Your poem “Breaking Sky,” which won the 2012 Atlantis Award, opens with an imaginary, surreal image and progresses into the tangible, real world of birth and death. The tone shifts from something that at first seems playful and distant into an elegy for the speaker’s mother and loss of memory. How did this poem develop for you in the writing process itself? Did you know that the poem was moving toward the death of a mother? Or is it something that surprised you in the process itself?
I’m not really sure how the poem “started” in my head, but yes, this sudden appearance by my mother does happen often when I’m writing. My mother’s slip into dementia was one of the most stunning occurrences in my entire life. That first encounter with her when I knew she wasn’t in touch with reality was a gut punch for sure. The memory of it doesn’t get dim either. I think in this particular poem it came from talking about the piece of the sky, how you were once like a piece of sky falling from the mother’s thighs to my mother. It just happened. And no, I didn’t know when I began writing the poem.