Quiet Morning Writing Time

It’s Wednesday morning, and we’re doing writing time in the back room. I notice that I have a tendency to start my writing by rooting it in the place I am – many of my poems begin this way. “At the market” or “in Frida’s garden” or “In the installation I am overwhelmed”. It is loud in my head – when I place myself, I get outside of it. It helps.

It’s Wednesday morning, the first Wednesday morning of October, and the day is cool and damp and sunny – the reflection of the treeline in the Meer was a perfect symmetrical suspension of air and water and still-green leaves. The pallet is shifting as the wheel of the year turns again. I’m in the back room, where it is the quiet of people together – not silent but calm and companionable. I’m in my favorite seat, next to the doors, where I can see down the hallway. Roan and Jiji are dancing towards me – she just ran in and ran a hand over my head and whispered “pet the Melidew” and then disappeared. Beth, across the table from me, is laughing at Jiji and writing, and eating an apple that she split apart with her bare hands! Chuck showed her the trick – he split my apple, and now he’s sitting to my right, reading “On the Fly: Hobo Literature and Songs 1879-1941.” On my left, Ryan and Doug are seated across the table from one another, playing a game with black and white tiles and bugs. They’re on their third round and discussing the merits of a queen-first strategy, of ants vs. crickets vs. spiders vs. ladybugs.

Timo just came in and reminded Doug they forgot to do their spawn – the two of them (and Aniya and Serena) have been doing a “focused spawn” after regular spawn where they have a more in-depth conversation about their intentions. I think it’s such a cool idea, and I’m excited to see the ways these teens are holding each other as they level up their skills. I wonder how it’s working for them.

Behind me, Siena is watching a video on youtube, but quietly enough that it’s background noise. Hugo is on the couch next to her, also writing. The morning sun is shining through the windows, onto Abby’s plants. The back room in the morning is one of my favorite places because of the light – falling in golden through the wall of windows, the plants on the will and the leaves of the tree outside. In the far corner is a pile of books – mostly Abby’s, like the plants. The walls are olive green and butter yellow.

I’m trying to learn to quiet my brain – it’s been so loud in here for as long as I can remember that I can barely conceive of what that would feel like. Maybe it’s like this, like being in this space. Even as I write this, the dodgeball game at the other end of the hall has escalated into shouting, and Doug and Ryan’s game has resumed and the moment is past. It doesn’t have to be a forever moment. But if I could hold it, place it, what would that be? What would it feel like?

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Mel Compo is an interdisciplinary artist, playworker, and facilitator at the New York City Agile Learning Center. Their work with children centers play, art-making, city adventuring, and open conversation about language, bodies, gender, networks, emotional intelligence, brain plasticity, and cycles of growth. Mel studied the intersections of SDE, poetry, and the history of American education NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study. They live in Brooklyn, New York.

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