In It, From It

Liz helped me understand I had not accurately describing my state of mind.

“I feel the abyss is right there,” I had said (my daughter dead going on four months). “And I’m doing everything I can to keep from falling in.”

When Liz wondered aloud if I might go into the abyss rather than avoid it, I realized that was actually what I had been doing all along: going into the abyss—not falling in, but going in.

(Thank you, Liz.)


“You fling the hurt wherever it will stick. You make sense of it however you can.”

Leslie Jamison


My wife, Serafina, only knew she wanted to go the ocean.

Four days later, she returned from Cape May. “What did you do there?” I asked. Nothing, she said—she just was. She walked. She sat. And she also made four drawings.

I write:

Barren beach—windswept naked… pencil-thin beach grass… brittle blades… beaten battered exposed—raw standing… ocean full, brimming… spirit-full… noise crowd life—over there, not here… here: being… being with pain.

The drawings: post cards from the abyss.


“In the middle of the road of my life
I awoke in the dark wood
where the true way was wholly lost.”



“What is your hope/motive to have more details and answers?”

It was a good question Hilary posed, when I asked her to share with me all she could about Elisif’s dark passages.


Many years ago, I dreamed everyone close to me had died (I’ve spoken of this dream before).

In the dream—me crying—a painting of a bleeding cornfield catches my eye (only in a dream): blotches of red and black (like cancer) pock the yellow-green stalks. I draw closer—within the stains: a kaleidoscopic trove of crystalline light.

Bleeding cornfield (euphonic rainbow).

I think of this dream when I think of Hilary’s question.


“We should move,” said Serafina, an hour after we got the news Elisif had died, sitting and holding our self and each other. “We should move our bodies. It will probably be good for us.”

Deep Creek Lake on February 11, 2014, there for a 2-day cross-country ski getaway, miles of snow-covered frozen lake.

Skis on, in pain, off we go.

Through my dark glasses, sun brilliant on the white snow, dancing sparks of colored light—the euphonic rainbow, no longer just a dream.