Just another site

The Lake in Winter

All reflection and gleam
the lake in midwinter sparkles
in brief sunlight. Waves lap
against their frozen brethren.
I could compare the half submerged branch
to my grandmother, dwindling
towards her demise. And that shatter
of ice by the shore and that return of light,
to heaven. When someone you love is dying
every branch, bird, cloud, all of them speak
of endings, and the possibility of resurrection.

Even the heaved asphalt rippled by frost
or stubborn roots speaks, says, nothing human lasts,
even that which seems harder than stone cannot continue.
The lake is heartbreakingly beautiful
today shimmering as it does against the pale
blue sky. Entranced, some part of me wants to linger
on this edge between the beaver gnawed saplings
and the hundreds of waterfowl standing on ice,
or floating on its ribboned edge. Mesmerized

by waves, their multi-colored hues, I almost forget
she is dying almost forget the cold, and that my hat
isn’t stopping the wind. But I am on a schedule
and have a daughter who needs me home, soon. She
will never know my grandmother
except through stories and pictures
but that will have to be enough. Some part of me whispers
-it is all too much-this water and the layers of ice. Even these sounds,
of water against ice and the crackle and creak of ice beside shore,

they overwhelm me with their beauty and I am so glad to know them,
to know the spine of these brittle stems that sway in the wind,
and this specific dark blue that water has only in deep winter.
Another part of me wants to scream,
-I can’t contain it all-. Her death, her life everything she means to me
how can it reside in these interiors?
And all who await her after death. Those I loved,
and those I knew only through her. Familiar and strange
as water that has turned to ice, geometric, patterned, so recently fluid.
The body infinite,
if only in its loving.

summer love poem

Summer Love Poem

I love the sunlight
on my eyelids, golden.
I love the salt
of the oyster, taste of ocean.
I love my daughter’s voice
as she sings a favorite song.
I love that first moment submerged
in the pool or ocean. I love tomato,
sun-ripe and warm, misted
with salt. I love how her lip presses
as she shares a favorite imagined fancy.
I love when he leans into a laugh.
I love the variegated
lines of pale blue on the pool floor
as I stay under for as long as breath
will allow. I love that all of my limbs
work. I love the way the ground is lit
with fireflies as bats swoop overhead.
I love that first spoonful of gelato,
as the waves crash nearby, lush.
I love the late summer cacophony
of cicadas singing their matins.
I love my hands as they prepare food,
knowing the different pressure needed
to pierce tomato, melon, cucumber.
I love that I can’t remember a time I
couldn’t read. I love that first
sip of an iced drink after a hot hour.
I love that moment when a book
is almost done and you want to wait,
you can’t bear to imagine your life
without this book, but you rush
to know how it all resolves.
I love when the children’s voices
all blur to a bee-like hum as they climb
and jump and plot
adventures of stick and sand.

poem of the body

Embrace fleshiness

The baby with her face pressed
to your face is at her happiest
forehead to forehead, mouth
to mouth, or mouth
blowing raspberries on
any fleshy part of you.

Embrace fleshiness
of the self, go against every message
the media has ever sent.
These legs are strong,
you can carry the four year old on your back
after she falls,
even as she clings, while sobbing,
and the one year old is on your hip,
loop one arm behind your back, supporting.
Somehow, you manage
to balance them both
even as you say goodbye
to the fruit you were about to pick.

Some days, parenthood feels like a constant
lesson in letting go
of expectation, of the little plans
that defined your afternoon, little
to say of the grand hopes and plans
of art and literature,
and some days it seems like
if you just allow it, you will receive
every grace possible.

Your arms
surround these children
who press themselves
into you, as your body
provides immeasurable
comfort. Boundless
love, a great acceptance of you
as you are right now: disheveled
mussed, tired, unsung in any circle
but this one.


Talking with a friend today, I mentioned that I have continued to write almost every day(though not every day, as my father passed away 9 days ago) but that I haven’t been pushing myself to polish, or post. So, here is today’s fast write, with an added 10 minutes of polishing.

What survived winter

It was a hard winter, on that
we can all agree. Snow and more
snow. Temperatures below
10, more times than anyone
local can remember. Bid goodbye
to the large rosemary, and lavender.
Goodbye new rose. Watch all of the bay
leaves fade out of green. Wait. Break brittle
fig branches, look for green, but wait. Weeks
later than usual spot green knobs as small
as a 12 point face o. They circle
the base of the fig tree. Try not to hope
for more. Restrain from breaking
into a tiny jig. Only remove that
which is loose in soil. In the second
week of May find one shoot of new growth
on the yellowed bay. A whole branch of the fig unfurls,
slowly. Garden time is different, grass and weeds
will overtake a fallen pruner or glove, even
while your pea plant makes minuscule movements
towards the branched twig you upended beside it. Green
strawberries shake off their white skirts. Wait,
wait again. In this place, more than any other,
believe in resurrection. We may not feast this summer,
but we will dine on the fruits of our own small plot.

bonus poem (napowrimo make-up)

because I missed a few days, and because today’s weather inspired a moment of poetry


Sun eyes (May day)

Two days of a heavy grey sky
mean that I can barely see
this morning, as I walk
into full sun. I recently learned
that our eyes are better suited
for an underwater environment,
and today, I believe it. My daughter
and I often sneeze when we walk into
sunlight. If I could’ve requested she get darker
eyes, I probably would have, though I admit
I am happy that I’ve only been asked,
twice, if she is mine. People in this country
see color before any other feature. There is nothing
watery about today’s sky. And though I have to squint,
I’d hug the sun if I could, I feel that happy to see its return.

napowrimo day 30

Rain Poem

Let the poems be all of rain
when even the air has forgotten
how it felt to be naked of rain,
and the seedlings are getting drunk,
and the worms stretch
not just across sidewalks,
but parking lots. Grown bold, water
rushes from distant places, joins hands
in the clouds, crying, me too! Wind joins
in, forgets it is an altogether different
element, pleads with its cousin
and rain agrees. There is nothing
but rain. Dream of the self becoming
atmospheric. Remember you
have always been more water than not.
Clouds descend over the almost sun,
I tell my daughter it always made me think
of heaven. Heaven leads to haloes
the soul, and somehow, to space. Where
we live, she confirms. I usually seem
so much bigger than rain, but today,
I am as infinitesimal as a drop in a waterfall.

napowrimo day 29

I started this two weeks ago, and it still doesn’t say all I mean it to, but it fits, for today.


