Before the light descends early afternoon,
Before my skin wakes into early night,
Before the plumeria trees become flowerless arms,
I was folding clothes, water boiling on the stove.
Tucking your sleeves in the way you like them,
Making sure the collar was smoothed over by my palm.
The sound of your zipper against the dryer
The sound of years tumbling against time,
The buzzer, the warning, the phone call,
The medical records, your fingers unlacing from mine.
Giving my blue sweater to the male prostitute
Singing doo wop with the girls at 12th and Locust.
Do I begin at the dumpster?
The day my moving truck pulled
into your girlfriend’s parking space?
Do I begin with your cigar and your shit-kicking grin
that drank in the early landscape of me?
Your thick lips that learned how to quiet mine?
Before I crawled into your coffin,
Before your son’s grief was in snot all over my knees,
Before I went home to only the ghost of you,
You pressed me into the wall that separated
our Love from my marriage,
your strong thighs sparking against mine.
Is this where I begin, in the earliest years
when I went Into the ice storm of grief
my sleeping arm reaching for the phone?
Am I waiting to hear you are alive again,
like the plumeria returns to barren branches,
like the bulbs buried deep in the frozen earth
waits for the long thaw toward spring?
Is this where I begin?

An invitation to write: The Beginning, the World of Before


  • Write about the Beginning, which was right before you began to shift, knowing something was about to change. 
  • If you are beginning a story, write Is this where I begin at the top of your page and see where it takes you.

For a deeper memoir exploration through the Hero’s Journey, take Laura’s 12-week workshop in a workbook with STORYquest, the Writer, the Hero, the Journey.