Easy Reading

HERE I’VE GATHERED ALL THE POEMS IN THIS COLLECTION ONTO A SINGLE PAGE SO IT’S EASIER TO READ THROUGH FROM START TO FINISH.

THE MOON SPEAKING

Locarno, Switzerland
The Moon Speaking

I remember that night, when I was full-on, 
in my shiny best, I got a glimpse of you moving 
along the sandy shore. You caught my attention 
as you skipped from spot to spot on the wet sand 
where the gentle waves caress the earth. You were chasing 
sand crabs. Whether teeny-tiny or the bigger ones, those armored beings 
always beat your lumbering foot, like a giant overtaking them, back 
into their little bitty holes. You giggled at their speed and spoke 
to them in laughter. When you tired of your rollicking pursuit, you paused 
on the sand and gazed out over the water to the horizon. Your spine 
straightened like a tree in the summer sun and your chest 
curved ever so slightly toward the sky, like a baby opening her mouth, 
hungry to be nourished, completely trusting her mother. As if 
just noticing it’s the light on in the room that is keeping things 
from being dark, you look my way. As you lean back with your arms wide 
in a heart-centered kiss of communion, I sense your imagination unfolding 
like a flower. In the mirror of my being, you see your power, 
your beauty and strength. You claim the truth: how you simply need to be, 
emanating your light, in phases, not always glowing in your full glory 
because sometimes you need to rest.

PROUD

Swim Team – Naval Air Station, Guam, 1973
Proud

Solid on her two bare feet, she 
stands with her teammates in the locker room.
Her brown hair with its sunny streaks woven through 
hangs in a braid tied off with a red rubber band.
The tip of her ponytail like a spade is dripping wet, the water 
easing down her back and under her striped swimsuit
where the skin is milky white. 
In the laughter of the big girls, she 
feels like she’s floating, resting on a raft, 
rather than pulling herself like a frog with her arms 
reaching out & her legs spreading wide, 
moving the water like earth being cleared for something new. 
She won her race today. Not a personal best. 
	But she doesn’t pay attention to that. 
The play of it all, her body dancing like a mermaid ballerina – 
that’s why she’s there. 
The captain, striding to the shower, slows long enough 
to hold up her right hand, fingers spread wide in front of the little one’s face. 
She claps her hand against the big salute. The feel of their palms 
hitting each other vibrates for a few seconds & 	
moves up her arm & into her center. 
“Great race!” 
Another vibration then tickles her ears & 
touches her core, meeting up with the energy of the clap. 
Looking up, her brown eyes glittering like the card she 
made her mom for her birthday last week, 
she smiles.
Not with her lips sealed & tilted up at the edges, 
but so her braced teeth show through her soft pink lips & 
a little giggle comes out.

A PLACE TO STAND

Lake Maggiore, Verbania, Italy- bathed in the light of a summer sunset

A Place to Stand

I’m looking for a place to stand, a place past 
judgement and labeling, past anger and hatred, a place beyond 
fear. My feet keep moving, stretching, searching, hungry to find space 
where my heart can bloom and my soul can sing. I stay awake and pay attention because 
this place is subtle, like the flavor of saffron lingering in my mouth. It’s a nuanced spot 
that only speaks when you slow down, when you reach inside and listen deeply 
to your body’s wisdom. The location settles you in a contented solitude, a seclusion 
that moves you past the duality of good & bad, stability & freedom, attachment & aversion. 
When you follow your embodied experience, you find a place to stand where 
your being is washed in light, where your heart opens like a flower, where possibility 
flows like a river over your feet standing along the stony shore.  

NEW TRICKS

Me & Tucker, the dog who taught me…
New Tricks

I wonder why
  I keep forgetting:
   Old dogs can learn
     New tricks. 
You’re not a shoe
  Glunked in a puddle
    Of squishy mud. 
You’re like a kite
  Capable of rising
    High into the sky.
Your dog showed you 
  How it works: 
    That time when he was 7 –
      almost 50 in dog years! –
        He could sit still and 
  	 Let you comb his hair. 
It’s the anticipating 
   Of the treat, 
     The little joy that emerges
If you just push through. 

