Grace Mattern ’s poetry and short fiction have been published in numerous literary journals and magazines, including Prairie Schooner, The Sun, Poet Lore, Cider Press Review, Calyx and Yankee Magazine. She has received a Poetry Fellowship from the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts and was the first recipient of the Jean Pedrick Memorial Fellowship for a four week writing residency at the Vermont Studio Center . Her chapbook, Fever of Unknown Origin, was published by Oyster River Press in 2002. Grace Mattern is the Executive Director of the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence where she has worked for the past 28 years.
“Circling” is a poem from the manuscript The Truth About Death, which chronicles the year after losing my husband to ocular melanoma. The poem documents a shift in my year of grieving, when I began to get glimpses of how to carry the loss of my beloved life partner as a strength, arising from my deep understanding of the duality that underlies all of life. The poem also provides a picture of the intense energy that manifested in my immersion in the process of writing a book of poetry – literally creating something in the face of death.
You could keep up with me and even better me
in some competitions, my basic criterion,
someone fast at my side and now there’s no
companion so I move faster than ever,
I talk as I walk between meetings, mini-meetings
while moving room to room, up and down
stairs, I walk as I talk to friends, circling
the table, alone, carrying my nugget of darkness,
my nugget of gold, moving back and forth
across the line so often the line has rubbed out.
I hold the edge and let people look over
my shoulder to see what is there, what is not.
www.nhcadsv.org -- The New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence website, for those interested in how I make my living.