The sudden recurrence of grief

When I shouldn’t be wasting my time, he is before me
in the funny thing that aches his disappearance all over
again. Now convinced that the closing of my heart
dates to that winter day, along with all the distance
and shell-layers of brittle lacquer, the lack of warmth
in laughter, the need to say again in print it’s not fair
how we each carry in our cells some pain that spreads
dark cold


This morning thinking of my dad, not exactly related to but folding in with last night’s reading of W. H. Auden’s “In Memory of W. B. Yeats.” I used three lines from his poem as a kind of word list:
1) He disappeared in the dead of winter
2) The day of his death was a dark cold day.
3) And each in the cell of himself is almost convinced of his freedom,

Garden Door Revolving

Not truly revolving
on the whim of a cat—
only the human is automatic


Hummingbirds dart through
a whirl or two
by the feeder. Faster
than any soon-to-close


What greater joy
than looking ahead
wondering through
the other side?
A communion
with the wisdom of cats


Taking these things in turn,
I plan a larger garden.
String staked out, rectangular
like door-panes laid flat.
The days unspool
birch leaves teasing the sun

To be a saint, vaguely

Warring with my better self:
things I ought to feel
against this cranky habit
of being me, usually
(almost always) right, for decades
queen of my own castle
thinking now, how to make room
for another. Bend, will! Open, soul!
Find that mustard seed of generosity
and let it bloom, suddenly
easy as stilling the storm
with a word

On a painting by Franz Marc

nature’s own masterwork
shading thoughts



i counted horses, dreamed
distant hill



taking fields for granted



A new form for me–this is a series of three. Learn about the tilus, see the painting, and join the fun at Jane’s Poetry Challenge #42.

To those who will live in this house, afterward

Give it life again. Be bold
in empty rooms the echoes are stilling
of what we made, what we talked over,
plans, the building of it: paint, floors,
curtains, yard. Wildflowers, vegetable rows,
perennials now overgrown with vines.
Get to know each creak and pop,
the cold corners and where a breeze will be
most welcome. Which window bursts pink
with bloom, which frames unfailing tulips;
how squirrels run the line
from garage to house with stolen tomatoes
or the neighbor’s peaches. The deck swept
clean and awaiting fall of maple leaves,
the golden slanting light; here a cat
might like to bask or seek shade.
Where snow will drift and pile,
how ice can encase every slight branch
of the crabapple, every perfect red fruit

The Daughter Visits

what safety in these walls
is that of comfort—
habit brings us together
once again knowing what to expect
in talk, gesture, food, drink
change only in growing older
taller, thinner, softer, more confident
or gray; we still have morning
coffee and cat like clockwork
at the door

for all I have been pacing
restless with sameness
staring out the window
while you wander the world
I turn in again to see it as refuge
from every kind of roiling storm

we close the door and curtains
on thunder’s low mutter
surround ourselves for this moment
in grateful silence

Task for a Muse

How do I shout
entwined as I am
about the doorframe
bounded by the step? A thorn
or two to snag passersby
(when one strident voice
is no more heeded than another
or silence) heeded not at all.
I have been rooted
in the earth fluid only
with the wind’s desire
and though I sought voice
after voice, bearing flower fruit
year on year I am nothing
no arms to move you but
my whispered song



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