Megan Ulrich

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Beautiful Things

Some things my grandmother told me before she died,
in and out of consciousness.

My mother gave me that
rosary when I graduated from
nursing school.
I used to thumb the beads,
hidden in my scrubs,
one final prayer for the
lonely dead.

I miscarried the child
between your aunt and
your mom at a hospital in the city.
I spent all night
foraging through the blood
on the floor and in the toilet,
but I never found the body
or a name.

A week before your uncle’s accident
he snuck into my room
well past bedtime
begging me to play with him,
and after much relenting,
we giggled and cuddled
and stayed up too late
and trusted too much
in the joy of tomorrow.

I didn’t want your mother,
not for a while anyway,
not even after my mother
convinced me to keep her.
I never quite unclenched
my fists, so God laid her in
my arms.

There are other
beautiful things
I wanted to tell you,
I just can’t remember them


When I was young
my mother took
the three of us,
my sister, brother, and I
on weekend adventures
through the winding pass of
the mountains to visit friends
who lived at an episcopal boarding school,
tucked into the Blue Ridge.

Every time we visited
they were in some newly available
dorm or transitional housing,
with the modest furnishings you’d expect
from five people living on a schoolteacher’s salary.

And yet, there was a consistency to the space,
like sacramentals, drawing me
into a dance with the divine.
Castile soap, dripping from the tip of
a repurposed olive oil infuser.
Pottery, pulled from the earth
with open palms,
fashioned with careful
fingertips and now
sitting on a peeling laminate countertop,
impregnated with hand-picked berries,
modestly offering itself as a gift.
Open windows, screened porches, and the inability
to pinpoint where the outside
ends and the inside

It’s been a long time since I remembered
how the heat of the day, if you let it,
rests in the bones of this house.
A long time since I’ve awoken in our bed
to the sound of rain and stayed up
just to hear it fall.

Too long since I let you look at me
cradled in your arms
pulled from the earth
offering myself as a gift.


It’s easier for me to understand Heaven
without sex,
than Heaven without bread.

I don’t want to leave
a negative impression,
I mean,
sex is—
well it’s quite good.
It’s just—

wouldn’t the universe be
a little less complete
without the kneading
and eating and
breaking of

Megan Ulrich lives with her husband and three sons in a charming little town in East Tennessee. She has recently found inspiration in writing about grief and the healing that comes from sharing our brokenness with others. You can find out more about Megan at her website

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Photo Credit: “The Rosary” by williamnyk,

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