Pelvic Shrine

He says he wants to hold this pelvis of mine
which splits through me like an aged log
A relic of the young tree
frost -cracked within the woodland of hopes and dreams
Overcompensating bark armor

The gift of these words is deafening
The intention a far cry from the wounds past inflicted

With that intention, a reminder of the void
The Heart recoils and then rolls into remembrance
of a whole young tree
Reaching up to the heavens
Connecting and growing
Unfolding with the humid air, wet dew and sweet musty scent

Roots devoted toward earth soil and sustenance
Beneath the stories of women and men
Conquering the atmospheric neglect and blight
Accepting the tenderness of breath and vigor

Adoration and care shatter
patterns and defenses
Once the region of void, shame, distress and destruction -
the fear site of blood and fertility
an almost-return to the earth
in entirety

Surrender births expansion
Familial patterns reach a threshold
sparking progress like the cell cycle
Innate wisdom of division
Dehydrated leaves floating downward
with triumph and glee
cut from the branch
In natures time
repair and renewal

An opening to possibility
in the birthplace of saplings
A new perspective of the same infinite cycle
of the mother and the father

Soul is seen and enveloped in this union
Embraced by the chaos of that sweet falling tree
Caught by the mere vision of a strong spongy thicket
Cherished by his whole-hearted trust
of the natural order that effortlessly supports
the existence of the canopy.


Richmond, VA

Heavy Load

I saw an ad in a yard sale FB group. Someone was selling a large piece of furniture. I don’t know if it was a breakfront or a table or a giant sectional sofa. But like so many things we accumulate, there was this warning: very heavy, you’ll need to bring one or two strong people with you. This is a common caveat in ‘for sale’ ads: works but very heavy. Great condition, very heavy. You’ll need help. You have to pay for it AND it’s really heavy.

I thought about the furniture in my house. In the not too distant future, I plan to move into a smaller house. I won’t need four bedrooms in a couple years, just two. I won’t need 1,900 sf, just maybe 1,000. Seems like the easiest way to get rid of my heavy furniture is just to give it away. If it’s heavy and awkward, people are usually willing to take it if it’s free. I don’t want to take it with me. I don’t want to take most of what I have with me. 

We have a lot of heavy things in our lives. Things we own, things we carry around with us. Monkeys on our backs. Really, really heavy monkeys. We allow ourselves to be burdened by things, by feelings, by hurts and betrayals, by people who don’t do us any good, who don’t have our best interests at heart. It’s hard to let go, mainly because these things are so heavy, their roots so deep. You need to hire an excavator to get at the taproot and there’s still a fear they might grow back. 

Who will take my heavy things? I don’t have many left. Only the things that serve a purpose. All the other heavy things I let go of, gave away, paid to get rid of. Sometimes you have to do that: pay someone to relieve you of your burdens. But you still have to do the work. You still have to place the ad, answer the calls, wait around and hope they show up. You have to be present when they come to take away that heavy thing. You might even have to help them load it on their truck, suggest they turn it sideways. It might fit better. You have to watch them back up in your driveway so they don’t hit a tree, run over a flower bed. You have to watch them drive off with your heavy thing, your burden. Make sure they don’t suddenly change their minds and bring it back. You have to put up the ‘for sale’ sign. Change your number, no forwarding address. Sometimes you have to do that to get rid of all the heavy things, the things that weigh you down, that settle into the floor and leave marks you can’t even see until their gone. The gouges, the dents, the scrapes. You might have to sand the floors and repaint the walls. 

You do what you have to do to rid yourself of those heavy things so you can free yourself, feel light again, unburdened, alive, intact.


Beaverdam, VA

I'm trying to start writing again after a hiatus. The easiest/hardest way to do that is to rip the bandaid off and expose the wound in public. Let it air out. It heals faster that way.

Who Am I

Who am I? First and foremost, a believer – one who thinks and feels there is a Creator and the universe is headed somewhere. Call it being teleological if you need a stronger term.

Then, a husband and son and, one day I hope, a father. My family relationships are a series of roots that ground me. I am and always will be the best parts of where I am from, which is stone like the mountains.

