The First Thing I Wrote on This Retreat Was Not Supposed to Be About My Mother


I’ve been told there are fawns in the rushes, eyes lashed black, hiding in the half mile between road and borrowed home, their gawky lank of limbs, their freckled velvet near impossible to see in the dense green. But this is not about deer, though looking for them is a fine distraction. The house sits on the shore of the Chesapeake Bay, so close that one flick of a wrist could skip a stone across the water, one slip of a step could dash me broken on the rocks. But this is not supposed to be about death. It is about the light, how it coats the whole coastline, waves glazing the boulder walls to sheen, shellacking each leaf to gem. It is not about the contained halo from the lamp at her bedside where my brother and I took turns sleeping.  It is about the white noise of those waves, lapping evenly in rhythm, not about her labored, jagged breath in those last days, its stop-start staccato beating against her chest. And this is about the fawn, after all, about hiding and seeking, about how grief seeps into every place, armed with the most formidable of opposites.


Donna Vorreyer is the author of Every Love Story is an Apocalypse Story (Sundress Publications, 2016) and A House of Many Windows (Sundress, 2013) as well as eight chapbooks, most recentlyThe Girl (Porkbelly Press).