Tuesday, May 26, 2015


I have never been very good at making decisions.  I've been afflicted by self-doubt and fear for more of my life than I'd like to admit.  Remembering daily to turn my will and my life over to the care of God has relieved this in recent years and yet there are still too many moments where I just feel immobilized by anxiety; the "right" answer always seeming elusive.

I should be in Kentucky right now.  Spring residency for my Master's program started last Friday and I was supposed to be there.  For the past month, I had been feeling increasingly uneasy about the upcoming trip.  It would have been my fourth residency and nerves had plagued me prior to each trip before but this apprehension felt different. I couldn't shake it and each time I've been before, excitement had always eventually edged out the worry.  But this time, even though I prayed through the fears, practiced positive thinking, talked my feelings out with others, still the feeling of foreboding persisted.

The week before I was to leave I felt like I was starting to come down with a cold.  I started popping the Vitamin C.  Then my knee started acting up.  I'm scheduled for knee surgery on June 3rd and had hoped everything would be fine.  As the week wore on, my cold grew worse, my knee swelled bigger and by Thursday I couldn't get around without my brace.  "I'll be fine," I kept assuring myself but the inner nagging continued. I reminded myself,  a cold is just a cold.  I have the brace.  I'll push through.

I could have pushed through.  I do it all the time.  I'm a pretty determined person.  Sometimes things work out positively when I do that and sometimes not.  I could have gone and slowly felt better while I was there or I could have gone and developed pneumonia and been unable to walk at all half-way through the week.  Those aren't just silly exaggerated concerns.  With a chronic illness, those would have been possible realities.

So, I started to feel a little like, maybe, God was telling me something.  But then my other voice was saying, "It's only fear."  So, I woke up Friday morning at three to leave for the airport.  My ten year old and eight year old daughters were both awake.  The oldest said she'd prayed that God would wake her up to say another goodbye.  I dressed, had a quick cup of coffee and hugged and kissed them goodbye.  As I hugged my younger daughter, I noted that she felt hot.  Very hot.  So, I took her temperature and it was 102.5.  She had a bulge in the side of her neck, as well.  She'd been complaining of a "stiff neck" all week but we hadn't noticed any bulge and she hadn't had a fever.  My husband said he'd take her to the doctor and go into work late, so we left for the airport.

I knew he had it covered.  That she'd be okay and well taken care of but by now I was seriously starting to doubt my decision to go.  It seemed like signs were coming in all directions that it was not a good idea.  I prayed in the car.  I texted my sponsor and a friend.  I asked my husband to exercise his husbandly leadership and tell me what to do. We parked at the airport and we walked up to ticketing ( I limped) and my sponsor texted back the simple words, "Follow your heart."

So, I did.  I cancelled my trip.  And something's happened in me since then.

We took Verity to the doctor who ruled out strep throat, ear infection, and UTI.  We were sent to a radiologist for an ultrasound and told it might be an abscess and if it was she'd most likely have to be hospitalized.  Thankfully, it wasn't.  It was just two very large lymph nodes reactive to...something. Five days later, we still don't know what they're reacting to.  She's on an antibiotic but each day her fever is higher than the day before and we've now been to the doctor three times.  Currently, we're just waiting for results of the latest tests.  It's been scary and frustrating but I know God's got it.  I don't fear the worst.  And I know I'm here because even though she would have been well watched and well tended while I was away, it would have been horrible to not be with her while she's so sick.