POURING PAINT

Vrulja Bay, Makarska, Croatia
Pouring Paint

I.	
She enters the cool cave of her studio
in the quiet hours of morning,
pulling back the curtains –
light pours in. 

She stands at her craft table,
gazes at the empty field before her,
possibility pulsing and pumping.  

II.
Oh! The rainbow!
She sorts through the bottles
sky or sun or lake,
or maybe geraniums? 
She divides nature’s infinity 
to a handful.

The canvas waits like a child 
just before Mom gives 
the go-ahead to jump into the pool. 

III.
She pours: 
the Adriatic aqua of the sea in Croatia
raspberries, full and ripe
silvery birches. 
Big puddles.
Dots and dabbles. 

IV.
She gives these new friends time 
to get to know each other.
Then she starts the music,
and they dance
in slow flowing steps. 

They take up the space they’re given
waltzing to the edges.
Drip Drop Plop over the sides,
little psychedelic splashes – 
like candy to decorate your daughter’s 
birthday cake when she’s 7. 

V. 
The sea-fruit-tree settles 
and stills, holding 
her energy, singing joy 
on the wings of her breath. 

I ONCE WAS A FLOWER

White Orchid at Fred Meijer Gardens, Grand Rapids, MI
I once was a flower

I have lips, so I finally decided to talk. 

I awoke to the world ripe and ready, like a summer strawberry dripping her juices over your fingers as you prepare to eat her. 

I opened, a big peachy pink orchid blossom, looked upon like a florist tenderly caressing my petals and tasting the tenderness of my pale skin. 

My young heart hungered to understand the world so I danced in life’s energy, moved with the vibrational call that tickled me into action. How I ached with desire, laughed with joy, and felt the whole world speak into me.  

I would shag and sway, jig and gyrate, rollick and frolic, romp and pirouette, just for fun, just because I could, and because it felt so good. 

Along the way I was crushed and left in the dark, like a dead bird on a doorstep. In time, someone gently picked me up and tenderly set me on a silky bed, stroking my feathers and whispering sweetly into my wings.  

I opened myself again, like a full moon, radiating my light into the vastness. In the glow, we pressed against each other and swept our way through the seasons, in a polka and a foxtrot, some salsa and tango, and a little ballet.  

One summer season dried me up like a mud puddle on the sidewalk in the afternoon sun, baked to cracking, the lines like varicose veins on someone’s inner thigh. 

Moving across the dance floor hurts my feet now. Sometimes I ponder in a slow waltz to the invitation of the open ballroom, my arms wound around the memories of my glory days.

NIGHTLIGHT

A bird in song, Santa Clarita, California
Nightlight

Once I was
a sweet song bird

joyful as the jingle
of a kid’s bike bell

gentle as a breeze
on my mother’s shoulders

strong as the strands
on a spider’s web

Then I dimmed
as if the night
light in the hall

the bell whispered
the breeze stilled
the silk softened
and I sat down
to rest

WHAT SHE SEES

A buffet of blue sky, Lake Koronis, Minnesota
What She Sees

She gazes at the mirror, a fabric 
of steam shrouds her view, 
but there it is: the velvet 
of her long black hair, the oval gemstone 
of her face, the soft tapers 
of her almond eyes, the wild sweet berries 
of her cheeks, the wet red rose petals 
of her lips.
 
She’s 18, her blood flows in love with abandon to the sea…She’s 25, her heart beats a song she dances entwined in love…She’s 31, her arms spread wings of a just-bathed bird grabbing sunlight…She’s 47, her wisdom wafts the scent of apple pie cooling…She’s 59, her passion pours onto canvas in colors and shapes uniquely hers…She’s 68, her life spreads a buffet of nothing but blue sky…

Still staring into the glass, her reflection 
emerges through the lifting fog 
of her hot bath, her eyes adjust 
to the silver sparkle of her hair, the crow’s feet 
at the edges of her eyes, the skin 
near her chin weighed down by all that living. 
And she smiles 
embracing all the shapes of joy. 

