As I write this, the first real snow of 2015 is falling outside my window. Summer seems very long ago to me now– perhaps even more so this year because so much has changed in my life since those lazy and simpler days. Back in the hazy heat of August, my sister was still well, still in remission, and was on her way to a new career and a brighter future.
Everything came undone in September when she got the news that her cancer had returned. She fought very hard– far more bravely than anyone I have ever known– but despite her determination and hope, she passed away on January 3rd, having made it only a few days into this new year. Losing her has been more heartbreaking than anything I have ever experienced.
She was my closest friend– and more than that, my most faithful supporter and fan. She was so proud of every success that came my way, and especially of the latest book, WHAT THE NEIGHBORS KNOW, because of the many poems in it that sprang from our shared childhood. Amazon would have you believe that it is a book about a failed marriage– and it is, in part. But it is about much more than that. My sister recognized herself and our story in many of the pages, and loved it for that reason.
All of Part 2 of the book deals with those memories of childhood days. It opens with a poem called “Going Home” and the lines “At twilight I tug you down my childhood streets./ This is how it would feel if I could take you/inside of my dreams.” My sister had a very strong bond with our past. Her life was not an easy one, and she recalled those days as the sweetest and the safest times she ever knew.
One of the poems, “The Air Then,” is directly about that simpler time, when the air “was more amber and there was hickory in it,” when “pianos played from the open windows and insect wings beat/in our hair.” Nothing that came after those days was ever quite the same. Something unnameable, ineffable, was gone forever.
In celebration of the one-year anniversary of this book– (it was released in February of 2014)– I am re-posting this interview that I did with the poet J.P. Dancing Bear on his San Francisco-based radio program, “Out Of Our Minds.” In the interview, I talk about the poems in the book and read from them.
My sister was so thrilled when the podcast went live and she could listen in to all I had to say on that hot August night– back before our lives changed forever.
This is for Terri– and for you, too, if you missed it.