But there's more going on, I think.  The decision to stay, not fully knowing the entire 'why' of it was pretty huge for me.  I like to know things.  I drive myself crazy with the need to know things.  And I can't know all things.  God just doesn't tell me everything whether I like it or not.  And this is why I think I have such a hard time with decisions.  I like to gather facts.  I do not like to be wrong.  I like to be right.  One hundred percent right.  But, this time, I followed my heart.  And I felt peace pretty immediately.  For a couple of hours.  And in those couple of hours I began to make plans: alright, well, postponed graduation, so now, the kids and I are both on summer break and it will be glorious;  quality time and I'll catch up on housework and start cooking again, etc.  And then as the evening wore on doubt started to creep back in.  By Saturday, even though Verity wasn't on the up and up, I was regretting my decision.  It began to sink in what I'd "given up:" a much needed break, time to focus on just me, silence, solitude, creative enlightenment and for what?  To hobble around the house in the mess and the noise and the chaos doing laundry?  Like I do every. single. day? And I started getting a little comfy on my pity pot.  But then, I also got quiet enough to look at what I was feeling.  To identify my feelings without judging them, to sit in them, to move past them.  And I stayed quiet.  In between doctor's visits and keeping vigil with the sick child and entertaining the well children, I've been examining my life a bit.  Recognizing too much to write here, today.

But I'm going to keep looking at the awareness and I'm going to pay attention to what I'm trying to tell myself -- what God is trying to tell me.  Because that's what I'm most taking away from this experience at this point, that I can trust myself.  So rather than draw up an elaborate plan of what I'm going to do with my free time (which, one thing I'm realizing about myself is that I like to be busy and have plans; free time is slightly uncomfortable for me) is just spend more time be-ing.  Being still and quiet, without expectation.  I'm going to listen to what's inside.  And I'm going to make some changes in order to do that.  I'm going to deactivate Facebook as an "experiment."  I can't be inside my own moments if I'm always in someone else's moments.  But I'm going to come here and write.  I could journal and that's great for sort-of vomiting out all the swirl inside my head, but when I'm here, I come closer to God and to what I really need to say.  And there's a bit of freedom knowing that even though I post here, I won't be, after today, linking to Facebook.  So, now I can just write and send my thoughts out to space in a way.

I'm excited because this is overdue.  I've been talking over myself for a long time and I'm going to practice really listening instead because I'm beginning to believe I have something important to say.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Why I don't Save Flowers

You spoil me with flowers.
Red roses at my door
on Valentine’s day.  Bouquets
brought home
fresh and fragrant
from the grocery store.
You are lavish in your flower
giving.  Petals strewn
across the floor, leading to the bed
where they lay in wait of romance, heart-shaped.
So, now,
our house is full of flowers:
                 in bloom
and wilting in their vases;
some now long expired.

You asked me once, long ago
why I don’t save flowers.
Why I don’t
hang and dry and tuck away
as memory.

I said that once I had

and I know it hurt your feelings.  Once I made
a collection out of flowers,
hung upside down on every wall
of my girlhood bedroom
single and in bunches tied with ribbon.
A flower gallery.
Each, reminder of a date or dance attended,
an apology or an attempt.  I knew
    each story,
each suitor.

Six years worth of accumulated flowers
finally taken down and trashed
when my parents split and sold their house.
Not one do I now recall
as special.  Not one do I remember
for individual sentiment.

once more
after that
did I save
these emblems
given, these emblems destined only to die.

When the petals turned
from purest
to crimson black,
I placed them in the vase they came in,
perched this on my dresser.  Honestly,
I don’t remember the exact
for which these were received.

Twelve years, four children, eight houses
and countless lies and broken promises later, I still had them.
I don’t
remember when they were given
but I do remember
when I let them go.  Crumpled,
dust layered,
now shelved inside
a closet.  I pulled them down and ceremoniously
threw them out, vase and all.
This act, more symbolic
than the actual flowers. 

I did this when I met you.

You, the flower giver.  You,
who shower me with bright
and beautiful bouquets.  That sit
and pose and rest
around the house;
that we photograph and draw
and paint
and for however poor
we always seem to be,
I feel gloriously well-off at the sight of these.
And I keep them even when
they’re drooping, faded and dried
up…until you bring me more and I’m out of vases.
Then I have no problem tossing so I can just replace.

And I guess the reason
I’ve saved none
is just that I don’t need to.
I have you.  You are the ever-living bright spot in my life,
the ever-giving blooming show of love.

