If We Didn’t Need to Win, Then What?



Manuel Maria

always blinks tightly


with both eyes,

then opens wide


like he has

a startling

piece of news,


or is waiting for it.


I still don’t understand

why his second name


is Maria. An

American thinks


macho means

so many things


that it isn’t.


He brings out the busty statue

of his wife’s great grandfather:


An admiral and commander

of the Spanish naval fleet,


he sailed to Santiago

to break the blockade.


Now, he is a Spanish

hero. And Manuel is


so proud of his wife.

He says her family

is so connected

or important?


That they even print a newsletter.

Back then, Spain

wanted Cuba,


and now Manuel looks

at night for his wife.


She goes about sleeping

while he turns the pages


of beaten words that antes,

had so much longing.

I come on Tuesdays

to sit down with Manuel


and our languages,

these new ways of


wanting to say something

we think we’ve said before.


Today is a history lesson

about the sea,


and the people you can conquer

with a famous fleet.


As he crafts and molds

his words, I wish I could hear


the melody of El Andalus,

or understand a political uniquity.


I wish I couldn’t

see his pain before me,


or the long, bloody sea

stretching out for spaces


that wars and

fleets won’t win.


-Jennifer Sandberg


Process is not just an intelligent concept

Almost nine months ago, I left a city in southern Spain that had become my home. Since time seemed to move so lusciously, and so slowly there I can hardly believe I’ve been back in the states for three quarters of a year. Half of me, or more than that, is still often there. It would feel so refreshing to write a post filled with vitality and excitement about what’s happening here in Denver. And there is a lot happening. But time and age will heal us if we let them, and will teach us that vitality sometimes only comes through doing the work that’s vital for us in any given moment. Mine is learning to befriend my weeping, to stay awake in the razor’s edge of longing without reaching for relief, to tell a friend who thinks I’m “together” that I’m actually quite sure I’m falling apart. No one can predict how a personal transition will unfold for us,  although we like to imagine there are evenly structured lines and stages. Even Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, the creator of Stages of Grief, fought and screamed as her own body moved toward dying. As much as I’d like to see myself as a more worldly and widely trekked soul after living in Spain, what I see right now is merely a decision to allow this pain to overwhelm me. It doesn’t fit my westernized view of  resolution at all, but at some mysterious point, the only way out of pain, is through it.





I miss the water in Spain

with every hair on my head.

The curled waves unraveling

themselves to make their white spools,

all tumbling gently toward our walking feet;

I said it was a reverent process.

It was how I wanted to come to you.

But my spools and yours

were wound so tight.

We missed our soft unfurlings,

couldn’t feel our own feet walking.

You wanted to carry me, or I you.

It was an alluring, heavy habit.

Now, with every flutter of my feet

touching water, I miss the hope

I had for us.

With every walk to somewhere new,

I marvel at the work it takes.



-Jennifer L. Sandberg