The Thing Is (six years later)

The Thing Is

Ellen Bass

The thing is
to love life, to love it even
when you have no stomach for it
and everything you’ve held dear
crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,
your throat filled with the silt of it.
When grief sits with you, its tropical heat
thickening the air, heavy as water
more fit for gills than lungs:
when grief weights you like your own flesh
only more of it, an obesity of grief,
you think, How can a body withstand this?
Then you hold life like a face
between your palms, a plain face,
no charming smile, no violet eyes,
and you say, yes I will take you
I will love you, again.

The Answering Machine (five years later)

The Answering Machine


I call and hear your voiceHoward Family
on the answering machine
weeks after your death,
a fledgling ghost still longing
for human messages.

Shall I leave one, telling
how the fabric of our lives
has been ripped before
but that this sudden tear will not
be mended soon or easily?

In your emptying house, othersSam and Veronica
roll up rugs, pack books,
drink coffee at your antique table,
and listen to messages left
on a machine haunted

by the timbre of your voice,
more palpable than photographs
or fingerprints. On this first day
of this first fall without you,
ashamed and resisting

but compelled, I dial again
the number I know by heart,
thankful in a diminished world
for the accidental mercy of machines,
then listen and hang up.DSCN3064small


flowerssmall nicaart_014smallGentle • thoughtful• gentle soul • creative • artistic • a sweet girl• confident • observant • a good artist • gentle and kind • generous • interested • all smiles • kind • lots of ideas • artistic • quietly sweet • has a lot to say • sweet nature • very helpful and smart • #1 treasure collector • good team player • always full of smiles and sunbeams • quiet • sweet and diligent

From Veronica’s classmatesDonutsSmall

The Garden Goddess

by Mary

We know you as a good friend, a jeweler, a budding artist. And I wonder if everyone also knows that you were a Garden Goddess. How do I know that you were a Garden Goddess? The best cucumber I have ever eaten came from your personal garden. I remember once when I came over for dinner, that, in addition to the delicious cucumber, you also harvested—minutes before dinner—the greens that made up the salad. I remember your wise mother saying: “Dinner is almost ready—time for the salad!” You walked into your backyard to your raised bed and collected the ingredients. You prepared a perfect salad dressing after washing your harvest and delivered to the table the finished product: the freshest best tasting salad that could only come from a Garden Goddess.

I miss walking with you in the gardens.

Veronica Howard by me

by Veronica Howard

I was born on September 14, 2001, at Stanford University Hospital. My family was very happy when I was born. When I came home my eyes were still closed. My family adored me so much.

I was two years old when I first went to Death Valley. It was December, 2003, and we were camping at Furnace Creek. They have a golf course and a wonderful restaurant. They also have a pool and you can ride horses. We go there every year for Christmas.

I got my stuffed animal, Gingy, in 2004. Gingy is one of my favorite stuffed animals. I got it because my mom was shopping and I was bored so I grabbed a stuffed animal to play with. We walked out and I was still holding it. Then my mom saw I was still holding it and we went back in. My mom could not make me let go so whe bought it for me. I called him my man because I did not know how to say gingerbread man. Now I call him Gingy. He has three buttons and a big red nose. It was a really good day.

I went to Disneyland in 2007. The rides were so much fun. My favorite ride is called tea cups. I went there with my family and friends. We went on a ride where you go on a fire truck and you pumps. We also went on the Indiana Jones ride. It was scary but fun!

Now I am in 3rd grade. It is February 2011 and I am nine years old. My family is still very happy and I still love Gingy.