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Writing Prompt: What Have You Seen With Your Own Eyes?


WASHOUT -- The sea turtle eggs, round and pale as golf balls, gaped from the side of the dune where the overheated, angry ocean had dissected it, creating a cliff. With my screen and gloves, I hurried through a small gathering of mourners – tourists in yellow and green raincoats, staring. The wind, whipped up by too much heat and moisture, pulled the paper from my hands. One by one, fingers trembling, I lifted the eggs from the sheered-off clutch, never turning the babies inside their impossibly thin membranes. One by one, my partner lowered them into the new hole we had dug, as deep and wide as the mother’s egg chamber, further from the tide’s claw. This, we had seen too often last season, and the season before, as the storms kept coming.


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The flash nonfiction above was prompted by the amazing Janisse Ray, author of such works as Ecology of a Cracker Childhood and Red Lanterns, during the 8th Annual Sandhill Writers (Virtual) Retreat, convened by St. Leo University.


Janisse, whose many honors have included a Pushcart Prize and an American Book Award, prompted online attendees to free-write a piece called, “I’ve Seen it With My Own Eyes.”


The purpose of the exercise was to write a scene – moment to moment, through the senses (that is, by showing rather than telling) – to explain why I care about climate change, and why I think others should care.


Learn more about Janisse and her work on her author website, on Facebook, and on Instagram @tracklesswild.


Now – what have you seen with your own eyes?


Fellow volunteer Stacey Bell relocates the washed out sea turtle nest, which successfully emerged some weeks later. September 2020.

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