Cream Moon

The other night, my friend and I stand on my back deck, watching the moon rise above the black horizon, a curved sliver at first, then quickly revealing all her radiant round beauty. In the house, my daughters and their friends play a game at the table, eating brownies and laughing. Little white lights sparkle above their heads.

The next night, fever lies me low, and my girls are awake in the wee midnight hours, comforting an oddly crying cat. As I rise out of the fever now, I think of how glad I am to return to our life. Worn out before, as we all get — buried beneath the everyday accrual of putting together work and life and parenting, and the non-everyday weight of am I failing? — I’m simply glad to return to the jumble of our lives, in this somewhat sleep-starved life, keeping the midnight shift, reading in bed or wandering around to the windows to admire the moon. Oh, the autumn moon.

Children grew in their sleep. They were growing now, bones lengthening like bamboo.

— Melanie Finn, The Underneath


Photo by Molly S.


Open the Door

Visiting the University of Vermont today with four high school senior girls and one sixth grader, our tour guide informed us he grew up in Brooklyn and had hardly been outside before he enrolled at UVM. My gaggle of girls and I looked at each other in disbelief. The poor soul.

We may not have represented the highest SAT scores in the room, but at least the girls know the importance of matching footwear with the weather.

Here’s a few lines from the novel I’m reading, suitable for craft of fiction advice:

Detail established truth. The color of the dog. Without detail, truth was a metaphorically unstable idea: too general, too big….

– Melanie Finn, The Gloaming


Burlington, Vermont


Burrowing Into the Shell

In the afterword of her late husband’s memoir, When Breath Becomes Air, Lucy Kalanithi writes about retreating into the meat of her marriage after his cancer diagnosis, seeking succor. In different ways, I see my own children gathering strength from friendships, art, running – all creative, growing activities, rather than comfort in destructive habits. Early this morning, I found myself pulling the predawn darkness around me, the familiar patterns of wood stove kindling, coffee grinding, and reading.

I was also thinking of my brother and his insistence that free will and responsibility are central human tenets. Or, I might rephrase, small lights as a way out of the darkness.

“…Have you done anything good? Anything beautiful? Have you created anything? Music? Art? Have you made anything better? Even in a small way? A small light in this dark world? Have you even been happy?”

She throws the lit nub of the cigarette out the window. “You should ask yourself what the hell you think you’re here for.”

Melanie Finn, The Gloaming


Burlington, Vermont