Rumors of Water: Time

Falling leaves at f/1.7

Every day I pass my younger son’s wood shop project. It leans on a recliner in my basement and is nearly finished, sanded smooth and stained a rich, dark brown. It falls to me to help with the final precision work: laying green felt on the shelves, trimming and mounting white tees, installing hinges. When we finish, he’ll have a handcrafted case to display twenty valuable golf balls, tokens of his sport career.

He has a few already. I’ve saved two others, sealed in a Ziploc® bag. They’re embossed with an orange Callaway chevron, game-scarred and muddy. He played eighteen holes in the region meet two years ago, without losing a ball, and gave one of them to me as a souvenir, claiming I was his good luck charm.

I acquired the other, its unlikely twin, with much less fanfare.

He didn’t give it to me. If he even knows I have it, he’s not saying anything.

On a fateful hole in the state tournament that year, his drive off the tee sailed out of bounds. Then he knocked it past the trees straight into the creek. He pulled another from his bag and lashed out at it with his club; when he heard the ball crack against the wooden footbridge, he slumped, pulling his hat over his face to hide tears.

After pounding another ball toward the green, he stomped away, looking to the sky as if to curse the mythical gods of the game for abandoning him to flail on the fairway without hope. We followed behind and caught a glint of the Callaway with the orange chevron in the grass. It had bounced off the bridge and cleared the trees, playable but found too late.

I picked it up, feeling an ache for my son. At thirteen, he was among the youngest that day on a cruel, rigorous course. As the day wore on I reached often into my pocket, turning the ball and fingering its dirt-crusted dimples, wishing the gallery were permitted to even whisper a word of cheer.

We’ve never really talked about that hole. It’s a story he’s not wanted to tell.

In Rumors of Water, L. L. Barkat talks about allowing writing to come in its time, a “commitment to come to the edge of our memories and keep bringing them upward.” She goes on to say that

We might tell others these stories, each time adding a new detail, or we might scribble our memories into the small rooms of poems and private journals.

There is no hurry. The things we cannot write about today, we will surely find we can write about tomorrow. We should not worry about the process, but simply trust it and move on. After all, we contain fields upon fields of stories we’ve rehearsed over time. We must recognize that these are the ready ones, the now-stories. (pp. 152-153)

Last night I asked if I could write the story of my son’s devastating tenth hole. He twisted his cap self-consciously, then shrugged and returned a small smile.

One day soon, I imagine balancing two polished Callaways, each on a white tee on the top shelf. He’ll look surprised that I kept them safe. And maybe, then, he’ll be ready to tell me his side of the story, of what really happened that day.

Golf Rumors

Come on, son, pull your head
out of the bag. Keep moving. I know
it hardly seems fair, the way
she slices you. It’s rough
how she hooks you, drags you
screaming to the bunker.
She’s given you the shanks
laughing her mischievous laugh.
Still. Brush the sand from your eyes;
you know you’re not the first man
to kneel on her greens,
water her turf with his tears
while she swings
an iron through his heart,
not the first to want to drive
a wedge through hers.


We’ve been discussing L.L. Barkat’s Rumors of Water, chapters 27-32 on Glitches and Time. Have you sometimes had trouble coaxing out a story before its time? L.L. likens memories to white moths that sometimes rise as we gently stir the grass. How have you stirred your own memories and lifted them upward?

If you’ve posted on the book this week, please be sure to drop your link in the comments so we can share your thoughts.

We conclude our discussion of Rumors of Water with today’s post, but beginning May 23, I’ll be taking on Julia Cameron and The Artist’s Way. Please, order a copy, borrow it from your library or snatch it out of your little sister’s hands. I’m going to need a lot of help.

Photo by MeckiMack. Creative Commons, via Flickr. Post and golf photo by Lyla Lindquist of A Different Story.


Buy a year of Every Day Poems, just $2.99— Read a poem a day, become a better poet. In May we’re exploring the theme Roses.

Red #9


  1. says

    Instead of polishing the golf balls before they are displayed, maybe you could keep the dirt on.

    My husband bought me a golf bag the other day. I don’t know what to think of it. Honestly, the ugliest parts of me reveal themselves on the fairway, or more accurately, in the rough.

  2. says

    Any teenage boy who claims his mother is his good luck charm is just good people.

    So glad your son gave you permission to tell his story. Shows true strength of character. Wonder where he gets that?

  3. Paul Willingham says

    Of course I can’t comment on the book because Cliff Notes hasn’t issued their version yet. But I will offer this observation.

    I think it was 3 years ago and Jay and I played a round out at MCC. On 18, elevated green, 180 yards and all, he overdrove the green from the back of the tee box. I knew back then that I was way out of my league.


