I can promise you my bathroom has never been
so clean as the time I
listened to Andrea Gibson read the holy words to
Thank Goodness while I scrubbed
and while I screamed

there are
and will always be some things that are made clean
and holy
through inner contemplation
outward resignation
through quiet
and other things
that come to conception and creation
only through

the act of regeneration
regrowing a limb
A ventricle
A vertebrate
A whole goddamn beating heart

I believed in God until
the same people who preached him from
a gold inlaid pulpit turned…

When we travel, alone without their father, I opt for a story and save money in the seedy motels with creaking doors opening to my parking spot. If there isn’t cracking wallpaper borders at the lobby, gold varnished plastic light fixtures in the rooms, or character or actual DNA of characters embedded in the walls and bedding, you won’t find me.

We pull up to fits of giggles. This may be the worst one, yet. Roman rolls his gravel bike through the double front doors, angling to the side to kick open the second door and enter the spacious lobby…

so after all
that bullshit
it turns out
we are still doing
still swaggered sweaty summer
late night creek side simmer
sort of middle school wet dream
fantasy mid thirties
kneeling alongside open car
doors road trip
side show
slow down slow roll
knees bent
stations of the crop top
chop shop hot shot
stick shift to
slide around spread wide
watch your hip
geared up and ready to
go we
only come into our own
as we come again
and again
wild winds whipping waist length
mermaid hairs
silver in the moonlight
just right
not so uptight but…

Me (far left), James, and our family ❤

We are driving east across rural Montana when I get the news that James Patrick Fortin has died. A few hours earlier, as my old and trusty van rumbled down gravel roads in West Glacier, we’d turned on Bohemian Rhapsody and sung loudly, all the voices. I think James would have approved.

“Mama!” he’d exclaim, enthusiastically and so alive, every time I saw him at Safeway getting groceries or turning in for the evening, downtown, one or two glasses of Chardonnay down, as I arrived for a night out. “You’re so beautiful,” he promised me, like a mother assures a…

I think about dying every day
so when Eric the yoga instructor encourages us to inhale
and then exhale and
then close the back of our throat and
let ourselves feel empty and let ourselves feel need
I think
*this* is how I want to go
laying on my back or stretching to the sky
in silence and contemplation
The act of re-regeneration
or laughing loudly as a lover tells a story
laying side by side
or walking a sunlit path
rays dancing off a chemo bald head
still victorious
I want to die in the act of creation
paintbrush arcing between delighted fingers
half covered canvas
dreams still unseen
I want to…

My sister’s house boasts a large picture window
south facing just off her
kitchen and below it or in the bush
near it lives a bird
who has knocked itself silly running
into the glass

more than once a day
my sister and her family will hear
the bird shuffle her wings and launch into
just to smack face first into the glass

My sister is not cruel and has
left the window dirty
put up a shade
drawn the blinds
marked the glass with tape to show it
as a barrier
to remind the bird of the pain and
nevertheless she persists…

Happy International Women’s Day

Let me tell you what it is like to be a modern mother in America, twenty twenty one, fam.

Let me tell you what it is like to set an alarm clock for five am because they will start stealing our hours before they wake. To set an alarm clock and then wake twenty minutes before it, twenty twenty one, fam. Awake twenty minutes before to run a list of emotional energy you’ll extend and expend trying to keep afloat a home or a child’s life or the bed of a man or the hope of a generation or the…

It took me until I was thirty five to
love my body enough to listen
and Believe her when
she told me "no" with her smallest voice
in her biggest time
to let her unfold and fold
wrinkled and rolled
into fits of laughter
to hold her gently when she
to imagine uninhibition

in the beauty of enough
large and containing
multitudes I stopped biting my
fingernails to the quick
catching blood drops on my tongue
while smiling
I let the skin stretched home of my
infants breathe all the way in
until she is full


Happy 13th Birthday

As I start my van this morning, The Waterboys “The Whole of the Moon,” floods the speakers. He looks at me, dimple catching the light, eyes sparkling, and launches into the lyrics with me, lungs open, windows cracked.

“I pictured a rainbow
You held it in your hands,”

For thirteen years, this morning, nearly every morning, I’ve woke to his cries or his laughter, his voice in my ears. It’s happened, this morning, I am caught up in the great race of his childhood. How are we thirteen?

“You stretched for the stars
And you know how it…

Natalie LaFrance Slack

Telescope, microscope, vision. To the moon. www.natalielafranceslack.com and www.verbstorytelling.com

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