Memoir Exerpts by Miriam Sagan

To What We Lost – Miriam Sagan

From her memoir in progress called “Stash,” Miriam Sagan shares the confusion and some life altering moments in her childhood. It is riveting to read the perspective of a life filled with different events, different interactions, and yet the feelings are all too familiar. They touch the inner workings of a child’s mind with pure and simple honesty.


Done 

My mother and I are in a painting class, I think at a Y, in the city. I’m maybe four years old. It’s real paint, thick, strong primary colors. Real brushes, big handled, broom to whisk the paint on to paper tacked on the easels. My mother is painting fireworks, blossoms of color dripping down the sky. I’m painting…well, whatever a child paints. Shape. Big. Thick. Flow.

     My mother doesn’t tell me it’s good. She cares about her painting, not mine. 

     “How do you know when you’re done?” she asks. She’s asked me, a child. “I don’t know,” I say. “It’s just…done.” 

     She looks so sad. “I can’t tell,” she says. “I don’t know when to stop.”        Somehow I’ve failed her, but how was I supposed to know there was going to be a question?

     Then the teacher starts criticizing coloring books, because they stifle creativity. I feel panic, because I love coloring. Don’t take it away from me. As an adult I’ll like to fill in blocks of color—with embroidery or marbling.

     How do I know I’m finished? Fortunately I’ll forget about my mother’s pained question and just go on or stop when I want.

     Some things don’t stop. Memory, my fear of teachers, my sadness about my mother. What would I tell her now, when she’s dead and I’m old. Don’t stop. Nothing is ever finished.

Fall

     Everything falls—that’s the name of the season…seed balls of the gum tree, tiny helicopters from maple, chestnuts in their brutal casings. Piles of leaves and I get bitten by yellow jackets lurking inside as I ride through on my bike. It’s my charger, my mythical steed, but when I get a fancier one with hand brakes I crash into a privet fence, trying to brake by pedaling backwards. Habits die hard even in childhood, and later on all of childhood seems a habit it is impossible to break. Break my childhood and it will shatter like the snow globes I loved to collect—little tourist plastic spheres housing innocuous images. But where else could I shake something and see the Statue of Liberty covered in glitter snow or tiny plastic fish float up the Empire State Building? The habit I can’t break—probably don’t even want to—is that I am amazed by everything in my world and afraid of all the adults in it. It’s going to be difficult to work this one out.

The Baby

     The baby died. At least I think so. I’m ten years old. My mother’s live in- help, O, is a tall handsome Black woman from North Carolina. She’s almost forty, with two grown daughters. She gets pregnant by her common-law- husband, my mother’s expression, and wants to go home to her own mother and have the baby. That is when O. and my mother argue. My mother is worried. This is 1964, and almost forty is considered dangerously old. My mother wants O. in New York City, where my mother will pay for her  to see a famous Park Avenue obstetrician (my mother’s). Instead, O. goes back to North Carolina. “The baby dies.” At birth? Before? After? No one explains to me. It isn’t really any of my business, as a child, which I understand. But still, I feel sad. Did my mother know something real about the lack of care for Black women in the South? Did O. know something about how alien she’d feeling in a Park Avenue waiting room? Sometimes, do babies just die? Years later, I’ll know other babies that died at birth. Everyone will be shocked and stricken, but it does not surprise me. My mother had my three younger siblings, then O’s baby died. A baby I never met. Can only imagine.

The Block

     Turn right from my house, down the driveway. A large white house with what my mother calls a porte-cochere. My mother in her own way is a pretentious person. She did not speak English until she went to school, and yet she can pull out a French name for a grand entry way. My mother is hiding who she is, yet not completely. This is true of the other mothers on the block. The drunk mother, stoned on pills. The suicidal mother, dead in the garage. The mother with a lover. Things happen that I can’t even begin to tell you about yet. That is why I am hiding this story in plain sight, the way it has always been hidden.

Dyslexia

     In the first grade, I teach a boy named Chipper how to tie his shoes. It’s natural to me to explain what I know, but the teacher praises me for being kind. I don’t really like Chipper, and don’t feel very kind. It just seems wrong for me to know and him not to. That is the last praise I get. I can’t read. Pretty soon I’m in the “slow reading group” with, of course, Chipper. I can’t read at all. Consonants, vowels, they swarm across the page like ants after crumbs. If I’m lucky, I can count and figure out what sentence I’ll be asked to read. I may know a few words, or letters. Then I’ll listen carefully to everyone else. If they read “See Spot” I try to find something similar in my sentence. My parents lecture me. My father, the Freudian, says I am afraid to grow up. I want MY PARENTS to keep reading to me. My mother yells that I am not paying attention. Then the lecturing begins. I am not living up to my potential. Soon they will be saying I won’t go to college or get married because I won’t “meet anybody interesting.” I’m too dumb.

