Exploring the art of prose


Tag: One-Sided Dialogue

Author’s Note

When I lost my grandmother, Queen, in 2021, I tried to erect walls around my feelings. I told myself that all the grief I felt each day, threatening to pour out of me, could be controlled if I compartmentalized hard enough. I made rules. Yoga in the evenings, where I could anticipate some tears as my sadness might trickle out from my hips during Downward Dog. Journaling in the mornings, where the newborn day would find me raw enough to jot down something real. I even planned to cook once a week, lying to myself that I could savor a sweet memory of my Queenie, a phenomenal chef, in between intervals of boiling water or cooling cookies on the stove. I did not dare to write about her in those days. I couldn’t predict—couldn’t risk being unprepared by—what might come out.

This work of speculative nonfiction is my attempt to face the fact that I am still being rewritten by the love and the loss of one of the most important women in my life. In this memoir piece, I imagine my grandmother free from the weight of a life full of its own griefs and fears. She isn’t bound to a body constantly baffling her, or her doctors, or her revolving door of physical therapists. The setting of City Park in Iowa City is integral to the narrative because it offers a landscape where I can consider what it means to commune with the dead when the dead still feel very much alive. Beginning graduate school and moving to the Midwest on my own marked a new season of my life filled with change. As I navigate these transitions, I’ve realized how much my grandmother has marked my life, even silently. I wanted to use the one-sided dialogue as a tool that would enable me to show the ways in which Queenie and I communicated with each other, while also making room for us to talk about the ways that my life has changed since she left. Conversation becomes a cartographical tool to chart the literal and metaphorical space of our relationship. In this essay, I’m vulnerable about who I am becoming and the parts of myself I’m newly discovering or previously hid from her. By fashioning the narrator as a tour guide, I am ultimately offering the reader, and Queenie, a map to all my internal reckonings and revelations. I wrote this essay to create a plane, somewhere between Earth and the divine, where we can locate each other again and again and again.


GRACE MORSE is a multilingual memoirist/New Orleanian/Sagittarian currently getting her MFA from the Nonfiction Writing Program at the University of Iowa. She loves to dance, laugh, and fall in love with new books she finds in the Little Free Libraries around town. She was shortlisted for the 2023 CRAFT Flash Prose Prize. Find her on Instagram @gracemorrr.