Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
After Page One


A guest post to motivate, encourage, and inspire...



Double rooted. Sometimes here, at my keyboard, where I write, my life a torrent of words that spill onto the page, on the screen, in intimate conversations and in serendipitous exchanges with strangers in bookstores. I read words, write them, shout, whisper, launch them through the air with a slingshot, or breathe them out like the fragile seeds of dandelions, their target sure or not yet known. Sometimes I drip them with the intensity of Pollock painting; other times I am so tepid that a word’s life is a mere electronic instant, then erased forever at a touch. All of life is fodder—viewed watercolors, heartbreak, the grief of loss, love, the smell of lightning. Later, my brain and fingertips dance together, looking to wrestle all of it into paragraphs.

I cook in the too-messy kitchen without enough counter space. Roasted chicken on rainy weekends, shrimp a dozen different ways, carrot-bran muffins, the recipe on aging paper in my mother’s hand. I dice the potatoes fine, shave garlic, fold batter so as not to deflate the just whipped egg whites. My fingers grab an imprecise pinch of salt when needed, one ear cocked, always, for the oven timer.

My office is precisely seventeen steps from the kitchen, and on my favorite days, I shuttle between the two, first swapping out one word for a better one, now lifting the lid of the blue le Creuset pot for a stir of the golabki, back to the screen to write another line. In the refrigerator, my mother’s mixing bowls hold the makings of cole slaw for twelve; a flea market platter cradles my Aunt Ruth’s deviled eggs. I upload a poem and hit the submit button. I serve dinner to my husband, settling a plate on the tablecloth as though it were a gift.

Words were less possible for my mother; for me they are abundant. Yet I keep returning to the kitchen, where words don’t matter so much as nimble hands and a nose that tells when the butter has browned just enough. The North Side roots anchor me to the kitchen, where I assure myself that I am still my mother’s daughter. At my keyboard, I am the wordsmith, allowing myself to speak the words my mother never dared.

Susan B. Apel’s creative nonfiction and poetry have appeared in Vine Leaves Literary Journal, Best of Vine Leaves 2015, Rhizomes, Vignette Review, The Woven Tale Press, and most recently, the Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review and Persimmon Tree. She writes about local arts on her blog, ArtfulEdge, at, and contributes reviews to arts magazines like The Arts Fuse and Delicious Line. She authors a column about legal issues for the newspaper, Vermont Woman. She lives in Lebanon NH.

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So glad things are going nicely at this time of your life. It's been a long time since St. Benedicts and I now look back at the good times coming around again. Take care - things are good with me and my family. Karen Bodnar Yurkovich (amazing what facebook brings around)
Beautiful! Your words hum with electricity one minute and then calm like a familiar melody. Can't stop trying to absorb it all.
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