I See Her in Nature

          The sky is so blue and friendly
          almost as though it is her smile
          or maybe her laugh
          or both

          I have no sense of its infinite possibility
          ceding to the blackness of outer space
          going on and on past the moon
          past Mars

          No, this sky is immediate, personal
          happy like a baby blanket
          comforting like Mother
          and mine

          I am shielded, illuminated, protected
          under its canopy of brightness
          so long as daylight shines

In memory of my mother:
Gusty and Fresh
Futile Seeking
Bright Radiance
Cold Rage
Grievous Loss




Easter was my favorite holiday when I was a child
Somehow it was always sunny, the warm rays
          of the daystar shining in through the panes
          of the living room windows
          gleaming on the polished hardwood floor
          brightening the paneling around the hearth
          warming the space, like a nest might be warm
          and shining through the colored cellophane of the baskets
          casting a glow of pink or green or yellow
          wherever the light fell

I felt safe and happy

Today’s living room, that of my adulthood
          holds the same promise
          sunlight flooding through the many square panes
          of the three windows
          making rectangles of bright squares on the oak floorboards
          shining through the suncatchers crafted by my daughter
          scattering patches of crimson, royal blue, and emerald green
          wherever the light slants
          warming the space, like a nest might be warm

I should have wanted to come in from the cold

In other seasons, the warm quietude would nourish me
          but in the season of my mother’s death
          I feel the weight of grief whenever it is still
          the bright quiet stillness of refuge
          should have her presence in it
          does have her presence in it
          and yet she is gone, most grievously gone
          I can only miss her and miss her and know that she is gone
          as I rest in the warm quietude of my room

No wonder I long for the brisk busyness
          of the bright and cold and windy day outside
          she is present in the wind and the bother
          the way she always was, ready to go and be and do
          seek adventures, make new friends, savor new experiences
          she is not gone in the great outdoors
          but meets me at very corner
          in the very slap of each gust of wind
          resurrected within the hustle and bustle
          my mother who was so thoughtful
          but who loved to laugh and climb the heights

There in her milieu—lively and brisk and warmly bright
          all at the same time—I greet her

In memory of my mother:
Gusty and Fresh
Futile Seeking
Bright Radiance
Cold Rage
Grievous Loss



The State of This Writer

So, how am I doing in the wake of my mother’s death? It’s been four months and some days. Has there been any healing in my grief? Any at all?

And what about my writing? That progress bar at the top right of my website has not budged even one pixel since October 7, 2017. When will I begin writing stories again?

Then there are my blog posts. They’ve been nothing but reviews of different stories in bundles punctuated by sad poetry.

What happened to the recipes? My latest discoveries about nutrition? Various health tips? Cool bits of history unearthed in my research for stories inspired by cultures of the past? Publishing tips?

For all those of you who have been wondering, I will attempt to answer some of these questions.

My Journey in Grief

I’ve heard that it commonly takes a year before one finds one’s balance after the death of a loved one, and my emotions continue to be something of a roller coaster.

I have many moments of missing my mother desperately and longing for her presence. I go through intervals of gloom and discouragement. Sometimes I am angry for no particular reason at all.

But I’m also experiencing some intervals of happiness, along with many hours in which I am simply focused on the things that need doing that hour and that day.

My sense is that I am progressing through my grief in a way that is healthy and normal for me.

I’m beginning to change my world view to conform to the way the world is now. Before my mother’s death, my world was one in which my mother was alive. Now my world is one in which she is dead.

That sounds very simple, but making that transition is surprisingly hard. For the longest time, I was afraid that I might call my father on the phone and ask him to put my mom on, because I wanted to talk with her.

My head knew that my mother had died. But my heart . . . just didn’t.

Now my heart is beginning to accept what my head already knows. This world, my world, is one in which my beloved mother no longer lives. I cannot call her on the phone. I cannot visit her and hug her. I can no longer hear her voice in my ears as she speaks. I feel like I am beginning to know that in my heart.

I have more progress to make. It will be some time before her memory will be a blessing, as some express it. Right now her memory brings me only pain, because it reminds me of my grievous loss.

So I am in the middle of grieving, making progress in healing, but with quite a bit more to come.

But there is one other marker of progress that I can speak to.

I can now think with some degree of cogency.

I couldn’t for most of October and a good bit of November. Initially, I couldn’t even hold two thoughts together at once. The only reason I managed to do all the various tasks that needed to be done in the week between her death and her funeral was because my dad kept a list, and we crossed off each one as I did it, added more tasks as we thought of them, and made notes on tasks that ran into complexities.

And even when my memory improved, I still was not thinking straight. Reasoning my way through challenging life puzzles (of which I had a few) was nearly impossible. I simply could not do it. Everything had to go on hold, or else someone other than me had to do it.

Now I can think again. Although I estimate that I’m holding at about 90% of capacity. I still don’t have all of my brain power back yet. But I can work with what I’ve got.

My Blog Posts

That lack of brain power meant I skipped blogging for all of October. When one cannot think, one cannot write blog posts.

