In my writing process, I have learned to trust the way the subconscious yanks images and events from my past and slaps them squarely in the present. Time blurs in the dream space of psyche, and the subconscious suggests meaning before the rational mind.
In the early stages of Filaments of Prayer, I knew my long scenes of prayer in India, Turkey, and Japan belonged in the same essay, but their significance felt obscure. When I followed the thread of prayer in my free writing, the moments of threatened miscarriage and miscarriage tumbled onto the page. These events, separated by decades in the linear timeline of my life, fell together, and I discovered I had something to say about the nature of prayer.
Still, the scenes felt distant. So although I resisted juxtaposition at first, I used it to enhance imagistic resonance. I cut pairs of vignettes with scissors and spliced them together, thus heightening the tension and distilling the reflection. Then, I pulled on the threads of the dominant images—textiles, filaments—a bit tighter, transforming them into metaphor.
After my fourth miscarriage, I conducted research. I read and read and read. I interviewed doctors. I submitted to tests. And I prayed. No one, not even God, could give me the definitive answer I sought. Writing this essay tethered me to a fine strand of peace.
Christine Stewart-Nuñez, essayist and author of five poetry collections, teaches at South Dakota State University. Christine's poem, "Filaments of Prayer," is featured in issue 298.1.