I write because it feeds my soul. Because I’m curious about what will emerge. I write to express myself and make sense of my feelings and experiences. And I write because I love the power of words. I love language and want to grow as a writer, and most especially as a human being. There’s a moment during the writing process when I realize that I’ve gotten out of the way and the words come through me, sometimes completely unexpected and fresh. I revel in those moments.
See, There He Is, a memoir of 85,000 words, explores the collapse and rebuilding of hope I experienced when my son died. The chapters, each named for a street or place in the story, create a framework for the reader to share my remembered experiences.
Could I save my son? If not, could I go on? I wasn’t going to find the answers in a book. I had to look deep into my heart. My life as a single mother had taught me to confront challenges and to fight, but they had not prepared me for what I faced in those years and the years since.
When nothing is familiar anymore, the stakes for truth-telling are raised. I found within myself a fierce will to live and came to understand how nature continues to renew itself even after great destruction. Inevitably, new life arises. Readers of my memoir will understand how the possibilities for true self-recognition are created.
The title of the work comes from the following passage, “See, there he is with his freckled face, his tall thin body, his lopsided grin and goofy humor. There he is, big-hearted and gentle, standing in the doorway with his hands in his pockets, calling the dog Butthead.”
Bless the Ice Cream
from Writing in Circles
Bless the ice cream, the sacrament of our time together. Bless St. Ben and St. Jerry and Jerry with his Cherry. Bless the nights on the couch hanging out with my children in Sea Cliff, each with our own pint softening before us. Jeremy’s was chocolate chip, each chip slowly dislodged from the frozen cream, popped into his mouth. Jenny preferred mint Oreo, holding the frosty container as the ice melted and pooled in her lap, and me, New York super fudge chunk, savoring every bite, holding it in my mouth until it ran cool down my throat. No one talked as we sat on the couch, dipping spoonfuls of joy and licking the spoon, eating until we could hear the scrape of metal against empty. Blessed cows, with their rich cream and, oh, yes, chocolate which takes away all pain and nuts crunching between my teeth, releasing their flavor.
Jenny sighed, put down the spoon. “Remember when you brought home ice cream and the tops of the containers were already melting? Remember how you ate the soft top layer on each container before you even put it into the freezer?”
“After hours of shopping, it was my reward.”
We had an unspoken rule in our house. Whoever didn’t finish their pint in two days was just about saying, “It’s up for grabs.” Most of the time, it didn’t last the first day.
Exact Change Speeds Trips
from Embodied Effigies
That final night before I took my kids to my parents and fell apart, I knew I was in deep trouble. I had kicked Larry out a week before and stopped taking any drugs. I hadn’t been able to sleep or eat much since. Jenny had been going to the corner grocery, buying eggs, milk and bread, and making French toast for Jeremy and her.
My mind wouldn’t shut down. It kept rolling out scenario after scenario—a litany of all the ways I’d screwed up. Without any drugs to keep me numbed I realized how precarious my situation was—no job, two kids to raise alone in a sketchy neighborhood. I didn’t know how we would survive and tried to come up with solutions. Anything. I was losing my grip on the world. Flailing. Nothing made any sense.
from Stone Voices
Shortly after the first anniversary of my son, Jeremy’s, death, I had a healing. Many pursuits that in the past had filled my days now seemed empty and irrelevant. Although still grieving, I knew spiritual growth was the only reason compelling enough to live for. The following week I met Archie Fire Lame Deer, a Lakota medicine man. His coordinator took me aside at a party, and asked if I wanted to coordinate Archie’s visits when he came to Long Island four times a year. She asked if I would talk to my boyfriend Tony, suggesting we partner so there would be a balance of male and female energy. Most of the participants knew the rituals, but I had no experience. She suggested that Tony could help since he’d participated in many sweat lodges.
published in the Great Smokies Review
My people lived behind Ellis Island lowtide mudflats. City spires rise east
through cattails waving seed grass.
Poland's dust still under her nails. Childbearing scrubbing halls
nourished on crumbs remaining after her children fed.
Husband robust, square as Khrushchev stale beer garden smell sawdust
like broken dreams covers piss-stained floors.
My mother searches the forest of saloon legs pulls him home.
Three maiden aunts gather behind curtains crocheted around open windows.
stories at the kitchen table...
My grandmother's hair loosed from the knot at her neck.
Hollow eyes pinpoint sorrow.
I crawled the quilt path of her sickbed, beckoned by her toothless smile,
gray bun low, haloing magic wrinkled face.
Alone I carry her memory
published in the Conium Review
The skin contains echoes
imitates a surface
the memory the loss
inside time crumblessplitsmelts
insistence drags back the hours refuses to loosen its jaws
this is the edge the thin blade the balance the road ahead
the sun fades the air is cool I didn’t need the scarf
place is a red square or black
life is a living thing or dead
the skull is white smooth unseeing
bone pure as sleep
have I stayed long enough?
tell me I have forgotten the
stones and where they lead