Photo Freewrite – Week 2


photo by Tracy Burkholder

We all have crazy ideas now and then, but not too many of us get far in the execution of them. Something interrupts, quashes or dies before we get to the turret-building stage. Not this guy. He didn’t care that he had no plans or permits, no idea really, other than that original crazy one: Build a majestic resort down near the Columbia. Conveniently located just off Hwy 30. It would have to be narrow to fit the grade of the plot, but the guests wouldn’t notice because the view would be wide.

Who knows what happened. I only hope the place never sells, never gets torn down. May it continue to loom and decay, waiting patiently for a ghost in need of a haunt.


photo by Tracy Burkholder

Sometimes dying is so hard. She’s chosen not to take pain meds, or rather, so few that all they do is make the cancer that is her stomach mostly intolerable instead of entirely so.

Still there is dignity. There is the beauty of the naked body, thinned to its most essential elements. There is the cry, barely different from the cry of a child. There is the tough, smart, independent New Yorker that snaps through the mental fog anytime one of us says something too obvious.

Her hand doesn’t know how to move to her mouth. Her lips don’t know how to close around a straw. But she can still snap at her husband for accidentally pulling her hair as he shifts the pillow under her head. She can roll her eyes at me when I tell her her lips are a little dry.

A photo from her youth sits to the side of the bed. Her hair is in a glossy, beehive. Her eyes are gracefully lined. A tiny, sexy smirk teases her mouth. I hold her hand and tell her that I’m sorry she’s in pain and that I can see how difficult it is.

Maybe this doesn’t look like one of those “good deaths,” but who’s to say? To me it looks excruciating, yes. But maybe her life of pain has given this new pain familiar claws. Maybe she knows that it should be difficult to leave such a beautiful world.


photo by Tracy Burkholder

There are still 6 of the 8oz. of really good honey left in the jar. I slide the knife in and take just enough, a thin stream onto a corner of buttered toast. My mouth is sated and grateful. My sister’s parish keeps the bees and jars the honey, so I know there’s more where that came from. Still, I want to be careful. I want to start with honey and hope the rest follows.


photo by Tracy Burkholder

The witch hazel is blooming. There’s that. Little orange fireworks in January. Little burst of sweet as I pause on my way to work and stick my face up into the branches. It’s okay. It’s planted along the sidewalk in front of the fancy nursery. They want you to pause and admire. It’s a witch hazel billboard. And I’m totally buying into it.

Plus, I always stop and smell the flowers. Literally. That’s not a metaphor, platitude, or just-on-Sunday suggestion. That’s a command. It would be rude not to obey.


photo by Tracy Burkholder

I spent the night sad-dreaming about an old friend who ignored and avoided me for half my dream hours. Then I stress-dreamed about being a massage therapist for the mob for the other half of my dream hours. So here’s a pic of a tentative Mr. Jack Goodman on a rare appearance in my bed the other night. He’s been slow to change (except for the change in his waistline) but he comes around. Good man.


photo by Tracy Burkholder

Not quite as graceful as a dancer or as fuzzy as a rabbit. Not quite as intricate as my eye or as tangled as my hair. It offers little color and its music is an exclusive language between seed and wind. But it is perfect. And in a month it will be gone, transformed into green, or at least the thought of green. And we will all be lost in longing.


photo by Tracy Burkholder

They’re talking about female hormones on the radio this morning. How strange (because it’s a rare discussion) and annoying (because it’s simplistic, like the way there are news reports about shopping every Christmas season).

Years ago, a couple I was with both rolled their eyes when the woman on stage mentioned bleeding in her poem. When the guy got on stage, he mentioned violence.

I just finished loving Darcy Steinke’s book about menopause. I just finished searching “belly fat.” I just finished caring about the new crease along my jaw. This is a 4-day cycle of surprise, frustration/fear, indifference and gratitude.

I’m still here. Growing old is still growing.

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