Dragon Slayer

Jesse Lanier Cooper – October 15-January 3, 2005

Jesse’s favorite Greek myth was Perseus and Andromeda. He loved heroes, warriors, dragon slayers. A life-size cutout of Xena, Warrior Princess stood in the corner of his room. Some understood that his broken body contained a warrior soul. After Jesse died, his best friend dreamed that he came to him as a warrior. After death, Perseus and Andromeda became constellations. But I don’t look to the stars for Jesse. I read the annual report of the Jesse fund at the MA Federation for Children with Special Needs that has slain the dragons of educational obstruction for over three hundred families of kids with disabilities, and see my warrior boy.



The photograph is sepia-toned as if it should be displayed in a fusty old museum. But there is a golden, honeylike aura, too. My son, his head thrown back, laughing, looks up at my mother, who goes deep with him; she has known wordlessness. Together, they are sibylline, trading secrets. Uncle Joe, hands in his pockets like a middle schooler, smiles awkwardly. My niece, nine, looks down at my son in his wheelchair like a sleepwalking girl who sees a vision of her future as a warrior mother who will someday know a savage love for her own boy.

Christmas Poem


Jesse Cooper





The woods

As we look for

The perfect tree

We leave a piece of 

Silver for the wood sprites

The decorations are in storage

We dust off all the ornaments

Dad spends an entire day stringing

Together popcorn and cranberries

I’m happy to have Dad home this Christmas

The tree’s spine is crooked like mine and Mom’s

Stan’s homemade ornaments are placed on the tree

They hang on the branches like rings on fingers

Colored lights beat out white lights this year

This is our Charlie Brown Blue Spruce Christmas Tree


I don’t think of the first fraught birth day, two-and-a half months early, the icy fear, the grim pronouncements. Now I remember sunny still-warm October days on our deck, my son surrounded by cousins and friends, laughter and cake, the marsh in hues of gold. I want to find the multiverse where this day exists and reside there forever.  

Jesse at eight. You are 34 tomorrow somewhere in the multiverse.

I Fall

I’m two years old and wailing, facing the camera in the black and white photo. Underneath the white curlicue edge, my Uncle Joe has written “I fall.” My fear of heights is deep-seated and so visceral it probably goes back to a life before this one, the result of a misstep on a cliff road or a sacrificial hurling into a fiery pit. In this life, it will be another’s fall from a tall building, the man that jumps from a window of the Hotel Warwick on Sixth Avenue that will cause me to go into labor after I walk through his scrambled brains. I deliver my son ten weeks early, like the fulfillment of an ancient, unfathomable decree.


Midway on our life’s journey, I found myself / In dark woods, the right road lost” –Dante Alighieri

Can’t believe I got lost in the woods I have known since moving here in 1994…but I took a wrong turn with Titi and Sugar straining the leash, and “found myself” wandering in a wood that was unrecognizable since winter’s deadfall! Meanwhile, my husband planned to surprise me at the bay farm. Usually you can see the vast expanse of meadow pretty easily–but I was wandering in the woods nearby, clambering over deadfall, lost. After making three circles, my husband became alarmed and suspicious of a guy he saw emerging alone from a different wooded area. With lurid pictures of finding me dead in the woods in his now terror-filled brain, he took down the guy’s license plate! I finally found my way out and stopped at the home of some neighbors. Our dogs played and her husband even gave me some “special” cookies! I looked at my phone and saw that my husband had been calling (this is very unusual–he considers a cell phone an electronic jail bracelet and never uses his). I called back and we met up at the entrance to the woods. Still laughing over the license plate takedown!

Plague Diary

I kept a plague diary during the hideous year of 2020. Here’s a random August 31 entry:

“Chris made me laugh so hard tonight it felt like a multiple orgasm. Deo gratias.”

“Anyone can be passionate, but it takes real lovers to be silly.” -Rose Franken, author and playwright (28 Dec 1895-1988) 

Titi Cooper, mob boss

Titi morphs into a mob boss by pretending the rib bone in her mouth is a cigar….

The fact is that Titi is totally a boss! Her low, somehow manly bark warns me against going downstairs, talking loudly and closing the bathroom door.

I obey, because…she’s the boss.