rites of spring

Demeter embraces Persephone


It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.Rainer Maria Rilke

Whatever the weather outside, it is spring in Vermont. Many of us looked out the window to see a thin layer of snow with green spears of crocuses poking through. This is the way with spring: a space in between, imperfect beginnings, some struggle, some the growth toward the green. To blend these ideas with our monthly theme of sisterhood, at group this week we told the story of Persephone and Demeter, two women separated by the cycles of the seasons and who rely on the passing of time for their freedom and reunion. 

The story of Persephone’s descent into the underworld has been told for centuries. There have been so many tellings and interpretations, there were a hundred  ways for each member of the group to feel connected to it. Our writing centered around these characters, the journey through and out of the underworld, what knowledge can be gained there, and beauty of spring in the eyes of writers and the loved ones they remember sharing it with. Cycles like the seasons or those described in the story open doors in time, open up new possibilities for any of us. Spring brings renewal.

In the stories below, you’ll read of this renewal, hopes for the future, and record of self-discovery as each of us walked through our writing toward spring:

My Feet Remember

It is spring, but today there was snow
On the ground.
As I looked out my frosted window,
White covered the dead glass,
When will you turn green?
I am waiting patiently.
I want my feet to feel the soft blades.
Coming out of the earth.
I can’t wait for my feet to feel
Soft white beach sand.
Fall and Winter are now a thing
of the past.
Unfortunately, my feet didn’t have
The chance to walk on crunchy
Autumn leaves.
My feet wanted to feel the fluffy
Cold flakes of winter.
That didn’t happen either.
I do feel a glimmer of hope
That this spring and summer
Will be different.
This could be a pipe dream.
I believe there is still a chance
For my feet to be free again
For they know the
Seasons by heart.
A legend of four winds blowing
Belong to me and you.
Patiently, we wait for another world to start.


I Walked in A Summer Twilight Searching for My Daughter

I walked in a summer twilight searching for my daughter.
Along the path I remembered the times when we
Would go on walks holding hands and laughing.
Searching for my daughter, I had to remember
She is no longer a little girl but a young lady
And the world had more meaning for her now
At this age.

It was there in the beautiful pasture, surreal
By wild flowers she sat just taking in the beauty
And fresh air.

It was then that I sat with her and placed
My art around her, looking at the beauty
Of all things and once again another day
Of happiness with my daughter and a memory
Never to forget.



Am I legendary only in my own mind? In synchronization with each deliberate thought and self affirmation. I was not built to withstand the hands of time but rather to leave an echo in the wake of my existence that whispers my name. Whether my accomplishments are noted, or forgotten, their existence will have been a product I manufactured. However, when I think of myself, it is not my face that I see behind my eyes. Those eyes seem to hold a destiny that was never meant for me. I remain walking, it seems propelled in the direction of uncertainty. At least I have a direction and I am not walking aimlessly amongst the burden of nowhere. Scattered are my thoughts as I try to rise against myself, become what I see so clearly, the thickness of my skull must dull the reflection. The vision I see pulsing through my conscious mind, comes through the brown in my eyes, a fog. It is what others see I wonder. The people who matter to me, leave me wanting. Praying to a god I’m not sure exists for just one mere day. Do they see a legend? Do they feel the impact of my life on the inside of theirs? I hope so. Because that is where I want to be. In the hearts and minds of others. Attached to the fragments of a broken soul, healing the wounds, and mending the pieces. I want my story to be one worth remembering. That when the people I know are in a daze, reminiscing of me, and days past. An involuntary smile crosses their lips. And when they hear that stir of echoes, that sound of my name. They feel the breath of my presence and know that I am a legend.



strength in words

japanese kanji_strength

                    japanese kanji for ‘strength’                      credit – cunycomposersdictionary

Writing inside prison presents an interesting paradox. On the one hand, we want to provide meaningful experiences. The opportunity to go deep, to find new ways to approach old patterns of thought and response. The chance for what is good and strong in each of us to be validated; and for the damage we have suffered or imposed on others to be understood. We seek context and we receive a framework in which to rebuild. We seek tools so we can do the building with integrity and accountability.

On the other hand, weekly predictability and routine are highly valued in an otherwise chaotic environment. This is not to say each week is a repeat of the last. No one would ever want to take part in such a group! But it does mean that, within the familiar structure and sequence of a group, we change up the activities from time to time. We add in visual art as a way to access the depth of feeling sometimes unreachable in words. And we challenge the ways in which we write. Trying out different genres and formats, of course; but also working solo or in pairs or groups. Continue reading

the coming light


source unknown

We sit in darkness until light enters … the flame of hope renewing land and peoples. We give ourselves to her transformative fire… turning scarcity into abundance.
– Rose Flint, 2013

How do we keep our inner fire alive? … Every day it’s important to ask and answer these questions: “What’s good in my life?” and “What needs to be done?” – Nathaniel Branden, Passion and Soulfulness

…Deep within every life … there is something eternal happening. This is the secret way that change and possibility conspire with growth… – John O’Donohue, Anam Cara

In honor of the season – it being midway between the winter solstice and spring equinox, for one thing; and in some parts of the country, signs of spring emerging (although in northern Vermont winter itself, if not the darkness, seems to have passed us by) – we wrote about the coming light. Change. The inner fire. Partly in response to the epigraphs, above; and to our opening poem by Miriam Dyak, ‘Imbolc.’ 

But also because I had promised the inside writers an opportunity to write to a single shared visual prompt (see image, above). This exercise is always beyond powerful. The eye sees, first, with past experience that might tend to turn away, turn inward, refuse engagement. But a second, longer look almost always brings the writer, without realizing it, to something deeper and completely real.

Our collective experience last week was no exception. The writings were so rich and so varied, I have elected to share snippets from several rather than one or two in their entirety. Continue reading


birthday cakeA critical mass of women inmates at the Chittenden Correctional Facility in Vermont are celebrating birthdays this month, thus our selected writing theme!

We opened our circle of 14 writers, checking in by recalling a memorable birthday present received.

Some of their responses – a shiny new bike, three chocolate mayonnaise cakes on a single birthday, and a Daisy BB gun given to one woman by her father – prompted toothy chuckles from us all.

When the question-at-hand reached one young woman in the circle, she paused for what seemed like an eternity of 15 seconds, looked up and said without any bitterness in her tone, “I can’t think of anything.”   Continue reading

soul knowings


The soul knows. It does.

As we wrestle with various life conundrums – relationships with others, work directions, past wounds that won’t heal…

..our thoughts meander through the labyrinth of our minds with no apparent way out.

The antidote that works for some, and for me?

Find a quiet space without distraction; formulate a clear and focused question about one’s inner struggle; pick up a pen; and write for 20 minutes without stopping.

The answers come, and they are laser-like in their precision.

It’s what the incarcerated women did this week. Many struggle with what to do about intimate relationships, past abuses, addictions, and next-steps in reentry…

Yet, when directed to offer written advice (as grown women) to the 13-year-old versions of themselves, the insights flow, the advice is powerful, and they sound like yogis in their words of wisdom.

The soul knows. It does. Read on.  Continue reading