Friday, January 24, 2014

Utter relief

What a peerless--what a blessed 
What an unwinding!
More than mere relief, 
which is exquisite, 
utter relief stops your heart. 
It’s what you feel when the police say, 
We found your little boy. 
When the doctor says, 
Your blood count's back to normal
Utter relief is when the body 
explodes with exuberance, 
when the cold, wet peck you felt 
on your cheek was not the lips 
of  monster death 
but a small cold drop of winter rain. 

My friend and I ramble along a beach. 
She stoops to touch a crab, 
the life gone out of it, 
turns the shell in the sand,
in a gentle voice asks, 
Isn't God's work amazing? 
Her face shining clear as glass. 
The splendor of the ocean 
and what spills out of it stirs her 
just as it stirs me. 
I wish you knew God loves you.
She says this kindly, knowing my grievances:
Life’s cruelty, its utter futility, 
the extreme mystery the God she
loves insists on.
But why spoil her moment 
with my unease? 
She only wants to share this thing 
that’s changed her life. 
And yet I must complain, not gently. 
Life just stumbles along on its own, 
merely rises up from nature’s patterns, 
and one day will vanish. 
She lifts her face to the clouds. 
Utters not a word. 
But I can tell she’s praying for me. 

Sunday, January 12, 2014


Every day 
a poem 
a path 
the page.
Often just 
a hen or a crow--
sometimes a whole flock 
of hens, 
a whole murder 
of crows and
now and then
when a comet 
sprays the night,
or Mars
and Venus 
cross in fuzzy 
dislocating light, 
a whole charm 
of hummingbirds 
dip down 
to agitate

all this 
empty space. 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

On the way to Yosemite, November

We arrive in El Portal, 
just outside of Yosemite, 
after driving on highway 140 
through squares of apple orchards, 
small vineyards, 
a few pumpkin patches, 
wide flush meadows of gold 
until that unbending, solid highway 
finally curves up into the Sierras, 
into its shadows of ash and black 
that droop across the road 
and across trees of blood orange 
and lemon (but many holding on fiercely 
to their green),
some bringing to mind the lace 
my mother sewed on dresses, 
and others call up flocks 
of yellow butterflies,
as the road ribbons higher into the hills, 
narrowing and curving, sometimes 
very sharply, unstoppable as the Merced river, 
dry in places, its smooth bowels 
exposed and assailable, 
and in other places the water depthless,
and in others gurgling, until finally 
the sun slumps behind the ridges
and the Yosemite View Lodge shines 
before us like a galaxy. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

What old men do

Now my husband reminds me 
of my father. It may be all men 
resemble my father 
when their vital organs wane. 
It may be they all sit for hours
in oversized chairs to read the paper, 
and scold about the wrong turn 
the world has taken
since they were young and quick. 
It may be they all sink 
into long naps
while watching TV mobsters 
and large game 
chow each other down. 
It may be they all 
make grocery shopping 
the high spot of their days, 
and yet each morning, shave, 
fuss with their hair, pat on racy cologne 
and dress to kill.