The Undercover Soundtrack – Myfanwy Collins

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I wrote an Undercover Soundtrack for THE BOOK OF LANEY.

Originally posted on My Memories of a Future Life:

for logo‘Tenderness, fragility, an understanding beyond her years’

Once a week I host a writer who uses music as part of their creative environment – perhaps to connect with a character, populate a mysterious place, or hold  a moment still to explore its depths. This week’s guest is Myfanwy Collins @MyfanwyCollins

Soundtrack by Jessica Lea Mayfield

Before she was fully formed on the page, I knew who I wanted Laney to be. She would be 15, tall and gangly, with a face that would not seem immediately beautiful to the young world but an astute adult would know how she would bloom fiercely and beautifully one day. Laney would not be an obvious intellectual, but she would think long and hard in an emotional way. People would often say to her, ‘You think too much’, a sentence she would find curious and staggeringly ridiculous. Yes, she does think a lot but…

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‘Tenderness, fragility, an understanding beyond her years’ – Myfanwy Collins

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Here the overture for my upcoming Undercover Soundtrack.

Originally posted on My Memories of a Future Life:

for logoMy guest this week has just one musician in her book-s arsenal – a singer who  perfectly, wholly, uncannily embodied the character she was searching for. The story is a young adult novel – a new departure for the writer, who has had other works published in the adult market and in literary magazines. Anyway, the emotions run high – and also the fragility. Stop by on Wednesday when Myfanwy Collins will be sharing her Undercover Soundtrack.

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the angel hair. the tea cups. your walls. you.


I can feel the skeleton that is me beneath my face skin. It becomes closer and clearer each day. Breaking me down into less than human. Skin and bone. Skull.

There was a china cabinet and angel hair in our playroom. There was no other place to put it. It did not move with us when we moved. It must have been his mother’s.

The cabinet glass was a wall between us and its treasures. The angel hair. The tea cups. Keeping us out. This wall.

What I know now:

If you build a wall, morning glories will find it. Their heart-shaped leaves reaching out to you and your wall. They will break that wall down with their beauty. You are not trapped by it. Push your vine up and over. Let go your wretchedness. Let go.

As a child you are kept out of these mysteries. The angel hair. The tea cups. Your walls. You.

You are your own mystery.

You believe your parents feel all that you feel and you all that they feel.

You do not know. You only see these walls and wonder how to break them down.

Break them down, you. Break them down.

Reach your vine up and over. Your beauty. Your beauty.

Remain your own best mystery.











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It was hot and breezy yesterday. My run should have been more difficult than it was. But it just keeps getting easier. I came back to running a month or so ago.I had forgotten how much joy it gives me to use my body this way. To propel myself forward.

I also forgot about the joy of stopping and witnessing the beauty around me. The rivers and the fields. I am at home in the natural world. As a child, I took to the woods to explore, to escape. I’ve not changed so much.

The end of my run is always hard because no matter which direction I take, I have to run a hill to get to my street. It’s a brutal ending. A necessary evil to get to where I’m going.

Yesterday, I could have run and run but I decided to let myself stop. I don’t need to punish myself. I just need to keep moving forward and push myself up the hill and find my way home.

No Jumping Off


The road leads through the marsh. The Parker River spins and spins its way out and back. In the summer, kids jump off the railing into the water below. It’s not far but it is a leap of faith. The river is tidal, the depth not set. The bridge is compromised and was shut down over the winter.

Some authority put a sign up on the bridge:




Not a poem. Not a haiku. But the line breaks seem significant. A message to those in need. A reminder not to try. Not to take chances.

It’s not a message I want to hear. Telling me to stay as I am. Telling me to let the bridge be the bridge and that is all. Just keep moving in the direction you are moving. The water is for itself. Not for you. Write as you always have written. Take no chances. No chance.

No Jumping Off.

Stay as you are.


Be safe.


I will not jump off this bridge but I will jump off.

I say to you jump off with me. Take your chances. Swim. Bridge, bridge, and bridge your way into where you are going.

Jump off. Swim beside me.

blue, the shell, the sky, what belongs to you, what doesn’t

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I could say that the shell is thinner than a fingernail but that would not be true. The shell is a shiver. It is a slice. It is the color of the veins beneath the skin of my wrist. The color of the veins at my son’s soft temple.

The shell is cracked open and whatever was within it is now gone. The albumen. The amniotic fluid. The fluid. All gone. Beneath the shell, darkness spreads.

The mother may have tossed it from the nest in a fit of cleaning or another creature got it and gnawed through to the tender bone within.

The shell is always left behind. It belongs to the sky.

Not to you.

Never to you.







remember, a wall of lilacs

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That winter I dreamed that my father was in his car, his jeep, and that my sisters and I had been called to say good bye to him. He said good bye and that he loved us and he waited for a machine to come and crush him. I woke up in a panic but refused to tell anyone about the dream.

It felt too real.

This week my dad will have been dead for 37 years. At some point in the future he will have been dead for longer than he was alive. We all will.

Now, I remember the day he died more than I remember him. It was a day like today, sunny and cooler. I walked home from school for lunch and saw a strange car in the driveway. I thought it might be a new company car for my dad. Maybe he had gotten a new job.

But he wasn’t there. A priest was.

My mother could not tell me. My godmother told me as I sat on her lap.

What I said was no.

I said no.

The days after that are filled with people and smoke and drunken laughter. Tight hugs from adults who needed them more than I did. Shopping for a dress I came to loathe.

A wall of lilacs across the back edge of the lawn. My cousin and I sat on the edge of the patio and squished ants until I realized that what we were doing was killing them. That they were now dead and that we had done that.

A few weeks before everything happened, I stood in the yard and watched a plane fly overhead. I thought about how there were people on it. People I didn’t know going places I had never been. I didn’t know why but I felt everything was changing and that terrified and thrilled me.

Later that summer everything was dull-edged and grown and you were no longer a child. Now, there is nothing in my mouth. A taste. Burnt coffee, singed. There was something to say but no words to say it. So much happened next. Hold on to that, if you can.