This is Just To Say

in The Ink Well2 months ago

On the morning of his leaving, he gives her a piece of flint shot through with flecks of quartz. 'They're stars', he said. 'I love you more than this universe', he smiled, and pressed it into the palm of her hand. She reddens, although he doesn't at all mean to embarrass her. It is the best and most logical comparision he knows, since his face is always turns skyward. Still, it is a rare moment of fancy for him, but he is so unaware of social constraints that he does it without a trace of embarrassment or even awareness that the moment could be overdone. There is no sheepish smile nor touch of irony. For the longest time she turns the stone over in her pocket, feeling it's cold surface turn warm under her touch, and think of this guileless, pure moment that no one will offer so unabashedly, so unreservedly, for the rest of her days.

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The moment will be like cut diamond lines of verse, in her memory, a realm in which he is not unstudied, given that even scientists must learn some poetry. He even acknowledges that there may be a useful intersection between them. Things in the centre of the Venn diagram of poetry and science includes awe, curiosity, observation, patience, and interest in small details. Words are problematic puzzles as is the entire word - they must be inspected one by one before being put together, like data. And a poem, he would say, can capture a particular understanding of an experience far more than science might try to. Take the plums in the icebox, he said to her once. It was hot and he was tracing icecubes on her lips. Williams had written:

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
saving
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

'Science might have described why his plums were cold' he winked, clearly enjoying the double entendre, 'but not the reasons for his selfishness in eating them himself.' She had laughed, causing him to drop the iceblock on her chest, sending her squealing through the sheets.

In three years time, he will pick up a stone on another planet, look at the stars from this new and peculiar angle, and think she has forgotten him. He will remember her hair, her lips, but not the whole. It will be no surprise - he had spent his whole life making a series of decisions that will take him through many galaxies, but never towards her, and always towards the pursuit of science and discovery. Most other things would be forgotton, or tarnished with time, like an old mirror with it's silver backing worn.

He was moving forward as the first generation of many that would be born in space and never know Earth, pushing forward to the exoplanets that might support life. He had neglected to tell her so, not thinking that she would think for many moons that he would return to her. It was not something he meant, although he worried at the fact he was not more clear. Who knew that life could be moments of regrets, strung together like stars? In the moments where he was awake, fulfilling his role as skeloton crew while the others slept their cryosleeps, he would imagine her puzzling this life out in poetry, never knowing what it cost to venture into these liminal, dark spaces of human endeavour.

The last transmission he will receive will say:

I have thrown
the stone
that was in
my pocket

and which
you have probably
forgotten
long ago

Forgive me
it was so
so hard
and so cold

He will wrap it around his own found stone and secure it with a rubber band, and hurl it through the whirling dust which will obscure his already distant home planet from him forever. He will do it without a trace of embarrassment for such a grandiose and ridiculous gesture, so illogical and unscientific. He will do it to attempt a final goodbye to the feelings that will threaten to tug him earthward until it is impossible to feel anything.

He will vow to the Great Infinite that there could be no room for poetry any longer, and weep in the starlight, his face turned from his fellow travellers in shame.


This was written for a prompt, the word 'stars', but was adapted to fit the Inkwell prompt 'Embarrass', which helped me revise it to develop the character's emotions a little better than the original version written a few weeks back and which was lingering in my drafts! Hope you enjoyed it. Image from Unsplash. The poem I reference is by William Carlos Williams, called 'This is To Say' and is one of my favourite poems in the entire universe.

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Great story @riverflows.i enjoyed it.

Thanks so much..

This is sad. 😫😭.

aw yes it is!

Nice twist/play on the poem itself!

Thanks! I had fun with this one. Actually I always have fun writing, who am I kidding.

Good stuff. Me too, writing is like taking your brain for a walk!

I always wonder the point where the childhood brain went: ding! this writing lark is the bombshiz!

I remember!! I was thirteen! For some reason in an English class we were given a task to write with a partner and it just clicked and me and the other got wrote a small book!

Wow, that's so cool. I wonder if it was the teacher, the task, the partnership, the end result or a combination. Either way grateful your writing is here.

I wouldnt go that far with my writing, not the stuff I put up here at least :O)

It definitely wasn't the teacher, Probably the partner, we hit it off on the writing front, ridiculously so!

Beautiful and inspired prose. The whole piece reads like a poem and gives me the impression that the narrator is floating while looking at the stars. It is bittersweet and romantic. Humans are on the threshold of space, and this story may yet come to pass. Excellent!

Thanks so much. Have you read Station Eleven? It's only this morning that I think of that book and the spaceman character.

I have not read it, but it sounds like my kind of book. Will check it out. :)

It's rather beautiful. They did a good job of the series too.

Really amazing use for words. Nice story. I must confess, I like the poem. I enjoyed reading your story. Remarkable imagination. Thanks for sharing!

I'm glad you enjoyed it. The poem is brilliant.

