled me with joy, signalling the return of my mothet as I once knew her: alive in mind, feisty, and independent, a terrier of a woman, ready to take on anybody to make the best life for her daughters, afraid of no-one. Now, she was alive in body only. Now, these words spoke of pain, a slow torture and perpetual, unrelenting loss. The single, despondent look from my sister made my eyes close and the breath hurt in my chest. I felt older, wearier, and sadder. Pre-warned, I slowly pushed the door and entered my mother’s room. Robbie hurried away down the flickering light corridor. I wished the frail, hunched woman with scared eyes was a stranger to me as I was to her but this disease was not merciful. Mt mother looked nothing like the woman who’d brought me into the world. I felt the breath in my lungs start to flutter as I looked at her and fought my feelings.

“Mama? It’s me, Lynne” I bent down so as not to scare her into the chair that she had sunk into. “Tell her to say hello. Why doesn’t she say hello?” My mother stared deep into the mirror in front of her, too anxious to see me or register my entrance. “She never says anything. She scares me. Why is she doing this to me? I’ve never hurt her. Have I? Have I? Help me, nurse, help me”.

I knew my sister Roberta had already gone to alert the night nurse that Mum was getting increasingly agitated. When Mum’d first come into this place, I’d been alarmed by the high level of sedatives she was given. Although I felt guilty about it now, I was increasingly grateful for them. They seemed to be the only thing to smooth the deep worry lines on my mother’s face; the only way of lessening her anguish. I had another go, “Mama, it’s OK, I’m here. She won’t hurt you, I promise…” I reached over to tentatively stroke the soft skin on her hand, knowing as I leant closer that she would more than likely pull away from me, another stranger in this baby pastelled room. Surprisingly, she didn’t this time and I felt even sadder that this woman who had once carried me had no recognition that it was her daughter talking, her daughter touching her, skin to skin, pain to pain. This cruel illness robbed families; it took everything and left only unrelenting anguish.

Hoping to distract her and stop the inevitable escalation of anxiety, I looked at some papers on her dressing table and asked, “What’s this Mama? A shopping list? Robbie said she’d help you make one. I’d love to get you some things to brighten this place up, we both would…” My mother’s screaming stopped my rambling. She had half-risen, I don’t know how, and was pointing at the mirror, her legs shaking. “Get out! You bitch! You…” the effort of standing, the strain of this strange woman invading her space sapped her energy and she fell back into the chair, covering her face, a dry, unearthly keening coming from her mouth. I knelt down and put my arm around her little, bony shoulder. It took every effort not to sob, every effort not to escape. “Mama, it’s OK, I’m here. She won’t hurt you. I’ll take care of you, I promise, I’m here for you. I won’t let her harm you, I promise, I’m here.” No reaction. Robbie and I had tried everything to sooth her, to guide her to whatever part of her brain that could still make links, still recognize the truth: that the stranger she was so terrified of, the alien she saw in her room, the woman who she screamed at for not saying hello, was her own reflection.

By: C. Pilgrim

Dorothy, a dear old Black Lady.
(Inspired by a photo seen at
Creekwood, Nashville, Tennessee.)

Dorothy sat in the long used chair,
on the sagging veranda of her
little shack.

But Lord ! How she smiled
and her eyes lit up,
and the most  beautiful words
that she spoke, were the ones
that came, as she gazed lovingly,
up at the evening sky.

“Child,” she said, “I think
a star fell on me when I
was born, and that’s why life
is so good.”

By: Brenda Quin

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