SHE SLIPPED THROUGH THE BACK DOOR

Sliver of silver moon over Petralia Soprana, Sicily, Italy
She slipped in through the back door

In the dark night, only the tiniest 
light from the sliver of silver moon, 
she tiptoes inside, careful
not to let the screen door clap closed
behind her. She moves like 
slow sliding slippers across the tile
kitchen floor, pulls her way up
the ladder of stone stairs, into your
room at the end of the hallway, with its
walls painted in pictures of serious 
and smiling children. She inches her way
into your bed, like a caterpillar
crawling and settles beside you, silent
except for the soft sound of her breath like
morning dew on the strawberries out
in the garden. When you wake, you sense
her presence lingering there, having almost
forgotten what she feels like.

GRIEF’S VISIT

At Terre di Vendicari, Sicily, Italy
Grief’s Visit

Her dress was drab, a dull brown 
that blended in with everything, the bark 
of the trees, the walnut paneling on the wall, so most 
of the time she didn’t stand out, not the way 
her sister does with her sunny yellows and passionate pinks. 
But today, her chestnut, russet and umber hues held the light 
just enough that you were aware 
of her when she was in the room. 

We sat there together at the kitchen table, hoping 
that if we did something normal, like share 
a cup of tea, we might feel like our usual selves. Her stare 
was ghostly, like she’d left her spirit on the other side 
of the lake during our early morning walk. Her ‘smile’, 
well you couldn’t really call it that; it was a dash 
at the bottom of her face; not like punctuation, more like a cut, 
maybe even a gash, the kind you get when you aren’t paying attention 
and slice into your skin near your fingernail. 

She said she was ravenous for silence and solitude. If 
she could only devour enough of it, she’d get her energy 
back, her body would start working again, the way it used to, 
before. So she stood up somewhat unsteady and left 
for the stillness and sanctuary of bed and covered herself 
up, slowly with the edge of the quilt balled in her hand and pulling it 
all the way around and over her head. 

REMEMBERING HOW TO LAUGH

Wind blowing through the palm trees, San Agustinillo, Mexico
Remembering how to laugh 

One day it happened. 
I didn’t know it was going to. 
In fact, I had no idea how much it was needed. 
But, it did. 
Like a flash, on a camera or of lightening. 
I quit trying to control every little thing.
I simply let go of all that I was holding so tightly. 
I allowed the joy of the wind to blow into my soul. 
And I remembered how to laugh. 

BEWILDERED

Clover, Rothbury, Michigan
Bewildered

She sat, bewildered, 
What am I to do? 
The answer 
was right there:
BE WILDER. 
Like the dandelion, 
the clover & violet
polka-dotting the spring lawn. 

GET FREE

Turkish Coffee
Get free

Get free of what blocks you. 

Get free by empowering yourself to share your truth – bare, basic, brutal honesty. 

Get free of your inhibitions and doubts and imposter ideas or second thoughts. 

Get free by letting what turns up percolate like coffee, deepening their color and flavor, their scent rising and inspiring.

Get free of structure, format, rules, protocols, what you think is correct or good or desirable. 

Get free by letting things be messy, striking things out, or not, squeezing things between words and ideas and along the margins and flowing onto the next page. 

Get free by opening to what’s deep within you, scratching to get to the surface, whatever that is in there yelling against the walls of your being that no one can hear, although they have their ears pressed there waiting. 

Get free by creating a safe space where you can roam like a rabbit whose squeezed through someone’s fence into a big flourishing garden. 

Get free by stepping outside of your comfort zone and onto the big carnival rides that take you high into the sky, offering new perspective, shaking you up, bringing you down.

Get free by seizing the real stuff, not the crap your mind tells you to release; no, nothing ordinary or customary or sedentary. 

Get free by letting go of what you think the world needs or what would be most helpful; no, push out the grimy, grubby, mucky and muddy stuff. 

Get free by giving birth to what might be dying inside of you.

Get free, set it free, all that blocks you. 

WITH AWARENESS

Clean shop window, Door County, Wisconsin
with awareness

Sometimes simple household chores 
feel so heavy I look upon them bored. 
Something weighing me down so 
I wander around, my face set in a frown. 

