6 min read

Writing Sprint: Five Senses

The sprint started as a way to personify the senses, but as we wrote each entry, we uncovered the emotions we delicately packaged into them. Taste is cultural pride, touch and sight can hold grief, and hearing can cleanse.
Writing Sprint: Five Senses

In my previous post, I wrote about hitting the writing gym, and recently, I’ve been introduced to writing sprints, bouts of time set to fight the urge to edit and focus entirely on getting words on a page. This post is the culmination of me and my friend’s previous sprint prompt on the five sense.

The sprint started as a way to personify the senses, but as we wrote each entry, we uncovered the emotions we delicately packaged into them. Taste is cultural pride, touch and sight can hold grief, and hearing can cleanse.

I hope you enjoy. :)


on taste (vania):

I wonder if the next place has strawberry lipsmacker, or the flavored popcorn salt from nights at the cinema. It would be nice if there’s no gasoline to smell; I swear it contaminates my mouth–but, if compulsions fade, must the memories leave me too? Please remember the way our mouths watered when we watched lime pressed over a cup of seasoned corn, and don’t forget brie tastes better when you eat it under stars.  Zichrona  l’bracha: if my memory must be for a blessing, may it always taste like grape juice on a Friday night. 

on taste (koen):

I never learned to contort my tongue and shape my lips the right way. Even in parody, swapping the p’s with the f’s or the he’s with the she’s, did my attempts at culture waiver. Without you, what could I have shared other than my last name?

But we had a great run, didn’t we? The salt and heat of adobo, the squeeze of kalamansi over sisig, and the tamarind kick in sinigang. Our favorites were the obscure and foreign, the balut and dinuguan that seemed to taste better knowing others would refuse. Let’s not forget the  sweets too; the sticky sapin-sapin and kutsinta that lodged itself onto the ridges of molars or the leche flan, that with the slightest press of the tongue would squish and spread across the mouth. Like the flag, we raised every spoon and fork with pride. So even if the tongue couldn’t contort, I know that it certainly could taste.


on smell (vania):

Don’t lose any brain cells. Look, look, look: if I had a better brain to begin with I wouldn’t need to do this. You see, 25 mg of desvenlafaxine only goes so far–but the pointed scent of an alcohol wipe? Ugh, I could crumble! Sometimes you need the mini lobotomy of that needle-like smell, sharp and sterile as it channels through the sinuses and straight to the brain. Ugh, I could moan! It’s every first-aid kit’s best kept secret: a hard reset, a rescue slap across the brain through the olfactory receptors. Ugh, I could fiend! I’m a frantic bird and that scent is a blanket over my cage, diffusing my chaos and setting me to calm. 

on smell (koen): 

With every sip, I catch a whiff,  letting the billows of arabica—no, columbian, or is it ruta maya?—bathe me in a smokey, bold heat. That initial  moment I’m engulfed is truly my favorite. From dormancy, I awake, somehow suddenly and softly by the sun's radiation captured, roasted, ground, and brewed just for me. I’m the appetizer, preparing the brain to rouse a few others for the morning prize. To touch, prepare the lips for the acidity and heat, and to taste, salivate the mouth and stimulate the palette. A small, but essential role, once complete, the novelty of smell begins to dissipate and I know my job is done. But on those last few whiffs, I grasp at the weakening sensation as I fall back to a resting state—there was a hint of fruit and honey too, wasn’t there? I can check tomorrow…


on sight (vania):

Nine-years-old with tangled hair, practically emaciated from a diet of oatmeal and fear. She’s more scared of vomit than anything, but on days she can’t see her fingers the fear subsides for greater things. She lifts a hand and counts: one, two, three. . . the other two will come back soon. Nobody seems to notice a kid is half-blind in the restroom; they don’t understand, but they’re not off the hook to care. It’s fine, she reassures herself, my body knows the secret: a nap and a hurl will revert her sight. She’s twenty-seven now and scared of other things. She hasn’t gone blind in years, but her body still remembers how it must go through some discomfort to set the senses right. 

on sight (koen):

My eyes have traversed this landscape countless times, but on its final trip I patiently take it all in. Every contour, texture, and hue. From the high grass that transitions to porous ground, to the delicate peak of the mountain that breathes air. When I arrive at the scarlet valley, I imagine every shape they have taken and every word they spoke. But now, although they are silent, corners ever so slightly turned, they purse and part with life. Eventually, when I arrive at the pair of  glistening lakes, I wish I could stay a while. Even if seconds were hours and today were eternity it wouldn’t be enough time. My eyes have seen the lakes through every condition for every season but never have they looked like today. From afar, nothing would appear out of the ordinary, but I can see, in between your blinks, this close,—not closer than all times before, but probably closer than all the next—they shimmer with sorrow.

My eyes haven’t traversed the landscape since, but my mind's eye has tried, failing to replicate all your details. The contours are not quite as polished and the texture I once knew is artificially smoothed. On the final trip, I took my time, not because I thought that memory couldn’t lie, but because in the moment, I knew our eyes wouldn’t. 


on hearing (vania): 

The sound of saltwater is unassuming but present: I hear it most loudly when everything around me has been too loud. With my head beneath the ocean, my body in Amphitrite's hands, the sound of silence reminds me land matters are never that deep. The water whirs and rumbles; underwater sound distortion calibrates my compass for land. When I reemerge, everything burns but I feel present in my body--nothing like a sea baptism to cleanse you from yourself.

on hearing (koen):

How quickly raucous can turn euphonious when you allow everyone’s voices to slip from your ears and into your heart. Every conversation is a microcosm of meaning; evidence of full, complex, and miraculous lives you’ll never live—Have you been to Poland? Alejandro, finish your food! Hey, give me a kiss. You can only borrow their words in fragments, like grabbing a fist full of sand from the ocean floor. You can grasp the shape, feel its coolness, hear the love, anger, and indifference in their voices, but it slips, pouring out the edges of your palm, and sinks back down.


on touch (vania): 

Skeptical creature, you’re so soft. A feisty spirit in the body of prey–are you a warrior again now? The best kept secret was your tortoiseshell fur, the softest thing I’ve ever touched was as elusive as your heart. Thank you for never being too hardened for me, now I know bravery feels like the velvet of listening ears.  I miss reaching into darkness and bumping a warm surprise. I’m two rabbit feet short now, but I was lucky to love you.

on touch (koen):

Arms wrapped around yourself, you wonder if a hug is a homonym. At its simplest, it’s an exchange of warmth or a recognition of friendship. At its greatest, skin to skin, protected from the outside world only by a thin sheet, the hug is vulnerability. Not with everyone will I let my head fall heavy, chin resting upon another’s frame. Adjacent hearts may whisper: thank you for being here, the world is too heavy, everything is beautiful, and I will miss you. But between embraces with lovers, friends, and kin, you are here. There are no layers of fabric or time between the hands that cradle your own sides. Maybe it’s not a homonym. It’s still an exchange of heat, a recognition of friendship, because if you let your head float down, letting the space between your chin and chest converge, you’ll hear that the heart still whispers.

Thanks for reading! If you liked it, please share it with a friend! If you didn't, I'm sorry. :(

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