Writing Grief my poem Sheets

All of us who write have so many different, individual ways that we come to a piece.  What prompts the hearing of the words in our heads, the images, the little epiphanies along the way of finding the piece?  It’s a lovely mystery to me.  Sometimes it’s helpful to have the theme presented to you to go with it where you will. One of my favorite poems is included in the anthology, Lavanderia,  A Mixed Load of Women, Wash and Word, published by City Works Press. The title basically says it all. They asked for submissions that related in any way to the “woman’s work” of laundry, that sprang from a woman’s experience in some way. It is a beautiful book. So diverse in genre, voice, experience, attitude.  The introduction by the editors is very moving and also very nuts and bolts about the process of coming up with and developing the project. It’s edited by Donna Watson, Michelle Sierra, and Lucia Gbaya Kanga. I’m going to buy several more copies for  myself, actually for my two daughters. Strangely, online I’ve only been able to find it in used textbooks although it was published in 2009. I knew it was used as a college text by some people, and this tells me it still is a bit.  I just found a site http://www.lavanderiahome.net while I was checking out the publish date, so I’m going there later to see if they’re ongoing. I hope so.

Anyway, back to writing process.  The following is in the anthology. I had had the first image of the burrowing into the scent of sheets left after the end of a relationship.  Just simmering and tucked away. When I saw the prompt, I just knew that’s where that image belonged.  So I went there. The poem came very unformed, but definitely a piece. And then, of course, began the long, intense, ultimately so very satisfying revision.  So here is the result of a themed prompt.  Sheets. btw it is one of the poems included in my chapbook, Spent, from http://www.finishinglinepress.com which was released this year. I hope you enjoy it.



Today I changed the linen

for the first time since you left.

Even when I burrowed in the tangled sheets,

I no longer found the scent of you…of us.


Creature comforts have their purpose

if only as distraction while denial turns to grief.

There is a violence in me as I strip the bed.

I mangle and shove memory and hope

into submission and acceptance.


Determined now to purify myself

of everything that touched my body

during our nights together,

I wash,



hang our time together on a line

that suspends from yesterday to this moment.


In the breezy back yard I pull fabric heavy with clean and new

from a straw basket, split from the burden of many washings.


My own deliberation surprises me.

I follow the smooth contours of each peg,

find the fissures in between uneven, dangling panels,

and firmly fix them in a pattern of my own choosing.





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