Sunday, March 31, 2013

Between us

With each secret, I layer another veil

between my heart and God. Of course,

I can't hide anything from God, as hard as I try,

whether it's the meat I'm not meant to eat

these weeks of Lent, or the small hate I hold

tight, unwilling to let loose into love--or at least,

understanding. There's so much I don't understand--

why my father loved so strangely, the storms in my chest,

a President want to war, and the notebooks

I found in family storage. So much history,

so many tangles in my current brain--it hurts and I lash

out, I slam my hand down with a crash.

I do this behind closed doors, but there's no

door wide or thick enough that God can't get in--

and when my rages come to rest, and rest turns to sleep,

against all my efforts, then I'm steeped in His rushes of love.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Cake Work

I tie the strings behind my back
and go to work, measuring sugar, 
letting the butter melt, grating the thin
yellow skin off of lemons, 
mixing it all into small good things. 

Then, the small good things I come home to, 
after a long day at the bakery: 
a pair of Persian buttercups, the hope of new
tomato plants in the ground, 
root vegetables wedged and roasting. 

There's so much I want to give back
having been loved so heartily. 
My palms ache with this want. 
The best I can do is press them together
in thanks. My offering this prayer--

and a stolen piece of cake. 

Friday, March 29, 2013

Where the worry went

The dogs are sleeping

and we are nearly

a quiet interrupted 

only by breathing 

and the hum of wires

through the streets.

A pickup truck bounces

down the block, maybe

its passenger had a bit to drink, 

shouts a "whoop!" into the night. 

This is the place where the poem

might turn--a woman might shift in the bed, 

unable to stop the wrestling

match in her head. But tonight, in every room--

all over the city--the people remain

untroubled for a time, 

a tiny gift, their worries

absorbed, whirled, and burning

with starlight. 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Harvesting the Plenty

Even this late, he soaks the sweet pea
seeds to plant in hopes of a September
bloom, right near the start of my forty-seventh
year. I've gone too many years without a yard
full of flowers. The fingers of iris leaves
reaching through soil to sun, columbine opening
their shy faces behind the ferns.

In apartments through my younger days,
gazing out windows at cement walkways
or birds landing on power lines, wanting
to turn the earth--in more ways than one.
I planted words in rows instead of seeds,
put these gardens of language in envelopes
and sent them out as entreaties. Each a bloomless
hope. Now this real garden. Before the flowers,

he tilled a bed for greens to eat--and in these short
weeks, we've already harvested the lettuce,
the beets are nearly--and there's larger plans--
he's shopping right now for a plum tree
and in my mind, I can already see the new
green leaves gleam and the small fruit
give like there's always going to be plenty.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Coming to

I walked the high desert ranch roads, dodging

tusked javelina, coming upon families of pronghorn,

watching the seasons let loose greens and yellows--and the cream-colored

blossoms of the Spanish Daggers. And the heavy blue

sky held my body like a limitless lover.

Far West Texas, a kind of heaven, a place

pouring light in through the top of my head,

descending faster than the tequila shaken with sugar that I'd order

at 5, when the bar opened its doors, and soon the doors of my body

busted open at their hinges, and the men knew me

only from the darkest region of their blackouts. I lost out on so many

glorious daybreaks, under sheets and trembling. Then by noon, the ranch

roads calling, and I'd search for God again who persistently pressed.

Finally, I'd fall far enough, wake with a mouthful of light.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Just put me on a train, a train to anywhere,
anywhere but here, by here I mean the sharp peak inside my brain,
a tower of black onyx, too slick to climb,
too wide to travel around. It's a sticking point, it's a lifetime of them,
built up, jamming things up like a spoon in the garbage disposal,
a shiny thing I keep glancing at, seeing only my reflection.

I want out of this hard landscape, this mountain of me,
and the train goes fast and across, from sea to sea.
Once at the Atlantic, I'll jump into its warm waters and finally
swim. There's an island I'll land on and be--
blissfully--lost at last.

Monday, March 25, 2013

My Fill

The gulf coast, summer of 2004, a year before Katrina would wreck it all--
I was wrecking myself, a hurricane of a houseguest, but calling
my storms a party barge ride. Claiming this even as we stumbled out of the bar into morning's
light, even as I nodded off in my eggs and pancakes at the Waffle House next door,
even as I dove into the streets of New Orleans and swam them on rivers of gin.

And the ache in my chest--the big empty,
the lonely hole where my heart should go--
would never overflow, no matter how much drink
I took. I took it in stride. Don't know, then, why I cried and cried.
And this, I claimed, a glorious ride. I nearly did myself in.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

As dark settles in

Spring dusk comes later and later;

day slowly empties out of me and I wait--for something or someone--

maybe the monsters fumbling under the bed will finally reveal themselves

when dark settles in. I tie my pajama pants tight as if there are secrets

I refuse to loosen. The sky is all grays now--gray clouds dot

the gray sky. And still, I wait.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Globe of My Mind

Late afternoon light--I want to bottle it, like fireflies,
like the white glittery snow in the snowglobe
my grandmother kept on her mantel,
souvenir from Niagra Falls and all the spoons with handles
bearing city names I'd never visit. I went
some places, as a little girl, in my imagination,
no real place so glorious as the landscapes in my mind,
the worlds I created before suppertime, standing alone
under the three deodar cedars in the front yard,
small rose-shaped cones fallen from their branches at my feet.
Always, in the stories I told myself, the princes adorned me with roses,
and the light was just so, just like it is right now, forty years later--
and I still want to keep night from ever coming, to live right in the shine,
the gleam of low sun on spring leaves, and never enter the house for dinner,
where the clatter of dishes and the rising voices and a father forking
his food, his singing voice turning to shouts as the last light left the sky.

Friday, March 22, 2013


He offered, write about dirt so how could I
refuse--that place we grow worms, lifting the bin's
lid and turning the rich stuff, dark and smelling

dank as the monthly blood I used to bleed,
when I was younger, when I thought
I might grow a beautiful thing under my belly skin.

The worms duck for darkness
while the iris bulbs in the garden's
back corner reach their new green fingers

towards the light, and I look at my palms,
their deep lines caked with soil.
I'm planting seeds--flowers and lettuce.

This making of something not a substitute
for the small someone I wanted to--and didn't
carry. I think about her sometimes:

her curly blonde hair messy from rest
as I spoon tiny portions of oatmeal into her
mouth. Instead, I curl the sweet pea tendrils

onto the first rung of their string trellis.