I had written here and there about my mother in my poems. There are poems for her in my first and second books.
One of my main wishes in wanting to write about my mother was to explore the impact of her death on my life, explore our relationship, think about the different versions of myself that I was with and without her. I also had the really strong wish to bring her to life for my children, who were born after she was gone.
I grew up in northern California in a town called Fairfield, which is kind of exactly between San Francisco and Sacramento, a small suburb. And I’m the youngest of five children.
So much of my poetry begins with something that I can describe in visual terms, so thinking about distance, thinking about how life begins and what might be watching us.
I feel most alive, most electric with faith, breath, and courage, when I think of God as a current that runs through all that is. Not by will or by choice. Not as a benediction but because there are laws even God must obey.
A question is a pursuit, an invitation to envision and explore a series of possibilities, to struggle and empathize and doubt and believe. The question moves, whereas our sense of what an answer is can often be static, a stopping point.
I have kept journals at different times in my life. And a lot of my early notebooks became places where I would just think on the page, trying to parse what I was feeling, to find out what I was thinking.
For me, a poem is an opportunity to kind of interrogate myself a little bit.
I am keenly aware that in writing about my mother, I am writing about my aunts’ sister, and that in writing about my grandmother, I’m writing about their mother. I know that my honesty about how my view of these people has changed over the years may be painful.
I feel like it’s a gift for any writer to be recognized like this.