One day I read in a book, the author renowned: 
“Don’t make a burden of your duties.”
He basically said, don’t be snooty; 
go and clean up the booties. 
It made sense in my head; 
nonetheless, the cleaning filled me with dread. 
Another book said:
“Do your chores with awareness and love.” 
Maybe I could put on the glove and give things a shove. 

I’m not going to lie, I set about to give it a try. 
I saw the sparkle return to the table
as I dusted her clean, all playful.  
I heard the power of the vacuum 
as I pushed her around the room with a little zoom. 
I felt the weight of the broom in my hand
as I swept the floor without command. 
I smelled the scent of the towels and sheets
as I folded them nice and neat. 
Now when the dirt and grit talk to me, 
I don’t have a fit, not one bit. 

TO THE SUNNY SIDE

Cala Boix, Ibiza, Spain
To the Sunny Side 

Dare to care and do prepare
You’ve got control, it’s your role
Like a busy bee, clean what you see
Leave it all in tip-top shape, for you there’s no escape
Your eyes like a hawk, when there’s dirt, they balk 
You have your rituals & process, oh, how you do obsess
Strategies & advice, even a special tip for getting a grip, using a clip, stopping a drip 
Pray it’s all put away, down to the tiniest stray
Even inside the drawer, there’s a chore 
Sort and shift, with your hands give it a lift
Some will posit there’s something special about clothes lined up in a closet 
You can do it by season or some other reason, like color or length - give us strength
When setting out to organize, the times just flies 
Get out the duster & the mop and polish without a stop 
Be neat, like a folded sheet and a bed made complete
Conquer the clutter, and the butter, yep, you’re a nutter
No level of disarray keeps you at bay, you jump right into the fray
Get it all in order, all the way to the border, be no hoarder 
That’s how we do it, in a bit of a flit, some say really quick 
Into the trash you make it dash with a smash 
Picking it up as you go, minimizes the work, don’t you know
You can do it at home or as you roam, at the table, wherever you’re able 
When things are tidy, there’s nothing to hidy
Everything in its place within your space makes for such sweet grace
You might feel a sense of peace when cleaning is your release 
Nowhere a dust bunny, isn’t it funny how that can make you feel so sunny 

HER KITCHEN IS ALIVE

Blue Jay’s arrival in the backyard
Her Kitchen is Alive 

In her kitchen, the dish towel on the drying rod talks dirty to the dog on Sunday mornings after breakfast. 

The flowers in the vase on the windowsill announce the time whenever a spatula is used to turn pancakes in the iron skillet. 

The coffee maker only works when someone in the living room is watching the news on TV. 

Every third time she uses the toaster, if she leaves it unplugged, the bread comes out extra crispy. 

If you whisper Sweet Pup to the colander, it drains more quickly. 

And, yes, you always thread her knives to make them sharp. 

Her age-old wooden spoon lies to the rolling pin every time she makes an apple pie. 

Did you know that her refrigerator light won’t come on unless she plays Jackson Brown music for it; sometimes she can sing some old folk song and it will work, although it’s dimmer. 

When she flips the light switch on the wall, the broom automatically gets out lasagna ingredients. 

Every time oranges or lemons are peeled, they set off the smoke alarm. 

The floor gets slippery whenever it smells taco seasoning being added to the ground beef. 

To preheat to 425 degrees, her stove waltzes around the room with the dishwasher. 

The oven cleaner under the sink burps every time she pours a soda into a chipped glass tumbler. 

Whenever dishes are washed in the sink, the canned corn and peas in the pantry feel sad. 

The utensils keep threatening to turn into silver, but they don’t like green and are afraid to tarnish. 

The salad plates in the cabinet love saltine crackers, especially with a pat of peanut butter on top.  

She just learned that her pots and pans listen to the birds and clatter around when the feeder is empty. 

She’d already discovered that when a blue jay arrives in the backyard, the lid for the Dutch oven makes a sound like a baseball bat cracking.

If the temperature outside gets below freezing, the potholders curl up next to the dishtowels in the bottom drawer and read Rumi love poems. 

