I went to the bathroom at the campground to wash up before bed.

There was a lady there blow-drying her hair.

She began to tell me how her son had died a few years ago in an ATV accident leaving her empty and alone.

Her current husband (the second one) didn’t understand.  It wasn’t his son and he wasn’t a mother.

All the while she’s telling me these things and looking at me piercingly, puzzled repeatedly saying, “I don’t know why I’m telling you all of this.”

One of the times I respond, “People tell me their stories.” She gives me an add look.

She tells me she was a Sunday school teacher at an Anglican church until her father, an atheist, died and the priest came to tell her he’d gone to hell.  She hasn’t been to church since.

She asks me if I’m a religious woman and I tell her spiritual, yes, but religious, no.  I can’t say I’m right and everyone else is wrong.

She says as if suddenly enlightened, “That’s why I’m telling you all of this.”

She has also said she’s telling me all this because I’m a stranger, a neutral party.

About a year after her son died, a friend of hers asked her to go to a spiritual healer.  “I don’t believe in that.”

“You don’t have to. You already have an appointment so please come with me for my sake, not yours.”

She goes.  The lady strokes her head, hair, shoulders.  “So sad,” she says.  “You are the saddest person I’ve ever seen.”

As the healer speaks to her she closes her eyes tight refusing to give a inch-to give anything away.

The healer says, “There’s someone here from the other side.  Mumsie, he’s saying. What do you want to say to him?”

He was 6’4″ and used to gather her up in his arms and swing her around.

She says in her mind, “Why didn’t you give me one last good hug?”

She’s been drinking.  She has tears in her eyes.  She is lonely.

“My husband will be wondering where I am.”

She gives me a hug.

She runs into my husband outside and tells him I was her savior tonight.

I wonder what will happen to Martha tomorrow night.


I wrote a poem once

I wrote a poem once after tripping all night in the freezing cold

It was about grandmother moon
under the moonlight
with a can of bugler
and rolling papers by the bonfire
and tales to pass the night

I got my rainbow name
man, that guy was funny

Shared my tent platonically with a stranger named Pooze

I got sick and Pooze brought me medicinal tea

I traded chocolate for…..EVERYTHING

I saw fairies in the night

I learned to rinse off in the creek and comb out my hair instead of getting three knarly dreads and spending two hours on top of a hill brushing it all out…..bushy

Remembering makes me happy

Even though that girl is gone

But I wrote a poem once