by Heather Sullivan
Francis Ford Coppola would have us believe that the blood is the life, but it’s really the change that’s the life. Without embracing it, you’re not really living, just wading through the daily motions of life with garbage day bringing a weekly thrill. For me, going off to college was a chance for change, to remake myself in my own image and break from childhood. Moving halfway across the country and back were changes for myself and my husband, learning how to adult and how to raise children. And recently, encouraging my mother to move in with us and then watching her die. Each of these instances brought unavoidable and unmistakable change. What’s that old chestnut about the reed that bends in the wind is stronger than the oak in the storm? I’ve always prided myself on being that reed, swaying to and fro as the winds of change keep smacking me in the pie hole. But seven years on after my mother’s death, and I wonder how intact my little reed really is. I think I’ve been split down the middle, maybe more fit for a saxophone or a clarinet and no longer up to snuff for Honey Rider in Dr. No.
It was often hard to find the opportunity to write before her death. There was always another thing to clean in the house or another project to tackle, but afterwards, losing her coupled with caring for a brand new baby, changed my thought process. Sitting in the corner writing poetry with her ghost has become a necessity, as though the timbre of life has irrevocably changed without it. I get twitchy when I don’t do it. The bad humors build up, until she pats the couch cushion to remind me what I need to do. Then I grab my laptop, and it’s not so much that I channel her, as I free myself to hear her whispers.
Heather Sullivan has appeared and has work forthcoming in Corium Magazine, Busted Dharma and Chiron Review. She lives with her family, and a small herd of cats, in Revere, MA. She maintains a blog at www.ladyjaneadventures.blogspot.com.