We’ve not been formally introduced.
Who wants to meet a lover at a funeral?
Old cozy blanket, fuzzy mitten, coffee pot
simmering behind my stomach wall,
out of sight,
like my cousins in Oklahoma,
like my pink angora sweater
misshapen in a trunk.
I’ve been happy knowing you’re there.
Thank you for cooking up my children.
I forgive you for letting one slip by.
But lately you’ve become a nuisance—
a dog that won’t quit licking,
a too precocious child,
a lingering house guest.
Like a sailor on leave,
you’re a creature of excess.
I won’t spell it out.
You know what you’ve been doing.
There. I feel better. This clears the air.
Must close, so long now, job well done.
All things considered, it’s been fun.
—From Traveler in Paradise: New and Selected Poems, Pearl Editions
Most of my poems are attempts at coming to terms with loss, whether or not I know
that at the writing. But with “Dear John Letter to my Uterus,” I knew.
I was in my thirties, still looking for life as a poet, feeling like a driverless
car careening on a multi-level interchange, not knowing where to get on, not knowing
where to get off, barely negotiating the curves as a wife, mother, and writer—it
was then that something gave way in my body. I’d given birth to two sons by
the time I was twenty and a third by twenty-five. My early thirties were consumed
with a restless ache to express myself. I didn’t know how to reconcile the
parts of my life that were at times as disorganized as the kids’ old toy chest
had been—full of headless action figures and puzzle pieces with chewed-up
corners. This crisis in my body forced me to look into all the hidden places and
to listen to mortality’s whisper and know that it was calling my name. For
the first time, I realized in a visceral sense that I would not always be young
and strong. To quote the great Leonard Cohen, “there is a crack, a crack in
everything/that’s how the light gets in.” My body cracked, the light
poured in, and along with my glimpse of mortality, there came a glimpse of gratitude
and a path toward the future as well.
Latest poetry collection is The Green Season, World Parade Books. Earlier
books include Traveler in Paradise: New and Selected Poems; Transforming Matter;
Deep Red; and Women Who Make Money and the Men Who Love Them (short
She appears in, and her poetry is the text of, the documentary “Grief Becomes
Me: A Love Story.”