University of Pennsylvania Alumni Day (getting ready for)

Friday, May 14, 2010

Tomorrow I'll board the train and head down to my alma mater for Alumni Day.  I'll take the twenty minute walk from 30th Street Station through the Drexel University campus toward the University of Pennsylvania campus, then head up Locust Walk toward Kelly Writers House, past all the tents and hoopla, where I'll join Alice Elliott Dark for a reading. 

That much I know for sure.

What I don't know yet is what I'll be reading.  Not precisely, not yet. Though I think I'll begin with these words from Good People, the novel for adults that I've been working on all these many months.

The baby is missing.  The baby is not where I had left her—checked the rope and strapped her in, pulled my weight into the branch above, and said out loud, This is good and nice and sturdy.  I had nudged her high and sung to her, True, true, the sky is blue, and she smelled like baby.  There is not one single other thing that smells like baby, that cheeks against your cheek like the cheek of a baby.  I had kissed her.  I had promised, I am coming right back, Baby. 
            There was a pluming plane overhead.  Two white trails of smoke, and a second plane—smaller, chasing. I had wanted a blanket so that I might lie nearby, so that all afternoon it would be Baby in her swing and me on the spine of the earth below, watching the ants in their jungled green, waiting for the red-tailed hawks to slice the plumes from the past of the planes.  It is twenty-eight steps to the back door, which is red because I’d painted it red, and it is nine steps to the downstairs closet, but I’d forgotten:  I’d left the blanket upstairs, in the trunk beneath the bed, beneath the hooked rug Mama was working when she passed, beneath Mama’s collection of hats.  There are thirteen steps up, and there are thirteen steps down, and when I opened the red door where the brush strokes had dried rough around the brass plate, Baby was missing.


Sherry said...

Sell the book! (Want more.)

Julia said...

"There is not one single other thing that smells like baby, that cheeks against your cheek like the cheek of a baby."

I love this line.

And I do want more! No pressure, but I'm jumping in my chair for this one. Your YA is wonderful, and so are your memoirs: but I think you just might rule the world with your adult novel.

Quid said...

Lovely writing, lovely picture -- and U Penn is a lovely place! Enjoy your time there!

I've been reading your blog for only a couple of weeks, but now I'm anxious to check out your print writing ;)

grete said...

Beth -

The baby is missing.......

Wow - That is the most scary line I have ever read. Yes, it is. A mother’s nightmare. Anyone’s nightmare. Nightmare above nightmare. I hope the ending is good.....


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