Monday, February 28, 2011

The danger, and the fear

Into the breach
she once more felt
compelled to dive
and yet the darkness
threatened there:
how deep might one be
required to fall
before the underlying linkage rose
to meet this plummeting mood,
and would that surface prove
a trampoline, a net,
or cold hard stone,
unyielding to the last
and thus a source of only bruised
and broken bones?

And therein lies the danger, and the fear:
that one might not emerge,
or, worse, crawl forth so damaged by the journey
as to no longer function;
with nothing to show for her courage but her pain;
no healing there
but just the dull ache of longing for what might have been.
No wonder, then, that most would choose
to rest so lightly,
like this leaf,
upon the surface of things;
though briefly captured,
a bright inconstant petal
to flutter away at the mercy of wind or tide;
to disintegrate, so gracefully, into lace
and finally to earth,
rather than to suffer,
or to risk.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Unlock the mystery

I'm trying to get a handle on this --
I don't understand
why it should be so difficult
to see the connections here;
between you and me,
between earth and sky,
between these ants --
so desperate for food
to nourish their young --
and my own children
whose longings for sweetness
fill my late night sink...

Unlock this mystery,
if you will:
how can I best honor creation,
both my own and yours?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

You sleigh me

You have to laugh, you know --
when some part of you
gets so ridiculously caught up
in all those shoulds and oughtas:
that old goat, ego,
is just taking you for a ride.
Why not take back the reins
and head off in a different direction?
Or cut yourself a little slack;
step off that beaten path
you've built into your brain
and choose another way --
something that leads to a beach, perhaps,
or to some other quiet place
where all you'll hear and feel is spirit
stirring like wind, removing your hat
and running tender fingers through your hair.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Dove in the Stone

Death was never meant to be
the opposite of life;
it is instead the opposite of birth,
and life becomes the time between
two doors, each swinging gently,
fiercely, into worlds
unknown beyond the stones
that mark our presence
here on hallowed ground.
Like the dove, fly in and land
to briefly root around the lawn
in search of food,
and, finding nourishment,
lift wings and feel the spirit
carry us away.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


She volunteered,
while paging through
my images of snow,
to throw away the out-of-focus ones.
"Like this tree," she said,
"it's barely recognizable."
But I stubbornly resisted,
knowing it was shot
from a speeding car
through a wet window
and a storm;
knowing I could see it,
even if my camera could not.

This may well be the shape
-- as my eyes grow dim with age --
of things to come;
of all that I will come to know
and will no longer have the tools
or the words
or even an urge
to share...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Was and ever shall be

When last I visited,
This ancient homestead
Was still intact,
Though ferns grew on its roof
And hung down over windows
Whose panes of glass reflected
The overgrown orchard
In the adjoining field.
But the years have not been kind,
And the roof is caving in.
Her bones are still good,
But her cheeks are sunken,
The skin of her walls spotted.
The glass in her windows is broken now,
Her floor now deep in earth and rabbit dung,
But as she returns to the earth from whence she rose,
The light’s begun to shine through her;
As if to say the barriers are growing thin
Between what was and is to be,
Between earth and sky,
And soon all will be One again.
As it was, so it shall be.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Will there be fruit?

We who stand so tall in youth
can see down the road
to a day when will be shorter,
gnarled, perhaps;
the hair now finely styled, or sleek
will fly away in wisps
from skin mottled with spots and lines.
Standing here,
we watch the clouds gather
and wonder: what will I have left behind
after the rain? 
Will there be fruit?

Or simply leaves, lying on the ground
to be swept away by the wind
or left as compost for the soil
to nourish future trees…

Monday, February 21, 2011

It's just a double-wide...

This quiet room,
away from all
the clutter and bustle of daily life;
these chairs, old friends
from other lives;
the bureau
that doubled as a changing table
when my girls were babes...
I'm eager to return;
to sit and breathe
the cedar-scented air;
to read, and dream, and doze
and walk familiar paths...
our home away from home.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


They bubble to the surface;
these colorful umbrella thoughts
with floral scents and tentacles to lure me in.
Each one takes hold
devouring good intentions
with its promise of protection,
satisfaction and delight.
And though each one seems new,
when I step back I see
it's just the same old tired collection
floating in the same old tank
with no new insights to offer;
the illusion of change effected by
the colored lights of mood
highlighting some
gelatinous translucence.

Saturday, February 19, 2011


How do the rocks
stay so serene,
so grounded,
when the waves of grief
keep rolling in?
This churning surf of anguish;
the earth's response
to the pain her children
cause one another
with their petty

Friday, February 18, 2011

Alternative discipline

For some the dark
means simply time to play;
no dread, but opportunity
for light and color
to glow more fiercely
in the absence of the sun;
a time for festivities,
and rejoicing;
to dance and drink and laugh
and dance again.
Release those stifling fears:
string up the lights
break out your guitars
throw on your gypsy clothes
and kohl your eyes.
Kick up your skirts and toss your hair:
the night has just begun.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

In Memoriam: Eugenio Brizi

And who are you,
that the people of Assisi
should commission a statue
of your bust,
and mount it here upon a wall
to designate this narrow way
whose restaurants and shops
still flourish
long after you have become
-- to those of us
who do not speak your mother tongue --
just this:
a name, a plaque,
a statue, a street;
no longer flesh and blood;
your history unknown...