We gather belongings around us
as if they will protect us. On the metro car,
almost every person looks down, as if in prayer,
wearing multiple layers, feet are more booted
than shoed. A deluge of rain and wind
swept almost all of the petals
from the trees, and we’re still shivering
from the 40 degree temperature shift. Once,
my grandmother mentioned liking
the way a pair of shoes looked,
I suggested she buy them, she replied, I already have
a pair of brown shoes. I wanted two things in that moment:
for her to treat herself to a second pair, and for myself
to be able to be that content. We all went to say goodbye

to her two years ago. She’d stopped eating
solid food and the doctors told us she might go any day now. Each time
she has moved, a few of us have gathered to help clear out her
belongings and pare them down to fit a new, smaller space. Our
umbrellas were flipped inside out and ripped,
as we left the museum. The only response to such wind
was two fold: run, and laugh. Everyone around us
did the same. Sometimes that’s how a day goes. It starts with you
rubbing lotion on your sunburnt shoulders and ends with you wrapping

an extra blanket around your child. How can I do this, how can I let go
of these things I think I may need? As we walk back up to the ground
we find a tree still in bloom, protected by a wall. Every
part of it covered in rain. Petals puddle along every still place. Look
at the tree: bark cracked with age, the limbs gnarl and turn. We love them
in other seasons, but never so much as right now,
at the end of winter. They promise a moment
of pure beauty. A hush descends under their boughs. We may

hope that this train contains the same clean silence,
as almost every person looks down. Our umbrellas
continue to shed water.  My grandmother continues
to live. My father diminishes every day. Even as they descend
into some unrecognizable place, their mind glimmers
free perhaps only once every day, reminding us of who
they were. Is this where hope lies? In the impossible
continuance of someone you love.

napowrimo day 28


Complaints of the body seem frivolous,
just now, after leaving my father’s bed
at the hospital. He is fading away, flesh
stripping down in that terrible way
that cancer eats at a person. All
of these tiny inconveniences: my hip
sometimes loose, or small abrasions
on my hands, from clearing the garden
of an unwanted tree. And then, my children

how sometimes I am more aware
of their bodies than my own: each scrape
or bruise, nails that need to be cut,
or dry patches that need lotion. Manageable,
some part of me says, after holding
my father’s hand, and noticing his too-
long nails. Yellowing and thick, the nails
of someone in their eighties, not sixties.
But I’ve seen this before, this whittling
away, as cancer becomes the only thing that thrives
in a person. A sudden aging takes place. We’ve
reached that helpless stage
where we wonder if it wouldn’t be better,

but see, it is hard to even write it. Though we have
no choice, or control, we still think it. If it wouldn’t be
better if he were gone.

napowrimo day 26


I have grown used to
the barely lucid. Comfortable
with touch over talk, I try
to hold my grandmother’s hand,
or press her calf, or scratch
her back. I imagine she is touched often,
by nurses and aides, but what
of love? What of the caress of someone
who wants to be near you solely
because they love you? Lately,
I grow overwhelmed by how often
I am caressed, tasted and hit, all
by my one and four year old.

By the end of the day I won’t even
let the cat come near me: I am done,
ready to become autonomous
for just an hour. There are days
I crave solitude and silence
the way some tell me they crave
drink or drugs. I am told to enjoy it,
this time. I am warned of what is coming,
years in which my children will squirm
from hugs, and then decades of barely
a quick kiss. I try, I really do, to savor
even the fifth tackling hug of the day,
one child in my lap, the other leaning
on my back. How often I am almost unbalanced,
yet somehow right myself. I cannot topple,
for I am their anchor. For now, the grandmothers
tell me, for now. Whispers of reminders eddy
at my feet. If only: I think: if only love like this

could be thinned, spread out, or transmutable. So many
lonely people, and my own years of longing.
If only I could send that aching girl a glimpse
of this: how they love me so,
and are so certain of me that they treat me
almost as furniture. Now this, the baby diving
onto me almost as if to reenter my body.
That determined and that fierce: butting into me,
again and again. Claiming me. I am hers. And she
is mine. For now.

napowrimo day 25

Tree time

Four trees line the road. Three
leaf out in that green gold
that is specific to new
leaves. The fourth, which stands
in the middle, has no leaves. It doesn’t
even have many branches, anymore.

A winter eye may not have noticed
the tree had died, but here,
in the midst of spring’s riotous excess,
it is clear. The bark has peeled off
and shows white in many places. No birds

will nest here, but many colonies of insects
will flourish for as long as the city
ignores this tree. For every visit
I get to talk with my father,
there are three where he is asleep.

We all know what is coming. We
rarely say it aloud. Some things
are too big for small moments. We
know how to bring food or drinks,
cards and photos. We even exchange
more hugs than usual. I hold his hand

as I haven’t since I was tiny. Tree time,
insect time, human time, they all come
to the same end. But

were you loved, did you love? Who knows
if the tree, or insect wonders. But we do,
and for my father, it will probably be
the greatest mark of his time here. He loved
and is loved. Imperfectly, but fiercely.


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