I could write poetry expressing my grief and sorrow. In fact, it was therapeutic to do so. I couldn’t manage to cry much, and my sadness seemed to clog within my body like a plug of congealed pork jelly, heavy and aching and painful. Poetry helped moved the agony through me and out.

Once I’d written the poems, I wanted to share them, because even the idea of posting anything else felt disrespectful to both my mom and my own feelings of loss. I just had to do it, so I did.

When the MYTHIC TALES bundle released, I really wanted to at least let you all know about it. That post, written when my brain still mostly was not working, was incredibly hard to pull together. But there were so many good stories in that bundle. I didn’t want to let my fellow authors down by failing to mention it. And I didn’t want to let you down by failing to notify you of its release. So I pushed myself, and managed to get that post written.

That bundle was in its planning stages through the summer, and I’d envisioned myself interspersing my normal blog posts (on Fridays) with bundle posts (on Wednesdays). But following my mom’s death, I could not write my normal sorts of posts. So you received what I had in me, which was bundle posts and poetry.

I don’t intend to go on that way indefinitely. But neither can I put a date on when I’ll be capable of delivering up my usual repertoire.

I can say that I’m developing a strong desire to tell you all about the Whole 30 (which I’ve been doing for more than a year now), to give you part 2 of the vitamin D post I promised so long ago, and to share some new developments on the publishing front.

Those posts will come. But not quite yet. I must beg your patience for a while longer.

My Fiction Writing

Here I have some good news.

I am writing!

Why then, you might ask, has that progress bar remained stationary?

Ah, yes, well . . . I do have an explanation.

By December I was missing writing quite dreadfully. I find that when I don’t write for an extended period of time, I cannot be my best self, whether that’s a grieving best self or a happy best self, any best self is out of reach.

So, when I reached December, I’d not been writing any stories for two months, long enough for me to really feel it.

And, yet, when I even thought about returning to the novel that I’d abandoned so precipitously on October 7, I just felt tired, as though every last drop of energy (of which I didn’t have much—grief is often very enervating) had run out of my body.

I knew I had to be patient with myself. Several other writers with far more experience than I had said that they could not write for six months after the death of a loved one. But I secretly crossed my fingers that in January I might find I could write a little bit.

Then I happened to listen to a music video of a song by Clannad: “The Poison Glen.”

It moved me deeply. I listened to it more than once.

Here it is, so that you can listen to it also!

I couldn’t stop thinking about that mythical hero. What was his story? Who was he? What had happened to him?

I wrote in my journal that I wished I could weave a story around him, but I didn’t think it would be possible for me.

And then I found myself doing exactly that as I continued journaling. I asked myself questions. What about this? What about that? Could it be this? Could it be that?

When I stopped journaling, I had the entire concept outlined in a brief three pages. But could I actually write it? I still had that tired weariness when I thought about writing, even though I also longed to write.

I decided to email a writer I regard as a sort of mentor and who had mentioned her own experiences with writing and grief in comments on her own blog. In my email, I told her of my situation and asked her guidance.

She replied with a great deal of sympathy and understanding, and as I read her reply I found clarity growing within me. I realized that even though I missed the writing and longed for it, I had allowed some degree of a spirit of ‘should’ to pervade my desire to write.

Her words of wisdom allowed me to toss out that ‘should.’ And once the ‘should’ was gone, all that remained was ‘want to, want to, want to!’ And that sense of draining energy that went with the thought of writing was gone.

So, on January 2, I dipped my toe into writing. I wrote only 300 words that first day, but it felt really good and really right. I wrote more the next day, and yet more the day following.

I’ve been writing steadily ever since and have accrued 24,000 words (the total as I draft this post).

But not on the novel that I’d been tracking with the progress bar!

The current work is tentatively titled His Poison Tear. I think it will be a novella, although there’s always a chance that it might be longer. I’m excited about the story and feel a growing eagerness to share it with you and the world of readers. All in good time!

I haven’t permanently abandoned the other work, however. Indeed, as I’ve been writing His Poison Tear, I’ve been feeling enthusiasm for To Thread the Labyrinth kindling anew in my soul. I plan to return to it as soon as I finish the first draft of Poison and send said draft off to my first reader for feedback.

What’s Next?

So, going forward, what can you expect from me?

I’m not going to track my progress on His Poison Tear. I need to stay loose and light on my feet for now, as I write fiction in the wake of my mother’s death. I’m writing steadily, and the story will be done when it is done.

I do want to try tracking my progress when I return to To Thread the Labyrinth. If it does not impede my writing, I’ll update that progress bar as I write. If it does, than I’ll remove the progress bar altogether. But I suspect it will be fine.

