I followed you up the sandy path
between pines and spruce that summer,
the burning sun our only witness. I was seven,
and my worry kept pace behind you.
They told me later your broken wing was pretend,
that you were faking to protect your babies
so I would follow you away from your nest.
I was only a kid, but I knew the truth:
that anyone with a wing dragging
in the dust needed more from the world
than it was giving them —
*published in my Chapbook with Baseline Press, Where the Back Roads Take You
Excerpt from Gull Rock Fissure Vein, Keweenaw County
Lately it’s the apartment’s silence as the night grows clinically deaf,
noises outside muted as if the off-switch was pressed, sign language
of tree branches under street lamps spelling your name in the dark,
the curve of the ‘s’ in the agitated branches. How I think then,
what it would be like to have something depend on me for life
something with hands so small they would fit inside my palms,
yellow butterflies tamed by milk and sleep but ultimately restless
to inhale the blue sky into frail lungs thin as anorexic shadow
on the lawn, veins in my wrist, white paper lanterns strung across
the front window. And so I want to tell you that when my ribs stop
breaking open from the pressure of the river calling, when the leaves
stop banging their heads against brick, when order embraces this city,
I will come for you.
*published in The Fiddlehead
(after James Wright’s poem “A Blessing”)
Some years ago, on a bus returning from Montreal,
we passed a wind-fetched, grassy field. Three horses
stood at the fence, chestnut-brown with brilliant manes.
Through tinted glass wet with rain, I stared at them
and their amber eyes stared at me. And as real as if
I had once known them in that field and then left them,
my heart began to stutter. James Wright calls it a blessing,
how in those heightened moments we might
step out of ourselves and into blossom.
Was my blessing the chestnut horses?
Or was it my heart rising like the morning?
*published on London Transit’s Poetry in Motion series.
Excerpt from Snow Stopped The Town
We almost missed your funeral
trying to maintain a steady car
on snow-covered streets.
Perhaps we weren’t ready to face you.
After a year of not talking
I wasn’t ready to close silences
You could have had us visit beforehand
preparing us would have been kind,
then the way would not have been
so hard to find in blowing snow
where are you now?
the day of flight
(after a line from CS Lewis)
The grey dark was heavy as stone but for a patch
of light on your pale shoulders
and a tidal wave (of grief) from nowhere–
we could not save you.
We never got to carry you down;
the sun came down and the night came down;
silence came down, from a shredded orange sky.
Your absence is like the sky, spread over everything.
The moon tide, like your dusk-dark room,
keeps pulling me, spinning on its axel;
blue sky/earth meet like past/present.
We are swimming against the current
of — what word could do justice?
Mayday Mayday (as we navigate a whole new kind of flight,
too late, but we respond day and night–
I keep wondering, as we ride out the waves
and wander the shoulders of shore,
mayday: are you out there somewhere
just beyond our radar?
Excerpt from She Runs Free
I can only stand here and watch amazed at the red
sun that keeps pace with her, long slow strokes of pink,
at her legs long and low, belly grazing
waves of grass, so fast as she consumes the field
with her breathing, the wind her breath, the sky
her breath, the earth her breath, and a God who runs
alongside her, breathing into her, and into me–shows me
that she is as free as a whippet can be, which means
that I could be as free as I could be if only I allowed myself
to breathe the field and wind and sky and earth
every moment —
Stars We’ve Known
I will not write a sentimental poem
about the single star in the sky tonight
and how I think of her ultimately shining–
regardless of addiction and trauma
and fear of the dark and her ghosts,
and the young man who always tells me:
the further objects get in light-years, the harder
to accurately predict their distance (he draws
maps and graphs on the wall of this trailer–
so it can’t be metaphorical
grief)–but I will say that all the darkness
around that star is as large
as every night in every time zone
and the dark sea within
that night, and the vessels
floating on that sea, and the base
of those vessels dark like
windows of grief, and the small dark
corners around the furnace
of those vessels, and the waves
of dark that come even in the warmth
of our night furnaces, our quiet dream rooms
and how the spark of that one
tiny star creates enough light
to maybe salvage our faith for one moment
and spill like this poem into darkness, shining
like the gleam of a stitch
that pulls together, bit by bit, the skin of loss
of a beloved life, and then ten beloved lives,
then one hundred, and then
a thousand, and more.
Grief interrupts grief
like rain cuts the dark–
Linoleum was cold under my small feet,
kitchen walls drenched in yellow light–
half-light, suppertime light
light folding in on itself, dusk-foraging
sundown, bird tracks tracing musky
pines in our front drive.
You stood like a kildeer before me, sandy-brown feathery hair
framing your 8 year old face, sharp shoulder bones
and feather-slips of memory
running from your family nest
to mislead harm.
It was my palm you said.
The reason I am here.
He held it to the the stove, my punishment
for stealing. (But I didn’t steal, you said.)
I think now of our magical thinking
back then. How children believe:
we made it happen.
He said you did it. So you did it.
Isn’t that right? Wasn’t the truth always made
by the male voice who spoke it?
The shape of an island on
your palm, red like a fire,
white gauze wrapped around
like a summer cloud.
It was more of a storm cloud though–
fiery with lightning flying down