However, the summer of fourth grade I do begin to read. I have no idea why. Suddenly it comes together. I’m still not doing well in school and people are still yelling at me but I now have the most beautiful secret worlds into which I can escape. Reading remains unusual for me. I can read extremely fast, and sometimes words light up in different colors. All of these things have names, and a diagnosis. But to me this is just how things are.


Author:

Miriam Sagan is the author of over thirty books of poetry, fiction, and memoir. Her most recent include Bluebeard’s Castle (Red Mountain, 2019) and A Hundred Cups of Coffee (Tres Chicas, 2019). She is a two-time winner of the New Mexico/Arizona Book Awards as well as a recipient of the City of Santa Fe Mayor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts and a New Mexico Literary Arts Gratitude Award. She has been a writer in residence in four national parks, Yaddo, MacDowell, Gullkistan in Iceland, Kura Studio in Japan, and a dozen more remote and interesting places. She works with text and sculptural installation as part of the creative team Maternal Mitochondria in venues ranging from RV Parks to galleries. She founded and directed the creative writing program at Santa Fe Community College until her retirement. Her poetry was set to music for the Santa Fe Women’s Chorus, incised on stoneware for a haiku pathway, and projected as video inside an abandoned grain silo in rural Itoshima.

Follow:

Her blog is Miriam’s Well–http://miriamswell.wordpress.com

Love – Oil on Canvas painting by Analia Adorni

To What We Lost – Analia Adorni

Full of rich color, Analia Adorni’s painting is a soothing piece of art to meet our eyes today. Take a look below to get lost in each brush stroke.


Love

Artist:

Analia Adorni was born in Argentina and studied at the National University of Arts of Buenos Aires. She winced the fellowship for artisans of Tuscany Region and moved to Italy where she continues the studies at Visual Center of Pietrasanta (Tuscany)and Il Bisonte (Center for Printmaking in Florence). She participates in  collective exhibitions in Argentina, Italy and others countries of Europe and America and she maded solo exhibitions in Island (Lhistus Art Gallery), Italy (Casa di Dante, Florence) Spain(Cal Gras Residency of Arts) and Argentina (University of Social Sciences) . She developed residencies of arts in France and my artworks are in Museums in Italy, Argentina and Ukraina.

Follow:

www.facebook.com/analiaadorniarts

http://www.instagram.com/analiaadorniarts

Loss & Other Poetry by Lynn White

To What We Lost – Lynn White

Lynn White gracefully takes us through scenes of grief. They are so intricately and beautifully told that you will want to be sure to read each and every poem.


Loss

The door was unexpectedly locked.

He found an open window

and climbed in.

He found her

lying

on the bathroom floor.

He tried to revive her

but she was already

dead.

“I’m sorry for your loss,” they said

but the greatest loss was hers,

the one who was

dead.

He knew then that irony

was still alive.


Lost

All those lost souls wandering sadly

in the space of their imaginations.

Where are they?

I can’t find them,

can’t help them.

All those lost socks swallowed.

by the washing machine.

Eaten up

Digested.

Where are they?

Odd,

but I can’t find them.

All those lost words tumbling

through the dictionary.

Sometimes I find a few

and catch them

hold them,

write them down.

Then, sometimes

a few more find me

and I grab them too

and rearrange them all.

Sometimes they are worth reading

found and picked up for keeping.

First published in Silver Apples Issue 9, People We Left Behind, 2017


To The Passing Of The Nightingale

Where are the songs of spring?

Where are they?

Well, Mr K,

they are harder to find

than they were in your day.

Gone with the nightingale,

Gone with the meadows,

the hedgerows,

the woods,

The habitats lost,

destroyed.

Destroyed like the food

that people call pests.

Predated.

Predated by farmers,

one way or another,

the countryside’s guardians,

that’s what they say.

The spring singing has ended,

almost over and done.

Aye, you might well ask, Mr K

The singing is not as it was

in your day.

First published in Anti Heroin Chic, August 2017


Poet:

 Lynn White lives in north Wales. Her work is influenced by issues of social justice and events, places and people she has known or imagined. She is especially interested in exploring the boundaries of dream, fantasy and reality. She was shortlisted in the Theatre Cloud ‘War Poetry for Today’ competition and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and a Rhysling Award. Her poetry has appeared in many publications including: Apogee, Firewords, Capsule Stories, Light Journal and So It Goes.

