Synkroniciti is excited to announce that “Conversation with father, the porch of our house, Medina, Ohio 3:33 p.m.” by Ann Ingraham has won our Wild essay contest. Ann captures a snippet of conversation on the porch of her childhood home in which her father tells her that he and her mother are moving into an assisted living facility. As she hears his words, memories wash over her and her mind attaches to elements of home: nature, food, family. She’s not able to respond verbally to her father in the moment, but we read her internal monologue. This mini-memoir experimental essay weaves together elements from several forms: the hermit crab (it could also be considered a prose poem), as well as the braided and non-linear essay forms and it does so in less than six hundred words. An absolutely exquisite and delicate structure for heightened emotion.
If you have been through the aging process with a parent or two, you will likely recognize the feelings and the spiraling and circling thought patterns that occur as the mind tries to interpret the passage of time and the aging process. Trying to define or resolve that process, to draw big conclusions as we are experiencing it, takes away from the precious time we have with our loved ones and risks overwhelming us. Due largely to its structure, “Conversation with father” shies away from resolution, using the ambiguity that poetry does so well and essays often miss by being too technical and too definitive. It instead follows the synchronicity that burrows into the experience, which doesn’t usually make sense at the time—disorienting but somehow comforting. I can’t imagine any other form speaking so well in this situation; it is very suited to wildness and memory. If you want to get an editor’s attention with your piece, be it poetry or prose, study what Ann does, which feels very natural and organic, but actually has a very specific form which uses repeated imagery to connect thoughts.
Thanks to all who submitted essays for “Wild.” This issue is shaping up to be an extremely beautiful and thoughtful one and it’s also shaping the two issues that will follow it.
Ann Ingraham has been a writer and editor for Sonoma Family Life magazine and The Walters Art Museum member magazine and has been published in Working Woman magazine, Women Artist’s News, and several digital magazines. She is happiest walking in the redwoods or on the beach with her family or snuggling in her bed reading with rain streaming down the windows. Finding a whole room, A WHOLE ROOM, full of poetry after climbing a steep, narrow, creaky staircase to the top of City Lights bookstore, sitting in a chair alone and reading poem after poem while out the window sheets flap from a nearby balcony also fills her with joy.