I took the summer off, almost entirely, from any of the familiar measures of writing productivity. Here’s what I did instead.
These kids have ripped me open in the most painful, fascinating, delightful way, and it’s given me a strength I didn’t know I had: learning to be OK with what’s raw and unfinished and uncertain — both as it makes an appearance in my mirror and as my boys experience it for themselves.
I love that Katie Manning’s list poem calls What to Expect When You’re Expecting on its shit. (If I remember correctly, there’s a section on poop.) And yet — I also identify so clearly with the poem’s anxious hopscotching.
For a poet, I think I’m late to the nesting and writing stages of coronavirus grief. But thanks to a cat, perimenopause and Natalie Goldberg, I’m here now.
On my fridge, I have a photo of my son from 13 or 14 years ago holding a baby chick. He’s seated in a chicken coop, cupped hands like a nest. Small as he is, the chick is even smaller. I read on his face a budding capacity for wonder and gratitude. This creature is so precious, and I have the chance to hold it. *I* do. *Me.*
And so I make toast. But not just any toast. It’s the omg-do-you-know-what-would-taste-so-good-right-now-?! toast, also known in my family as “pan toast.” Medium hot skillet. Melted butter. Bread. It’s better than toaster toast because the bread stays moist on the inside. It melts in your mouth. Pan toast is not Pinterest-worthy. It’s not Instagrammable. But it’s everything you ever need: comfort.
My question for Nicholson was, when it’s time to steer Cassini straight into Saturn, will you feel sad? Will you miss it? Leave it to a poet to want to understand the depth of our attachments.