“Trying to Return” by Sandy Gillespie
The ledge is deep enough
to sit on, wide enough
for one. Damp ground,
soft with layered leaves, is chill
beneath me. A wood stove
somewhere near breathes birch
into the midnight sky — false
sense of warmth. A full moon hangs
cold light from heaven,
a blaze of white to mark
the river’s passing. I remember
April’s jumbled crush of ice —
the push of water
trying to return to something
greater than itself.
Foxes criss-crossed at will.
I imagine being stranded,
carried into realms past
light, my feet on melting ground.
Share your response to this work, in any form, here
Sandy Gillespie’s Artist Statement:
I am 66.
• At 41, I moved alone from San Diego, California, to Fairbanks, Alaska, to get
my MFA in poetry.
• I learned to backpack. To listen hard for moose and bear. To dress for -‐35 and
watch, at midnight, for the northern lights.
• I worked with Tuma Theater, a half Alaska native / half non-‐native theater
group that used Alaska native movement and drumming to tell stories.
• I built a dry cabin. Hauled water in five-‐gallon jugs. “Showered” in my hand-‐
• I taught English, theater, writing.
• I ran the visual arts department of a month-‐long summer fine arts camp.
• I was visual and literary arts program director for the Fairbanks Arts
Association, then for the Alaska State Council on the Arts.
• I came out as a lesbian.
• I had solo exhibits across the state, including at the Anchorage Museum and
the State Museum in Juneau.
• I came to Minnesota often to be with my grown kids.
• I became a “gran” & moved to Minneapolis.
• I became a Buddhist.