Monday, December 14, 2015


This week is the thirteenth anniversary of my mother's suicide (the exact day is unknown), and the weather matches my mood: 
heavy gray.

I've been feeling leaden for a while, as usual around now.  My body always remembers the low angle of the sun, even if I'm not thinking about my mother, 
even if I expect that this year I won't need to think about her death anymore.

This year it's not her death I'm thinking about, actually; 
rather, I've been feeling lonely, missing her.
Maybe that's because I'm living alone for the first time in four years? and while that's going well overall, I have noticed that no one here has strung gold garland.* 

Or maybe the shift is just a function of the passing of time.

Lonely and sad are fine, honest feelings, a welcome improvement on the horror of the first years after her death. I don't exactly enjoy loneliness and sadness, but they move, like water under a frozen stream. 
Horror's just stuck frozen, in my experience.

It's nice to come across reminders of how normal sadness is.
Yesterday at a friend's art studio, I met the poet laureate of Minnesota, Joyce Sutphen. We chatted a bit, and she was so nice to talk to, I wanted to talk to her a lot more, so I went home and looked up her poems.**

The final stanza of one of her poems--"Living in the Body"--made me cry. It caught in simple terms how sad I am that this person I loved talking with for hours--specifically that--is gone. 

So many years now, and she's still gone...

Here's the final stanza of "Living in the Body" by Joyce Sutphen:

Body is a thing that you have to leave
eventually. You know that because you have
seen others do it, others who were once like you,
living inside their pile of bones and
flesh, smiling at you, loving you,
leaning in the doorway, talking to you
for hours and then one day they
are gone. No forwarding address. 


*Funny note: I could not remember the word "garland". To find it, I googled "gold furry rope at Christmas"
Bless you, search engines. 

** Eighteen poems by Joyce Sutphen (on poemhunter).

II. Poems of Place

I haven't read enough to say, but the 18 Sutphen poems I read are more interior than exterior. I laugh to realize I was sort of hoping for poems about MN---but these are more about the heart.
(This poem is something of an exception: "The Farm".)

I laugh because when I was younger I would have disdained poems about places. 
Places? How mundane!
The only place I was interested in was inside the human heart, mind, and soul, and Sutphen writes well about these.

I want to read more of her poems, but I also want to read (or, hey, write) about how when you take the bus north to Duluth, somewhere along the way the biome* shifts, and now the trees out the window are not maples and elms but white birches and fir trees that stay green--or at least gray--all year.

Where, exactly, does that happen?

I want to take the bus up and back, over and over, until I find the place.


* DNR map of Biomes of MN


The Crow said...

It took me 30 years after my mother's death before I could look forward to the holidays again without the pang of loss dulling the shine of the gold furry rope (I like that so much better than the one word).

Then, 5 years later, out of the blue, it hit me again - a delayed reaction to losing the sense of loss. (Of course, I was experiencing a different kind of loss that year - my second divorce - which may have been more of an influence.)

Getting past the pangs, the deep sadness, will take as long as it takes, then don't be surprised if, years later, it drops in again to surprise you. I wish I were there to give you hugs and help you string the shiny stuff all over your house.

Know that, while we can never replace her nor fill the hole your mother's death has left, those of us still here love you and hold you close to our hearts.

ArtSparker said...

I hear you on the interest in places with age - it almost feels like a passion to know about completely different physical locations and cultures to me. Sending something via snail mail to you tomorrow.

Zhoen said...

People say after a bone is broken, it grows back stronger. This is wrong.

Once broken, we heal it with disorganized tissue, and the bone knows it was broken always. Everyone, everything, everyplace, grows into us, and when they are gone, however we fill the gap, there is a loss.

I am sad for your sadness.

Michael Leddy said...

Now I’m feeling sad, but not in a bad way — rather as an appropriate feeling to have. So here are some more pixels of human community coming at you through the air.

gz said...


Frex said...

Thank you, friends.
I cried again, reading your comments.

And then in the late afternoon, yesterday, I felt the return of energy
---I got out my bag of Christmas goodies and strung lights and gold furry rope around my room,
and then I glued tiny wings and arms back onto my old "made in Taiwan" wooden Christmas creatures--angels and musicians and downhill skiiers and little mice--and hung them on my tiny tree.

ZHOEN: The phrase "disorganized tissue" is pure poetry---and so fitting: Thankyou for the ideal metaphor.