    GOLF Spelled backwards is FLOG

    I’ve strolled the summer grasses fair
    inhaling the August morning air
    moving the sphere even less than far
    chasing the elusive goal of par

    mixing tee shots, drives, putts and hooks
    and way too often murmuring Gadzooks
    I keep coming back though I’ll never excel
    because pasture pool has me under it’s spell

    Tiger, Irwin, Lehman, Snead
    mastered the skills that I still need
    as spring refreshes fairways to green
    I’ll grab the clubs and try again

    the lairds of Scotland the game invented
    and men like Twain have often commented
    that golf is just a good walk spoiled
    But I’ll take that walk and not get roiled

  4. Jody Collins says

    Lyla and all–here’s my take on the last chapters of ROW ‘Glitches’ and ‘Time’

    (not sure if the link showed up…………will try FB.)

    p.s. SO glad we’re doing The Artist’s Way next. I found it at the Goodwill (smile) and have only just cracked open the first pages. LOTS in there to digest.

  5. says

    Jennifer, I didn’t know you golfed. I should send JP to play with you. Anyway, I think carrying that bag around tends to bring out an unglamorous side of just about anyone.

    I’ve watched enough tennis lately Monica. I should be able to write something on that, too. What would you display in such a case?

    Nancy, I believe the charm swings like a pendulum. Some days I think he leans toward thinking that if “it weren’t for bad luck, he’d have no luck at all.” where his mom is concerned. :)

  6. says

    Dad. Dad! When did you start doing this? “mixing tee shots, drives, putts and hooks / and way too often murmuring Gadzooks.” I want poetry for Christmas. :) And yeah, he put some good stuff on that ball when he’s not out of his mind with grief over the one before.

    As for Cliff Notes, no no no. You’d want to read the whole book. I’ll bring it along this weekend. :)

    Jody, the link came through but not to the specific post, so I’m including it here just in case:

    I love that you picked it up at Goodwill. I’m going to remember that — it might come in handy as we go along. You won’t know this but I have a little, umm, history with Julia and her artist ways. It’s going to be interesting. Fun. Interesting. I’ll keep alternating those words. :)

  7. says

    Now THAT is a poem, Lyla.

    Thanks for the encouragement from “Rumors” about some things having to wait their time to be shared. There’s so much I can’t write about at the moment because it would hurt family members who are under 21 and have Facebook pages. I trust that one day I will be able to.

    P.S. Tell J.P. I got to see two golf courses in N. Ire.–Royal Portrush, where this year’s Irish Open will be, and we stayed at Lough Erne, a Faldo course/resort.

  8. says

    And another thing–the image of you standing there watching, seeing the frustrations and tears, feeling the weight of them. Reminds me of Someone.

    I know. I’m supposed to be responding to your thoughts on the book and the writing process. But that image of you just about did me in.

    That’s all.

  9. Sheila Dailie says

    Lyla, your post and poem both brought tears today. Though not a golfer, you made it a parable for life itself. I applaud JP for allowing you to share his story, from your vantage point, with us.

    And yes, sometimes our stories have to wait for time to heal and even to see the redeeming element within the story. I imagine Joseph had a hard time thinking about telling HIS story when his brothers put him in the pit or Potiphar threw him into prison!

    And fun to see your dad’s comments, too. Have a great weekend with some interesting conversations.

  10. says

    Nancy, respond to whatever moves you. :) My thoughts on the book are the post — the book’s already been written. I’m just practicing it. 😉 But yes. To your actual comment. I know it was “just” golf. And he was “only” in junior high with a lot of other rough life in front of him. But standing there watching, unable to encourage him or to tell him to suck it up — one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. The next year we talked ahead of time about what he needed to do to get himself mentally and emotionally back on track. He wrote some words to himself on the fingers of a glove but at the last minute decided to use a different glove so I carried that one with me and pulled it out of my pocket at times, hoping he would see it and tap himself back into order.

    Thank you, Megan. I enjoyed that one. I think it’s hard sometimes, especially for one who tells stories in the way you do, to hold them until their time. But it seems Laura is right — there is no hurry, and we can trust the process. (Love that about the courses in Ireland!)

  11. says

    LOVE getting the context for the poem (which I read yesterday at Poeticlaims), although I loved it there as well. I’ve ordered Julia’s book on 1-click, hoping it will get here before we leave on vacation next Tuesday. Seems like it might make good beach reading?? I’ll be waiting to see what the ‘interesting’ parts are in your history with this book…

  12. L. L. Barkat says

    I want poetry for Christmas too, Dad. :)

    Lyla, that poem just went right through me. It’s so full. It’s about so much more than golf. And it’s also deeply about golf. This is the mark of a good poem, at least to me. (Not the golf part, but the layering element. 😉

    Also loved the whole story as you tell it.

  13. says

    I’ve enjoyed this series so much, Lyla. Your poem today has to move any mother among us; it did me.

    Looking forward to your discussion of “The Artist’s Way”.