And as you stare so fixedly
at the church wherein
St. Francis' body lies,
can you, too, feel the emanations from his tomb?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


The vintner hoards his finest wine,
remembering that perfect year
when spring was late
and alternating summer days
of sun and rain
sped up the ripening process.
When autumn came
the grapes were small,
dark and ripe;
sweet juices eager to burst from delicate skin.
They went straight to the presses that year,
and though the yield was modest in size
the flavor of the wine was so intense
that people stood in line for just a taste,
and tasting, smacked their lips
and closed their eyes
and smiled,
feeling the warmth move like breath,
from nose to throat
and down into the chest to warm the heart
that waits a lifetime for that moment
of clear and burning perfection.
Treasure this, they nodded among themselves,
and bowed their heads as the last perfect drops
were spilled into this urn and sealed
and still they come
to peer through now ancient mottled glass
and savor the memory
of that single flawless sip
of light.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Journeying inward

The long hallway is tempting,
its arches
grand illusion of lofty ideals;
that sense we're in a hallowed space
or on a holy pilgrimage
and yet the figure hovers still,
promising almighty vengeance
in human form
and ghosts are lurking,
wisps of memory
dance teasingly
beyond those heavy glass doors
who could tell
unless you're willing
to open the heart and peer in...

Monday, February 14, 2011


In the dark night of sand
her protective coating glows:
tiers of finest taffeta
spill out in snow white layers
to the ballroom floor;
bare shoulders
gleam in the candlelight
as she rushes from the room,
leaving behind
not just a shoe
but all the calcified traditions
flying to meet her lover
on some other plane

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Appearances can be deceptive...

The only rabbit
I ever knew personally,
though deliciously fuzzy,
preferred to bite --
not just me,
but preferably
computer cables --
almost as tasty
as carrots
and several times
more destructive.
Who knew
such sharp teeth
could thrive
in such a friendly face
with such soft ears?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

What she learned

It's all there together.
Can you see it?
The independence
The choice
to be self-driven
The dampened catalog
of dreams and longings
The beginnings of an obituary...
Or was that a living death?
She was good
She was quiet
She was calm
and competent
She did it all herself
She never asked for help
or whined
or cried

You could count on her
not to make a fuss --
all those things
we were taught
not to say, or do, or feel

Friday, February 11, 2011

In stillness, tears and power

Things are a bit cluttered here today,
so many different kinds of thoughts
all jammed in together,
fighting for space,
some of them drenched
in tears that need to be shed;
some self-propelled,
others needing to be gently guided
into harbor,
some inflated with their own importance;
others, worn thin with time,
expecting only cursory attention...
And light, like grace, illuminates,
gives shape, and power, shadow and color to each --
in stillness I begin to comprehend
the vastness of potential.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Mother Ship

Resting at the dock
bobbing in the water
she is nonetheless prepared
to fend off mess, and predators,
to rescue
to leap into the water
at a moment's notice
to lift her sails to the wind
and let the breath of spirit
fill her lungs
with words of hope
encouragement and praise.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Prayer for Egypt

O Holy One,
we lay before you now
the deepest desires and concerns of our hearts,
our profound and benevolent aspirations
for ourselves and those we love,
for our communities,
for the many worlds in which we live and move;
for this fragile earth,
and for all who call it home.
Help us to deliver our debilitating worries
into your hands,
trusting in your divine providence and compassion.
And help us to know
that for every concern we carry
there are hundreds and thousands more
who carry these same concerns
for loved ones of their own.

Help us to sense that common bond of care.
Help us to trust that bond, and to trust in You.
And grant, we pray, that in entrusting all our cares to you
we may broaden our own compassion for all of creation.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

What irritation looks like

This is my brain,
or perhaps my soul today:
a mass of sticks,
of clutter and confusion;
and hard to love.
Help me to set aside
my distaste and resentment,
my irritation;
to watch those hard edges
soften and dissolve
into grasses, gentled by the wind.

Monday, February 7, 2011

This common buoyancy

What is this rope,
that lies here
partially and yet invisibly
That which keeps us
anchored and connected,
is not the solid construction
of the boat,
but the finer and more flexible thread
that ties us, each to each,
that floats suspended in the water,
this common buoyancy
that feeds our cells and souls.


I thought you said
You mean it?
That's all you want from me?
Just attention?
A willingness to be there for you?
That's all they really wanted, too.
My family.
My friends.
My community.
My neighborhood --
even the earth.
Guess I'll have to stop giving stuff
and start giving me.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


Though I paint myself to look like you,
I do not, in fact, belong.
Though I lean against you
and do my darnedest to blend in,
I will always be me, not you.
When will I finally realize
I have my own contributions here,
that my particular gifts
-- though I stand apart --
make me a worthy addition
to this scene?
When will I celebrate my own power and vitality?
When will I stop assuming
my only beauty and value come
from serving as a canvas
for other people's thoughts and dreams?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Rowing backwards in fog

It's difficult,
on days like this,
when I can't see very far ahead
-- or even far behind.
I feel I'm rowing backwards,
craning my neck to see what's coming,
and probably missing
some important destination.
Help me have faith
to keep on rowing,
strength to pull these heavy oars,
and trust that you'll await me
at the journey's end.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Essential wounds

It's an old idea;
that wounds can heal much faster
when protective dressings
are removed,
when the self-constructed bandaids
that mask these gaping holes
are peeled away
(ripping as they go)
to expose what
-- at first glance --
may seem ugly or diseased
but, upon a closer look,
might prove to be
the womb in which
true self lies huddled,
waiting to be born.