Tinderbox is fundraising to support our next ten years. Check out our GoFundMe! Donations will be matched up to our $1,000 goal.

Loss Mom

After my daughter died, I looked

for her life anywhere it could have been

hiding—chocolate coins at the bottom

of my flower vase, a piggy bank tucked

into the movie cabinet. I still find iridescent 

heart-shaped confetti in the carpet, caught along 

the baseboards from a long-ago surprise toy. 

Her socks are under the coffee table. A squishy

toy behind the cedar chest. Her baby doll 

laid to rest in a wash cloth in the laundry 

basket. There’s a juice bottle I find 

in our car under the back seat. The top 

is a cartoon pony—Sparkle Fly or Rainbow 

Mint, I can’t remember what she named it. 

Do we leave the tree house outside, the Power 

Wheels Princess Carriage, the pile of pretty 

rocks she collected on the sidewalk? 

I still look for them. I spent the week after 

her death digging in the gravel of our driveway

for a glint until my fingertips turned red 

and throbbed. I made a broken quartz 

monument next to our pond where we walked.

I want to believe in the magic she saw

in the rocks she gathered in her pockets,

that somehow it can call her back to me.

No one warns you about the shrine you’re building

to live in when they’re gone, how hard it is to keep 

going on, when your house and car and yard 

and heart are waiting for them to pick up

wherever it was that their body stopped.  


Whittney Jones, a White woman with brown hair, smiling, wearing red and black flowered top.

Whittney Jones lives in southern Illinois, between cornfields and cow pastures, with her husband. She was winner of the 2014 Illinois Emerging Writers Contest. Her first chapbook, The Old Works, was published in 2019 with The Heartland Review Press. Her poems have been published in such magazines as Blackbird, Beloit Poetry Journal, Zone 3, Third Coast, Crab Orchard Review, and Ninth Letter.