Denise Temal

For Healing:

“Leche,” I hear against an auditory backdrop of my mom’s preparations for Mexican-style rice: crackling onions, tomatoes, and garlic. A sheet of light smoke falls upon the living room, where my dad smiles and we cheer with the joy of my sister’s first word. The already sleepy Sunday captures a dreamy quality. Then, the rainbow xylophone rings out with the marimba rhythms my dad pulls from his memories in Guatemala. And I hear the voice of my elder self say,“remember this moment, you will rarely see him this happy.”

My mind gifted me with this memory after years of its hibernation, deep in the cave of my consciousness. When it appeared, I wrote about it in a poem that I handed to my sister on a different Sunday afternoon, twenty-five years later. She’d confided in me about her depression and wondered if she was loved. As she looked down at her empty palms, before hiding her face in them again, I handed her the poem. This is why I write.

For Living:

I’m alone, not lonely, in Pasadena, wearing a beautiful red satin dress underneath this thin wool coat. My green tea latte with almond milk smells so sweet, and I purse my red lips together, sipping deliberately and slowly. The warmth of the heat lamp on my chest and calves competes with the caress of the the cool breeze for my attention. I feel desired by the moment and my longing for other times slowly erodes in the sensuality of the present. Marilyn Monroe sings Heat Wave in the background as I give into the breeze. And my pen undulates on the page as words, like eager dance partners, wait in the wings for their turn. I sit here hoping to remember this moment, this visceral invitation into mindfulness, at other times. This is why I write.

For Seeing:

I’ve attempted to give birth to your consciousness, but I see that I must give birth to my own. I’ve attempted to give birth to our romantic love, but I see that I must give birth to my peace. I’ve attempted to heal your decaying mind, but I see that I must give birth to my own healing. This is why I write.

Baby, I’m giving birth to myself
Spreading my limbs not to let you in
But to let myself out
You know what they call me?
They call me alchemist
Cause I’m turning, turning sorrow into consciousness

Don’t apologize if you’re too encumbered to witness this
The stillness is teaching me how to be my own witness
No more pleading
Who am I kidding?
No tugging at a plant’s gonna make it grow
No tugging at a plant’s gonna make it grow

So, I’m letting go
And giving birth to myself
Spreading my limbs not to let you in
But to let myself out
So, don’t apologize
Don’t apologize
Don’t apologize
I’m giving birth to myself

This is why I write.

 


 

When the task of writing grows inevitably arduous—and seemingly thankless—we must remember why we started. Inspired by George Orwell’s 1946 essay “Why I Write,” this introspective project highlights our motives for writing. Share your story and join the conversation. Live events are produced throughout the diverse cities of Orange County and feature author readings from curated essay submissions.

  1. Write a 500-word essay explaining why you write.
  2. Submit via Submittable.

The 1888 Podcast Network is a curated collection of educational and entertaining podcasts. Each program is designed to provide a unique platform for industry innovators to share stories about art, literature, music, history, science, or technology.

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