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Amanda Spiller

Time heals all wounds. Except grief.

I’m in my childhood kitchen. It’s a mess, to Mom’s dismay. Rejected pieces of frozen pizza dry out on the stove, dishes overflow from the sink onto indigo tiles. Junk coagulates in the grouted crevices of our countertops and coffee circles dot the scene like the freckles on her skin. She doesn’t drink coffee in the morning, just Pepsi, but she cleans her boyfriend’s stains, anyway. This kitchen is a battle she can win. She scrubs at the tiles, packs the dishwasher with impossible precision, reorganizes the glass canisters against the wall, descending by…

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

On a Monday afternoon in late February, my best friend’s phone lit up on the coffee table of our Airbnb. We’d escaped to the foothills outside of Yosemite for a girls' week.

In between work hours, glasses of freshly-squeezed orange juice, and Wim Hof breathing sessions, we discussed the trials and tribulations of 2020. The pandemic and the worldwide depression, anxiety, and grief it caused.

She picks up her phone.

Hi! There are available vaccines at Go and sign up using code P7XYGXSNT7, they have extra vaccines bc not enough eligible people signed up.

Photo by Casey Horner on Unsplash


I woke up with a haze in my head
This happens after death
When her body went limp there was one thing to do
Kissed her head packed my bag and all the pictures, too

I drove down 95
Left it all behind
Drove her right into
A tiny corner of my mind

An unfamiliar fate greeted me at the door
A family I barely knew and had nothing for
Even with their love, I couldn’t find what I had lost
My soul was steeped, six feet deep, in eternal frost

I drove down 95
Left it all behind
Drove her right…

I needed a suit of armor just to shop at Target

Photo by Mitchell Hartley on Unsplash

I remember the first Mother’s Day without Mom. It was a nightmare. The aisles of things I used to buy confused me with their newfound irrelevance: teddy bears, boxes of chocolate, cotton shirts, and mugs that said #1 Mom. The card section exploded with options I didn’t have, with words I couldn’t say. I stood amongst cheerful bouquets and wondered about the difference between flowers for the kitchen table and gravesite flowers. No one tells you how to make that transition. Could I find a dozen thorny roses? Did…

You’re never alone, even when you’re grieving

Photo by Frida Aguilar Estrada on Unsplash

From above, thousands of red lights stutter
Salt Lake City’s inchoate rush hour

We left work early for once
Caught the fingertips of the waning sun

And the mountains, lit from behind,
Effuse a gold, jack-o-lantern glow

A film sets over the basin
(Actually, it’s always there

You’re just in it, so you never see it.
Oh, the living, how we trap ourselves)

The day arcs like a rainbow
Like the sun across the eternal sky because

Even when smog envelopes Salt Lake City
And Joey dies in his sleep at age 32

Image from author

Poetry is your soul’s language. If you give it the chance, it will flow out of you at request. All it needs is your time. Will you be brave and chat with yourself? Will you sit with the silence to engage the chatter of your mind?

Are you afraid of the silence? Are you nervous to see what bubbles up to the surface when you spend time alone? Are filling your schedule with things that distract you from your soul’s voice?

It’s okay. You’re never too late to the conversation. You can always start now.

Pull out a pen and…

In my backyard, there’s a sliver of concrete before the clovers begin where I
Put two camping chairs and a Home Depot bucket.

(Staying put is a slow accumulation of nicer things)
I sit down next to no one and set my coffee on Home Depot.

I looked out onto the clovers, all their bright yellow projects folded and
Facing what they know to be the afternoon sun,

The brightest part of the day,
They’ll wait for it.

Atop the soft roar of I-80 to San Francisco,
The gulls caw and the warblers warb.

The Crocosmias pop through the understory…

Amanda Spiller

Trauma, grief, and healing from a poet with PTSD. I help creative people through blocks and trauma. | IG: @amandalspiller

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