Mary Kellogg, “This Time Of Life”


Mary and me                                           Photo by Jon Katz

I sat on Mary’s bed in her room at Holbrook Adult Home where she’s recovering from a broken hip.

She sorted through three folders filled with her writing.  Some were complete poems, others had arrows  moving words around and whole lines scratched out.  There were fragments of ideas and whole stories, memories of her childhood, in one paragraph.

I’ve never seen these before.

With all three of Mary’s books, that Jon and I have published, she always handed me a folder of perfectly type written poems.  Her name and the date she wrote them at the bottom of each one.

But on Sunday, I got to see a bit of Mary’s process. How she sometimes writes out a story and transforms it into poetry.

Some of the poems she wrote years ago and never showed me.

One called “The Photo” about the love between her and Dick, her husband who died over 20 years ago, is probably the most revealing and emotional poem of Mary’s I’ve ever read.  I’m not sure if she never showed it to me before because it’s so personal, or if she just never considered it finished.  Lots of lines are scribbled out and typewritten words have been changed with a black pen.

I don’t know how long Mary will be at Holbrook Home.  When, if ever, she’ll be able to go back to her beloved home on the hill.  When Jon and I visited her,  She told us, ” I’m not in any pain” then tapped her heart and said, “except for in here”.

Jon wrote beautifully about Mary and where she is in her life on his blog (something I struggle with doing).  She has two daughters who love her and are taking good care of her.

Mary is my friend.  We share a creative connection, a past of hiding our art from the world, and a friendship since 2007,  anchored in supporting each other’s work.

Mary may not have every shown me some of these poems under different circumstances.

Now I get to bring them back to her and ask her just how she wants to finish them, which word is the right one.  I’ll know why she crossed out the words “Isolation fills the void” (which I think is a great)  the last line in one of poem “Isolation”.

I’m so grateful to be working on another book with Mary Kellogg.  This one will have 15-20 poems in it.  Some memories from her childhood, some about nature and others about her life now.

At the last Bedlam Farm Open House Mary gave me six  poems that she wrote last year.  In one called Silence In Life, she ends it with the words:   “Listen and love this time of life.” 

I’m thinking “This Time Of Life” would be a  good title for Mary Kellogg’s fourth book.


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