Newest Brief Essays

"Women's Hour, YMCA" featured in Kenyon Review Online

"I Second That Emotion" (craft essay) featured in New Ohio Review


Other Brief Essays

"Advanced Directive to My Future Roommate…"

"Things Gone the Way of Time," recently reprinted in Brief Encounters: A Collection of Contemporary Nonfiction (Norton)


Study with Rebecca this summer

Kenyon Review Writers Workshop, June 18-25


Kenyon Review PODCAST with Rebecca

(on memoir, genre-crossing, writing practice, and more)


Word Painting Revised Edition: The Fine Art of Writing Descriptively

New edition includes over 100 writing exercises for all genres.

Word Painting

The Tribal Knot

Rebecca'a newest nonfiction book, The Tribal Knot: A Memoir of Family, Community, and a Century of Change is now available from Indiana University Press and Amazon.

Tribal Knot


                        for my first husband


When you left our new marriage for another woman's bed,
the sheets were still rumpled from unfinished loving.
I didn't know it would be our last try.   Twenty years
since I've seen you, but lately I've been replaying the scene,
and since only in bed did we ever agree (and even then, clumsily)
I keep tucking us in, wishing to dream it right: 
a one night, last chance reunion, the decades of dammed-up
guilt and regret pushing against our bodies until--
as they say in romance novels--we are flooded with passion.

When the dam finally breaks and the dream trickles through,
we're back in your teenage bedroom.   The same fringed lamp, 
the polished row of debate trophies, the chenille spread
your mother washed and fluffed each Saturday. 
At the foot of the bed she's still fluffing, 
and from the champagne bottle on the nightstand
your father effervesces, his head the cork popping.
Remember at the engagement party how he lifted his glass,
a toast of warning:  If you wonder how your wife
will look in twenty years,  just look at her mother.
Well darling, here I am.  You, too, across the room of this dream,
wearing your father's timid hairline, his paunch blooming
over your belt buckle as you move to unlatch it.
Your parents fizzle as bubbles do,  and we are left
surveying each other,  our expressions forgiving, and more:
pride in the wisdom of early choices.  You look good, 
you've held up well,  we say.  I always knew you would.

The rest is coda.  The bed, an appointment we must keep.
I would not name it passion.  Perhaps it is the only gift
we know to give or take.  We unwrap it the best we can, 
coaxing out moans and when it is over, exhausted thanks. 
What a relief to have it finished-- the failures, the burden
that memory lays on us, the expectation of lust. 
Just to lie here mildly amused, after all these years
finally postcoital. Grateful it was nothing, really. 
Glad not to wake with my little finger
in my mouth, wet, still dreamy, wishing you back.

Winner of the Wood Prize from Poetry
From Deep Light: New and Selected Poems

More Love and Marriage Poems
Also brief essays...