When Twiddlebugs and Whos Come for a Visit

By December 17, 2009 culture, language No Comments

Breath for the Bones Book Club: Thoughts on Chapter 12

The New Twiddlebugs

The Original Twiddlebugs

Do you remember the Twiddlebugs from Sesame Street? They lived in Ernie’s window-box planter, in homes made from milk cartons. (My search for the site link enlightened me to the Twiddlebugs of this generation—all CGI!) When I was a kid, this microcosm fascinated me, spurring on my imagination of what other miniature worlds might be hidden about—at the base of a tree, perhaps, or at river’s edge.

The Twiddlebugs came to mind during this week’s Breath for the Bones read, chapter 12 titled “Tracing the Process of Poets and Poems.” Author Luci Shaw wrote mostly of the writing life as it germinates and blooms and flourishes year after year—at least, how this has happened in her own life. An accomplished poet and writer, Shaw’s body of work is vast, rich, deep.

At this point, the fruit of my own writing life is as inconspicuous as the Twiddlebug society. My “body of work” has no shape yet, exuding only a faint whisper.

Horton hears—even a Who.

And here I think of another world in miniature, the one found by Dr. Seuss’s dear Horton. My work, almost imperceptible, whispers to those who take time to hear (thank you, dear family and friends); my work is a mere speck atop a clover flower puff.

Shaw’s insights to the writing life of a poet were lovely and encouraging for those of us writing in diminutive, whispery tones. Here’s the section that brought these tiny worlds to visit in my memory this week:

A poem begins often as a close-up of one small detail within a much larger picture. Imagine a landscape painting. You may take a magnifying glass and minutely examine the artist’s brushwork in the lower right-hand corner, where no direct image of the sky or distance appears and where there perhaps is only a faint gleam or shadow to indicate the existence of the sun elsewhere in the landscape. But the dark corner is just as true, artistically and spiritually, as the center of the painting with its brilliantly painted fields. (Shaw 173–174)

I am reminded that the finished work would be incomplete without the time and attention spent on the fringes. The fringes matter; they give the work boundaries with bleeding edges that speak of more just off the canvas, just off the page, that couldn’t fit in the space—they speak of the unseen certainty of more . . . of eternity, if you will. If a painting represents my body of work, I would say that I am as of yet working on the edge pieces—sort of like the process of bordering up a puzzle. But those edges brush-up most against the eternal, and that’s a wonderful place to be.

It is overwhelming for me to consider painting an entire picture, a whole masterpiece, with my words. I find comfort if I approach it as I do my blog—I am filling my patch of sky, I am filling one part of the canvas at a time. I don’t have to know what words and phrases go into each square inch; I just need to fill the section at-hand, working to bring God’s name fame in this space, in this moment. One day, when all the pieces are viewed together, they will tell a bigger story. But for now, I can tell the few lines of the story I have, and that is enough.

This is both reassuring and exciting, for as Shaw shares, “The poem is the little lens through which we can examine at close range the ‘insignificant’ details of the universe, which then provide us with a miniature window on the world” (174).

Opening a “miniature window on the world” . . . I like that. How exciting to think that every day I could collect fragments of truth from the world I see, from the small things that come to visit—Twiddlebugs, Whos, and dear Horton. I don’t know where the conversation is going, but please join us! There are many little windows to uncover, peek through, and open wide.


Meet the Club! Read Other Breath for the Bones Chapter 12 Posts
Queenie at Rancho Ruperto

Stop back next Thursday for our book club finale: an interview with Luci Shaw!

Photo Sources
Horton Photo: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0451079/mediaindex
Original Twiddlebugs Photo: http://www.sesamestreet.org/onair/characters/twiddlebugs
New Twiddlebugs Photo: http://muppet.wikia.com/wiki/Twiddlebugs

Make your mission irresistible to donors. Schedule a 15-minute Change Chat today.