“What Remains” by Maggie Stetler
— Remembering Virginia Woolf
As a woman, I guarded
my body too, longed for a
mother, not a man, married
for love and art but not sex.
As a child in Pennsylvania,
I dodged imaginary Cold-War
bombs, pre-divorce barrages.
In London, yours, a real war.
No matter, wounds concur:
woman down. Still you met
head on: fiction, insanity, the
folding over of mind and world.
You, buffeted, frail — your words
shot me out of orbit. A blast of
truth lodged in the central nerve.
A kaleidoscope of self
and others fused, refracted;
time and space collapsed,
colliding. I rode your waves,
voyaged out and back, safe
by your piercing light. For you,
despair, voices. You died
many times before you died.
I stand in the 21st Century
on my river bank. Cast
a stone, wade out, tread
water, float. Easier than
your walk, still a distance.
Other side, sepia in morning
haze, you wave recognition.
In a second lasting 130 years,
your body bursts into flames.
What remains: a spinning thread
of connection — blood, veins,
hair, gut, gamete — all pure gold.
Share your response to this work, in any form, here
Maggie Stetler Artist Statement:
A refugee from 9/11 NYC, Maggie Stetler now lives in Winchester, VA. Thanks
to many years of psychotherapy, she survived her parents’ 1950s divorce; a 20-
year separation from her father; and living in 17 houses by the time she was 17.
Maggie is an advocate for the mentally ill and abused, and champions the
creative arts as a means to heal and transform broken lives. She is a Quaker
(The Religious Society of Friends); a Reiki practitioner; and, as a substitute
teacher, cares for the souls of astounding young people. Her poems have most
recently appeared in the Buddhist Poetry Review; The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review;
Snapdragon: A Journal of Art and Healing; Friends Journal; and Gathered:
Contemporary Quaker Poets. Her poems and drawings have hung in Soho, City
Island, and Shenandoah Valley galleries; one poem is on permanent view in the
bathroom of Steamy’s Café in Old Town Winchester.