    Not wanting to close out without leaving you the expected Wednesday poem, here’s my offering for you today, using your own wonderful words:

    It Falls to Me

    He, off that fateful day, sailed
    out of bounds, his good luck

    nearly finished. I, feeling
    the cruel, mythical ache

    never really talked about,
    imagine coaxing a story

    gently, anything my memories,
    kept safe, might charm

    in time. On the night his tears
    come to the edge, it falls to me

    to cheer, and I, souvenir-ready,
    tell of the day when a small smile

    of hope, picked up, was returned.

  14. says

    Thanks, Sheila. Timing is so important. I think the stories have the most power when the time is right — even when that means we wait a long time for them.

    Diana, you read it yesterday? For real? I could have sworn I just published it this morning at Poeticlaims. Ha! I must have accidentally published the draft over there. I’ve been known to do that… And thanks for your link. Never late — I’ll get over and check it out!

    Thanks L.L. I’m a little slow today — hadn’t realized you slipped it into the post. If only I’d positioned it with a dandelion… The poem said more than I expected to when I started. I suppose that happens, huh?

    Maureen, Maureen. I knew you’d come. “the cruel, mythical ache.” That about captures it, yes, as any mother can tell you. Thank you!

  15. says

    * Miss Lyla, you know, golf ain’t my thing, but I like this poem of yours.

    * Miss JDL, a golf bag has a myriad of uses:
    – new, more sturdy laundry bag
    – when they ask “paper or plastic” hoist that baby onto the check-out counter
    – you can carry a lot of corn or soy beans in it (or maybe a new baby calf)
    – use it instead of a picnic basket
    – my lipstick chimp likes to sleep inside one
    – works for aluminum can recycling
    – useful beach bag
    – etc, etc.

    * Miss LL, I shall try to slay the worry-about-the-process dragon.


  16. says

    Ok, I am crying for a couple of reasons…primarily because this post is so tenderly wrought, as only a parent can express of a child, but also because of the subject, golf…one day I will tell a couple of stories about golf, about the one time and only time our daughter played for the school team, and the one (maybe more) about my husband who wanted nothing to do with golf, was cajoled into playing by a dying friend and who now holds a benefit tournament of his own, because of that same friend. “There is no hurry…”

  17. says

    Elizabeth, when it’s time, I’d love to hear those stories. Nope, no hurry. :)

    Darlene, JP stopped in. He thought perhaps most of those activities would ruin the bag. But I’m wondering if you couldn’t just take that dragon and cram it in the bag with the lipstick chimp. I think it would be right slain.

    Thanks Anna, will look forward to that with you. And Davis, me too. :)

  18. says

    JP came in and read the post, and all the comments. (Thanks, all.) He saw the picture with the two balls on Facebook and wondered where I found a second Callaway — answering the question of whether he knew I had that ball or not.

    He didn’t. :)

    But he also reminded me that he hit at least three balls into the trees and the creek before that last one that sent him reeling. And that it was the ninth hole (which only matters because of the break in between.) So while it wasn’t dramatic in any way, it did raise the question for me of “that’s not what happened.” I knew when I wrote it that I might have those details wrong and went ahead knowing none of them changed the story on the whole. He didn’t find it worth quibbling over.

  19. L. L. Barkat says


    How many times I’ve heard that line. “That’s not what happened.”

    Well, it’s still a true story, isn’t it. Funny that.

  20. Jody Collins says

    Lyla—wading through all this conversation at the end of the day. so fun to eavesdrop.
    THANK YOU for correcting my blog link! You are the perfect moderator.

    Golf movie comment–“7 Days in Utopia” with Robert Duvall? Seen it? Great flick.
    Your son might actually like it–Has actual real famous golfer-type people in it and a young golfer who finds God (in Texas!)

  21. says

    Oh, Lyla, what a post! And the comments! You realize of course that all this wonderful conversation around your posts just encourages me to be late, right? To wait till nightfall (or the next afternoon…) to read the latest book club installment.

    And I want to echo what Nancy said. And add, the silent witness of heartache, while your own heart aches: in a small way, every mother among us is Mary, yes?

    Beautiful post, friend. Thank you!

    (And The Artist’s Way? I am very, very afraid. That book changed my life when I read it 15 years ago. I tend not to revisit books that changed my life, because they’re so often time-and-place books, you know? But I’ll suck it up and deal :) It will probably even be good for me. I think. Maybe.)

  22. says

    Jody, I’ll have to check that movie out. Sports films are popular around my house. Imagine that. :)

    Sandra, you stick with the soccer and softball fields. Loved the poem at your place. I did. Do. Will.

    Thank you, Kimberlee. Yes, the conversation around the campfire goes on a long time here. Especially if we’re burning golf score cards. I’ve so enjoyed the conversation here in the last few weeks. From chimpanzee crazy to real tenderness in the comments, and thoughtful discussion to boot. I’m glad you’ll suck it up for The Artist’s Way. I will appreciate the company. I’m a little twitchy on it for other reasons that will become apparent once we start — and hopefully that will be half the fun. :)


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