When my eldest son left home, my youngest daughter was nine. For a school project, she had to present a poem based on a given word. Her word was ‘quiet’. Her poster was illustrated with people hushing their pursed lips with their index tip. It read:
Shhhhh do not disturb
This is a place of peace and quiet
People thinking special thoughts need quiet.
I’m not sure where she found free-form poetry or the word sanctuary; maybe it was on her spelling list that week after rainforest and before volcano. The poem has remained blue tacked to the door of my son’s room ever since. I occupied his room with unseemly haste the day after he left (of course I missed him … but). It’s been my writing room ever since.
The dictionary describes sanctuary as a place of refuge, shelter and safety – a sacred place. My sanctuary has been all that to me, while masquerading as a junk depository, guest quarters and project preparation place. It’s my response to Virginia Woolf’s call to women. I’m still waiting for the five hundred pounds though.
I wrote this snippet in response to a prompt from my writing group to write about our writing spaces. We’ve uploaded our responses to Don Diespecker’s web site. He invites other writers to share posts on a particular topic. Don lives and writes in a spectacularly beautiful part of Australia, in northern New South Wales, where he lives on the banks of river. Have a look at his his lyrical writing here. I’ve added a photo of my sanctuary – in a less cluttered phase of its existence.