"Unharness yourself from your weary stories." - Ellen Bass, "How to Apologize"
Yellow blooming Forsythia flowers in spring close up.Forsythia   intermedia_ or border forsythia is an ornamental deciduous shrub of garden origin.
Today's quote is from a poem in The New Yorker that I recommend reading in its entirety. After all, it's National Poetry Month. Like other teens, I wrote a lot of (mostly bad) poetry in high school and college before turning my literary aspirations to fiction. I've written a few poems in the years since and would love to take a workshop again. I know a lot of readers and writers are intimidated by poetry, but really it's low-stakes: there's no money in it, you can dash off a poem anywhere, and there are no rules (unless you're trying a specific form, like haiku). So I encourage you to join me in writing, reading, and/or thinking about poetry this month. Have a favorite poem or want to share one you've written? I'd love to read it!

Happy Aviv, the Hebrew word for Spring, which my dear friend in Israel just taught me. Since moving to the suburbs, the forsythia bush has become one of my favorite signs of spring (thus the photo above). It makes me feel lighter to see these wild, bright clusters of yellow flowers dotting the landscape. This year we planted two in our own yard and I look forward to watching them grow.

And Happy Easter to those who celebrate. This will be our second year with a low-key celebration at my parents' house and I'm missing my extended family from the Lancaster area. Life has felt faster paced lately, with more outdoor gatherings/activities and the kids home for spring break last week. So I haven't been writing and my brain feels a bit scrambled. My reflections may be disjointed, too, but here goes.

Sunday School memories of Easter egg hunts in the church graveyard. Thinking of the women who organized those, bought the candy and plastic eggs, assembled the eggs and hid them behind tombstones and in tree branches.

Easter at my grandparents' house in Avalon, NJ. We dyed hard-boiled eggs and the adults hid them in the sandy backyard. Peeling the shell to find the colors leaked onto the egg white inside.

Asking my mom to "look me in the eye and tell me the truth" about whether the Easter Bunny was real, a moment that traumatized both of us and unraveled my belief in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy, too.

After my grandmother died, my grandfather moved in with his next-door neighbor in the retirement community and we started having Easter there. His new partner was German and always made a braided sweet bread with fruit and nuts. For a few years in a row, my friend from North Dakota, a recent Philly transplant, would come along to spend Easter with us. We'd come home with Ziploc bags full of leftovers: the bread, my aunt's Spanish rice, my mom's mashed potatoes, etc.

When my grandfather died, his partner moved into a smaller living space and announced her retirement from cooking and hosting holiday meals. My mom and my aunt have taken turns hosting ever since. Easter at my parents' house was the last holiday we had with my brother before his cancer diagnosis. There is a picture of him from that day, smiling in his gentle way, his hand holding a fork, a piece of cake in front of him.

The following year, we lived in NC and my parents and in-laws drove down to spend Easter at our house in Hillsborough. I was a new mom, my daughter just 6 months old then, and we'd just had the memorial service for my brother in March. Everything felt in transition and it was nice just to gather and share a meal.

Now we are more or less settled in our "family house" and I take a picture of my kids in their Easter outfits in front of our daffodils each year. Last night we were watching a movie together and I forgot it was the night before Easter, let the kids stay up later than usual. Suddenly I remembered and started stressing about needing to get them to sleep so I could fill their baskets and such. Thankfully Clint stepped in to do the basket filling and I was able to go to bed. Holidays are hard work for parents!

Today, on this second Easter during the pandemic, I'm thinking of a line from our (now retired) pastor's sermon on Palm Sunday some years ago: "If you think dark wins over light, come back next week!" That is what the holiday means to me, a reminder that good can win over bad, that the stasis of winter is followed by the redemption of spring, and that any day is a chance to begin again.

That is what I'll be doing this week, as my kids go back to school and I get back to my novel. Starting after an absence is the hardest part, but I know I'll find the flow again. Wishing you the same with whatever new or old projects you want to start or return to this spring.
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The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett was a much-buzzed-about book last year. When I finally read it, I couldn't put it down and was honored to write a review for The Sunlight Press. Check out my thoughts here!
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