Summer Volta

(For Gloria Johnson)

Dinner is done, and 
the dishes. Dog has eaten
and gone outside. I sit now
at my desk listening to 

classical music and trying 
to finish writing a quiz 
for American literature this
fall while the sun goes down. 

My phone dings with an
alert, which means I will pick 
it up, and I will get lost for 
20 minutes checking the 

socials, all because I forgot to
silence the damn thing, and so 
it is that right in the middle of
writing the third of four 

possible answers on a 
multiple choice question, I 
learn that a grad school mentor
is retiring, and I am suddenly

struck with a sadness so deep
that I forget to return to the 
question. Instead I sit in my room
while voices from the radio intone

Whitacre’s “Sleep,” which now
sounds like a dirge, and the 
music and the dusk mix with
my memories, and I can see 

the room and the desks, eager
master’s candidates in a 
circle discussing Kazin’s “A 
Walker in the City,” and I 

remember being your
student and how much you 
taught me with nary a

© 2020 Deb Moore, All Rights Reserved

Every Now is Slippery

Every now is slippery. 

The 15-minute
rendezvous in Cincinnati,
you driving to Michigan,
us heading back south,
hugs and summaries
in a McDonald’s
parking lot,
a shared laugh
that we managed
to pull this off.

Emily rounding the bases
in Denver,
pigtails bouncing.
Vacations home
spent tagging along
on your routine
as if I really lived there
those five days.  

That visit from mom
when she redid
my entire house,
never stopping,
the way she liked it,
and then it was done,
and she left,
and 15 minutes later
I wanted to hug her
and say I love you
and maybe have
a cup of tea. 

I missed
Christmas ‘88,
but no others,
because that was
sacred –
not necessarily holy,
but sacred.
All running together
now in one big
glittery blur,
some asterisked by
an absence
or a change
or a drama. 

So many moments,
each their own
kind of tradition
in the remembering,
but also each
a separate pinpoint
on a timeline.

I want to
hold two-year-old Emily
in my arms,
her dangling feet
bouncing off my thigh,
my back strong
and able.
But she’s 34 now,
no longer the
big-eyed baby
she will always be to me
and will never be again.

I want to lasso
hold a fistful
of water,
the wind.

But time only
moves forward.
Nothing ever
comes back
around again
the same.

Every now is
held for an
instant —
No, not even held,
just slipping,
always slipping

© 2020 Deb Moore, All Rights Reserved

Everybody Needs A Buddy

A year and a half ago I had to make one of the toughest decisions of my life (not an overstatement).  Because of various and sundry life changes that I won’t detail here, I had to make one huge domino fall in order for the others to follow suit.  I had to re-home my two beloved dogs, Sebastian and Pepper.  It broke my heart then, and it breaks my heart still.  But a combined 140 pounds of dog wasn’t conducive to apartment living.  It would not have been easy for me, and it would not have been fair to them.


A lightning-strike solution presented itself with ease and grace, and I believe that their move to a new home (complete with huge backyard and a loving person) was directed by the universe.  But, damn, the loss.  The horrendous, endless sense of loss.  And because it was ultimately a decision, the questioning.  The horrendous, endless questioning.

I’ve been thinking a lot about loss lately.  I think a lot of people do during the holidays.  The older I get, the more loss I have experienced, of course.  There is an invisible line I crossed which no one told me about where the brain is more occupied with memories than with planning.  And memories are the currency of loss.

Memories and 70’s music.  When I’m feeling all the feels, I tend to run toward them for a warm embrace rather than trying to avoid them.  So today I’ve been basking in the feeling of loss while listening to Carole King (“You’re So Far Away”), Elton John (“This is Your Song”), John Denver (“Rocky Mountain High”), and James Taylor (just about any song).  The music of that era seems to have been centered around chords and chord progressions that evoke loss — it’s that sweet, happy-sad sound that gives a sense of meaning even to lyrics like “I want to make it with you.”

Memories are the savings account of emotion.  Sometimes they bring a deep and indescribable pain, but they are the evidence of a life well lived.  For me, they hold my dad, my grandparents, old loves, college memories, moments — those moments that would seem insignificant to anyone else but which hold deep meaning for me.   Those people who meant something to me, and even I can’t explain it.  Facebook friends I never actually met who died, and their death ripped a hole right through me.  Celebrities, yes, celebrities whose passing feels like a loss for the planet.  That person I haven’t seen in 30 years who still shows up in my thoughts now and then.

New Year’s Eve is a natural time for taking this journey into yesterday with all its joys and sorrows.  With all its loss.

I am learning to reframe loss in three significant ways.

First, I am choosing gratitude in place of grief.  I miss my father so deeply some days that it feels like I can’t breathe.  But, I have found that I can shift the feeling from devastation to appreciation if I stop and say, “I’m so grateful you were my dad.”

Second, I am only giving yesterday a limited amount of emotional space.  I’m grateful for my memories, but when they start to dominate my internal conversation, I consciously focus on tomorrow and plans and hopes and dreams and possibilities.

Third, I just look at Buddy.  My pup is, without a doubt, the best decision I made in 2016.  That, too, is not an overstatement.  I’ve had lots of animals in my life, but I’m not sure any being has brought me so much joy. Babies always win over loss.


Actually, there is a fourth thing I do — I change the Pandora station.  Carole King is good for purging, but Abba is good for happy.

“You are the dancing queen, young and sweet, only seventeen . . .”