Next, I am a teacher who is sometimes disappointed with the reality of people but always enamored with their possibility. I'm always searching for ideas. I want to make the world a better place by acting in a way that represents the best. I fail at this often.

A desire for learning central to my work.

I am a writer. Yes, I am, and I own it. One who has tried his hand at a variety of publications, sometimes poetry, sometimes essays. Recently, research.

I always hope to write something.

I am a lister, Mr. Ruthless Perfectionist. One who has been making lists a long time to feel adequate, to feel like an overcomer.

No more lists. This is who I am.


My Grandpa liked to salt his fruit—apples, plums, sometimes berries but never oranges. And he'd salt each piece as if it were a tiny treasure of its own. But when we did eat oranges, Grandpa would divide its crescent shapes between the two of us. Or he would slice an apple, piece by piece, from its core. He also liked to teach me Italian words, and before he turned the magic trick of his wrist, he'd say sale. Salt.

Sometimes he’d let me sit on his lap while driving. Never far, around the neighborhood. But I loved it. I’d place my little hands over his on the steering wheel, and he’d give me instructions on what to do. “Turn left, easy goes it, okay now, straighten the wheel.” were some of the things he’d say. But of course, he was the one driving.

After our driving lessons, we’d drive up to the Farm Shop on Wolcott Road. It’s not there anymore.

Our lunch would always be the same. Two hot dogs, in a toasted bun, always cut in thirds, with spicy mustard and relish. The green kind, extra on mine. The hot dog came on a piece of white paper, scalloped at the edge. That first bite was a dream. The bun was crisp, buttery, soft in the center.

After lunch, we’d go to the cemetery and plant new flowers for Grandma. Always red geraniums. Today, when I pass by geraniums of any color, I press my nose into the leaves. The cemetery flowers, I call them.

My Grandpa also liked to sing. He’d be cutting up carrots, or washing up, and he'd teach me what he was doing in song. But my favorite was when he’d bounce me on his lap and sing Old Mother Larry. There was always a twinkle in his eye.

He also had this funny thing he’d say. The wind blew, the shit flew, and you were missing for a day or two. I can’t say those words to myself without laughing. Without seeing him laughing at my laughter like a little girl.

When I got older, he didn’t like that I pulled my sleeves down over my hands. He said it looked messy. Unladylike.

He didn’t know why my parents sent me to college. Or why I liked to move around so much.

At my mother’s funeral, I overheard him whisper to someone that I looked like trash. Later, I found out why.

The price tag for the shoes I bought last minute was still on the soles. I hadn’t thought to scratch the stickers off. There were other things on my mind that day.

The $39.99 I spent on funeral shoes was now known to everyone. The tag was visible to the crowd when I knelt in front the casket. My Grandpa didn’t see me that day. He only saw a girl who wasn’t put together.

It’s been too long since I’ve last seen my Grandpa. Three years, in fact. I don’t have a good excuse. I’ve been living abroad, being a young person. I don’t have to remind you that the world is built for young people. It makes it easy. But I think we hide aging folks not because we are embarrassed for them, but for ourselves.

I called the nursing home and asked for my Grandpa. They pulled him out of bed, it felt like a selfish thing to disrupt him. But the little girl in me wanted to hear his voice.

"Hi, Grandpa. It's me.” But he only moaned. There was no way I could know if he was happy to hear from me or if it was a sad moan or a moan of confusion.

I said it was me over and over again and that I loved him over and over again and he responded with more moans. I didn’t get the chance to say the same things to my mother or father before either of them died.

The nurse took the phone and asked me if I was okay. I wasn’t. But she assured me that he was and that he was stable. I knew she was lying.  

After I hung up, I thought I should do something, something physical. I felt like I could run for miles, scale tall peaks, dance for 72 hours straight. I wanted to scream.

So I cleaned up after supper. I loaded the dishwasher and pressed start. I took out the garbage but not before I double bagged it. Something sharp cut through making a hole and coffee spilled out onto the floor. I know better than to pour leftover coffee from the cafetiere into the garbage. But I do it anyway.

