Flood Insurance

These are the things I thought to save:

……shells from Cape Cod circa 1977

……an orange Sears towel from my grandmother’s house

……and the necklace she gave me from her trip to Arizona

……the dissected photos of my parents’ wedding

……my Dad’s watch, overnight bag

……(also, his hardcover copy of Walden with margin notes)

……Winnie the Pooh……in the red shirt my mother mended

No matter the flood of seas or tears, accidental fire or the kind that comes with brimstone, and with all apologies to Buddha of course, I will suffer these attachments — these glimpses of a past life, the smells of cedar and déjà vu.

Poem ©2017, Jen Payne. Image: Water Album – The Waving Surface of the Autumn Flood, Ma Yuan. If you like this poem, you’ll love Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind. Click here to purchase your copy today!

Life Lessons from Dad

Study hard, be smart.

Weigh the pros and cons of your decisions.

Stand on your own two feet.

Hard work is a key to success.

Dream big.

Love what you love with passion.

When you fall off a horse, get right back on.

Laugh a lot and often…

and you’ll come out on the other side just fine.

That’s my dad and me, college graduation 1988. He died 7 years later, 22 years ago today, at the age of 52. Life is fleeting — perhaps that is the biggest lesson of all.

Dad, Guess What!

On the 20th Anniversary of Your Death I can almost hear the sound of the mailbox, feel the gravel driveway beneath my feet as I raced inside to call you. “I got accepted to…” I squealed, so excited to share the little successes as they arrived 30 years ago, before college, graduation, the accident. There […]


F…..A…..M…..I…..L…..Y She spells it slowly, smiling, as if she’s landed on a triple-word score. But the letters spit out like broken teeth after a tough fight. “We are, aren’t we?” she asks in the same tone she uses for “I was a good MOTHER, wasn’t I?” and “You do LOVE me, don’t you?” There is […]

To Actually Be Present

A friend and I were talking over lunch last week about life and health, work and family. “Best to make the most of it,” I said. “You could get hit by a bus tomorrow,” she added with a smirk. We do smirk when we say that, don’t we? As it leaves our lips, it seems […]

On Your Birthday

Very often I walk alone, and Wednesday was no different. The morning was perfect — you would have loved it — so I stepped away from the day-to-day I know you knew so well, and went for a walk before noon. I was sorry no one joined us — but I celebrated quietly, my memories […]

Sensory Memory

The cracker in cellophane from the diner tastes like age eleven, and I think of her— “Grammy” — sitting next to me dunking Saltines into Salada tea with milk and sugar. I hear the chirp of her hearing aid, smell Vicks and Vasoline, feel the softness of her cheek against my lips. • • • […]