In my new Friday feature, I'm going to generate writing using types of prompts, and invite you to do the same. This month, I'm using my Personal Universe Deck, or PUD, to prompt some new writing ideas.The Personal Universe Deck first originated with poet Michael McClure. He describes how he created his Personal Universe Deck in this speech at Naropa University. You'll find good descriptions for generating the PUD on this website, and on this one. This week, I shuffled my deck and pulled three cards containing the words turmeric, eggplant, sugar, wait, silence, and skip.
Silence, Turmeric, Wait
“Does this have turmeric?” she asked, sniffing the contents of the pita suspiciously. “Cause you know I don’t like that stuff.”
Lilly looked at her. “You are six years old. You live in Texas. You’ve never had turmeric. How did you even know turmeric existed?”
The girl eyed her mother with precocious disdain. “I read about turmeric in my book on Asia. I decided I don’t like it.”
Lilly sighed. Her father and brother, Will, suddenly got busy with their food. Will stifled a giggle by coughing into his plate.
Lilly spoke. “The pita does not have any turmeric. I guarantee it. We are at the base of the Grand Canyon. This is the food the donkey brought down for you. You won’t get anything else, so I suggest you eat.” She glared at her headstrong second child, willing the conversation to turn in her favor. She pushed the sweaty veil of blonde hair out of her daughter’s eyes and implored, “Just try it for me, okay?”
The girl, Annie, widened her eyes and stuck her tongue out. Then she slowly moved her tongue toward the offending sandwich. Upon touching the contents, she cried, “Ew! Definitely turmeric, Mom. Definitely. It’s going to be against my principles to eat it, Mom.”
“Upon what grounds did you base your decision to dislike turmeric? What has turmeric ever done to you?” Lilly looked at her husband, Bob, and said, “Am I really having this conversation?”
He replied, “Keep your voice down. People are looking at us.”
“Do you want to handle this, then?” She whispered furiously across the picnic table.
“No, just keep it down, okay?”
Lilly leaned into Annie’s ear. “This pita has chicken. You like chicken. It has mayonnaise, your favorite. It has grapes.”
Bob piped into the conversation then. “Yeah, Annie, I don’t like grapes, but I’m eating them, see?”
“Not helping,” Lilly said.
Nonplussed, Annie stated, “It has turmeric, too,”
“What makes you think that?”
“It’s yellow. Turmeric is yellow.”
Bob spoke again. “That’s not turmeric, sweetheart, it’s called curry.”
Will, who’d been quietly wolfing his pita, picked his head up and said, “Curry?”
He started crying, the loud way, the way a sudden squall hits in the middle of summer, the way a kid cries during a vacation even though he is too old to cry in public any more. Now, people were really looking. His eyes were full of accusation. “You know how much I hate curry! What is wrong with you two?”
Lilly said, “Now you know why I can’t remember our vacations. My mind erases the trauma.”
By now, Will had reached across the table and pinched Annie on the arm, and both children were crying. Bob and Lilly looked at one another for a moment, and then he started laughing. Lilly did not see the humor, and told him so.
“Come on, now,” he said, “look on the bright side. We’re at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. We came all the way down here on freaking mules. We have a six year old who reads books about Asia. She knows what turmeric is, and she uses words like ‘principles’ in the right way.”
Annie walked around the table and crawled into Bob’s lap. “I’m smart, aren’t I, Dad?”
“Smart is as smart does, Annie,” he said. “I think you are going to be very hungry in a little while, and there’s nothing Mom and I can do to help you, so would you say that’s a smart decision?”
She patted his face. “But you’re forgetting about my principles, Dad. And the candy bar in your pocket.”
I'd love it if you joined me in the Friday prompt. Create your own PUD and write. If you post the results on your blog, please feel free to post a link in the comments section here.