JUST QUESTIONS, SUCH INTERROGATIVES

Daisies, Knappogue Castle Garden, Quin, Ireland
Just Questions, Such Interrogatives

Do the daisies see the stars sparkling in the night sky? 

Did the soap walk to the corner store to get Mom’s sinus medicine? 

Are the spools of thread ready for a second helping of pancakes? 

Can that sweet photo on the piano translate the letter from Provence, France? 

How loud does the sage in the back garden squeal at six in the morning? 

Which sanctimonious piece of firewood will hear the scooter coming down the street? 

What color is the sound of a spry fish making circular bubbles? 

Why do the scissors sing Edelweiss to me only in the summertime? 

Where did the dresser put the carton of sour milk? 

When does the clock feel the soreness in its Achilles tendon? 

Whom does the savvy kitchen towel want to snare as they step near the stove? 

Who tried to slide down the silver candle holder with the scented tapers? 

Whose shy socks started the fire at the state park?

JUNGLE OF JOY

Trees celebrating the sunshine, Hotel Costa d’Or, Mallorca, Spain
Jungle of Joy

She talks incessantly of the jungle of joy that
awaits us, if only we’d leave this closet, this room,
this house with its four walls, and just step 
outside, where the wind sings and the birds 
dance and the trees celebrate the sunshine.

“Let’s play!” she hums. The dandelions are fading, 
calling us to spread their spores with our breath. 
The clover is begging us to sit in the grass, and chain
together a crown to bless our precious heads. 
There are daisies in the garden with our names, 
ready to tell our fortunes of love. 

“Let’s play!” she croons. The sidewalk has opened like 
velvety red carpet, dreaming of our footsteps
skipping along its surface. The basketball court
has opened her stage for our coordinated circles, 
our synchronous swirls as we roller skate our favorite
dance. Even June is calling us over to jump 
rope, hop to the top, move like a mop, don’t stop! 

She can see herself spreading like a bird’s wings, 
her ruffles spinning around my legs, floating up toward 
the sky we jump and gyrate, and drifting back down 
like a bellyflop in the pool.

The cotton dress – the one with a parade of colors – 
who has hung quietly on the rack all winter, dreaming
of reclining against my body, she now invites me, filled 
with hope, that we’ll go out 
and play. 

RIDING ON A SNOWFLAKE

A stand of trees at the edge of a prairie field, Iowa
Riding on a snowflake 

How serendipitous that we arrived just in time to catch a ride on a crystalline snowflake. As we settled in on our wintery dew drop, we floated like swimmers on their backs in a salty lake.  More falling droplets surrounded us, winter nectar, whispers from the sky, pure white luminous cold. Soft feathery tickles on our skin, kissed by the universe, cascading through the air. A single stitch in a veil of white. The ice-covered trees reaching for us as we landed in a powdery pile on a milky sea. All we could feel in the stillness were our heartbeats pulsing. All we could see was downy falling from above, and the silky virgin of fallen snow. We watched the wind loosen her robe and dance its designs across the undisturbed fluffiness that had become the midwestern plain. 

EATING THE CHOCOLATE CROISSANT

Hay harvesting, on the path to Marianelli Beach, Vendicari, Sicily, Italy
Eating the chocolate croissant 

I take the first bite
And I am standing in a grove of cacao trees that are feeding on the heat and humidity, their branches festooned with deep green leaves, their fruit dangling like pendants, their seed pods pregnant with possibility

Another bite 
And I am riding on a tractor with a farmer in his denim pants and shady hat, a slight sadness in his shoulders as we cut the browned and burned cane, the tired planting almost spent, sacrificing itself one last time 

The next bite
And I am dancing through wheat fields, swaying to prairie song, the grains dry for their denouement, glistening in the orange glow of the rising sun 

Another taste melts in my mouth
And I am resting in the nest of a chicken as she lays her egg, pushing and straining to give birth to what feeds her very being, my very being

I savor the last bite
And I am carried from the bakery where it all comes together – the chocolate, the sugar, the flour and the eggs – and then tucked into the truck travelling to the merchant whose shelves will hold me until I’m ready to feed

