Sunday, July 21, 2013


Tall maples lace fingers across Connecticut roads
their gnarled feet uprooting sidewalks
July at my grandparent's house
the scallions grow wild by a sloping fence
dandelions shake loose their seeds---
tiny parachutes snagging on wet grass.

Afternoons when sunlight spirals through flaps
of hand embroidered curtains
we snap jigsaw puzzles together
on a card table with unsure legs.
Grandpa's raspy tales of The Great War
Tin Lizzies and gas ration tickets
lost years he can never replace.
Grandmother, white reflection in the glass
cabinet where bone china is a memory
of Christmas dinners and wedding parties.

At night we trap firebugs in mason jars
their yellow lights winking like a distant city.
My sisters and I share the fold-out bed
in a musty basement cluttered with steamer
trunks and back issues of National Geographic.
Frayed slippers of our grandparents
whisper their age across dry floor
boards in a bedroom that smells
of mothballs and crushed roses.

Outside, the moon surprises us with its youthful
face beyond dimming stars where clouds
form shadows in the Maple trees.

Friday, May 31, 2013



Love is that blinding light that peels back the darkness, exposing the twisted roots of vulnerability---wishes and dreams too painful to reveal. The very wings that lift you to the sun's embrace are easily singed by the fire. Like Icarus, you will fall, burn to ashes and scatter like dark confetti across a green sea.

     It sleeps, this love, wintering deep in a heart that spring has forgotten. There is the fear of never being loved, of being left behind and bleeding out memories that whisper a spiritual death. Dawn streaming gold through a thin veil of trees is lost on the blind. You feel your way through corridors of the past, conceal the bruises carried quietly inside you. You cannot save the broken soul with cracks too deep to heal.

     Love is that cage where birds dream of taking flight. Release it and its name will stain your lips. The secrets you share burn slowly from embers to thaw the frozen heart. Desire spreads its wings, bringing light to all the hurts you've worn like a badge of courage. Wipe away the tears and catch the one who is falling.

Friday, May 3, 2013

April Showers


They predicted rain this morning
with thunder growling like an old dog
on my front porch.

Today the optimara violets
bloomed crimson--
larger than the ones in my mother's garden
where I buried her broken china
tea cup in mud when I was five.

At Uncle Bob's funeral
she held her coat over
my head
when we walked through the rain---
pennies falling
on a canvas shelter
over his grave.

Somewhere in Florida
on a cloudless day
my mother waxes the dining
room table, lemon oil
thick with summer heat.
She rubs out finger prints
and the rings where my elbows
rested last spring.

I look in the mirror
trace the curve of my nose
the line by my eyes,
her eyes,
and wonder if she hears the rain
falling through my fingers. 



The sun folds gray eyelids
against fat, aggressive clouds
that envelope light
storing it in deep pockets
for spring.
It is cold, the color of iron
tastes of ashes and late snow
leaves staining the pavement
where puddles cup the sky's
solemn glare.
Ballet of wind
tiny feet dancing
over slippery window panes
a celebration of water
in a song that only I
can sing.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Flying With Eagles

     Hospitals never frightened me. It's where my children were born. Happy memories. Now they remind me of people I've loved who are gone. Like a phantom limb,  I still feel their presence and an ache that chews at my soul a little bit each day, hollowing me from the inside out.  When I close my eyes, I see my older sister, hiking to the top of Bear's Tooth Pass in Montana. She stands beside a meadow still patchy with snow, a camera dangling from her hand as she gazes up at a cloudless, blue sky.  She turns to me, grins, and aims the camera. I try to smile but my eyes burn from the glare off the snow. The light is blinding and my breath is shallow in the thin air, my lungs feeling as if they are sucking in broken glass.
     Her ashes now drift across that meadow. I remember smoothing the white hospital sheets that covered her cold body and thinking of the snow.
     So many nights like this one when the moon was full, she'd steal me from sleep for a drive along the beach.  I curled beside her on the seat, my head on her shoulder, and watched the stars race past our window like silver glitter scattering across a black, velvet sky. I thought she was racing against the moon. And I never knew why.
     She escaped into a world of beauty and grace behind the lens of her camera----prisms of light dancing in a drop of water clinging to a rose petal; the gilded intricacy of a spider's web capturing the muted light of sunrise; a monarch butterfly dipping is black, curled tongue into the well of a flower.
     I see her now in the hazy dreams of midnight where hundreds of photographs fan across the years, capturing the memories that linger there: horseback riding on a rugged trail carved into the mountains of Wyoming; delicate orchids blooming in her garden; the night she squeezed my hand at the Wagner Opera, tears shimmering in her eyes; licking the sweet juice of bing cherries off our lips in the streets of Seattle; Andrea Bocelli's silky voice serenading us as we cooked pasta side by side in her tiny kitchen; jumping in puddles up to our knees and knowing how silly we looked---two, grown women dancing in muddy water, embracing the fury of a storm.
 And the birds---so many of them. She had an encyclopedic knowledge of every species. For years she healed the injured ones and fostered the larger birds of prey. The eagles and hawks were her favorites; she photographed them, sketched them...and I think, deep down, wanted to be like them---fierce, beautiful, strong and free.

