A Witch’s Children Seldom Sleep ✨

A witch’s children seldom sleep;

they stay up in their rooms 

conjuring up mythical lands,

building kingdoms and castles,

or run through the house—

all wide-eyed wildness

once the full moon comes up,

and mirrors itself in their round, blue eyes.

They dance, cackle and fly about the room

until a crash into the wall—or each other—

signals the doom-bell of bedtime.

The later the louder;

the more tired the more terrible,

until their witch-mother’s exasperated hair 

shoots out in all directions like flames.

Finally, she has to resort to softly chanting spells

to soothe her tiny witches and warlocks to sleep.

When their dark lashes lay on their cheeks at last,

they almost look like ordinary children,

but the witch grins to herself…

she knows better!

✨✨✨

The Simplest Things

Here’s another poem about my Dad from this summer, written in early July.

The Simplest Things

It’s been nearly eight months
but the simplest things can still set me off,


like dumping out Suzie’s Spicy Brown Mustard,
which I took out of your fridge after you died
and kept as long as possible
(even long after it expired)
just because I didn’t want to let any piece of you go—


anything that smelled like lunch with you, Dad,
like you visiting,
like you smiling at me from across the table,
and it being the best day ever
because you were there.

Life, death and love: writing about what matters

Until my October Garden post not long ago, I hadn’t written on my blog for so long. It is not that I stopped writing, but that I stopped sharing. Sorting through my Dad’s belongings this past summer while I cleaned out his apartment, I was at times overwhelmed with memories, longings and regrets. I read over old letters and cards I wrote him as a child. He saved every one in a special folder, “Anna.” Every one since since before I could spell Daddy.

The pain of having lost so much time with him as a child after the divorce, and while living overseas in Holland as a teenager, resurfaced. I didn’t want to talk about it, because I didn’t want to hurt my Mum, but silence is suffocating, at least for me. I need to let things out to let them go.

I did pour that pain into poetry, and as my Dad’s one year of passing approaches on November 9th, I am going to share some with you again.

Since losing a baby 7 years ago in labour, and losing my Dad last year to cancer, I have written a lot of poetry about grief. I wonder if this bothers some people in our “get over it and on with it” society. Am I that weird lady who always writes about death?

At the core of it though, I realize I am ultimately writing about love—because love is what connects us beyond death. Grieving is not being stuck in the past, but honouring the fact that parts of your heart have gone ahead to the future, leaving holes until you are reunited.

All we can hope is that the holes will make our hearts bigger, and let the light shine through from those we love, who are already bathed in heavenly peace. If this is all too cheesy and cliché, that’s just too bad. I am tired of not sharing. So with no more fuss, here is one of my poems from this summer:

Laundry Landay

1 July, 2021

I am sitting in the living room
folding laundry when I find a sudden sign of you

I inhale your familiar scent
lingering beyond the grave in your soft pillow case

I crumple and hide my face in it
faded and butter-soft from oh so many washing’s

I think of your quiet gentleness
your simplicity, poverty, and deep love of peace

I remember your arms around me
my eyes closed, my face resting against your shirt buttons

I breathe in deeply and the pain swells
my heart bursting with the bittersweet scent of you, Dad

Wrestling with the Remote Control

Since the baby came certain things are on pause—

it’s hard to find time to write, to think,

to grieve, to pray

except through my body as I rock and sway,

rock and sway my little one to sleep.

Other things are going fast-forward—

there’s no stopping kids growing,

squabbling, questioning everything

and making messes everywhere I look.

In the anxious moments of early morning,

my mind tries to rewind,

to second-guess and over-analyze

but there’s no going back.

What I’m forgetting

as I grasp for control

and it slips like sand though my fingers

is the one button I need to press:

Play.

Play right now, as things are

in the mess and chaos of my 8 kids

doing silly dances and laughing,

finding a moment of togetherness.

Be right now—

allow myself to have a moment alone

walking under the cherry blossoms—

stopping to listen to the hummingbird

who sings above me

pointing it’s tiny beak heavenward,

little messenger of my Dad.