WORDS

Jellyfish at the Atlanta Aquarium, Georgia
Words

Words 
    Communicate 
         as verbs, nouns, adjectives, more

Words 
     Create meaning 
           little squiggles form letters form words form ideas

Words 
     Mold & shape & with just the right one 
          reveal truths, express nuance, declare wisdom, sing to our souls

Words 
      Embody the world to  
            evoke emotions, enliven memories, awaken senses

Words 
       Illustrate what we see
            draw an image, give us a view, allow us to watch in our mind’s eye

Words 
       Show us how our eyes 
           look, observe, inspect, notice, 
           discern and drink in, 
           glance, glimpse & gaze, 
           peek, peer, peep & perceive, 
           scan, spot, stare & study

Words 
      Tell of what we hear & what we find when we listen with our ear
          sounds, vibrations, noises, auditory disturbances, 
          commotion, clamors, clinking, clanking, clatters & chatter, 
          a racket, or a bang, beep, blast or blare

Words 
      Allow us to detect
           the little feet of children & squirrels
           scampering and pitter-pattering 
           the birds singing their sounds: 
           lilting, hooting, cooing, clicking & ticking
           the soft sounds of silence & whispers & sighs, 
           their muffle & murmur, hushes & hollows, rustling & burlbing 

Words 
      Carry our noses
            to delicious & suspicious destinations, 
            where we sniff & get a whiff 
            of stink & stench, reeking & rotting

Words
     Declare the wafts we smell 
          ambrosial, aromatic, antiseptic, 
          maybe scented or sour,  
          fetid & funky, rancid or ripe, pungent or putrid, 
          perhaps heady or heavy or laden, piquant & pleasing 

Words
      Savor what’s in our mouths
          maybe delectable or divine, 
          or even better if it’s bitter or bland, 
          salty or sugary, sweet or savory, spicy or smoky
          Strong and sharp like a knife, 
          peppery & gamey like leather, 
          or tangy & tart & zestful, like Granny Smith?  

Words
      Portray how we touch: 
          our tapping & patting, pushing & prodding, 
          poking & stroking, brushing & grazing, 
          fingering & caressing, contacting & handling, nudging & moving 
          Does it feel abrasive, jagged, or prickly, 
          maybe lumpy or bumpy or bulky, 
          dry or drenched, 
          hot or hairy

Words 
      Discern and feel
          ambience and aura, character and quality, 
          texture that’s smooth or rough, course or fine, 
          soft or hard, matte or glossy, 
          silky, slimy, sticky. 

Words 
      Shape our understanding using the fuel of the mind.

                                                                                           Words 
      Despite their descriptive glory & all the ways they express 
      our sensations, perception, & impressions, 
      there is a place beyond words 
            where our communication 
            is fueled by the heart, 
            a space where we embody meaning, energy, light 
            a way that needs no 

                                                                                          Words
            a way more real, 
            more alive, 
            more powerful than any 
 
                                                                                          Words 
            we might carry in our heads 
            or speak aloud to each other.

TICKLED

Grandpa Garber tickling me & Mike
Tickled 

I see his jolly round face and his soft sweet 
smile, and feel his regal and wise presence. 
Mostly I remember his words infused 
with a tenderness that flowed like a river
from the wellspring of his heart. 

He believed in serious work, spoiling us – 
me and Mike - with $2 bills for good report cards. 
He was a mischievous old devil, 
short-sheeting our beds and teasing us
with stories that made us sound like silly ducks. 
But mostly he believed in the power of joy, 
the power of fun and frolicking. 

We play hide and seek for quarters 
in his living room, and he sits on the floor 
with us for a long game of monopoly. 
Mostly what touches me is the tickling, 
the way he would reach around 
and put his big plump fingers gently in our sides, 
and how we giggled and laughed and broke open 
with big toothy smiles, our mouths open 
like fish taking in water. 

OUTSIDE THE SWIM LANE

Lakeside in Ephraim, Door County, Wisconsin
Outside the Swim Lane
(For Sunita)
 
We dive in
to the cool blue water,
exhilarated -- 
we are on the team.

