lying in the backyard with Mom

we are underwater, looking up at a surface of stars—the wind

rolls over us

presses us down into warm earth then

lifts the breath from our lips

swirls it up

to break against a shore

of trees until nothing exists except the smell of the Atlantic

where you came from

1,749 miles away

(I know it’s not Great Poetry—poetry’s not really my genre—but sometimes there’s something in your soul that simply demands to be written.)

Born Again

Crack me open

in soft earth. Unmake me,

synapse cleaved

from synapse.

Let me ache into being,

a slow uncurling,

breathe deep the spice of decaying leaves and

creek water and hidden things.

Set me free from the belief

that I can believe

enough to carve roots into my own flesh.

I Didn’t Realize I Had a Strange Childhood


My Mother

cried as she drove up the driveway past the rusting hulls

of trucks, the blue sawmill devoured

by raspberry bushes, the log piles shedding their bark. She told me

marriage is the worst kind of loneliness. She watched

the ever-growing string of tractors in the muddy field,

felt the strain of engines pulling against hungry earth

as my brother and I waded up to our chins in the front pond,

a cathedral of cattails above, stagnant water singing with frogs and here

and there a dead, stringy form beneath.

Life is made of little things


Traffic thins as I head north from the Cities. The walls on either side of the highway dip down into the earth and the fields widen. When I exit and turn left onto a country road, I roll down the window and let the air whoosh in. It smells like the breath of a thousand leaves, of dirt and watery sky.

No exhaust and tar bogging down the air.

A painted turtle, its pointed nose lifted to the sky, waddles across the pavement. I swerve slightly to avoid a crunch beneath my tires. The truck behind me does the same. There are no turtle crossings in the city. Even if there were, it wouldn’t make it three inches before being squashed.

Life is made of such little things: a turtle crossing the road, the smell of rain, the sound aspen leaves make as they tremble like green coins in the wind, the curling smoke from a burned-out candle, the dimple in his left cheek when he smiles, the warmth of socks straight from the dryer. But it’s so easy to miss. It’s so easy to skim over life as I rinse dishes and wipe counters and drive an hour to work. But as cornfields stretch into apple orchards and untamed forests, I vow.

I will pay attention.

I will look at the world and be filled with wonder at all the tiny, beautiful things.

I want my heart to sing with gratitude.

Otherwise, I will stay here, powerless, trapped, while life whirls on, carrying me in its pounding current. I must remember that it is made of little things. I must pay attention. I must remember this even when the night hits and clouds suffocate the sky and I wonder if I’ll ever find my way to morning.