Writes With Pencils

fiction, memoir, essays and poetry

Tag: Loss

30,000 Feet


At 30,000 feet
the rumbling cabin pressure
squeezed the reservoir of sadness
in my belly
squeezed it until
it leaked from my eyes
the safety valves
that saved me from exploding,
taking the plane down
with me.

It leaked from my eyes
alone, sandwiched between
window and aisle
mountain view and leg room,
sandwiched between
comfort and pain
moving on and feeling stuck
childless and children
wandering and home.

At 30,000 feet
trapped in a tube
untethered from earth
powerless and free,
an in between place.

An in between place
two and a half years
after he pulled the trigger
two and a half years
to the day
my body knew
without checking the calendar
counting the sunsets
dark after light
dark after light
dark after light.

Two and a half years
my mind thought
how arbitrary
until it converted the fraction
to 30 months
the number of years
we’d hoped to spend together.

At 30,000 feet there are
no cakes to bake
checks to sign
or laundry to fold
no children to feed
errands to run
or calls to answer.

No distractions—
only space
to breathe and feel
the loss of him
then finally to write
and begin to claim
the emerging life of me.



Struck by a stone
I didn’t see coming
driving behind a dump truck
with an unsecured load
all it took was a pebble
to hit the surface
just so
to divot the pane
previously unmarred
remarkably, for nearly a decade—
that petrous chisel
carved a thumbnail crater
between my left eye
and the sky.

Soon the tiny lines will lengthen
with each freeze and thaw
the pain
flexing and contracting
reflecting and absorbing
flexing and contracting
with acceptance and resistance
forcing the lines
to splinter across the
visible plane
spider and web
distorting my vision
especially when it rains.

In Remembrance of the 1,129

State Capital

Again, the artist’s graveyard fills the lawn
headstones in colors of
blood, sorrow, fear, and tears.
Eighteen more than the year before.
Eighteen more lives lost to despair.
Eighteen more than the year you died
from anxiety and shame.

Last year I walked alone among the rows
headstones in colors of
drowning, hanging, drugs, and guns.
All empty earth and unnamed,
a bouquet of words, vibrant and weeping,
I laid a poem at your grave
at the edge of a thousand more.

It seems hopeless, this mournful swelling of
headstones in colors of
husbands, wives, children, and friends.
Eighteen more than the year before.
Eighteen more lives lost to despair.
Eighteen more than the year you died
—will it ever end?


*1129 is the number of people who died by suicide in the State of Washington in 2015.  The rows of grave markers were installed on the lawn of the State Capital by Forefront to raise awareness of suicide and to advocate for suicide prevention and legislation with that aim.

Comfort Cafe

morning coffee at The Shack

Marbled coffee foam,
a belated Valentine,
soothes my aching heart.

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