We swim, 
lap after lap,
within the swim lanes,
marked with plastic rope. 

As we are racing to win,
one day we glimpse something
outside our path.

We peak,
over there,
past the lane barriers. 

We see new possibility,
beyond the markers
that keep us in line.
 
Our muscles strong
from endless swimming, 
together we carry the rope away.

Now we explore,
with newfound freedom,
whatever little delights 
and giant miracles await.

HE TAKES FLIGHT

Approaching London, England
He Takes Flight

The invitations mount in a pile on the table. One follows him 
around his house as gentle sighs, exhaling 
the burden of his duties, the things he was expected to do 
every day, the littlest of things you wouldn’t think were so heavy, 
like making the bed or brushing his teeth, 
day after day, ceaselessly. 

Another arrives like a warning whistle 
as he sits at his desk, his screen a streetlight 
illuminating the tracks ahead, his day a cargo train, 
car after black car, stretching endlessly 
into the wild prairie with its hungry harvest, his gut burning 
like a black coal, and the steam that keeps him chugging 
can’t  move up and out his pipes.  

The last summons lands at his feet in a crumpled ball, 
after his partner wonders aloud what they might enjoy for dinner, and he yells 
back at her, not just testy, but mean and spiteful. Even this 
tiniest and inconsequential of decisions feels like a billboard shouting. 
He stares down at the paper, gazes up to her and collapses, 
not physically into her arms but right there before her, he falls 
into pieces, broken mirror littering the floor. 

There, 
his heart finally stills 
from the chase of all those invitations, 
and the soft round world around him catches up. 
It’s not that he’s given in or given up. It’s not like that. 
It’s more like he put the barbell back into its rack along the wall 
so life doesn’t hit him straight on, like he’s open enough 
so that life moves through him. 

He discovers that the world did not stop when he let go 
of his load. The sun still shines gold in the sky and 
clouds cast shadows on the sidewalk. He takes flight, 
an eagle gliding on thermals high above the patchwork of earth, 
unencumbered by life’s demands, no weights to carry. 
For the moment, free. 
And that is enough. 

FAREWELL GIFT

Le Coeur, Les Calanches, Corsica, France
Farewell Gift

She leaned ever so gently 
toward me,
tenderly touching 
her lips to mine.
Like the first time 
her son’s arm brushed my skin, 
I felt the energy of love 
move through me. 
In my 30 years 
as her daughter-in-law,
this was the first such kiss 
she had given me. 
Every moment 
I ever doubted 
how much she cared for me 
evaporated, 
in this her final declaration of love. 
A feathery kiss, 
my final farewell gift.

WHAT DO YOU DO?

Rose, Santa Clarita, California
What do you do? 
(For Barb Kamer)

What do you do with a loss like this?
Do you nudge it away so the hurt won’t get too close?
Or, do you cling to it as a reminder of her precious life? 
Do you hold it near so she won’t seem so far away? 
Do you lose it inside you to wander in search of answers? 
Do you embrace it to hug her memory? 
Do you snuggle it to your heart to keep your soul warm? 
Do you sit quietly with it to feel her peaceful spirit? 
Do you rest with it trusting that a loving power is at work? 
Do you share it to release the heaviness of your pain? 
Do you set it gently in your palms to release its grasp? 
Do you wash it in sunshine to awaken her light?
How do you invite her soul to do its work, 
 to awaken the energy of her love? 
How do you to let her light shine through you, 
 to keep her laughter and beauty alive? 
How do you find the meaning in the emptiness? 
Just how do you respond to honor her life?

THE TRUTH IS

Moonflower, Door County, Wisconsin
The truth is

The truth is 
she doesn’t have a single reason to believe she’s anything
but worthless. The story repeated over
& over: the father who left, the mother who followed 
him in a drunken stupor, the family that claimed her 
but grew tired of her rotting in selfish silence.  

The truth is
her behavior’s erratic. She acts in ways that’re random, 
unpredictable, like one minute she sits cowering 
in the corner and the next she’s shouting 
at the spider who’s come too close. 

