The Best I Can Say by Mary Ardery

Dad—

It is Saturday morning.
They planted grass seed yesterday.
All good here,
beyond me.
Mom loved reading
the magazines.
We mark time with rituals and pictures—
a mother and father,
three little girls—
though
the real world
is not a straight line progression.
I’m struggling,
but I wake up every morning
and remember
that we are
much more than fine.
You’ve been like that forever—
committed
even in those moments when doubt threatens your faith.
The chaos,
the demons,
are waxing and waning.
The best I can say is
see you soon.

Source: Letters from my dad 2015-2018

Method: Thinking ahead to Father’s Day, I pulled out excerpts from handwritten letters from my dad over the past few years. I rearranged them to create a letter addressed to him, constructed by his own words addressed to me. Each line break represents a change in which letter I pulled the phrase from. The punctuation (and much of the capitalization) is my own.

Mary is from Bloomington, IN. You can find more of her work on Parks & Points, Sweet Tree Review, and right here on Unlost Journal. She is currently pursuing an MFA at Southern Illinois University.

Me Too by Mary Ardery

 

Method: I combined magazine clippings as well as some of my own photos to make this collage. The words “me too” are handwritten. My intention was to show a variety of female body parts, disconnected, mixed into a world of beauty. Women are often told to make themselves beautiful–and then blamed for looking so appealing: “How could the man resist?”

Source: A few of my own photos, but mainly magazine images and words from The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, Good Housekeeping, and one or two more that I cut out awhile back and no longer have the magazine covers to cite.

Mary Ardery’s poems and photos have been published in A Midwestern Review, Manuscripts, and Eye on the World. After living and working in Asheville, NC’s Blue Ridge Mountains for two years, she has returned home to the Midwest to pursue her MFA at Southern Illinois University.

 

Alone in the Castle by Mary Ardery

Are you lost, by the way?
It’s really hard.
I know how solitary it is, but I am here,
even after not knowing, not knowing, not knowing
other ways to be in the world.

Give time, time.
I hate rain
and like everyone else,
I don’t know why there is suffering.

If I were to truly live
it would re-open wounds
for awhile.
Hence the running.

Just between us,
I am struggling to be clean.
I am from a sick mother
and cracked sidewalks.
Nothingness. Disarray.
A locked room was my life.

The instructor said
love does not want to be rude
or throw the dinner plate
against the wall.

So find a water source:
the river, laugher and writing,
light in others around you.

Instead of numbing the hungry ghost,
free a soul to see what it can create:

trees and breeze,
molecules connecting,
small footholes, and

decisions turned good.

You may ask, “What if I could go back in time
but wouldn’t do anything differently?
What if I was a liar?”

This is what I know:
For everything I am sure of, there are more things I am unsure of.
There will be questions,
and those lullabies weren’t lullabies at all.
I’ll never forget the carcass,
but it all seems livable again.
I still get out of bed each morning.

Source & Method: This found poem was created from writing circle excerpts penned by women in wilderness therapy for substance abuse. I facilitated these writing circles during my sixteen months working as a field guide for Four Circles Recovery Center, based out of Horse Shoe, North Carolina.

Mary Ardery’s poems and photos have been published in A Midwestern Review, Manuscripts, and Eye on the World. After living and working in Asheville, NC’s Blue Ridge Mountains for two years, she has returned home to the Midwest to pursue her MFA at Southern Illinois University.