Embrace right now with its little inspirations to

to snuggle my down-soft baby

and write an imperfect poem,

unpausing my frozen voice which felt

unable to speak

unworthy of being heard

afraid to crack open bitter walls of strength

and cry.

Just press play.

Trumpet of Joy

Deep-throated daffodil,

blast out your message of hope!

Rebel against the weariness of despair,

the back-breaking burden of seriousness,

the meticulous dissection of fearful plans.

Daffodil, shout!

None of the world’s noise is loud enough

to silence the sound of your wordless proclamation:

“Have hope, hope, hope!”

The grimy winter is grinding to a halt

and from the earth’s breast,

goodness is springing forth once again.

A world of grey is shattered

by one shard of green and yellow life.

Johnny Cash on Heartburn

My blog has been rather serious lately, so I decided it’s time for a laugh. What better way, when up with pregnancy heartburn and insomnia, than to write a spoof of a Johnny Cash country song? When you’re seven months pregnant and can’t sleep, you get to do stuff like that—it says so in the manual, pg 136. (What manual?? This girl is making stuff up…)

So put on your cowboy hats, strum your imaginary guitars, and enjoy…and if you’re up with heartburn, too, just pretend your TUMS are marshmallows…

🔥 Burning Ring of Fire 🔥

Heartburn’s a burning thing

And it makes a fiery ring

Round and full of gas

I am a pregnant lass

🔥

I lay down and a burning ring of fire

Shoots up my throat like an electric wire

And it burns burns burns

That ring of fire

I am on fire

🔥

I lay down and a burning ring of fire

Shoots up my throat like an electric wire

And it burns burns burns

That ring of fire

I am on fire

🔥

The taste of love is sweet

But it keeps me on my feet

I lay down like a sleepy child

Oh, but the fire went wild

🔥

I lay down and a burning ring of fire

Shoots up my throat like an electric wire

And it burns burns burns

That ring of fire

I am on fire

🔥 🔥 🔥

Grapefruit Spoons

Going to your apartment shortly after you died

I gather your important papers,

the things I’ll need to help take care of everything for you,

but I don’t want to touch anything else

or unsettle your calmly organized cupboards

covered with labels in your sweet hand:

“Tea,” Spices,” “Cups,” “Bowls.”

My sweetest scatterbrain Dad,

who worked so heroically hard this past year

—reading Marie Kondo and likely highlighting half the pages—

to make everything organized for me

because you knew you were dying

even when I couldn’t let myself believe it.

To me your home feels like a shrine

a testament to all the things you did last—

where you hung your bathrobe, your plaid shirt,

the dirty baseball cap that you’d wear doing carpentry in my garage.

I want to hug everything—

the blankets and sweaters that smell like you—

but don’t want to take anything

except the fancy grapefruit spoons with jagged little edges,

tiny teeth which I used to scoop out that half kiwi

which you allowed me to feed you slowly

your last week at home,

and that little quarter of yellow mango,

your baby bird diet

which I desperately hoped would somehow sustain you

when your body was too tired to eat

and your soul was ready to surrender.

These little grapefruit spoons

I tuck in my purse

and flee your empty apartment

where I wish you would come back

and let me feed you again.

A Tiny Piece of Night Sky

Right now I don’t wear mourning black

because as I told the kids before the funeral,

Grandpa loved the bright colours of gardens

and flowers in the sunshine,

so dress for him.

But I do wear around my neck

a black necklace studded with tiny stars

—piece of night sky stolen by faeries—

to remind myself in all dark moments

to seek the sparkle.

It’s not a bright, dawn-rosy piece of Heaven

but a scrap of far-off night sky,

piercingly cold and beautiful,

the kind you look up at in silence

longing for the things that do not perish.

My heart thumps near my necklace,

aching to burst forth from my chest

and reach this forever with you,

beating its warm little drum

to the echoes of eternity.