Start by making a list of topics that remain unchanging over time.
Your book lists the following examples: the Earth, the sun, the moon.
Also oceans, rivers, trees, animals, and fish. Perhaps you dislike these
examples. Perhaps you disagree. I suspect that you believe the opposite
and wish to argue that the Earth and fish do not, in fact, stay unchanged
over time. I suggest you focus on the task at hand. We are not concerned
with logic. You came here to learn grammar. Those are the only rules
you need to obey. Write a scientific fact and a physical fact on the board:
The Earth moves around the sun. Ice floats on the water. Fish cannot
breathe on dry land. Write more sentences using the simple present.
Share what you have written: I listen even though I do not understand.
This activity is similar to an activity you learned as a child.
Think about disasters. These can be natural calamities
or artificial constructions. Make a list of sensory details.
How does disaster taste? What is its most distinctive smell?
Write a descriptive essay using simile and metaphor.
Include details about the disaster, first person accounts,
and the recovery process. Assume recovery is possible.
Assume recovery is advisable. Create a basic chart
presentation on how to prepare for and survive disaster.
Summarize causes and effects. Describe the ensuing chaos.
This may involve the use of imagery or a simple bullet
list of damages. Deaths and other casualties may be depicted
graphically. This assignment requires you to use objects
with prepositions. Suggestions: for, to, about, and with.
You should also consider when, why, and where.
Review what you have written. Draw circles around problems
and that. Write a conclusion that reiterates your main ideas.
Avoid obvious clichés like apocalypse, hunger, or regret.
This exercise requires a condition and a result.
An if and the promise that follows. A belief
that what’s real now will stay
real, always. In the present, we know
general truths, scientific facts; we know these
phenomena do not change. Examples:
Before the rain, the sky goes grey. If I drop
a glass on the floor, it breaks. The heart
can beat even if separated from its body.
Habits, or any events that are likely
to happen many times, let us choose when
to begin our present
real conditionals: When I sleep, I think too.
When I sleep, I dream. If I dream, I wake.
It is early in the morning. I am alone
with the birds, and the failing dark,
and the tired edges of habitual dreams.
Modals change the meaning
of any result: if the heart has access
to an electric current, it should survive
in any environment. We use modals
to give advice. We use the imperative
to limit options, to create conditions under
which a partner would carry out any imperative
in the result clause: If the robots attack,
blow up the building. If disaster strikes,
stay calm. We can restate some commands
to include the word then. We can reverse the order.
The simple present describes events, situations, or activities
unconnected to time restrictions. It is also used to construct
general statements of truth or fact. The present means now.
It means what is happening. By the time we hear the word
happens, everything has already happened. Life progresses
this way: it is a Sunday on the cusp of spring. Above us all
the stars are small against the dark. The details are small
as well, & largely unimportant, in the present progressive
which relies on action verbs to convey what happens now
or in the extended present (this week, this year, this month
this night). For example: tonight you read about the weather
in each season. We are meeting each other for the first time.
I can’t describe your breath on my skin. Can you explain
how it feels -- breath held, aloft like birds, held against
my throat, breathing in just this moment & whatever else
follows. The future replaces the present. Departure displaces
arrival in the same way. This is the dazzling nature of transit.
This is how time functions. Your words urge me to abandon
all the small deceptions I allow myself, to give up feeling lost
in this inflexible world with its rigid desires. I have learned
what I feel reflects what I think about reality, not reality itself.
I have learned verbs used to express perception, possession,
emotion & appearance do not generally use progressive forms.
But I want to express this feeling as continuous action. I want
to say it began here, amidst lavender & ash, then continued.
It begins. It continues. I want to say it is only the beginning.