03 February 2009

You Offered the Wind

for Geoff

You offered to give me the wind,
as though you could,
and as though I might accept it.
I wanted to hold my arms out to you
and welcome you in
but I didn’t.
It was blowing too hard
and the clouds were too heavy
and the air smelled of nothing more than cold, salty nights.
You stood there
looking at me
knowing you were only half invited
I looked back
knowing I wasn’t inviting you at all.
You walked away from my walls,
I stood on the other side of my screen door
neither of us even said good-night.
I cried for hours
and then suddenly realized
the clouds had not meant rain
the air was just air
and what you offered
wasn’t the wind.

Trees Full of Leaves That Were Stars

First written 3 March 1997, New Draft 2 February 2009

I had taken you outside so it would be dark;
there is more space in darkness,
and more intimacy.
I would be better able to listen,
actually hear your thoughts and feelings,
having already thoroughly felt and expressed my own.
Even for me, sometimes there is nothing more to say.

I was attending your words,
none of which surprised me.
Truth be told, your face said it all from the first.
Thankful for the darkness, thinking to myself how much I
like who you are, even in this,
I stopped hearing your words and focused instead on your breaths
between them.

My careful attention was split by the distraction of March air,
and the tangle of branches and new leaves,
that had caught onto a host of stars,
with no thought of letting go.

The Rain

The rain beat herself against the ground in a useless, senseless
Already saturated, he rejected her,
and she stood in silent, agitated pools
for someone malicious
or playful
to step on her.

She was surprised how close she could get,
lying there she could feel the cool of the earth melting into her body
and yet her self-offering was as good as ignored.

She had not known what would be too much,
had not sensed when she had gone too far,
and now it was too late.

In time, the sun would warm her body,
and she would collect herself together again,
and disappear,

It wouldn’t last long.
In her own reflections she could already see the storm clouds
beginning to form.


You’ll never guess what they’ve dug up
out of the ground that has lain beneath their feet
all of these centuries;
What held its breath, waiting for them to pass over it
with their tools of discovery,
of destruction.

Hidden, underneath loose clumps of soil,
covered by grass that held its ground with the seasons
of rain,
of drought,
a face looked up,
the weight of the land on his cheekbones
instead of his shoulders.

The restful pressure lessened each day;
First by shovelful, and eventually by the lightness of
brush on bone.
The sigh was unmistakable,
‘they’ve found me’.

Each piece of him was lifted, numbered, bagged.
His winter-leaf-thin scull shivered in their fingers.
His tooth-roots rattled in their sockets.
The empty holes gave way no expression, so
the visitors imagined his face smiling from the creases of his eyes
to the muscles in his jaw.
They imagined a face contorted in the pain
of the gunshot wound in his leg.
They imagines his eyes closed, resting, peaceful.

‘You’ll never guess!’ the people exclaim.
‘Come see what they’ve dug up!’
‘He’s on display, you know!’
‘Only $5 to see a dead man!’

In the background you can hear park rangers on their lawnmowers.
Through the windows you can see them spraying the life down fro the trees.
You look at the man in the glass case,
and all you see are bones four hundred years tired of it all.

You’ll never guess what they’ve dug up.
It is a man from the Jamestown Fort.


No. 2

Crumbling rust flakes off with
Dust and cobwebs.
Rippled glass and
the haze of stale smoke
clouds the inside
of the glass orb.
No wick to hold a flame,
no oil to burn,
it sits handle down
needing to be cleaned, but
not asking for it.
Usable, but
not in use

Hibernating during the cold months.

If I cleaned the rusty metal,
wiped the cobwebs from the
cap to the oil well,
polished the glass until a flame could
be seen,
if I added a wick to the orb,
flame to the wick
oil to the well,
and turned the cap until it was
If I put the handle up
in anticipation,

Spring would come.

Grinnell Oak Tree

It wasn’t an owl I heard this time
just the wind
winding its hollow way
stirring up a lonely moan as it passed.

The moonlight cascade
held in the chill
preserved the stillness
of the snow suffocated ground
not interrupting.

The clear night hung stars on the branches
of the trunk I leaned against for comfort
from the silence.

I stood my ground,
and poured my warm, moist breath
into the wintery air.

