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Saturday, March 4, 2017

Erasures in a Time of Loss

My mother-in-law is staying with us right now for some end-of-life care. Clearly this is a stressful time, and also a not-so-stressful time as there is nothing to do but wait and take as much care as possible. But there are bodily functions to deal with, and there are requests that need taking care of, and writing is something that has fallen by the wayside.

In the best of times, I prefer to write in isolation. Even though my teenage kids no longer need my constant attention, and I can tell them I'm going into my office for two hours and am not to be bothered unless there is an emergency, I haven't really been able write when they are home. Ditto for when my husband is home--a fully-functioning grown man. I just do not like to write unless I'm alone and can be guaranteed of no interruptions. I do manage to edit when people are around, but the genesis of new poems generally eludes me under these circumstances.

So here I am with my MIL newly added into the household mix, and in constant need of attentiveness. I've given up expecting things to go a certain way, and that has really decreased my stress--deciding just to be there, do what needs being done now, and not try to make schedules and plans. But still, I'd like to write as a way to manage my own needs, my selfhood. And I've found a way to do it--erasures.

I've never been good at erasures, but now, as I watch my MIL lose more and more of her autonomy, mobility, and energy, erasure has been the natural thing to do. Rather than generating new work, I'm erasing into the essence. It fits the mood of what is going on, and finally I'm getting the hang of it.

I'm using a book of Eudora Welty short stories. I chose it because of the rich vocabulary and also because the space between the lines is generous, the print not as tiny as that in many books.

I put this out there as an idea for poets who are in a space that doesn't give them much room to maneuver, a time of demands that take precedence over writing, and time of loss. Lean into it: lose more--erase.


drew said...

A lovely way to keep "writing" in the chaos of love and loss. Keep on.

Jessica Goodfellow said...

Thanks for your kind words, Drew.

Laura Foley said...

May you find ease in this time of stress (it sounds like you have..).
Poignant idea, about erasure. I'd love to see examples, if you feel like sharing...

Jessica Goodfellow said...

Thanks for your kind thoughts, Laura. I don't have a scanner at home, so I won't be sharing these until stressful times are over and I can get to a scanner. But thank you for your kind interest.