We Were Little Girls

June 9th, 2019

for Tammy, Talia and Sage

We were little girls without breasts or hips.
Your skin light brown, mine bilirubin white.
You on a ten speed, me a dirt bike.
Five boys surrounded the building site.
It had been raining a long time. There was mud.
Rich honeybrown Illinois mud.

We stepped in gingerly, until –our thrill!—
we were up to our knees in liquid earth.
We wrestled there like girls, best friends,
not to hurt or dominate or pose for boys,
but for the fact of mud slick on our skin,
matting our hair, staining our terry cloth clothes.

I don’t recall the tactical wrestling
as much as the practical joy, Tammy,
the daring doing of something girls don’t do,
and the awe of boys who did not join us.
We walked home caked and proud as the sun sank low
to your little white house with red brick façade,

set up on a steep lot we used roll down like logs
despite itchy chiggers. We rang the doorbell,
grinning. “Hi, Mom!” we chimed loud.
Your mother’s blue eyes were huge and mock serious.
“Not in my house! Out back! Garden hose! Now!”
Remember? Squealing, we poured cold ropes of water

across the muddy continents of our girlhood,
brown rivers tracing the valleys of our knees,
flooding the plains of our hopeful chests and sloping bellies,
skinny arms and legs raising hair like new trees,
raising up the brazen women we would later be,
quaking in the half light of a late September.

2013

Salsify

June 7th, 2019

Token of a different time,
Star shine on a sandy foothill trail
When I was new, and you,
And love was new and opened
A book, pointing at your name.
Wildflower when not a threat,
I found you rare, a mountain gift.
How could I know otherwise?
Twenty years later, new land and life,
You volunteered twice in my garden.
Writer of my history, I couldn’t
Pull you, why? Once, you opened me.
Confused, I counted myself lucky
That you rose from flagstone
Cracks. I let you live, celebrated
Each morning star, until you flew
And flew in my benign neglect. Oops
And oops and oops and, well, goodbye.
Stately lanced cousin of dandelion,
Giant puffs of parachuting seeds, you
Whose bloom likes to sleep by noon,
Resolutely close your umbrellas.
And when you open, you truly open.
Premonition dawns like a slow leaf.
A year will bring its sunny lesson.
Now I see what you can do untamed:
Restless, grow a family in the wind.
Mother just like me, escape artist,
Taproot deep, stem easy to break.
I dug and dug now dig and dig,
Unable to eat your oyster root,
Having mostly grown in one dog’s
Favorite squatting plot. But still,
I could have saved your progeny,
Those inside sequestered beds,
Dog free, chopped thin and tossed
Into last night’s cast iron pan, friends
Of other more domestic roots.
But work was hot, the shovel
Sharp, without imagination. Wilted
In a wheelbarrow, sunburnt, I eat
You only with these toothless teeth.

2019

Today’s Numbers

June 6th, 2019

9:50 am, 6/6/19,
539% snowpack, 60°,
13 hours of forgotten water,
42 minutes on the cushion,
4 hues of potted petunias,
2 Western Tanagers in the birdbath,
1 spent cherry blossom in my hair.

2019

What is a Dream?

May 17th, 2019

Is it a rabbit smashed
upon the road?
A singing trash can
or love sick toad?
A flicker knocking
on a pine?
A teen grown numb
on violent vines?

Is it pouring milk
into an alpine stream?
The kettle’s climbing
morning scream?
The grass above
Poe’s nevermore?
Or is it just this
dusty bamboo floor?

14 Februrary 2019

So Much Water

May 8th, 2019

She woke up her lover
when her womb like a flesh water
balloon burst warm and trickled
onto the sheet. On her side
she slowly scooted feet first
out of bed. Following her across
the yellow pine flooring, soaking
a green towel dark, he yawned.
There’s so much water.
In the cracked window
behind the night, a bowl
overturned, poured white.
Yes, she said.

29 July 1999
dug up for Alison, as she waits

Quiet Cactuses

May 2nd, 2019

Quiet cactuses
Sit under the piñon tree.
Sangha. Family.

2019

Meditation on Birthdays

April 29th, 2019

Split into a multiplying
whole.
Split once more.
Exit a body.
Guttural commemoration.
The parting
of flesh from flesh.
Complete dependence on earth’s
insistent urge:
grow, assist the growing
by splitting time,
splitting food, splitting the mind
into two bodies.
Call that mother. Rare father. God.
Forget their births like air.
Call that
your final lover
gentle scout of the coming year
oracle of aches
celebrator of flyaway greys
who remembers
the miracle of your life
before you, slow to wake, do,
whispers
Happy birthday, Love.

