My second book, Twirl, ends with a question. It is a question I did not mean to write. Originally, I wrote the last words as a statement. I was wondering, and I wanted my wondering to be a statement, not a question. I feared a question would make me sound weak.
I asked L.L. Barkat if there was any way she would pretty please with a cherry on top change it back so that the book didn’t end in a question. She said that this would not serve the ending best, but her “no” wasn’t as important to me as what she explained next: “You have to trust me on this one — it’s the people who are strong that ask the questions.”
Though it felt revealing to share what I was feeling, I liked thinking that I might come across as someone who is strong because I asked a question. Plus, Barkat didn’t tell me I had to answer my question. Through our correspondence I learned my strength came from the asking.
This is a new way of thinking for me. It was also freeing. Where’s the harm in asking a question if I didn’t need it answered? It got me thinking what else can be done with a question? Maybe a question could be like a dress that can be worn in different ways. Or an ingredient, like basil or hot pepper flakes, that add flavor and spice to a dish.
Maybe a question is like those first few electric moments before a kiss — the shaky inhale, the fingers that touch then intertwine, the last look before eyes close.
Perhaps enjoying the possibilities of asking a question bring us just as much fun (if not more) than finding the answer.
This week’s prompt comes straight from Tania Runyan’s How to Write a Poem: Write a poem that begins with a question. Don’t try too hard to answer it.
Thanks to everyone who participated in last week’s poetry prompt. Here’s one from Lynn we enjoyed:
no sleeping beauty, she’s a
fair fairy, a frightful villainess
come back in black; horned,
winged, pale with hungering
what do you offer to appease?
appeal? tease? try to deal?
a cupcake?! she’s no mousy
muffin, that you’ll be stuffin’
whip up delicacy for those
cynical red lips, a mouth that
purses when speaking curses
baked over coals of tongued
fire, thick forest of thorny briar
rich, dark chocolate cake of
devil’s food, a true-love’s kiss
baked inside, laced with poison,
frosted white, too-sweet icing
served at dawn as darkness dies.
Photo by Uroš Novina Creative Commons via Flickr. Post by Callie Feyen.
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Laura Lynn Brown says
I love this, Callie. Yes, there is strength in asking a question. And in accepting that there might not, right now, be an answer. Or in letting the question take the spotlight rather than ushering it offstage once any answer at all shows up.
“Perhaps enjoying the possibilities of asking a question bring us just as much fun (if not more) than finding the answer.” Bingo. That’s exactly what I am hoping to explore in the question-focused Follow Your Wonder workshop.
Mary Van Denend says
Amen to Laura’s comment. Believe it was Rilke who said, “Be patient with all that is unanswered in your heart, and try to love the questions themselves.” Questions don’t have to be explicit, they can be implied in anything we write. For me asking questions is a willingness to be curious, childlike.
Megan Willome says
What does ‘darkling’ mean?
Dusk spreads wings. A wood thrush
in the sticky forest harmonizes with itself.
your ardent Hope, tattoo
evening on your sunlit brow.
martin gottlieb cohen says
wind what song do you carry
marsh wren’s cry
the sun ripples onto the mud
falling into the sound laughing gull
the light goes out
with the tide
a cricket chirps once
between two contrails
a golden eagle
back into the krill distant song
martin gottlieb cohen says
rising with the roar