Halloween for me isn’t about getting drunk in a costume. It’s a time when the barrier between the living and the dead is very thin, so my ancestors are very much on my mind and in my spiritual work at this time. This poem is one of the results of that this year.

My mom’s in the middle.



There’s no land here that I tend, only three rooms
And the heat of my body in the space it takes up.
The truth is, I miss all the things that are no longer mine.
The photo with its corner wedged in the mirror frame
Is of my mother and her sisters, backs to the girl who
In due time will come to look a bit like each of them.
They sit on the dock at Big Stone, toying with walleye fishing,
In actual fact only being what they are: Sisters together,
Frozen safe on glossy paper from their separate futures
And from childhood games that teach us that mercy
Is something you have to be hurt to earn.


(photo: original work)


2 thoughts on “Hurt

  1. I love that, sisters frozen together on glossy paper safe from their separate futures. No matter how joyful it is to look at old photographs, or how comfortable one is with living and dying, there’s always a creeping sadness in seeing what once was and now is not.


    1. There’s a lot that didn’t make it into the poem but is running beneath the surface. My mom is dead; both her sisters are in very poor health. The cabin where I took the photo (You can tell I took it; it’s crooked.) burned down. That still remains my favorite photo and by far the best one I ever took.


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