Perceptions Shift | Wendy BooydeGraaff and Susan Wider

I tell my friend something she wrote shifted my thinking. She tells me back she wants to know more about this. What is the more?

When I see her reply, I’m back at school, staring at a multiple choice quiz.

a) Memory is illusive.
b) Memory is allusive.
c) The details are important in the moment.
d) Isn’t there always more to say?

And just like at school, I decide each answer can be correct, so I select “b” at random.


I tell my friend the pandemic makes me many things. Sad. Profoundly sad. Scared. (But I did find online “Yoga for When You Are Feeling Scared.” I do not know if it will work.) And stuck. Too many writing projects, too many directions. Impossible to select.

And again, her reply:

e) How is the more. How do bodies, minds, perceptions shift?
f) Why is also the more. Why now? Why that?
g) Yoga stretches the body, focuses the mind, prepares the soul: a set of instructions to follow methodically. A way to control outcomes.
h) Scattered versus obsessed. Or is it divergent versus homed-in? Are both needed for balance? Wildness versus parameters.

This time I like “h.”


I tell my friend that a favorite author’s main character in her latest book often slides into a dark place. Her one friend—apart from the goat—tells her they will figure things out as they go along. I read that and tilt. Doing things as we go leaves little space for controlling outcomes ahead of time.

Her next reply, I see something else.

i) Dark places that are comforting: summer nights in my backyard, under the covers, behind my eyelids, memories of the womb.
j) Is the unknown dark? Is it blurry? Have we ever been able to see into the future? Do humans, by being human, assume we control our outcomes?

Where are “k” and “l?”

Oh, I see, it’s not multiple choice at all.


u) Sometimes there are no answers.                                       v) Sometimes there are too many.

m) Parameters are fences.
n) Sometimes I want fences to keep my bit of wild from spilling into the neat, manicured public space.
o) Sometimes it’s the public space that is wild and I keep my fence in good condition to protect my ordered spaces.
p) Do you have a fence around your yard? (I do.)
q) Can fences be moved?




Wendy BooydeGraaff’s short fiction, poetry, and essays have been included in Ninth Letter online, Stanchion, Slag Glass City, Barzakh, and elsewhere. She is the author of Salad Pie (Chicago Review Press/Ripple Grove Press), a children’s picture book, and her middle grade short story is included the forthcoming The Haunted States of America (Henry Holt/Godwin Books). Find more at

Susan Wider’s nonfiction has been included in Orion, Wild HopeBird Watcher’s Digest, and other periodicals. Her middle grade biography It’s My Whole Life: Charlotte Salomon, An Artist in Hiding During World War II (Norton Young Readers) won the 2022 National Jewish Book Award for Young Adult Literature.