Wednesday, December 26, 2012


Though not that long a drive—less than three hours, past the windmill farm
and through orchards—the road back to the City has been long,
hard-won. My heart, a tree in my chest, has been growing, branches
seeking new sky. And what they have found, and touched, a sweet surprise.

This first week back, the weather is hard, a relentless storm, and cups
and books, kettles and even cats, contained in boxes. I’m not sure where the pieces
of me are any more. And all the things I gave away: candles and vases,
bedding and soap. And here I sit, in a café in San Francisco, a coat

wrapped around my body, while the man I came here for works,
works outside in the rain, traipsing the varied landscapes this place
offers. And it offers so much: hot tea in a large mug, cooling, a window
showing the green hill that marks my new neighborhood. And it’s falling,

rain. And I’m falling, love. And though this weather, all climate change,
challenges, I want it to keep coming down from the sky, washing us all
wet and new. The view from this vantage—though shrouded in clouds—
the most beautiful I’ve known. On Saturday, we’ll plant bulbs for Spring flowers. 

Monday, April 30, 2012


At the end,  let our breath
speak, voiceless waves, and our eyes
always say what we mean, 
even when our voices are lying. 
I'm not afraid, he intones, even
though he's talking about dinner. 
But his eyes shift and I know
he's already fled. Instead of goodbye, 
my love, just breathe with me--float
through the fear. We'll use our forks
to fight off the monsters, 
imagined and real. Or go, yes, go. 
And miss another dawn covered in green
percale sheets, with the pink of sunrise
just peeking through. 

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Letting go

Afternoon Sunday, sun day
takes me under as I rock, 
an anchored boat on the water. 
There are places I'm supposed to be
but this boat won't go. 
Stillness is my new wonder. 

Saturday, April 28, 2012


In the wait time, all is still.
No birds. No rustling.
Even my own breath is soundless.
There's a new something
coming. It's bigger than my heart.
A large swatch of sky,
it arrives on my doorstep, the blue
folded and sitting in a basket.
Lifting this gift, I rise and am pulled
away, to a different land,
where the roses give all year long.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Where I find joy

It strikes, all at once, as my footfall lands on the path
along a creek. It's in the leaves--or more precisely,
the reflection of light off the leaves--sudden antidote
to the monster that was born under my bed,
the one now living in my head. I free him.
I'm freedom. And we're dancing under
sunshine, me and this old monster. And my heart's
so big it bursts out of my back, becoming
wings and I fly.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


This is the last of something,
so make it last. Smooth out
the wrinkles and keep it
behind glass. Display this piece
on the mantel--that's where my family
kept precious things: the nesting dolls,
my 'best actor' trophy, the antique
clock. When it chimed at nine,
I tremored because it was time for bed,
signaling the last minutes of what I knew
as life. When I fell asleep, things
turned sketchy. Monsters, cars without
brakes. Rivers I needed to, but couldn't,
cross. My father's cross with me. I won't
go to bed. I want to pull back the hands
of that old clock, and re-meet today.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


The almond blossoms came early this year.
I crave that snow.
A year seems a long time away. Summer's
nearing--it'll rain tomorrow and then, sunshine.
The tomatoes will thrive and I will fill
myself with vegetables. The almonds will fall
from the June trees, we'll watch
bluejays pry them open.
Later, I'll open up, too--after the zucchini is through,
when the fruit stands have boarded up.
The children will be trick or treating,
and I'll be handing out pieces of my heart,
carefully, but nonetheless, I will.

Monday, April 23, 2012


Though beginnings seem easy,
a blank slate can lead
to a blank slate. All this white
makes me think of a cutting board
full of lemons. I cut them open
and let out light, let out shine.
I squeeze them, turning my wrist
this way, then that. I fill a pot
with the juice, add sugar
to match. Cook on low until
the granules dissolve.
This is concentrated.
I want to concentrate on other things
besides lemonade. I want to write
grand sweeping lines that shake
my readers to their bones.
But these lemons need
using. The world is full of things
and people that are just waiting
for you to show up
and give them reason for life. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

What gives

Turning over soil, making room for new roots.

Dirt under my fingernails.

The young leaves of the watermelon plant

eaten by tiny slugs.

No watermelon summer.

The light pushes into the ground,

reflects off of the leaves.

Everything's glowing, growing.

Sometimes, you have to stay very still

and allow yourself to be tended to

by loving hands, to bloom and give.

Saturday, April 21, 2012


The offering’s out of control,
overflowing with color and perfume,
the roses keep on giving, as if they
don’t know that love has died.
Everywhere I walk is decorated,
a rich wedding aisle.  But there is nobody
waiting for me, stupid grin,
at the end of this walk. Just more
roses. I lean into them and inhale. 