I wiped the counters down and then decided that I needed dish soap and new sponges. I threw the old ones out.

I walked up to the market. I walked fast, with long strides. Nothing made sense. Not people passing by, young, old, talking, smoking. Boys and girls, teens with their coats half-off, exposing their shoulders. I was young like that once. Still, I can't recall why it wasn’t cool to wear to a jacket.

The double-decker buses unnerved me, imagining the damage caused should one flip over. Or hug a corner too tight. I imagined a man walk in front of a bus, then the horror on the passengers faces at the point of impact, of realization. Once the knowledge rushes in, there’s no recovering.

Once in the store, I walked up and down the isles. I didn’t like the sponge selection. So I walked two more blocks to another store, but they were out of sponges. For a moment, I imagined all the city to be home, washing up. Trying to repair a lifetime of mistakes.

I’ve kept an incredible distance from my family, wanting to explore freedom. Unattachment. But the profound work that loving can do only breaks beneath the weight of a compromise. The distance hurts. The distance hurts.

I went back to the other store and picked out some sponges. A package of two, one blue, one yellow. I also bought some lime-scented, cruelty-free, dish soap.

In the same aisle, besides the chemicals, is the candy. I stared at the selection for a while, wanting comfort. I bought a bar of Cadbury’s Fruit and Nut. My grandpa’s favorite.

I bought a bottle of wine, I’m drinking too much these days, and a bottle of water and an Empire Biscuit to go. The cookie was beautiful. Marvelous. Poetry. Two butter biscuits sandwiched with raspberry jam. Iced with pastel colored frosting, topped with a lemon yellow gumdrop. The gumdrop tasted like lemon too. My Grandpa liked lemon-flavored cakes.

I tried only to eat half, you know, calories. But then I said to myself, “Fuck it. What’s the point?”

My Grandpa is 102 years old, and he’s dying in a nursing home. Alone. The nurse tells me that he likes to sleep all day, covered up with a blanket, all the way up to his ears. I wanted to say to her, “Me too.”

I hate that I am so far away.

He was, is, my favorite person.


Edinburgh, Scotland


Day Hike

Under the dripping pines
the men talk of gadgets:
a new phone with more games,
a portable blood pressure monitor.
The mothers hand out snacks:
crackers, raisins,
shining tubes of yoghurt.
The men call for more pace:
the goal lies up ahead,
embrace the challenge.
The mothers murmur of
exercise programs, outgrown shoes,
period pains, mutual friends.
The trail forks,
choices offered.
The mothers turn away,
caught in the slipstream of
their striding men.


Palo Alto, CA

Michelle is a British ex-pat, mom to two girls, two dogs and two horses, with a vigorous interest in feminism, history and crochet.

Warm Springs

It always felt like summer there. The window over the kitchen sink was open, the sink where my mother washed my hair, singing the White Rain shampoo commercial over and over to keep me from crying. I wiggled my wet scalp away from her fingers whenever she stopped. My eyes never forgot that first sting from the lather and I held that memory like a small whip of guilt over her with every shampoo. 

My mother tended to my wordless grandmother, opening the white-curtained windows next to Grandmother’s bed after her early morning bed bath. She smelled chalky with Ivory soap, sweetened by Jergens’s lotion and talc. The window went up in the morning and stayed open all day until the moths came out and flung themselves at the screen.

Every morning, I would take my little dog Rinny out for some exploring. He was a mongrel, some kind of mixed terrier, black and tan, the size of a shoebox. He was named for the mighty war dog Rin Tin Tin. 

It was early in the day. Rinny trotted off ahead. I poked along behind.

All at once, there were snarls and deep throated growls, yelps and snapping of jaws and teeth.

A pack of dogs of all ages and sizes had run up out of nowhere, lunging and biting at something in the center of that sudden circle of fur and muscle.

It was Rinny.

There was a German Shepherd flashing copper and tan, diving in toward the center. There was a collie lunging up on its hind legs, looking nothing like the beatific Lassie.

There was an assortment of mutts and mongrels of small and medium sizes, all raging around wherever Renny was.

I walked toward them.

