the moment stood
and faced the sea; we called it
faith-breaker, the hiss
of sand’s what god? where?

we held our freedom in both hands
shook it out: to walk slowly on
wave-wise; to curl in again
with mountain-root song

Thanks and apologies to Kerfe, because I stole from her poem.

Sun in February

it’s the light
flooding everything—
kind yet defiant, treestrong—
pouring into blue, lording over
cold, even now-death, tatters
of overwintering—
everything! from here
basking in glassview
our hothouse growing
what can withstand
(everything!)—fed liquid light
earthtaste of warmth
and wood, green always
within and again always

I had just drafted this poem when I learned of the death, much too young, of one of my husband’s colleagues. It re-framed this poem, and this sunny day, for me. Wishing you so much kind yet defiant sun, my dear readers and friends.

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,

the worm-quest

to break through this green glaze of sameness—
small boxes with neat shrubs, hamburger-plain—
to the good brown dirt beneath, remembering our souls
built from lumps of clay prairie-stirred

wanting a spice, a song, a scent like your new penchant
for sriracha; a jolt, a leap into the vault beyond
this daily circuit, this merely driving
up and down arteries quickly clogging

they say if you’re not growing, you’re dying, but
I’ve been drying on this rack for years, home-grown
herbs medicinal to my kitchen motto: sauce on everything
until I become mere compost for the roots of the tree of life


Thanks and apologies to Jane for this borrowing of the worm quest.

serious work

I will die to become a tree
trade flesh for leaf-green poetry
sweeping shadows from winter sky

or bending low and tossing sun
in patterned dreams for anyone
seeking shelter. Come, crawl or fly

to my branches stream-side, rock-tide
or on the windswept prairie, wide
open to storm and spring-breeze sigh

A nove otto for Jane’s weekly challenge. Thank you and apologies (especially for the rhymy form) to Angie, whose amazing poem inspired the title and second line. I read about this tree-food alternative to burial a while ago, but the idea has recently resurfaced in the news.


And what should we expect
in this darkling time but more
darkness? The earth hurtles on
life hurtles on, this quick descent
to what end? All nature gathers in
her own, colors flare then fade
to gray and white. We retreat
to our caves of ache and grief
and fall from there.

Do you tell me there will be sun
today, that somewhere it is spring
and this shadow will pass, too meager
to blight that distant faith in light.

Tell me again.

Undelivered Letters @ The Hague

Piles of time, preserved—inky voices
     She sat a desk like this
stilled but for angle or curve of a word
     by candle and inkpot
wanting to mean but never received
     quill-scratching her heart
pleas and declarations, like bones
     life beating hard, alone
sealed in a box

Inspired by this article about a recently discovered box of 17th-century letters–never delivered.