Follow: Find Lynn at: https://lynnwhitepoetry.blogspot.com and https://www.facebook.com/Lynn-White-Poetry-1603675983213077/

Not Viable – Artwork by KC Cheng

To What We Lost – KC Cheng

KC Cheng touches on a different kind of loss today with this abstract artwork. Its a familiar feeling, when you can’t create or what you do create does not seem to get across can be a loss of spirit. And yet, art prevails in conveying the feeling of losing art.

not viable

Description:

Art has lost sympathy and dignity: not viable


Artist:

KC Cheng

Composer, conductor, poet: drowning in sorrow as sounds and emotion crash on my cheeks.

Follow:

www.chengmusic.co.uk

Pressed but Resilient – Artwork by Ci Barros

To What We Lost – Ci Barros

The combination of elements that Ci Barros uses in her artwork always gives me chills. Emotion exudes from the page to land directly on the viewers heart.


“Pressed but Resilient”

Artist Statement:

This work belongs to my “Elements” Collection (Atelier D’Arte Ci Barros), a set of works that I am developing using illustration, light, water and photography as the connecting element of the final composition.

This artwork is about the society under pressure from loss of health, loss of stability, loss of mental health, pressure from fear and loss of answers, pressure from human loss… yet… Resilient. 


Artist:

My artistic journey includes Exhibitions in physical and virtual spaces, national and international participations. Two poetic and illustrative books, in my own name, as well as participation in several Anthologies of poetry at national level, in addition to my participation, equally poetic and illustrative, in the local newspaper. My Artistic Context is based on social reflection, on the defense of the rights of Women and the Protection of Children. Likewise, my “Social Project – Ci Barros”, through art and culture, promotes mental health (individual and collective).

Follow:

https://www.facebook.com/AtelierDArteCB/

https://barrosduarte6.wixsite.com/cibarros

Let’s Meet for Tacos – Poetry by Yvonne Brizula

To What We Lost – Yvonne Brizula

Yvonne Brizula carries us through the loss of relationship that was and could’ve been. A pain all too familiar put so eloquently.


Let’s Meet for Tacos
After Diane Seuss
By Yvonne Brizula


Let’s meet somewhere outside time and space.
Where I’m not 53 and you’re not 41 and she’s not 22,
And your breakup with her no longer hurts.

Let’s meet where gravity doesn’t exist.
Where my breasts float up to my chin just like they did when we went swimming,
And I feel comfortable being completely naked all of the time.

Let’s meet where there’s no pain.
Where my knees and my back don’t cripple under strain,
And I can go from sitting in the grass to standing in a second, quietly and without humiliation.

Let’s meet where there’s no such thing as money.
Where we never have to worry about work or who pays the bar tab,
And we can dance all night and lay naked in bed all day eating chicken livers on toast.

Let’s meet where no one else finds you attractive.
Where your eyes don’t wander and wink and women never get your number,
And you no longer feel compelled to sow your oats.

Better yet –

Let’s meet where I’m the most beautiful woman you’ve ever seen.
Scarlett Johansson is the name of a disease and Padma Lakshmi is a dish of lentils and rice,
And you only want to be with me.


Let’s meet where there’s no recollection of stupid things I’ve admitted to doing.
Where everything I do is endearing and motivated by love and not jealousy,
And I never need to stalk you online or drive by your house late at night.

Let’s meet where there are no complicated relationships or broken hearts.
Where there’s no such thing as friends with benefits,
And you can fuck me senseless and love me wholeheartedly without differentiation.

Let’s meet where it is completely acceptable for you and me to be together.
Where it doesn’t matter who knows that we’re together,
And you still want to be with me.

Better yet –

Let’s get tacos to go.
And eat them on my bed at 3 in the morning,
Like we did that sexy night so many months ago.


Poet:

Yvonne Brizula is a rising poet and writer from Southern California.

Sudden Death of a Friend & Other Poetry by Debasis Tripathy

To What We Lost – Debasis Tripathy

A look into honest feelings, Debasis Tripathy writes about losing loved ones. His expression puts words to the emptiness, bringing some structure to the chaos.


Sudden Death of a Friend

My good friend had
a name and he also
had a unique identity,
which was well known.
One name and one identity
existed in a good spot
even while walking
the tightrope of propriety
of prominence, of power,
of rapport with the world.
Through his identity he
influenced many. One day
he disappeared, leaving
his name & identity behind.
Just like that;
no notice, to nowhere.
Everyone was shocked
because no one was
willing to accept
the velocity of truth.
One day his body reappeared,
his name resurfaced,
his identity was restored.
There was a lot of noise
and the world slowly came
back on but my friend
refuses to come back
and reclaim his spot.


