Thursday, May 24, 2012

Maple Leaves

Citrine bits scatter sown over
the lake’s memory of black quartz
drifting like golden, light filled dories.
So the sowing goes all day
across the broad field of the water.
Off and on, in gusts
of well-populated wind
but sometimes in an artful dropping.
One by one each leaf settles on its twin
until the maples lose all their inhibitions .

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


white sand encrusted
and wind blown,
noses strawberry red
shoulders blistering
we licked our lips
from playing all day
in the waves

standing in the wind
settling our feet deeply in the sand
against the rip current
that pulled at our ankles
standing ankle-deep
looking out to sea

our hands were so small
a sand dollar filled them
and cut
into the hinges of our fingers
when we tried to close our fists

a thousand small shells split
beneath our bare feet
but we felt no pain
empty relics
thin and crunchy
pressed into the wet sand

the littler boys ran
following the boogie boarders
muscled and tan

the young girls clumped coyly
along the strand
in limbo
among the sunbathers
whose mature breasts filled out
bikini bras


It would be a scorcher, no doubt, even in September
when we were rewriting our days with newly sharpened
number 2s still tagged with pinkest clean erasers
and we knew it was nearly officially autumn.

No matter that the morning broke wet and chilly,
heavy as a woolen blanket left on the clothesline overnight,
by noon the heat would build, would stifle. 
Standing where the school bus stopped

shivering in shirt sleeves, waiting
beside the wisteria then past her purple prime, dripping
green and dewy, uncomfortable in my own shoes
still stiff and shiny, I tried to summon confidence

before the bus arrived. 

Looking back toward home, there was the ache to re-enter
my safe, familiar room.  Outside my window
the mimosa bristled pink, its leaves collapsed, closed
like praying hands.  Each warm night I fell asleep with

the scent of it soft and powdery, clinging to my dreams.
Overhead a mockingbird, thief, imposter,
layered one borrowed song over another.
At first the notes were liquid, fluid, like my mother moving

me into the day, plaintive for the lost night and dreams.
Soon the unctuous bird seemed sharp and shrill, still
carrying on, nagging like a conscience.  The longer he continued
the more I was convinced we both were liars,

wanting desperately to fit in somewhere.

Sunday, May 20, 2012


When you think you finally could smile
again, you realize your teeth are broken
and you hide behind your own fist.
Not what you expected except in that dream state
where you saw your teeth
rolling across the floor, spilling
like pearls before
you could close your lips.
Now you tell yourself
the sure secret of starting over—
You are not the same. 

To My Father

If I should die before I wake,
my soul is up for grabs--
that Green Room of my childhood
prepared me for nothing. 
A  prayer leads me through
dream hallways like  throats,
dark and self-lubricating.  The voice

before the swallow, the belly grumbles
while we pray, the need never seems
to leave.  God bless the daddy
of all-white children, those he terrorized
and the one he did not. 
Daddy, bless the children with
all-white children.  His love unbent
like a coat-hanger snaking
through dark sensibility, snagging
anything foreign.  If I should die
before this yearning breaks, a flood
around my feet....God bless the mommy and the daughter,

the great-grandchildren, cinnamon and small;
fragile prayer of something better than great-grandpa’s
hate for the fragment of his population, dear daddy-god,
that he won’t reclaim.  Bless God, I will not wait.


for shrouding clouds wringing wet,
for the tapping, sequential mapping of raindrops:
‘Last seen here’ before lost in the flood,

glad to shiver and stare as the silver damp
coalesces the world to its shinier self,
glad that every surface has a new,

slick second skin that drinks daylight in,
making room for the next fallen drop.
Glad for the noise on the roof keeping time

to the tea kettle’s song.  Glad for the heat
in the cup, steam threads twisting up,
 lost to the space in the room.  Glad for the mystery

of shadows on walls, tea leaves in my cup
and lost whistles down halls.  Glad end to the
day guttered away, finally, into night.

Flowering Cherry

It is the space between the tender
pink petals I see this April day,
at first, velvet gray then spacious
blue as morning fog lifts, drifts
to who knows where.
I watch the graceful frozen dance
of the limbs in the neighbor's backyard.
Fenced in, chain links. The stopped
arabesque, the worshipful pose,
uplifted branches almost ready to give
way to green.


I dreamed your face, the face I’ve
Wanted to see alive and laughing.
I helped crease the lines of smiles
Around your eyes and felt your cool
Cheek against my own.  To see
The blue of your eyes I’ve found in no
One elses, to be under the gaze
That knew my ways and found good
In so many things.  And in me.  So there
You stood, in my garden, in my dream,
Pale and straight, draped
With all my remembrances.
Overseeing and stern,
“Move the statice,” is all you said.