Country Roads

for Christina 1996

It is vivid in my mind
that day.
We set out together
with little to say.
It was almost Thanksgiving,
or the day had just past –
doesn’t matter.
You and I walked down that road
to the end of worlds.
It wasn’t raining.
Not raindrops;
Not balloons.
The sky was bright.
You didn’t cry.
I didn’t know what to say,
or how to touch you,
or if I should.
I just waited.
As we walked back,
we sang about being taken home by a country road.
It meant something different to me than it did to you,
That sort of going home didn’t make sense to me then,
doesn’t now.
Even still,
as we walked,
I believed you,
with all my heart.


in mind of a painting of poppies

Behind the walls of proper black dresses
With minimal lace or adornment
They stand in the shadows
Near the windows.
Past the windows, out on the field
The tomato splotches of color
Lean in the wind
Ruffle the petals
Stretch their stems.
Corsets made from the skeletons of sea monsters
Hold rigid the human stems
Plucked from the valley
Before they blossomed.
Flowers picked by
Fragile, milky hands,
By bodies bent stiffly downward to reach them,
And then wrapped in green waxed paper to look

Neatly clipped flowers in tight lipped vases
Do not grow so well.

Autumn Leaves in November

Perched on my knees deep
in Blackeyed Susans
hair dances on sun brushed shoulders
I close my eyes in the
Yellow of the world and
wait to capture the wings of secrets.

There are only murmurs of the wind
and faint whispers of leaves
as soft and elusive as Baby’s Breath,
in a place that does not want to be

A stream trips over fallen stars, and
water drops taste like April air.
I almost do not see the road until -
running -
Artemis flies past me on it,
She once turned to beckon me.
No longer.

The voices are autumn leaves in November, and
I have forgotten how to listen.



The dew drops still smell of lilies.

Alexander Hamilton to John Laurens

Alexander Hamilton to John Laurens
- as he might have written in the fall of 1682 after learning of the death of the latter

My Dear Laurens,
I wrote once,
back in the year 1779,
that “though I am cold in my professions,
I am warm in my friendships,”
I wished that it might be in my power,
by my devoted actions rather than words,
to convince you that I loved you.
I thought I hardly knew the value you had
taught my heart to set upon you before you left for the war.
In truth, I did not know it until the event of this greater leaving.
Indeed, my friend, it was not well done.
You know of my strong desire to
Preserve myself
free from any, particular,
to keep my happiness independent of the caprice of others.
My friend, you should not have taken advantage of my
and steal into my affections without my consent.
But, as you did, and so thoroughly,
and as we are generally indulgent with those we love,
I did not scruple to pardon you then,
nor do I intend to do so now.
Did my last letter reach you too late?You might have found it amusing.
- my resentment of your marriage –
The Great Alexander Hamilton,
acting the part of a jealous lover
in the face of an unkind god.
There is one comfort I suppose:
At least you and I can both rest knowing
the history books shall likely never mention it.

A Reading Kaddish Reading

When the sky turns that color
you just know it never was before,
and then throws streaks of light toward the universe,
before it fades into dark promises;

When the air is whisper-silent,
before the birds, after the stars,
and clouds begin to give way to faint, lemon light,
chilly even in summer;

When children are running and dancing
through sprinklers,
and squealing at the grass between their toes,
or giggling at water splashing their tummies;

When during the hakafah a baby holds out her arms,
cannot reach,
and so instead blows kisses at the Torah,
even though no one near her is paying attention;

When you are standing in a minyan,
surrounded by Jews and Tradition,
and the cacophony of voices that wrap around you like a tallis
is somber and strange;

When you remember not to forget me,
say it with some joy, some wonder, some awe,
and heartfelt gratitude.
You are praying on my behalf, in appreciation of my life;

And I for one, am glad I was here.

A Message

Our self worth,
Like a lost bargain,
Easily made and
easily broken.
Are we to become creations so
that not only is the making a lie,
but we ourselves,
even We
aren’t true?

You must wonder with me
After awhile,
how we get back outside
back in the sunlight and the
to deal with the painful truth that
it’s practically a miracle that there is
of anyone

I don’t know to whom you are
or what is your profit.
All I know is I want you to
selling my name.
I am afraid it is me,
who is seller and
hiding behind a back numbed by
I administered myself for no gain,
at all.

And you ask me what I think
about being softer and smaller,
if I care
that my lips aren’t plump enough,
my eyes not wide enough,
my nose not petite enough,
my chin not tight enough,
my brows not plucked enough.
You want to know if I’ve “got milk”?
I want to know if you can still make it.

Reaching for time is all I know
and the light
behind the window
is growing dim
with age and

The arrival of a plan is
past due
and it is we,
not you
or I
who were to be midwives to this delivery
after all.

Our expectation was no
there is no fooling ourselves or
excusing ourselves from the
I will not rely on those who require
the commitment of others.
The worst kind of thieves,
believing themselves to be
the best kind
of women.

A Little Corner

It’s not very elegant, for a garden,
no loud, fragrant blossoms
Interrupt the quiet.
It looks like chamomile flowers
smell - still and silent as the moon in its pause
before the Journey back.
Minty green tiles cool
tired feet.
Creamy benches and tree pots
sigh and dream of summer afternoons.
Dewey walls massage forehead muscles.
Eyes drip closed,
lips curve,
and my mind softly whispers thoughts to itself.