Condolence Meeting

This evening, for the first time, we sit
in the laconic living room
of an elderly couple, our neighbors.
It resembles a lifeless island of white coral.

They always smiled warmly at us when we met
on the corridors & the common spaces,
we always wanted to spend some time with them.
We could never find the right time.

Now finally, we are at their place,
but like strangers, we don’t know
how to start the conversation.
So unusual, unfamiliar is the set-up.

The toughest thing for any parent must be
to carry on living after their child’s demise.
Can our awkward silence console them?
Maybe we should have avoided this visit.


Hornbills of Dandeli

No fruits this season, wild mango tree
that also holds a treehouse,
nested on the fork of big branches
of this ancient tree. The disquiet
of the jungle creeps in, I wake up
at six, the air anguished and quiet.

A fig tree stands like a brother
not far, but few have been lucky,
many others have been felled & fed
to the paper mills of Dandeli
and gluttony of man. A hornbill pair―
the female inside, the male outside,
busy closing a crevice in the trunk,
building their own Taj of mud & grass.

Of late, the weathers have been erratic,
I am one, unsure of whether it’s a tomb
under construction for Mumtaz Mahal
or she’ll somehow survive the summer;
know this Shah Jahan is monogamous.


Poet:

Debasis Tripathy works for an IT Company in Bangalore. He also writes – poems and short fiction.  His recent work has been featured in Squawk Back, Collidescope, Turnpike, Adelaide Magazine, Kitaab , Punch Magazine & elsewhere.  Occasionally, he tweets at @d_basis

Sonnets of Death; Mourning Life’s Love & Other Poetry by Shiela Denise Scott

To What We Lost – Shiela Denise Scott

Shiela Denise Scott’s poetry today is a home where sadness and sweetness dance together. She brings awareness to the good and the brokenness within and around us with beautiful balance.


Sonnets of Death; Mourning Life’s Love

Tilted heads remain drifting around town,

Sadden loss of spirit, mourning announced,

Tears fall gently, screams overpower sound,

Return of respect, hidden joys pronounced.

Yesterdays’ stories stand near an altar,

Calling all memories, depart in peace,

Follow unity out the doors, fault her,

She who loved him, holistically.

Oneness gave birth. a reciprocal love,

Whose strength can overpower lies with truth?

Others hated the combination of,

Respect, want, need, families perceived, you.

Life introduced me to love when we met,

Uplifted spirits set, Passions kismet.



Poet:

Shiela Denise Scott, creative with a focus on poetry and photography graduated from Full Sail University with an earned Creative Writing for Entertainment B.F.A, and Antonelli College with a Digital Photography A.A.S degree. Her published works include Multitudes of Array, Elders Are Cool.Blended Survival, Saddest Thing, Constellation of Stars, Bar belles, Crumbled Promises and other stories, and poems. She turned her hobbies into a career and fell in love.

Follow:
You may contact her on social media https://www.facebook.com/PoetShielaDeniseScott

and
https://www.linkedin.com/in/shiela-scott-294062136/

Bottom of My Heart – Poetry by Lois Perch Villemaire

To What We LostLois Perch Villemaire

An amazing homage to grief in this stunning poem by Lois Perch Villemaire. Like honey to tea, her words bring a sweetness to the bitter.


Bottom of My Heart

First published by Truth Serum Press, Glow Vol. 6

The bottom of my heart is crowded.

It’s where condolences wait to be shared.

Where love for my family resides.

Where I feel emptiness for

Special ones lost,

Who will never be forgotten

or replaced.

Where there are empty spaces

That ache

Where regrets weigh heavy

Even though I forgive myself.

Where optimistic faith nests

When the world is in turmoil.

Continuing to believe

Words I heard as a child,

“Everything will be all right.”

Where memories glow,

Preserving my parents

Forever, reflecting the best of times.

Where feelings are buried,

Bubbling up when least expected.

Where I find the inspiration to write,

Excavating to the very bottom,

Searching the deepest cavern,

Making certain it can expand.


Poet:

Lois Perch Villemaire lives in Annapolis, MD. She writes poetry, flash fiction and memoir. Her work has appeared in Potato Soup Journal, FewerThan500, The Drabble, Pen-in-Hand, Flora Fiction, North of Oxford, Flash Frontier, and in Glow Vol. 6 Truth Serum Press.

Follow:

She blogs for annapolisdiscovered.com 

and annapoliswellnesshouse.org.

