The form that Bloodroot inclined toward (and soon insisted on) was one I had never worked in before: an entries form. Later, I came to call it a faux diary or journal form. Although the entries moved back and forth in time, there was an underlying chronological narrative about the last year of my mother’s life that pulled the backstory and spiritual/sociopolitical entries along with it. The entries not only varied in time frames and subject matter but also in length. I wonder, as I write this now, if all these narrative characteristics I’ve just mentioned may also be characteristic of the fractured, associative way our thoughts, memoires and feelings surface when we are grieving. I know that I wanted to be faithful to the unpredictable and disjointed way these memories arise when we’re grieving.

Certainly the textures or sensations of these entries resemble what we experience when a dear one is dying and when we are grieving. Sometimes they are humorous anecdotes; sometimes are a precise beam of insight that stops us in our tracks; sometimes are a recall of situation in which we, or our beloved, were agonizingly powerlessness. Bloodroot also taught me to trust the un-inscribed “blank” spaces; convinced me that they were as important, said as much, as what I inscribed. I had experienced this to some degree as a poet yet this was different. Not only because Bloodroot is prose but also because of the nature of the subject: so much about dying and death inherently evades language.  These un-inscribed spaces were faithful to this reality; were a constant reminder of the unknowable, the unsayable.

Only much later did I understand how the un-inscribed spaces provided the reader with much-needed room to pause, focus, feel and absorb not only Bloodroot’s narrative, but narratives in their own lives that Bloodroot called-up. Eventually, when submitting the manuscript to publishers, I was strongly advised to delete the un-inscribed spaces. I will tell you about this part of the story in my next post.

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