The instructions: Pick a book off your shelf. Close eyes. Random flip. Point to a word. Write down that word, the three words before it and the three words after it. Write for 5 minutes on that. Part 2 of the instructions: read it backward and find a sentence that makes sense and “has energy; it surprises you… The phrase must make a kind of sense; it must possess its own inner sense at the very least” (I can imagine what this professor would be like in person…)
The only book I had handy was an anthology from a lit class. I landed on something from A.R. Ammons (who?) titled “Corsons Inlet” – lines 117 and 118: Open – Possibilities of escape – No route shut.
The door was open. Why wasnâ€™t I taking it? I had been trying for so long to escape and now here it was. But why? Why is the possibility of escape now right here. Wide open. Reluctantly, I go. My heart is pounding in my chest. I can hear it too. I need to calm down. If Iâ€™m so focused on how scared I am, I might miss hearing somethingâ€¦ like that. What was that? I press against the wall, barely daring to look around the corner to see if what I heard was really there. A sigh of relief. It was my imagination. The route was still open. As I continue down the corridor, I can feel myself wanting to relax. Excitement at the prospect of finally being free. But what will I do once Iâ€™m out? Wonâ€™t they come looking for me? Iâ€™ll be on the run for the rest of my life. Always looking over my shoulder, wondering when they will find me and lock me back up. A different sort of prison, but one I believe will be better than what Iâ€™m leaving behind. I hope. Sure, there was a bed â€“ if thatâ€™s what you want to call it. And meals. Again, if thatâ€™s what you want to call it. And a roof over my head. It could be freezing, raining, or burning up outside and I was oblivious. If I leave, Iâ€™d be on my own to find shelter and food. But surely it would be better than this. God, please let it be better than this. Another cornerâ€¦ slow, quick glance around the corner. It still looks clear. Where is everyone? Seriously. For months (or has it only been days? Weeks? Or maybe even years? I donâ€™t knowâ€¦ but it seems like itâ€™s been forever that theyâ€™ve been checking on me every â€¦ I have no idea. All sense of time is gone. I just knew that as soon as I felt certain that they were gone, theyâ€™d show up again. So where are they now? At the end of the hall thereâ€™s an elevator. Iâ€™m torn. Do I take it and risk there being someone in there as the doors open? Could I pass as one of them if there were? No, I donâ€™t think so. Iâ€™ll take the stairs. I close the door as quietly as possible behind me but it still seems to echo up and down the stairwell. I tense, waiting for some sound of an alarm, but none comes. Then it hits me â€¦ up or down? Were they holding me up on a high floor and I need to go down to ground level or was I in some dungeon and freedom is up? Okay. Calm down. Floors are usually numbered and â€¦ yep, there it is. Iâ€™m on 17. I go down the stairs until I see the next floorâ€™s number. 16. Alright then. Down it is. No route shut. I go reluctantly.