When You Drop the Screw

I’ve dropped it. For a few months it’s been lost down in that dark deep somewhere, unseeable, unfindable. It’s a cold steel nugget in my mind and it is swelling and digging into the matter so much that it screams to be found and picked up. Only I can’t seem to pick it up and work with it. I claw in the blackness, in the void, my talons piercing to blood, and I can’t push it out. I can’t get a grip. I can’t make it happen. Dear God, it is lost.

I’m not really talking about a screw here. I’m talking about my writing.

But I did lose a screw, too. Yesterday. The little light above my stove top went out, and it’s under a panel, and I had to unscrew the panel, replace the bulb, and then rescrew the panel. But I dropped the damn screw. It was a tiny thing, silver, metal, Phillips, and it pinged on the range, then disappeared, maybe down under one of the burners, I thought. So I took the burners and their pans off and searched, even with a flashlight, while cursing madly, even committing the unpardonable sin when you take the Lord’s name in vain. I’m so going to hell. The dog moved out of the kitchen. She’s deaf and couldn’t hear the vileness of my language, but she could feel it, she could feel my heat, and it pushed her out.

The late husband’s workshop in the garage has hundreds of trays of screws and so I went out to partake, but alas, because my house is staged for showing to sell, there are a couple of extra furniture pieces and bins of packed items stacked in one garage bay next to where the screws are. I took my vileness with me outdoors, I didn’t care, I had to climb the mound of storage covered with a blue tarp to look ordered and neat, and it took that acidic adrenalin to make it to the top. Sheer determination packed with a few dams and hells. In my younger life I won awards for acrobatics, so I pushed onward and upward, and climbed the stack of bins, looking for a spot the width of my shoe to get a footing. I was in a splits position, balanced with the toe of one foot on this and the toe of the other foot on that, and I tell you, the muscles in my legs were tight and without flab and with the look and feel of youth. I leaned over to pull out each little drawer of each tray, only to find no Phillips out of millions, but vowing to make a flat top work. The head shouldn’t matter. The first screw was too thick, so I had to climb and curse again. But the second, it screwed in with little difficulty, but for doing a backbend over the burners to look up into my workspace, while cursing the man who invented that setup.

But the light is on.

And then there is the writing. Somehow I’ve got to dig and claw and climb until I find it. There comes a time when it all distills down into the tiny coil of what’s inside. Inside me. Nobody else gives a flat damn about it, everybody else is too consumed in their own mounds, I can’t depend on support and encouragement from anyone, this is a personal thing. This is me and who I am and what I’m made of, by God, and if I want this life to continue I’ve got to reach in, probe down and about, and pull up my soul and make it happen. I must steady myself and pull the string and make light.

My inspiration, my successes all come from me and me alone.

Morning Is Breaking

It’s still dark, not yet six in the morning. I sit at the computer, the dog asleep on the floor beside me. On my other side, the window is open, blinds pulled halfway up. I know there’s a neighborhood out there, but I cannot see it. The sound of crickets, lightly chirping, filters in and lulls me. My coffee is cooling, but I don’t want to walk downstairs and refill the cup.

The cup: Four Down, ’80s to Go, from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette years ago. The font is too small to read. It has to do with football. In the picture with the article, someone has the ball and is running — he has on a black jersey, number 82.

That was my boyfriend’s number back in ninth grade. Why do I remember these things?

I should be writing. Put your pencil to the paper and push it; don’t pick it up for five minutes; just write, I tell clients I coach. I need to follow my own advice.

Instead of listening to the music of crickets. Instead of reading the newspaper on a cup. Instead of drinking cold coffee.

Outside, the sky lightens. Orangeish color in the east, across the street, behind trees. The newspaper sits in the driveway below me.