You are the best arrangement:

almond flower promise of always and forever.
ambrosia because you love me too,
crimson carnation
to represent my passion,
mauve for what I dream of, and pearl for faithfulness.
so many tiny dots of cherry blossoms
for your many beauties,
leaning daffodil of brand new days,
creamy elderflower for your sweetness,
and white heather speckled bell-shaped flowers mean that you protect me,
lavender and honeysuckle for your devotion,
and simple, gorgeous jasmine for this unconditional love,
rainbow array of lilies, lotus for rebirth, and seashore mallow because I’m utterly consumed.
There is peach blossom because I never want our life together to end
and blossom of pear because we share a lasting friendship,
primroses in a circle speak to our eternal love, the trueness of this is seen in scarlet roses
and finally fuchsia displays my gratitude. 

And so I could give up flowers all together and forever if forever I’ll have you.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Domestic Art

There is
about laundry, eyed, hanging on a line outside, blowing in the wind,
to it, the fresh scents of the air, the grass, the soil.
Like each
article, its own story, bodiless
but embodied
by the breeze, or words
with sunlit possibilities, written as a list, channeling a draft,
generating poem.

Too, something about hanging each item separately, shaking
it out, clipping—
Then, linen, cotton, single socks,
sheets, side by side, mingling, evidencing kinship, in flight
with each gust, unruly, billowing like flags of capitulation, shaking
in surrender.

Or seen in a neighbor’s yard:  an ink black nightie, too sexy
for an old lady, (not viewed as condemnation, just noted as a curiosity)
alongside doilies, embroidered, flowered pillowcases,
her husband’s underwear.

There is no shame in laundry.  All is clean.  Though the children giggle,
make fun, sense that privacy is on display.  Delicacies,
                                      like stolen candy.

Dried quickly on a Midwest summer day,
a woman
with basket hoisted like a baby on her hip
comes out to change loads.  The children scatter, not wishing to render
help.  This means a few moments of silence for the mother.  She works
slowly, enjoying a time of neither ennui nor enthusiasm, gradually
works her way toward the end, sighs, folds the last item, holds it up to her
face, smelling the fresh, crisp aroma of her labor, inhaling the possibility
of a poem.

Friday, January 9, 2015


I have a home   I have memories of an earlier home
I have children   I was an only child
I have the near constant hum of noise
I remember the sounds of fighting
and chilled silence
I have loads and loads of laundry  washed
and unwashed   I did not learn how to wash
my own clothes until I was married
I usually have dishes in the sink 
I had tea parties with my dolls
I have art supplies  I used to draw Betty
and Veronica from the Archie Comics
I have a Bundt cake pan  
The first time I tried to bake a cake  the eggs
hardboiled themselves
inside the cake
I have a husband who cooks  We ate out a lot
I have books  
Books were my friends
I have help 
I felt alone  
I have love   I wanted love
I have fears   Fear grew inside me
I have imperfect vision   I wore huge glasses
I have responsibilities  credit cards
and no savings  
I never thought
to worry about money
I have routine   I enjoyed making lists
I am divorced and remarried  
I prayed
that my parents would stay together
I am an ex-piano player  
I hated practicing the piano
I wish I could still play
I have a busy mind   I had an active imagination
I have holes in my memory   I learned early
to fill in the blanks

Poets & Writers
Pink. Girl. Ink.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015


She wakes to the sound of the phone ringing,
though it is not early. 
She should be up.
Her mother on the other line
says, Turn on the TV
Something about her mother’s voice tells her
she should also wake her husband. 
Together, they observe the second plane fly
into the second tower. 
In real time.  The reporters.
had been reporting on the first. 
Had not
expected this.  Their shock and confusion
exposed as they simultaneously
to report and sort out what they
are seeing.  As the girl watches, something
both unfamiliar and frightening
to stir; it takes up residence
her womb. 
She is young, expecting her first child
but now something else kicks
inside her, as new and strange as the small fetus.
Innocence souring. 
All her beliefs
about how life should be

were on that plane.

Sunday, November 9, 2014


Saffron yellow threads of light shine through
the slats of the window blinds.
She wakes early,
dresses, treads outside to greet the glow. 
Last night’s  rain left mud so she is careful
where she steps.  Otherwise,
there’s not a sign of storm, the sky of sapphire,
cloudless.  An owl, unaware
the sun soon will rise, still flies low
overhead, whoo-ing like she’s the trespasser.

