Poem: Any of It

I’ve come to realize that at 46, I have spent a lifetime chasing the idea of love. It’s an abstract concept that most have a hard time holding in their hand long enough to understand. The feeling, when it’s true, might have you huddled in the corner whispering “my precious.”

Love is something we want to keep, but can’t name or map or diagram out to know when it is true. Like many people, I have spent the aforementioned lifetime with a conglomerate definition of love that comes from society, movies, books, and learned environment.

The concept is often too heavy for a person to consider individually. This would mean each of us would have to stand before the mirror and not be ashamed of what looks back at us. What happens when all those areas I have gleaned a definition of love from are broken?

The last three years have been a journey to love myself. I have started this late in life, but with a good set of tools: experience, knowledge, friendship. The journey will continue as my years tack on, but right now, in the strangest of times, I have found my definition of love.

Photo by Aleathia Drehmer

Any of It

Sometimes I want to write
a poem where our breath
meets as it dances over
our lips and tongue.

I’d forgotten
what it felt like
to be loved

to know the weight
of an arm across
my chest, 

the wet warmth
of velvet kisses, 

The way laughter pulls 
two souls together,
or the surprise of existence
the morning sun brings,

Or how a hand slides
into another, grounding
the world into reality,

the quiet closeness in awe
of a sunset, fingers tangled
in the soft waves of my hair.

These were all dreams I once had,
the sweet rambles of sleep
and rearranged heartbeats, 
soft delirium easily trapped 
in the dark minutes before midnight.

What This Pandemic Has Taught Me About Life and Writing

Photo by Aleathia Drehmer

This new website was created to be less about personal life and more about a writer’s life. But yesterday I realized that these cannot be separated. Not if you are doing it right. Yesterday I was able to participate in a workshop put on by Shuffle Collective during their Weekend of Words. This has been a free event of poetry and writing. It is something to connect us in this time when we all feel physically and mentally disconnected from our surroundings. Allie Rigby spoke about writing from a sense of place, from the environment that you belong in, and it started me thinking (more than I had already been).

This pandemic has affected me in more positive ways than negative, and I consider myself lucky. It has taken out all the busyness of my life and pared it down to what matters the most. There has been time to start a new job, to complete projects, and to finish my novel. I have had the opportunity to get closer to my child in a meaningful, more adult way. This mother’s day I was treated to an insightful letter from my eighteen year old. I’m amazed at how far they have come in the world.

In this time, I have become closer with my two good girlfriends. This has always been a challenge for me. Women have continually stabbed me in the back my whole life. But these women have given me pause. They accept me with my array of faults and eccentric behaviors. They don’t mind that I’m a forgetful hummingbird most of the time. They lift me up when I can’t see myself in the mirror and let me know that the warped image I might see is not real.

For poetry month, I did something different. I jumped on an acquaintance’s prompt train because I was determined not to write a month of death poems for my mother. Not this year. Not ever again. He has always been a poet that I admired and one that I published when I was in that capacity years ago. Every night for a month, we wrote poems as a call and response. I had never done this before. I had always gotten a prompt and had to dig up, sometimes painfully, a poem that I only 40% liked.

This was different. Everyday, I collected random lines from the world. Things from nature or memories that floated into my head. The worries about pandemic and fragile loved ones. The grief of losing a way of life I didn’t realize I had established. At the end of the night, I would take his prompt and construct a poem from what I collected. It was an organic feeling. It was beautiful. What a gift to be able to see something new about yourself and your craft. I’m forever grateful to him for this. Along the way, we found a friendship too that is more deep and centered than I might have expected. 

I’m not sure I have ever felt more whole in my entire life. All the years of grief and death. All the losses and terrible endings. All that suffering feels washed away with spring rain. This pandemic will change us all. Some in good ways and others not so much, but I think perspective means everything. This is a time when nature and universe has given every living being the opportunity to look inside themselves and see what they are made of. You owe it to yourself to do this instead of grasping at what was or what should have been.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the beautiful women I know who are loving their kids, other people’s kids, fur babies, and lifting other mothers with their compassion. It’s a great day to be alive.

A Walk in the Sunshine (thoughts on the pandemic)

At the beginning of the pandemic in the U.S. I was working in a rural Emergency Room with a large international presence in the community due to several universities. I had a deep and terrible feeling months previous to this pandemic and had started looking for nursing work in different areas. I had started interviewing in November.

I had worked in Emergency Services since 2006. Fourteen years is a long string of being in fight or flight mode for twelve hour shifts, most of which I spent on the night shift. My life was shortening. I was feeling like I was getting more sick all the time. My ability to maintain relationships was getting weaker. Simply put, working in emergency areas can give you PTSD that you don’t even realize you have. Front line workers shrug it off and keep going because that is what expected of us.

This morning, before getting out of bed, I read an article at The Atlantic which my friend in Alaska had posted which talked realistically about what this pandemic means for America and how it won’t be over in a few weeks. This recovery and even stabilization will take more than a year. Economically we can’t afford to have everyone lock down. People will starve, but it will be hard to determine how to bring services back without creating areas that breed infection.

These are all things you know if you’ve been on your phone or computer and at least reading non-hype postings. This pandemic is something that our generations have never experienced before and I think we never prepared for because we, as Americans, have a false sense of invincibility. When things get fixed we have a tendency to smooth them over and forget they happened. We move on. In some cases this is what makes our country great, but in others, it leaves us looking ignorant of the truth.

I’ve been thinking about how to live my life in this age of pandemic and isolation. I am not feeling too bad as I started out an introvert, but this forced isolation made me realize, despite whether I socialize with people or not, I spend a lot of time out in my community watching life move. As a writer, I am a natural born observer. It is a comfortable place for me. The shelter in place order made me a little insane the first week because I was thinking of all the things I was missing instead of all the things I had gained.

I have plenty of time to write, finish art projects, read books, cook beautiful, healthy meals for me and my child, to make my house look nice, and to spend more time reaching out to people than I would if I weren’t in this situation. What I have learned is that I had taken my little world for granted. A walk in the sunshine feels so much different than it ever did before.

In order to survive the next year to eighteen months, you will have to shift your perspective to look at the things you could gain. Can you find free online courses through Coursera? Can you be a citizen scientist over at Zooniverse? Can you start that novel you always wanted to write? This is the time to fill your life with creativity and reduce your concentration on fear based tactics in the media.

I’m still in healthcare. My child is also an essential worker and all we can do is take the proper precautions and stay positive. I hope all of you are doing your best. You are doing enough. Take care.