passage of grief


Now when dying grasses veil
earth from the sky in one last pale
wave, as autumn dies to bring
winter back, and then the spring,
we who die ourselves can peel
back another kind of veil

that hangs among us like thick smoke./Tonight at last I feel it shake.

-from Samhain Annie Finch

In the poem above, Annie Finch describes the thinning veil of space/time through which ancestors can make passage during rare nights of the year. As Autumn ripens, we become more aware of the winter coming and the weight of that cold on the other side of this season. We just left summer, head towards winter. Leaves change and trees are stripped bare. We are in transition. In the prison across the past few weeks, we have all felt this. It creates tension and, sometimes, sorrow.

Our theme this past week was histories–familial and ancestral. We used the frame of this thinning veil of Samhain or Halloween to offer the opportunity to speak to those relationships that have passed or changed: mothers, grandmothers, fathers, children, those beyond our reach. When you are in prison, the relationships that are out of reach feel and are enumerable.  Continue reading

embodying the unexpected

I always take away a sense of feeling not alone.- Soul Card from one of the writers

In every writing circle I have ever been a part of, you have to accept the potential for the unexpected. If you go in thinking it’s going to be one way or another way, you’re sunk. Sometimes the piece you were going to write doesn’t come, the piece you thought you hated becomes the most important thing you’ve ever said, and sometimes you write something that you didn’t know you thought, let alone decided to put to paper.

Writing inside is the same only more so. As a group, we roll with the slamming doors, the women talking in the hall on their way back from chow, the C.O.’s coming in to do a count on top of the usual surprises. It is a loud space but somehow we can always find the quiet together and let written bombshells land on the page.

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grieving together

Grief by Tessa Maurer

We learned of the death of one of our former writers last evening.  K had been released from Chittenden Correctional Facility a short time ago.  Her central aims were to beat her addiction and be reunited with her children.  Tragically, her addiction won out.

Last evening’s circle of 13 writers provided a life-affirming, sacred space in which the women could process the loss of their friend and write about their own addiction fears.

By happenstance, three of K’s longtime fellow writers were back ‘inside’ due to probation violations, so they too were able to process her death in the healthiest of ways–within the womb of supportive community.  It was a rich session in which one woman gave thanks that K was now free of this great burden.

K was wide-eyed that addiction was her downfall.  She wrote about this on more than one occasion.  Here is the last piece she wrote with writinginsideVT:


It’s hard to believe I have two beautiful babies. Who would ever know considering that I, their mother, do not care for them the way mothers do. I, a selfish, rotten, junky, drug-addicted mother, care more for drugs than my children. I know what you’re thinking, “How can a mother be so heartless?” And I can’t answer you! I know it’s a awful thing, but at least I can admit it. I wish it were not true. I have lost everything and didn’t care, but I tell you now–there is only time left to care about my children and not myself, and that means doing what it takes to keep my family together.

Our prayers and positive energy go out to her children.