Regarding the blog…

Well, there will likely be a bunch more poetry and a few more bundle posts. But I’m hoping to slip in the odd post on other topics here and there. We shall see, but stay tuned. I’ll probably write another update post like this one after I’ve tried various possibilities and want to share how they worked. 😀



Gusty and Fresh

Gusty and fresh and filled with sun
The air carries a sense of happy busyness
          getting things done
          meeting newness at every turn
          finding joy in unexpected corners

I could stay out in it forever
          rejoicing in the changeable breeze on my cheek
          squinting against the brightness
          sniffing the clean, cold aroma of winter

The wind’s energy fills me up
          prompting me to go out and explore
          to seek adventure, to make a new friend
          and to trust that life will bring me its best

But the cold nips my fingers now
          pinching them cruelly
          and the wind has whipped tears from my eyes
          which freeze on the delicate skin below my lashes

I resist the retreat indoors where
          in the stillness I must confront what I’ve forgotten
          feel the loss and grieve it
          with no bright, busy wind to distract me

In memory of my mother:
Bright Radiance
Cold Rage
No Beauty
Grievous Loss



Futile Seeking

No matter where you might be, I will find you

If I could search the right telephone book
          I’d find your number
And when I called I’d ask for Dad to put you on
          we’d talk and talk, and I’d know you were there

If I could buy the right train ticket
          I’d board that train
And when I arrived you’d be on the platform waiting
          we’d hug and hug, and I’d know you were here

If I could look in the right places
If I could speak the right language
If I could do the impossible
          I’d find you
And then we’d be together again
          mother and daughter
          friend and friend
          you and me

How can you be gone?
You were too real to ever die
Surely I can find you somewhere
          and yet I don’t
You have gone, truly gone, and I can’t fathom it
          oh, Mother, come back
          I need you
          come back

Even beyond death, I still seek you

In memory of my mother:
Bright Radiance
Cold Rage
No Beauty
Grievous Loss



Bright Radiance

The icicle glistens in the sun, liquidity given sculptural form
          yet melting in the light’s warmth
The dripping water taps the porch floor
          like a heartbeat
Regular, reassuring
          All is well
          All is well

I sit in a pool of calm stillness
          at peace for a spell
The sun’s brightness cheers me
Its warmth soothes me
Pervasive brilliance cradling me
          All is well
          I am safe

Even the snow, hateful a moment ago, now upholds me
          receiving the sunlight and spreading it
          everywhere, from horizon to horizon
The whole earth is bright, bright
          with the sun’s radiance

So I rest . . . for now
          upheld by brilliance below
          nourished by brilliance above
          there is only light

Light blazes all round me
          light so strong that in its
          cradling of me, it enters into me
          and shines the darkness away

          Blessed be
          All is well

In memory of my mother:
Cold Rage
No Beauty
Grievous Loss



Cold Rage

          The sky is a hard blue
          I love this shade of blue
                    Usually I love it
                    so bright, so fierce, so definite
                    But today it makes me angry

          The snow is so white, so bright
          I love the fallen snow on a winter’s day
          The light it radiates, reflects, amplifies
                    Usually I love it
                    but today I see its coldness
                    unfriendly, frozen-edged, cutting
                    Today I hate it

          Or, no, I don’t hate it
          I just hate everything

          Hate the medical bills, the unrepaired house
                    the feebleness of my body, my beloved child’s disability
                    unrelenting responsibility, the impossibility of it all
          Hate all of it
          Hate it

          The bright sky over the crusting snow
                    shouts my hatred
                    like an angel of hell
                    like a brazen trumpet

          Or else mocks it
                    mocks me

In memory of my mother:
Bright Radiance
No Beauty
Grievous Loss




The oak is old, gray, and gaunt
No leaves grace his spreading limbs
The sky glows through his framed spaces
      but its light lacks force enough to regenerate him
Anchored in age alone, the patriarch presides

At his side, a maple garbs herself in dress of gold
She is younger, but not young
The dull splendor of her leaves inspires courtesy
      but their beauty presages her withering
Poised on the cusp of decline, the matriarch glances back

Nature goes down to death for rebirth
The cold, dark entombs her in frozen earth for only a season
Spring’s strengthening sun will raise her from the deeps
      but change the maple and the oak for a human daughter and her father
Facing only loss, they grieve

In latening autumn, they stand, they two
      lost to hope
      lost to warmth

In memory of my mother:
Beauty in the Close
Beacons Unreachable
Too Late
One Crossing
Grievous Loss




Even when she lived, when I walked alone
          in the autumn woods
          the depth was missing

It should not have been

Sun shone through the russet leaves
Shadows stippled the forest floor
Tree trunks stretched away up a slope
          giving depth and beauty

Or should have done

But alone in the woods, I was so alone
          as though all the world’s people
          had taken ship for a paradise

And left me behind

Only when I walked in the woods
          with you
          were they beautiful

Then, ah, then did the solitude
          hang golden and pregnant with it
          welcoming us in

As though divinity resounded in the silence
          brightening the crimsons, deepening the contrasts
          bringing paradise into being on the echo

We were two lovers in the world’s first garden

Even now your presence might give
          me comfort in the woods
          but I cannot reach them

My grief parts me from places
          of restoration and rebirth

In memory of my mother:
Beauty in the Close
Beacons Unreachable
Too Late
One Crossing
Grievous Loss