The truth is 
she wears her hatred like a robe, clothes herself in fathomless 
fear, a terror that life will continue on
like this for another day, 
another year, another lifetime. 

The truth is
deep within her trembles a belief: there is more. 
If she keeps moving toward the small flicker
of light, like a little star sparkling inside her, 
steady and deliberate, quiet, cautiously, 
she will find that there really is no space
for shame.

SHE SAID TO ME

Storm clouds lifting over Lake Maggiore, Verbania, Italy
She said to me

I see now she was pre-paving, 
setting her intentions, 
and mine. 
She said to me, 
“Everything works out for the best.”

When the storm’s rushing at you,  
you aren’t really ready to feel anew. 
Maybe as the clouds lift 
and I feel my breath as a gift...

Her heart just wanted to understand, 
clarifying her whys, 
and mine. 
She said to me, 
“Things happen for a reason.” 

When truth’s water is too deep for wading,  
you feel the ground of wisdom fading. 
Maybe as the water begins to retreat 
and I feel the firmness of my feet…

She offered perspective to bring peace
with where her life arrived, 
and mine. 
She said to me, 
“You are where you are supposed to be.” 

When thunderbolts crack open your heart, 
the soothing salve of words is a start. 
Maybe as the lightening moves over the sea 
and I feel my pulse dancing in me…

My Mother spoke her truths out loud, 
sculpting her heart, 
and mine.  

THE MAN IN UNIFORM

My young father in his sailor’s uniform
That Man in Uniform

In his uniform, he stands fit & thin.
If you look real hard, you can see his grin. 
He has taken form, shaped by the norm. 

His spine tail to tip, he keeps straight & tall. 
His mind is aligned, his strength will not fall. 
He has studied & trained, he’s ready to sail. 

His shoes wink at you, his work is worthy. 
The waxy luster a polished clue 
about all he’ll do, with pride & no bluster. 

His belt buckle shines, sparkles at your eye. 
He’s a sharp diamond, that’s truth & no lie. 
A stone that will not give a sigh or a cry. 

His hair’s cut so short, gives you the idea 
that he finds his way each & every day
from many a snare, with greatest of care. 

His pant leg creases, & the shirt sleeves too
shout out about order, that never ceases. 
oh, yes, & the need, liberty releases. 

The ribbon & ore, medals across chest, 
they always attest, he lined up abreast. 
His foot to pedal, his legs toward shore. 

That man, a sailor guy, 17 enlisted 
a young seaman clean, of the yes-sir clan, 
dressed in navy & white, oh my! 

Rose up in the ranks, serving for 30+, 
a true commander that man never shrank. 
I dare say with glee, That Man, That Man, 

He is My Father. 

MELTING TOGETHER

Inis Oir, Aran Islands, Ireland
melting together

I long for
  his heart
    to open
      like a gate
        onto an open prairie
          covered with wildflowers. 
          There,
         in that space
       we can meet
    and melt into each other
  like the sun and sky
at sunset.

JUST ME AND YOU

morning dew on Columbine flowers, Iowa
Just Me and You

Our love
So true
Was new
Like morn-
ing dew
Just me 
And you

Wind blew
We flew
So high
Oh, my!
Us two 
Just me 
And you

We cry
We die
We give
We live
A long
Repeat-
ing song
Just me 
And you

BORN OF LOVE

Turkish bread, Gaziantep
Born of Love

she died on his birth day. 
she set her self down, 
with all her rumbling and noise 
her desire to be seen, 
to be known, 
to be loved. 
Yes, she needed love, hungered 
for his kisses, his touch, his attention. 
Sometimes she was starving and he 
couldn’t see it. And she wouldn’t say, 
she wouldn’t beg for a morsel of his bread. 

She was born on that day, 
that day that her self died, the day 
they celebrated his coming to life. 
Her Self was full of pure being and empty 
of need. Her Self was love so She 
didn’t need love. She was at home 
in the silence of darkness and 
the magic of light. 

It’s in her quiet that you know she left, 
just picked up that day and walked away. 

And it’s in Her quiet that you know 
She is alive because She stands 
before you naked.