2019

Mosquito Yoga

April 28th, 2019

Challenger       Peak blinding     white is dreaming

of mosquitos       famous        black swarms

chasing me       whining     down dirt streets

slapping air     the local yogi once said       offer

your body     to their stings     nude       willingly

let them           feed           they will agree

to leave you         alone all summer     I have no

faith           in blood suckers’       good nature

forgive me     last year       our first here

no     snow     no     mosquitos     just smoke

I won’t lie     I was glad     to garden   mosquito

free       no silent         back of the knee       stings

or tiny         needle songs     I was glad     but now

the snow     more snow          People can’t last

outside          even for minutes!        What the hell

is going on        with Global Warming?        an idiot

tweets       Please come back fast,     we need you!

as though         warm earth         only means

heat     Challenger      named for       that famous

wreck     lost teacher     brilliant frost     in my living

room window           storm after         storm

will begin the slow      trickle       Crestone creeks

will weave     into     mosquito songs     build

mosquito condos     I will stay         indoors

or slather     scented oils     desperate poisons

on my skin     to weed       my garden

grateful the valley         woke up from       my

selfish     mosquitoless dream         and

towhees     will drink drink drink       their tea

2019

Half Sister

April 28th, 2019

her                 job

is                     witness

let                   them

have               their

roughly           happy

tales               of

a                      father

despite           her

sad                  ones

they                think

her                  life

is                     full

of                     lies

their                stories

allow               them

to                     feel

right                righteous

for                   hiding

his                   will

(keep              it)

confirm           he

nor                  they

ever                cared

enough           about

his                   first

forever           family

to                     provide

for                   their

well-                being

both                sets

of                     stories

lie                    some-

where             in

be-                  tween

are                  always

have                always

been               true

they                all

loved               and

feared             no

heard              and

learned           him

how                 to

live                  split

to                     forgive

 

 

2019

Advice for Mothers
in One and a Third Haiku

April 26th, 2019

After you’ve watched films
recommended by your son,
don’t talk about them.

You’ll likely be wrong.

2019

Advice in Increments of 17 Syllables

April 26th, 2019

Mothers: don’t make light
of your earnest son’s mistake.
Better to be stone.

Impenetrable.
If you don’t talk about it,
it never happened.

Perhaps silence heals.
It can. Buried deep, alive,
pain speaks other ways.

2019

Curried

April 23rd, 2019

The night I made a perfect homemade chicken curry,
it wore the house around its pungent, yellow air.
I opened windows and doors to save my carpets
and clothes from lingering odor, knowing my hair
would not shed the heavy scent in morning’s washing.
Though students twitch their noses when I share
some whisper of advice about their drawings, I am in love
and loved by the one for whom I cook, and we don’t care
if, at 48, our pores, our breath, our kisses reek of curry.

2019

Gutters

April 23rd, 2019

Gutters funnel tunes
Along the roof of my house.
I open windows.

2019

Should Have Gone
Before Cooking Curry

April 22nd, 2019

Rain’s first storm murmurs.
I put off walking the dog.
He paces, hopeful.

2019

Hotsprings Jesus

April 21st, 2019

Everyone is talking
at the hot springs on Easter.
They are talking about their lives.

No one is talking about Easter.
No, nothing about Jesus at all.

Oh look! Your toenail polish came off!
We’ll repaint them while you sleep.
I’m a light sleeper, he said.
You’re just saying that to deter us.

Her work in interior design.
Feng Shui?
Yes, a little of that. More intuitive.

Her husband drops her son
off at school, not her, no way.
He drives against the grain, wrong lane,
unable to merge into Baseline traffic.

May my son live.

We call them the L towns.
Longmont. Lafayette. Loveland.
Someday they’ll merge into one.
No, the locals are fighting that.

Her husband’s skillful hands.
I design. He builds.
I call him Magic Man.

I work three jobs in Durango,
serve ginger carrot soup to the rich,
live in a trailer.

Grizzly bears in binoculars
charging grandchildren.
Run! he yelled at her. Run!
Run? You should become a stone!

The silence holding the mountains.
Pietà. We hear it.

The water is hot.
We lift ourselves in and out of it.
In and out of it.

We don’t want to listen.
We rise out of the voices.
This is not a baptism.

2019