One of my favorite things about writing beyond journalism is: I never know where it takes me. Like when I answer prompts for writers' meetings. "What do you know by heart?" was one question. Minutes later, memories folded into spices on my tongue seasoned with lines from the morning's newspaper:
My parents' phone number I know by heart: null sieben sechs drei eins, vier drei drei acht.
My school friend's number: null sieben sechs drei eins, sechs eins drei fünf.
My number in L.A.: three one zero, three eight three, one two five one.
I know by heart the feeling of sand between my toes on Venice Beach. I know by heart how to pick up a pen and write. And write. And write and write. I know by heart lyrics of ABBA songs, Smokie, Rolling Stones, Juanes, Kate Bush, Zara Leander, Blondie, Prince. I know by heart a lot of useless words like that. Not at all useless, because I'm very happy when I sing along.
I know by heart my favorite recipe: coconut ginger carrot soup. I always put more ginger than the recipe instructs.
Today I peel ginger, an extra portion on top of what I usually do. Ginger to burn away words, pictures, sounds of those killed
In El Paso
To burn away thoughts of those left behind with candles, prayers, tears.