Telling the Bees & Other Poems by Joan Leotta

To What We Lost – Joan Leotta

Joan Leotta bravely writes about the unfathomable loss of losing children and a mother. Her heart shines through these incredible words of love.


Telling the Bees
By Joan Leotta

First published in Writing in a Woman’s Voice, July 2019

Dear little creatures,
as I look out the window today
I send these thoughts to you—
may you be blessed on this, his day.
I have no hive to shroud
in mourning cloth so
I pour honey on my toast,
libation to our connection.
Take my love to him, my sweet boy.
On the day he was born,
this day, 37 years ago, I could not
taste honey—no food allowed before the birth—
yet I tasted of his sweetness when
I kissed his soft baby cheek
as they placed him on me
newly taken from my womb.
Now, he rests, and I know you visit
his place, feasting on the clover
flowers sprouting up among the green
where he was laid, near 20 years ago.
Some people think that grief has a timeline
ending, they want no talk
of tears, time when he walked among the bees.
So, I greet you, dear ones,
honey sweet as he,
dear to me,
take the touch of my lips to him,
remind him that a mother’s love
is forever.


Bottle Cap
By Joan Leotta

This one was first Published by Snapdragon 2017 and deals with the loss of our son—selling his car and finding something that has become a cherished momento


We finally sold our
green and silver
Chevy Blazer,
our son’s chariot of choice.
Together they galumped
over potholes, blared his music
screeched into parking lots;
arrived “just in time”
for his summer job.
At least once a week
in the days after he died,
I peered into the now
silent car, the
detritus of his last drives—
burger and candy
wrappers, notes, ticket stubs,
testifying to his former presence.
At last we decided to sell.
A shopvac would separate
our son’s spirit, or at
least his trash
from his metal steed.
Whirr of the machine
cleared crumbs from
flooring and seats.
I held it above the wrapper-filled
cup holder and something
began to rattle
as the hose tried pull it out.
Off-switch.
I snatched at the offending
metal—a cap from Hanks,
a premium root beer.
“Nothing like the tang of sassafras and
sugar, ” Joe once told me.
Squeezing the cap’s
crimped metal edges
tightly in my palm, I
dropped the cap into my Buick
sedan’s cup holder where his
Hanks bottle cap now spins
and rattles–
Joe rides with me.


What I Found When I Lost My Earring
By Joan Leotta

First published on Silver Birch, 2017


Settling into my window seat
after running to catch my connection,
at Atlanta-Hartsfield,
I reached up remove my earrings.
Left ear’s shiny metal clip-on daisy
easily slid into my hand.
Reaching for its twin, however
my fingers found a bare lobe.
Immediately I realized the
probable moment of loss–
when I hastily slung the
wide-strapped bag at my feet,
hard over my shoulder as
I ran for that connecting gate.
Likely the strap brushed my
floral clip-on off
away from the garden of my ear.
I fretted over the loss on the flight,
upset in disproportion to that
daisy’s dollar cost.
While at my destination.
a recurring dream roiled
my sleep, bringing up a memory
—how, against advice
I had foolishly worn and lost,
my mom’s aquamarine ring,
that her father had made for
her upon her graduation.
In the dream, once again
she said it was “all right.”
But I could still see
and sense her sadness
in across the plain of death in my dream.
Was this why I now mourned
loss of a shiny metal clip-on, a
thrift shop bauble bought for a dollar?
Determined to find redemption at
Least from this loss, on my way home
I stopped at the Delta Lost and Found.
I described my lost item
to the blue uniformed- woman.
She checked her list .
“No , no one turned it in.”
I sighed and said.
“Guess I should know
better than to wear something I like
when traveling.”
She reached over the counter,
clasped my hand.
“Remember this,
things are just things
If you like something wear it;
enjoy it while you have it.
Do not blame yourself
for what you cannot control.
Things are made to be used.”
That very night
I dreamt again of my mother.
She was smiling at me. On her right hand
She wore her aquamarine ring.
In her left, she held my lost daisy clip-on.


Poet:

Joan Leotta
Author, Story Performer
“Encouraging words through Pen and Performance”
Giulia Goes to War, Letters from Korea, A Bowl of Rice, Secrets of the Heart.historical fiction in Legacy of Honor Series
Simply a Smile--collection of Short Stories
WHOOSH! book from THEAQ You can download a mini-chapbook of my poems athttps://www.origamipoems.com/files/Books%20/2016/Joan_Leotta_-_Dancing_Under_The_Moon_2016R.pdf

Follow:
Find out more about my work at www.joanleotta.wordpress.com 

and Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Joan-Leotta-Author-and-Story-Performer/188479350973