I hope you don't mind my saying that I liked the original better. I didn't have to work as hard to feel my own feelings. It packed a punch that this version has diluted. I have not gone back to compare the two, so perhaps this notion of mine is simply because I have read it before. But I seem to remember that it stopped at the end of her poem, no? Which left me chuckling at her brilliance and resiliency.

I am intrigued by this bit:

He will do it without a trace of embarrassment for such a grandiose and ridiculous gesture, so illogical and unscientific. He will do it to attempt a final goodbye to the feelings that will threaten to tug him earthward until it is impossible to feel anything.

which leaves me wishing there were some way she could know that.

Still love the poems!

Oh it's really great that you read both. Thanks soooo much for your critique! Theres something so poignant about the separation of people via space travel.

Have you read Station Eleven?

I don't think I have, unless I read it decades ago, when I was on my sci-fi fantasy kick. Should I?

It's up to you! I don't know what you like to read. I loved it, and loved the series as well.

And I always love that you speak honestly ... I don't always rate gushing praise when clearly there are flaws!

It might be said that this story represents the intersection between science and art, but implicit in that statement is the idea that science and art are separate entities. As your character suggests, they are not. It is impossible to contemplate the universe, as a poet, and not contemplate the physical reality of it. And, it is impossible to contemplate the universe as a scientist, without feeling the poetry of it.

Well done. Your characters' motivations come alive on the page, as do the scenes you describe. The prompt works beautifully here. One would never know you had to work it in.

Thank you for sharing this story with us and for engaging with your fellow authors.

Thanos so much for this perfect interpretation of the intention of my piece. I was grateful for the prompt that added a little more richness of human emotion. One of the fun things about writing is editing and redrafting. As always thanks so much for the opportunity to be read.

the lines are so captivating the poem got it at its best I love this idea of yours.

Thanks so much, I'll pop over to read you today if I can x

I don’t know why you always make me cry? Sweet, but harsh transition between art and science and the dichotomy of emotional reality. I so love your writing, it amazes me that you aren’t a renowned, well-sold author. I’m looking for stones that speak to my heart and head.
As an aside, my husband left me a fabulous stone collection, which included rare stone tools from times gone by. I donated them to a museum here in Africa, but I kept a few for myself and the memory

💓🤗💕🤗💓

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Am I missing something about your husband here and his absence? Sorry I dont know the story.

Those stones are lovely. Isn't it funny how very cold, inanimate, very old objects can tug at the heart too? I have a fossil ammonite I found on the first day of our life together and I swear it would be the first thing I would save if the house burnt down.

Thanks for your compliment... Maybe one day I will find a story or the perseverance or cleverness to write something longer and worthy of a bigger audience!

Hope that you never have to choose what to save first.
Yes, old things, even cold ones, have character💯💐

And look at this I just saw.. miners from Uruguay found these!

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That has to be photoshopped, no?
Can’t be seriously true???🤔😉💯

Iknow, crazy huh? But I guess hearts are everywhere in nature! In puddles, leaves, trees and rocks - why not? It's kinda a circle with an indent, in the end...

So there’s a soft vein running through the hardest rock. Wow, what a premise for a poem, love hidden in form and shadow. Haha, totally beautiful and ridiculously romantic. Kiss 😘😘💯🤗💓💕😍💕
I’ve got a few ancient stone tools left - and I’ve sent them, with love, to you (featured over a cup of virtual coffee, see the rose quartz and the Tsumeb dioptase. He also collected shells, which I thought you might like, so I threw them in, too)
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I read this the other day and finally my schedule allows me to make a thoughtful comment. (I was Inkwell previously 🙂)

it was so
so hard
and so cold

How many of us have had to give up on relationships...romantic or otherwise...because they can be no more? We have to throw them away. We have to draw ourselves up and move on. Whether the distance is interstellar or merely a matter of miles and time, the relationships become hard and cold--or unbearable.

Your writing is beautiful. Sophisticated. And yet, it is about the simplest, most basic experiences. We love, we promise, we separate, we move on--somehow. We will

attempt a final goodbye to the feelings that will threaten to tug

Great writing. You obviously do not appreciate boundaries, neither physical nor artistic. Keep testing them :)

You obviously do not appreciate boundaries, neither physical nor artistic.

You got me in one there!

I was thinking the same - it's not necessarily about physical distance across literal space, but the distances between us when we go our separate ways, in this case, due to perhaps other passions or committments. Thanks so much for coming back as yourself - it means a lot. I'm so grateful for HIve for allowing me a safe and loving space to test my artistic boundaries, with boundless acceptance!

Wow chills reading this. What an original concept and the messages read like poetry.

Thanks soo much. The messages ARE poetry - well, Willian's poem is pretty famous and the rewrite was a play on his original poem.

Congratulations, @riverflows! Your story has been chosen for the weekly #theinkwell magazine and has received a vote from Curie. Please keep supporting the community by commenting on other writers' stories.
https://peakd.com/hive-170798/@theinkwell/the-ink-well-highlights-magazine-59