Friday, April 20, 2012


Small yellow flowers on the tomato plants
wanting to give, like I want to give, 
to someone--sometimes. But this wait feels
long. Summer is barely here, the thermometer
up for the first time today, and me and the plants
feel it. Day by day the fruit and my heart
will burst out. Come July, the harvest. 
But today, I touch my fingers to the flowers,
shift pollen from bloom to bloom, 
a kind of bee. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012


The sky's ridiculous, bolts and bolts of fresh-dyed fabric
I want to pull down and sew dresses with.
If I wore that blue dress, everything would shimmer,
the work I trudge through, that kitchen-table memory--
even the heart I lost last July would come skipping
home to me, its Valentine's red dipped in blue,
disguised as this Spring day we wade through,
its home now everywhere.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Sitting with my breath, waiting for today

to reveal itself. Sunrise seems earlier

than usual and I’m slow to leave

the house. I want to wrap myself

in a blanket, stave off spring

and all its newness. What might

happen when I walk

out the door. Even the birds are quiet.

It’s too soon to know anything

even if my heart clamors

with possibility. Waiting keeps me

wanting more than one day

can hold. (Hold me.)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

What we build

Small hands leaning sticks one upon
the other, we're making fairy houses.
Fairies are very small, aren't they?
the young boy says. I nod and keep working
the twigs into a kind of tee-pee while he
gathers bark to cover the house.
We clean the floor of leaves, using them
to soften a bark bed. They will love
this house, the fairies. We have loved
this house for fairies. It's almost dusk--
when they appear. We hide behind
the bushes, waiting for a glimmer of wings.

Monday, April 16, 2012

In the quiet

Between the inhale and the exhale,
that's where I want to reside,
make that small pause a sturdy house,
a small house with a woven,
rust-colored rug and a pot-bellied stove.
There's a rocking chair in one corner,
small table in another, narrow bed
under the window. And when I wake up
before dawn, my curtain is night and
full of stars.

Sunday, April 15, 2012


I put on my new dress,
Easter-egg colored to meet
this day new.
The sun’s out after four days of storms.
This is reality, not a metaphor.
The God I take into my body
is real, too. But don’t you know,
He’s in everything,
the steam rising from my teacup,
the glow on the lawn,
the tomato plants reaching
to make fruit for us.

Saturday, April 14, 2012


After the storm, I’m unprepared

for the light. It’s bright and my eyes

hurt. I want to wrap myself in a gray

blanket of clouds, read in bed,

light the fire in the fireplace.

Drink hot drinks.

But now, the pressure of daylight

saying—come, come to me, move

quickly under this sun, work

your body as it’s never been worked.

Plant more seedlings, climb on a bicycle,

dig into the soil and put seeds in the ground,

so you’ll have flowers all summer.

Friday, April 13, 2012


It came like that, in the Spring, whoosh
after a dry winter, after I'd packed my raincoats
and umbrellas in the box marked "winter,"
placed it in the garage on top of the boxes
marked "Christmas." Christmas can't come too soon,
even if Easter's only just here. It's all arrival,
arising, like this morning's street flood--by noon
it was gone, gone up to sit in heaven, via the slow-moving
flood drains. Going into the dark earth before finding
light again. My flower seeds haven't sprouted yet.
Next season, I'll approach everything with more
earnestness. I won't speed-read the daily
scripture. I will stand aright,
a flower waiting for (more) rain.

Thursday, April 12, 2012


In April, we think summer will never
arrive and then it does, all too completely.
Now, we're in parkas and turtlenecks,
trying to stay upright as the wind blows
the clouds like tumbleweeds in heaven.
I miss heaven, used to live there--blue
and poofy white nearly on my head.
And at night, the black black sky, opening
up with rain, and in the distance, lightning
ripping through the dark, jagged
like broken windows.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Waiting for the rain

But the land you are crossing the Jordan to take possession of is a land of mountains and valleys that drinks rain from heaven. --Deuteronomy 11:11

It's hard, at times, this journey. She wakes two hours
before dawn to sit in silence and murmur prayer
words. Some days the words hit the wall,
falling to the floor in a pile. She wonders if she's
heard. Should she shout? Wake the neighbors,
force jubilation? She picks the words up in her hands:
Lord, Son, God, Mercy, Sinner, shuffles them, and puts
them in her pocket. All I must remember. Light appears,
oatmeal cooks, the tea kettle whistles. And next?
She takes her pocketful of God out the front door,
sees the gathering storm clouds, and wonders,
when will I come to the other side,
when will it rain?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


The sky is heavy with almost.
The forecast: showers. The seedlings
will lift their leaves, stretch
their roots deeper.
I want to leave. Go to a place on a boat,
not here. God hasn't come to me,
to tell me to build an ark.
But something's moving me--
today, the wind kicked up and I thought
it might lift me, carry me, with the plastic
bags and candy wrappers, away.

Monday, April 9, 2012


Instead of enjoying the sun or watering my garden,
I'm figuring taxes. What's the world come to when, in April,
we're lodged behind computer screens
instead of getting dirt under our fingernails.
Instead of watching the small cucumber plants take root,
I'm grading papers. I should've asked my students to, instead,
plant a garden. What worth will these words have
if they can't eat? Instead of silence and birdsong,
I'm click, click, clicking these lines out to you--
anybody. Instead of sitting on a blanket under the sky,
lying beside my beloved and right under heaven.