A screen door slammed. I saw the slim outline of my mother on the porch, one hand over her heart, one cupped around her mouth. I heard my name being called with her voice.

I turned back around and walked toward the storm.

Everything was lifting and fading like a campfire.

I waded in.

The shepherd and collie reared up higher than my head. I felt the wet from their spit on my arms, on my cheeks and forehead. 

I went in deeper.

Dogs were ankle deep, knee deep, shoulder high. One or two were screaming but they didn’t sound like Rinny.

In the middle of it all, I saw him, fighting back, all small snapping teeth and torn ears.

I bent down and scooped him up. The shepherd and big collie were fighting each other. I held Rinny under my chin and over my heart. I shouted up at the tall ones and down at the little ones with everything I had, louder than I knew I could be. 

I walked out of the circle. Not a tooth, not a claw, had touched me.

I don’t remember what came right after-not walking up the hill toward my grandparents’ front porch and my mother, not when I finally put Rinny down so that he could run around to the back of the house. He was fine except for those ears that healed crooked.

What I do remember is the late afternoon light aiming in on my mother and me from the open-air circle in the wooden ceiling of the ancient bath house. How it lit up the mirror-clear water that smelled like sulphur and was the same temperature as our insides. How I hated the smell of the rubbery bathing cap but loved the scent of the scratchy white towels.

What I remember is floating there on my back next to my mother and how the light lit us up and how there was just that one round patch of blue above us.

I thought about the bubble that surrounded me when I walked in among the dogs and how their teeth must have bounced right off of it. How the warm water felt a little like that bubble. How beautiful and clear it was, how long and pale my mother’s fingers looked shimmering under the water like that. How, if I thought about it, I bet I could just float away.


Ashland, VA

Mary Jo is waiting for Spring. 

Brothers' Bond

When we were kids growing up in Yonkers, my little brother and I loved baseball.

I was probably around 11 and he was 8, when I would bug him every day to go out and have “a catch." He would say, “No, you throw too hard and hurt my hand.” I would promise him that I'd throw it easy, so he would come out and play. 

When we got outside, I threw it hard and hurt his hand. 

One day, when we were playing catch, I hit him squarely on the forehead. There was a cut and some bleeding, and he started to cry. I felt terrible. All I could think to do was to give him my prize possession, a dinosaur named Ally. I don't think he really cared about the dinosaur, but at least I made the gesture. 

Another game we played, one I made up, was called “dart baseball." I had my brother hold up an old baseball bat, while I threw metal tipped darts at it. The idea was to get the darts to stick into the the wooden bat. It was all going along well, until I threw an inside pitch towards the bat handle where my brother was holding. The dart stuck more into the fleshy part of his hand than in the wood, immediately ending that game, and any future planned games of dart baseball. 

Somehow, my little brother survived childhood and didn't end up hating his big brother. In fact, as adults, we are good friends today. 

Our brothers' bonding through baseball experience may not have been typical, but that's just how it played out – and little brother still has the scars to prove it!


Richmond, VA

On Dancing, Again

BEFORE I NEVER learned to dance, I did try. Truly, I did. We had organized dances to go along with our organized religion and the CCD dances set up by the parish were great places to meet the girls you'd never see in your all-boys high school. 

Since the testosterone zone of a growing boy is difficult to channel...wants to be it's own wild pony and all that, I got myself to as many CCD dances as I could afford. 

There, one drippy March afternoon, I remember seeing a girl working her dance moves spectacularly, and with powerful grace amidst the tribe of what I supposed were her girlfriends. I'd never seen any of these girls before but I definitely wanted to get close to this one powerful dancer.

They were together in a dark corner of the gym near the stage. You couldn't make out their faces as they were silhouetted by the lights blaring from the stage. The vista was too exciting.

I pushed through this fragrant buzzing mix of girls, right up to that one most athletic dancer and asked her. Rather, I yelled into her ear as she turned her head and gave me the classic, "what?" mime with the one palm cupping the place where an ear would be if not for all that wild hair.

Surprisingly she grabbed my hand and pulled me deeper into the middle of the girls. 