     My sister had an eating disorder. She was killing herself slowly, and I didn't stop her. I didn't know how.  No one did. She wore her loneliness like a heavy, winter coat and I stood by helpless as those sparkling, green eyes dimmed to gray. A storm was raging, but she was no longer dancing in its rain. Something had broken insider her, leaving her heart cracked in too many places. She became like the wounded birds she once cared for.
     I never should have gone to see her the day I was sick. It
never occurred to me that the insidious germs I carried would attack her weakened immune system. She fell ill shortly after I saw her, but refused to go to the doctor. I should have pushed, begged, driven her there myself. But I did nothing.

     When the call came, I raced down darkened streets, saw the moon spin past my window shield and wondered if she remembered its pale, yellow face peering above the ocean's rim so long ago.
     She was already in the dark sleep of a coma when I arrived at
the hospital. I touched her cool hand, felt her standing at the foot of the mountain. Monitors screamed their flatline goodbye and I knew she had already taken flight with the eagles.
     A stained- glass Jesus mocked me from the window above her
hospital bed. I wanted to smash the glass and cut the world in two. Forgiveness was gone. I drifted there for hours, the white tiles of the hospital floor cold against my cheek like snow, like the brisk air stinging my face on top of Bear's Tooth Pass where I knew she had gone.
     I never said I was sorry. I stood at her funeral in front of a crowd and delivered her eulogy. I painted a false picture of her life so that everyone could leave the church with the satisfaction of knowing she died a blessed woman. And I was a hypocrite because I knew far better than that. She had been dying inside for years. And no one tried to save her. I hid the truth from myself because I was too cowardly to feel the depth of her pain.

     An autopsy report claimed she died from pneumonia with a heart three times its normal size. Obesity does that. I prefer to think her heart was large because she loved so much.
     What I never said, never shared, was the morning after she died, a Red-Tailed Hawk circled back through my yard and settled on the pine branches above me. I looked into his dark, unwavering gaze and saw my sister watching me.
     Her ashes, now swirling over a snowy mountain top in Montana, will never settle. They'll twist inside my grieving heart until I feel the last breath of winter.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Portrait Of Winter


November, we walked through corn
fields knotted with dry stalks and dust.
You threw flat stones
that sailed through the air
paper planes carried on wings
of sparrows in Autumn song.

You saved my poems on brown paper
for lyrics, pasted over blue
walls near Clemson's moon sketch.
A chime set of glass notes
twisted red in the afternoon breeze
reflecting music on my hands.

A spattering of snow
fell on your sagging barn,
skeleton of cardboard walls.
During winter the air has a song
of its own, you said, and called
out my name to hear it bounce
off hills, touch the moon

and fall back through naked trees
with sleeves of ice. In my hand
a sparrow's skull, paper thin.
I held it up, looked at the moon
through hollow sockets,
heard you calling my name.


No snow crusting Smith's pond
the sun's weary eye across the water
if I could touch its frozen lip
I'd feel the trees inside you
trembling before the first snow
wind tugging at the last, few leaves.

Once your house was thick with night
mattress pulled to the living room floor
your fingers on me like rain
swallowing the moon's perfect light

the distance I have wedged between us
highway markers falling past my rearview mirror
the road unfolds its dark fingers
from prayer, returning me home
to thoughts of you and the thin lines of love
found in the cusp of a broken moon.