It is the cruelest waiting game there is, a purgatory that if examined too closely will turn you inside out.
When I was a child, I refused to show true emotion. Fear, love, anger. I bottled those up, turned inward and . . . ended up with stomach pains. Eventually, I learned that writing could help me reconcile most of …
I decry the manner in which my world / was ransacked after dark, / by you, ghostly marauder / (bearded with ash, shrugging / shoulders of mould, eyes / gleaming deadwood) // You scuttled roughshod, / cunning as rust, combing the fields / for my daughter until— / wife procured—you plummeted / to your replica earth. And she, / like a pearl impaled / on a hook.
I wrote to reassure myself that my kids would be okay. That I could be less than perfect, and that they would still be okay. I wrote to reassure myself that it was okay not to love every minute of mothering. In retrospect, I wish I had put effort into finding and respecting the line where my story ends and my children’s begin.
I stand at the counter, blinking at the bright fluorescent overhead lights. The white cupboards; the fridge, still decorated with grainy gray and white ultrasound photos; ceramic mugs ringed with brown sticky remnants of morning coffee, startlingly familiar, strangely unaffected. I wonder how so much could have changed in my world in that afternoon, when everything is exactly the same.
The force of my words hung in the air and filled the silence with an unspoken plea. Hear me. Do something, please.
As I set about collecting Emma from the car, a man walks up the sidewalk. He walks purposefully, if somewhat slowly, with long strides.
To not be more political and vocal as a parent seems negligent to me in this moment.
In retrospect, I wish I had put effort into finding and respecting the line where my story ends and my children's begin.
This month's Essential Reading focuses on children's books, but you might find yourself adding one or two of them to your own reading list!
I decry the manner in which my world / was ransacked after dark, / by you, ghostly marauder...
At home, with an empty hand, he demonstrates / how to hold a bird using just three fingers...
...at birth class it's the same / story the same flooding as we watch / a grainy movie of our long-awaited journey—
The gardener said / the plants might not take root / in their new soil– / but we had to take a chance.
I carried my four-month-old / through my father's field / along sunny mud walls.
Giving characters the same questions you have is a good way to write something juicy and not predetermined.
Let your kids know that they are free to love and appreciate both of you separately.
Fruit of the Earth is a graceful and generous meditation on many of the fundamental complexities of humanness.