Anne Hamilton/Hamilton Dramaturgy

GROUNDING, a new dramatic monologue

I wrote this monologue today and thought I’d share it. I draws on my experience of working at Blooming Glen Farm out here in Bucks County, PA. I belong to a community supported agriculture project (CSA) and I take a little bit of time to work in the fields. Many thanks to my farmer friends for this inspiration.


By Anne Hamilton

© July 5, 2011

Character: Shelley, 25

Place: The Field.

Time: The Present.

(Shelley is on her knees working in the dirt. She is barefoot. There is a greenhouse behind her with flats of growing seeds. A flat of growing onions, sits to her left.)

I come here. To ground myself.  (laughs at herself) That’s funny. Of course. You work in the ground, you ground yourself.

Of course, we all walk on the ground. But we seldom really touch it. We’re always standing on pavement, blacktop, cement. Stones. We wear shoes. When is the last time you actually touched the earth with your bare feet? Think about it.

I had a dog once. We lived in Queens. There was no grass for miles. Everything was paved over. Her feet never touched the ground in the first five years of her life, except once. We put her in the car and drove her to a park. That’s when she touched grass.

When we moved out here, I bought her a backyard. She didn’t know what universe she was in. There were other animals – she only knew cats, and squirrels, mice, pigeons. And cockroaches, not that we had them in our house.

She was on the deck when we first moved. A rabbit came hopping by. “Oh, wonder! How many goodly creatures there are here!” She nearly went crazy with excitement. What was that? Another little creature! It has a round tail! I want one!

She loved rabbits from then on. Thought they were her own little pets. Started wagging her tail and whining every time one hopped by.

We took care of one that our neighbor neglected. Kept in a cage with no extra shelter inside. Didn’t give it water every day. I would go over there and feed it. Carrots. Cranberries. Little morsels. I took my dog. And she wanted to kiss that rabbit so badly – stuck her head in the cage up to her shoulders and licked its little face. Scared the rabbit half to death until it got used to her. (Beat)  She loved that rabbit.

After we fed it so it got fat, they sold it to a farm. As a stud. Lucky rabbit. All its dreams came true.

(She pauses.)

Sometimes…I have to talk like this. Just keep talking. It passes the time, keeps my mind from thinking.

(She looks down at the earth.)

I come here to dig. To watch something grow. Instead of die. If you plant something you can watch it grow. It’s the only time you see progress. I need progress. Every kid should live near nature. He can see that things grow and things die. That in the winter they look like they’re dead, but then they come to life again in the spring. It’s the only way to understand…how things are.

I lost – my sister. My second sibling to die in 27 months. Most families count the years by births. Our counts it by deaths. A rare genetic disease. Blood condition.  Fifty percent get it, fifty percent don’t. You don’t – we don’t – know who has it until we’re adults.

Sluggishness. Pale skin. Muscle weakness. That’s how it starts.  We’re always checking on each other. “How do you feel?” “Let me look at your face.”

And then – drowsiness, lack of energy. And hospitals. It always ends in hospitals. And hospices. She was twenty-years years old in a hospice. The staff knows us all by name by now.

It happened last Saturday. That last breath. The nurse called. “Your sister has taken her last breath,” she said. Funeral was Wednesday. We had it planned, of course. Dinner together and on to – the rest of our lives.

I come here. To reconnect. Plant. Hope that something grows that something completes its own life cycle, that something LIVES, goddamn it! And I watch for signs of life. And death.

Not by the side of a bed, but out here. In the sun. with my feet in the dirt. Grounded. Grounding. Watching. And waiting. Waiting for my own blood to tell me…what it’s going to do.

(She picks up a spade and digs a little hole. She places an onion sprig into the hole and gently fills in the space around it. She repeats the action, with reverence. She looks up and smiles a brave smile. Lights fade.)


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