She stands at crossroad in her own backyard,
glances once where pale
purple crocuses will open even in the snow.
Uninterested in their optimism, her footfall
finds dry ground to navigate
toward the lone rosebush her husband
planted years ago….years before he died.
The roses are on their second bloom of year. 
China pink at tips of petals, white in middle,
and at center, a color like golden butter.

She lets a finger slide along one stem,
stops and gently, barely pricks herself
with thorn.
She does this every morning− repeats this
strange ritual, where she contemplates
beauty alongside pain, draws
drop of blood, and with her tongue, suspends
the flow, tasting stannic sweetness.

She thinks of all she didn’t say
when he was with her.
She grants that much was said, but cannot
escape the truth that death has summoned
words laid latent she always thought
she’d have time
to verbalize.
Now, these words may as well be buried
alongside his body, for, though she’s taken
each meditation she’s had since and had
also then; let them burn unsaid,
then spoke aloud
with fervor at his grave, then wrote
them down as unsent letter, prose in journal,
and even poem, without response,
they’re worthless−
seeds that will never effloresce.  

She’s not been angry but for this, and every
sentiment she’s left with is one of praise.
Though not a day went by without the words
I love you uttered, now even those seem thin
and wanting.  Wrought with not enough.
Had she never held what all was planted
deeper in, she’d offer self-forgiveness
but the knowledge that these existed
without voice now haunts her.  She had tried. 
Found herself tongue-tied by the sheer emotion
felt, unable
to admit the ache that came with ardor.
So, now, the tiny throb of pulse from prick
all she has to serve as a reminder that once
necessary words were born and budded
in the silent soil
of her mouth.  She’s left
to mourn their suicide.  His, an honest death,
her words a scandalous, shameful hanging,
choked in this vacant air. 

So, she forms prayers of repentance
with hands that tend
the garden that he left her, frets over every
flower’s life but plucks them when they’re
close to expiration, preserves them
in a press.  The grass
grows free but weeds are promptly pulled.

Perhaps she believes the blossoms to be
expression and that care
will be her
her suffering unfinished.

Friday, November 7, 2014


Could our souls be so open
we could build a fire?  Burn the bones
of our past?  We could start again−
Find our souls unburdened
by our quondam havoc.

Yes, baby, unearth your skeletons
and I’ll dig up mine− each
clandestine secret ever held,
every fragment of shame,
every shard of self-reproach.

It’s a midsummer eve; let’s let the sun
set on all that came before we met.
We’ll watch
the framework of the witches
wither in the gilded flames
until their cackling dies out. 
The heat
will scorch our fear. 
We’ll be reborn.
These bones have been our bane
and bondage.  They rise at night
to haunt and taunt, remind
us of our sins; their limbs rattling
as they boldly dance around our bed.

So, during
day, in safety, we’ll bring them
to the light.  We’ll make
a ring of rocks to place disparted
bodies in.  Pile high, bone by bone,
every soulless fuck, every thief
of worth.  Abjuring
in our conflagrant ceremony,
the selves we used to be and the selves
the bones once feigned to be. 
We’ll throw in skulls with cavernous
sockets, where eyes would be, still
as vacant as when flesh filled
face.  We’ll throw in cold and lifeless
frail fingers and inhuman hands
that once grasped for all that was not theirs. 
Their lying tongues have rotted,
their fraudulent hearts, decayed.
Ears that would not listen, now
do not exist and wills that would not stop
when asked, have been long put to rest.  

Now, just bones.
Once the bodies of men who wielded
their weapons like promise, women
who seduced the weak and watched
while their victims moaned and writhed
beneath their honeyed words of power,
now, unburied, we see, these bodies
are just bones.  Without garments of skin,
they are nothing but brittle stories.

The stars will come tonight to shine
their blessing and we’ll drop the match
and we will not mourn
as bones at last turn to ash.