Mourning Does Not Become Me

I’ve always envied artists whose grief is their muse. Through their tears, they create epic poems, brilliant paintings or novels that resonate with readers centuries later. My tears only burn my eyes and smear the ink on the page.

Right now I’m staring at the blank screen on my laptop, hours after losing the second family member in less than a week and the seventh in a year. Another loved one lays on the couch, sound asleep but probably dying. And I must write. This is not a hobby but a livelihood, and I’ve already lost a couple of days to the latest family illness. If I don’t write tonight there won’t be food on the table tomorrow, and someone else might die.

My brain has always been fickle. In grade school, I would hear just the first five minutes of the teacher’s lecture before my mind would float away, out the window and onto the playground or across the ocean and into a bistro in Paris. It’s only gotten worse as I grow older. On a good day I can only rein in my brain for 15 minutes at a time; on a bad day I can only grasp at small bits of it as it flies by, hoping to gather enough to string together one sentence, and then another, and then hopefully another.

Maybe someday I’ll channel this sadness into something spectacular, something that will change people’s lives and purge me of my pain. But for tonight I type words that have no meaning to me, because right now there is nothing else for me to do.


Standing in the darkness, the whole block quiet and all of the neighbors' lights turned off, I liked to pretend I was standing at the edge of the Earth, and that there wasn't another living thing for miles.

Deja Vu

The music drifted down from the second-story bay window, the piano echoing the beating of my heart. A cold breeze swept up the red and brown leaves on the ground; the air felt solid, tangible. I shivered. I knew this moment: the music, the air, the cold on my neck. I wasn’t surprised when I saw his car--that tingling throughout my body always meant he was near.


Smooth and pale white--
You disturb my dreams,
my thoughts,
my solitude.
You sing for me, speak for me.
Without you I am mute,
my hollow and helpless words struggling to breathe.
You summon me, lead me.
I must follow.
I must follow.


Writing is like breathing: If I don't do it, I lose consciousness.