Remember, those were the days of the Twist, the Swim, and the Mashed Potato, so there wasn't much touching. I guess the point was, if there was a point, was to thoroughly impress your dancing partner with your moves while not accidentally knocking her or anybody else in the head with your elbow. 

We danced three times, I believe, before the much hoped for slow dance arrived. Never mind those hopes, I best remember her taking my outstretched hand, again, and lifting it high and slightly behind her, palm to palm. She tucked her chin under my ear with her cloud of fragrant, sweaty hair almost covering my face. I think it was ok, though. At this point my eyes were the last of my senses in operation.

I was doubly blinded. The hair, the easy way this strange girl folded herself into me. I could hardly breathe.

As the song dragged to a close I remember the painfully shy boy inside me tripping me up by demanding I come up with some cool commentary or really good joke. The slow dance always anticipated a fifteen minute break for the band and I couldn't stand the thought of this girl escaping with her giggling friends into the ladies room never to be heard from again. 

I hadn't said one word as we danced head to head, chest to chest. The girl hummed the song....she could even hold the tune. I was enchanted. And nervous.

The song ended and she just stood beside me with her head down as the fluorescent lights snapped on and the nuns and priests chaperoning politely clapped for the band. 
The vision changed so abruptly. 

I moved to face her and she lifted her chin to reveal a beautiful heart-shaped face, beautiful, but horribly scarred, peeking out from behind the forest of dark hair. 

Burns. and many marginally successful skin grafts. And the most piercing look from her beautiful dark eyes.

She said, "So-o?" 

Epilog; Her name was Bonnie, one of the funnest, funniest girls I ever knew. We went out on several 'dates'. Things a fifteen year old can do involving homework and Vanilla Egg Cream fountain drinks. She dumped me, graciously, for a guy named Guy. I've always hated that name.


North Chesterfield, VA

A Minimalists Guide to Coping

Less is more,
so they say.
I will try,
start today.

The less I think,
the less the pain.
Turn off the brain,
give it rest.
Sweet coma,
might be best.

Shutting down.
It's okay.
Awake again,
in better days.
Sweet repose,
almost there.
Getting cold,
losing air.

Dreaming now,
better world,
all is well.

Wake me up,
when this hell,
has passed on.
But if not,
leave me be,
with sweet dreams
of fantasy.


Richmond, VA

It's Personal

I've been meaning to revisit this space for some time. I get a lot out of this free-write situation at Life in 10. I've been growing and improving as a writer in my professional life. I know it's partly thanks to this part of Internet land. It's an important part of my evolution as a person. The thing is, every time I come here to write, I only have incredibly deep and vulnerable stories to reminisce on and retell. I want to arrive here with a funny story to tell. I want to forget the sadness I carry around with me. I almost forget how sad some of my stories are until I tell them to new ears and feel the energy in the room change. I don't want to have to worry about hurting the people I would like to write about. 

Here I am, a story teller, who has a hard time telling her own stories. It's quite the pickle. I want to tell a story about a new guy I met, but I recently broke up with my boyfriend of six years and he'd certainly read it. I want to pen a story about how I learned I'm attracted to women, but don't want to offend the beautiful women I've come to love. I want to write a story about how frustrating my mother is and how I never want to be like her, but she's always on my social profiles seeing what I'm up to. I want to tell a story about my brother and how the random tufts of hair on his shoulder always made me crack up, but that would end inevitably up sad. I want to tell everyone about a guy who spread herpes around Richmond with reckless abandoned and ruined women's chances at a care free sex life. I want to write a story about my recent phone call from my dad. 

So, instead, I write stories about other people and share them with the world--triumphant stories of hope and dedication and creativity. I ask everyone I meet 52 questions and figure out what stories they have to share and tell. Maybe they need to get something off their chest. Maybe they need to build a business and just need the world to know. In a way, they are my stories, too. Their experiences and dreams become mine. They help me understand my own stories. They help me love myself and the future ahead. 

I'll be back and promise to write a story for you. One of mine.


Richmond, VA

Megan Wilson is a writer for a variety of magazines and newspapers and the founder of