Essay in a Bottle

This is one of my favorite places to work -- the red-orange chair near the tall window in the children's section of the branch library near my house. I love the light and the colors; I love the little people crawling, toddling, running, or walking past; I love watching kids pick out books. I usually go to this corner to grade the essays my students write; but, too, I work on my own writing there. When I need a break from grown-up words and ideas, I read one of the books on display.

Recently, I treated myself to The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles, the story of a man whose job it is to collect  bottles with messages in them from the sea and to deliver those messages to the intended recipients. The Uncorker loves his job. Yet, he's melancholy. His deep and unfulfilled desire is that one day, he'll find a message addressed to him. But that's about as likely as finding a mermaid's toenail on the beach . . . or so he thought. After reading Michelle Cuevas's lovely story and lyrical prose ("Sometimes the messages were very old, crunchy like leaves in the fall. Sometimes the messages were written by a quill dipped in sadness."), I returned to my work refreshed and inspired.

Writing essays requires faith and hope. We essayists toss our bottled messages into the ocean and trust that they will reach those who need them. We essayists hope that one day, we'll hear back from those who were touched by one of our creations.

Lisa Knopp