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


Myrrh is not a gift for the living,
so why these burial beads
my mother sends, thinking of me?
The night I was planted in her,
the dirt was fresh on my sister's grave.
Her name was Sylvia.  I have seen the gravestone
nudging its head through the Illinois field
toward an immensity of sky.   Sky
is all she recalls of that day, sky
and plow horses through the gray snow
and how No was the only word she could form:
No to her children and No to her husband
and No to her own next day.  How it crept in,
she cannot remember, but next summer
she sat in church in a black crepe
maternity dress and said Yes to something
and light sneaked through her white gloves
and beneath her hat and she named me Rebecca,
from the Bible, a month before I was born

and August loped in, heavy and hot
as their Irish Setter with the one glass eye.
The day I was born she braided my living
sister's hair, walked my brother
to the outhouse and wiped him
and fed and chickens and milked the black cow.
She carried water in buckets
up steps from the spring house
to the stove, then down to the wringer washer
where dashers knocked, beating my father's
overalls clean.  Two children at her knees
and one still rocking in her head,
and one in her belly pushing.

From Mrs. Houdini

More Poems on Loss, Grief and Healing