Sunday, April 8, 2012


Winding through the eucalyptus, still dark, morning,
the big white moon shines like I'm on a movie set.

My father used to show me the man in the moon,
tracing the shape with his fingertip.

I thought the man looked more
like Winnie-the-Pooh than a man.

My father did, too, kind of bellied
and blundering. That was before

I knew what drunk was.
How many times did we wind,

as a family, my father behind the wheel,
a belly-full of wine and vodka.

It all looked like water and Shirley Temples
to my young eyes. Why were my parents

quarreling? I pretended to sleep
so my father would lift me from the back

seat, carry me to bed, after we pulled,
again, safely into the driveway.

The moon looks like the white rings
his iced drinks left on our wooden table.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Seaweed Monster

It was too hot for school so we went to the beach, all of us, the whole class. They must’ve gotten a hold of every one of our parents, to get verbal permission slips. Either that, or it was before the day of such protocols. I went to the beach often, we lived close by. But I’d been nearly swallowed by a wave when I was two so was scared of the water, even at ten. We rolled up our pants if we weren’t wearing shorts. I was already the fattest girl in the class, but I didn’t care. My parents loved me. My father bought me three candy bars every night. Just because I’d asked and couldn’t choose. I never felt like I fit in with the other children. I never felt like I fit in to my own body; it was as if I was always walking through a dream, half asleep and a everything a little bit fuzzy. Maybe it was the sugar. When we got to the beach, some of us started playing jumprope with a long piece of seaweed that was slick and the thickness of our school jumpropes. I loved the pieces of seaweed with the bulbous heads and the kelp hanging from it, like a mermaid dress. I wanted to dance with the seaweed, as I spent hours at home with records on making up dances to go with songs. The dances were always a illustrative—I’d always put my hands on my heart to go with the word love. I wanted to love this seaweed monster for her freakishness. I picked her up and carried her around, even if it meant my hands would end up with that gross feeling of dried salt at the end of the day. When we ate lunch, I put my seaweed friend down and plowed through my cheese sandwich and apple and peanut butter crackers. But before I could finish, stupid Keith (who was in the lowest reading group in the class) stomped on the head of my seaweed friend, popping her open. I vowed never to let him touch the caterpillars I kept on my desk again.

Friday, April 6, 2012

The moon wanes, I'm cradled

The moon’s so bright I can’t sleep. I’m rocking myself,

an invisible cradle holds me. I never had a cradle, even

though I wouldn’t remember those things—

babyhood, staring at strange ceilings.

My body remembers the lack of a wooden structure.

The sensation of boat moving me from side to side.

I keep buying wooden rockers. Without arms. I don’t

want to be trapped. But back then, I needed safety

that I didn’t get. My parents told me that if you trust

the world, no one will take advantage of you.

They left the front door wide open every night.

Forget the ropes, the chains.

It was the neighbor with the fancy alarm

system who was burglarized. We had things

and money, too. The first VCR on the block.

And now, even my heart’s a diamond

mine, ready for extraction. I’m ready to be

cradled—human arm-bones the bed I never had.

Otherwise, I’ll wait for the full moon to wane,

step up into it, and, finally, rock to sleep.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Verse for Lent

What we put in the basket—butter and eggs
dyed red. Horseradish and chocolates.
Candles and cured meat. All this is waiting
to be blessed. If, for forty days, you prayed
and stayed—within human means—
away from certain worldly things, then glory.
Me, I’m cranky, my prayers sound
like curses and all I can think of is candy.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


April and everything is light, the leaves illuminate
her head as she walks around the creek. The water
in the creek is light, too. Liquid sunshine. Even
the molecules in the air glow, so her limbs
are moving through light, through shine.
Walking’s a swim through thick radiant spring.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


Tonight, the world seems large and all too much—
dollar signs and plastic toys. I passed paper over a counter
today, greenish and smelling dirty, like that boy in fourth
grade who took baths rarely. My heart reached out to him.
I let him touch my pet caterpillar kept on my desk in
a jar.
I considered myself an insect zookeeper, didn’t know the
for insect specialist. I didn't ever want, anyhow, to
learn how to kill
mayflies or any other flying thing. Wings were kin to
I wondered why my art teacher’s son could see angels,
but I couldn’t. It troubled me. But being troubled over
and miracles is not the same as the break in my brain
If only I could’ve stopped time while studying the bees
in the mudpit earlier today, a five year-old child by my
If the only thing I saw were wings when I shut my
I’d rest well. I try, but President’s faces materialize,
stop my flight.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Preparing the Garden

Worms course through the soil we turn
as we turn it to plant flowers, vegetables,
and herbs. Summer, quicken its way to us,
I want rosemary to overflow on this bed’s
corner, and wide red tomatoes sliced with salt.
Why are they called beds? Do we grow when we sleep?
If so, put me to sleep until summer, when the squash
flower’s transformed into squash, when I’ve learned
not to give the rocky parts of childhood
my roots. Let me reach down towards something
prior to birth, to the fire at the core of the earth,
the heat and light and power that also fuels stars.