Freelance writer of plays/short stories/poetry/narrative non-fiction; lover of humor, chocolate, pratfalls, my children and husband (in no particular order..).

PART NINE. One woman’s take on modern life, a deadly virus, and the consequent what-the-F sandwich. Only now of course, it’s Christmas.

by Erin Ryan Burdette

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Jorge Dominguez on Unsplash

Every other year but this one, since the birth of my kids, my mom and stepdad came over early in the morning December 25. Alternatively frightening or amusing in matching Christmas sweaters, they delighted in spoiling their grandchildren. They would usually stay for dinner, which was sometimes my mom’s homemade Chinese food.

But my stepdad died last January right before Covid hit. My mom now lives nearby in an assisted living facility. If she choses to leave her new place, she must quarantine 14 days upon return, so she stayed put December 25.

My sister and brother-in-law meanwhile had invited us to come to Utah for a white Christmas. Never done that before. Our kids were ecstatic with the idea. Frankly, so was I. My son and daughter, who had never skied, could finally try. …


PART EIGHT. One woman’s take on modern life, a deadly virus, and the consequent what-the-F sandwich.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Brigitte Tohm on Unsplash

Gee, that was interesting. Just the four of us. And the dog, though he was not offered an actual seat at the table.

Lucky we didn’t have plans to travel, as my son’s school called the Thursday before Thanksgiving break started to inform me that he was a “close contact” to someone with Covid. Meaning a student in one of his classes tested positive. Dressed for his soccer game, I called him to say do not get on the bus. Official fourteen-day quarantine began post haste. Or actually his last contact was Monday, so (luckily?) …


Poem questions Nature and Nurture through a flower that will not die.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo courtesy of Erin’s iPhone

You there — yes, you
baked in million-degree
Texas heat
you have no business
being alive
out here
proud here
decorated with
this morning’s rain
first in months
water kissing petals soft
drops hanging on
for dear life
white and delicate
green loved leaves
finally a drink
out of the sky
delivered and received
November
just you now
the rest buried
the only one.
Supposed to be so fragile.


Image for post
Image for post
CNN

Celebration
streets raging
firecrackers
crowd pleasers
sound the alarm
but cheerful
even cowbells
ring charm.
Blasting horns
without anger
even in LA, hear? see —
this is joy
jubilation
resounding
from NYC to D.C.
to Ireland ancestry
(Joe’s, apparently).


PART SEVEN. One woman’s take on modern life, a deadly virus, and the consequent what-the-F sandwich.

by Erin Ryan Burdette

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona on Unsplash

It’s taken me a while to write this one, ya’ll. (I’m sure you have noticed and missed me terribly.) Alas, as Dr. Phil might advise, Texas twang full-tilt: it’s time for me to “get real.” Deep breath. Here goes.

As a recently turned 50-year-old white woman abruptly woke to the fact that I have been given advantage since birth due to the color of my skin without appreciating it comes as a gut-punch. I’m absurdly liberal. I was a theater major, for God’s sake; I’ve worked among diverse populations, think of myself as an affable human. But these last few months, amidst raging fires, police misconduct, and Covid-19, systemic racism has been laid bare before us. It could not be more clear. …


**Originally posted on Writers at Large in the Riff section on January 14, 2021, this is an essay in which I interview myself about I story I wrote, Skip the Lake, which examines white complicity in systemic racism through the relationship of two teenage boys.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo courtesy of Erin Ryan Burdette’s iphone from the Facebook page of Writers at Large/RIFF

(Riff — a phrase synonymous with tune, refrain, groove, sample, jam, strum, noodle — only here “riff” plays with words instead of lyrics or strings.)

Initially, instead of a short story, I imagined a personal essay, some frank response to the racial maelstrom whipping through our country (much like the irrepressible fires burning west). To say I was bothered by the recurring brutality inflicted upon Blacks being murdered across America — too often by policemen, who suffered little more, it seemed, than a slap on the wrist — is an understatement. I questioned what cataclysm had granted the brazen to act with destruction upon their basest beliefs so publicly. …


A SERIES, PART SIX. One woman’s take on modern life, a deadly virus, and the consequent what-the-F sandwich.

Erin Ryan Burdette

A FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL UNLIKE ANY OTHER

Image for post
Image for post


A SERIES, PART SIX. One woman’s take on modern life, a deadly virus, and the consequent what-the-F sandwich.

A FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL UNLIKE ANY OTHER

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Ivan Aleksic on Unsplash

Today we awoke to SNOW on the first day of fourth grade for my daughter and junior year for my son. But we live in Dallas, Texas, ya’ll — where it has NEVER snowed in September! What’s going on?! HINT: This was not a weird Ambien blackout wherein I hauled the kids across state lines and found myself and my children in a state and house that were unrecognizable. (Though, note to self: that does sound like a cool concept for a hot show on Netflix, probably starring Jason Bateman and me). Relax.


Two boys becoming young men grapple growing past racism.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Chloé Lam on Unsplash

Suspended from the tire swing knotted to the tallest branch, I will push Johnny across the summer water like we’ve done a million times forever — a ritual almost holy, best buddy first ten years of life who I haven’t seen the last four. Since they sent him to live with his grandma among whispers I couldn’t understand. The day Johnny left no different than today: sun on fire going down no matter who said what. The sun can’t care if you’re 10; that its going away will change everything. …

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store