31 August 2012


The very name chosen for me speaks
to my strength, tundra. Sounds
strong, like lichen, Don't
tell of my fragility,
they'll banish me you know.
Each step on my surface means

habitat lost, mosses crushed. When so
little lives, each is essential, precious. Not
in some darling sense but bedrock
real, life based now on what others
do unto me, outside
my control, while winds howl.

This is based on a prompt form Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads on Transforming Fridays Take Two- Tundra with the challenge to speak in the voice of the flora or fauna of the tundra, or as the tundra herself. (Photo from Hannes Grobe at Wikimedia Commons.)

30 August 2012


Family and how
it shapes me,
its power -
that's mine.
But then
I brave up and
dive into life
and me, find
new power -

Mama Zen, over at Imaginary garden with real toads, challenged us to name our power image in 25 words or less.

27 August 2012

Advice to My Father

What advice could I give you after all? You
who called my mother 'bride'. 'My bride'. Always.
And swirled her around the dance floor of whatever
ballroom you two found. God, how you loved to dance.

You told me after she died (I never told you I thought you
would die first) that you didn't want to live alone and would look
for another although there could be no other, no other bride of 52 years.
I didn't know if you would survive her loss, you who never even made a

sandwich. My mother devoted her life to you, to care of you. Always. And she
told me that was the way of marriage, but had that certain look in her eye that told
me the deeper truth, the one I really held to (I never told you I think she wanted me to
hold onto that deeper truth). So you survived, thrived really, and went off into your next

life. You found another just as devoted to you. How did you do that at 85? Who tells me she
takes care of you. Proud. Tells me this is the way of marriage, but lacks that look in her eye, believes that and holds no deeper truth. God, how you love to dance. Another who
loves to dance and care for you, and devote her life to you (I never told you

I wanted my mother to live, grieved when she died and longed to have
her here longer,to see me know her deeper truth, and her grand-
daughter know her deeper truth, and see her great grands,
and ask about them, about everything they do, know,

learn and want and, well, never mind). You can really
pick them, at any age. I mean that. What advice can
I give such a man? It's just that I miss my mother,
your bride, with a longing that takes my breath

away still. Even as I write this I can't breathe,
I cry for her, and I don't know how to
tell you that, much less give you advice.
I'm not the one to give you advice.
I'm still back there missing her.

This was in response to a post by Chris Galford over at dVerse Poets Pub entitled: Pretzels and Bullfights: Advice to an Old Man and is offered  for Open Link Night hosted by Hedgewitch (Joy Ann Jones) one of my favorite poets in our blogosphere.

25 August 2012

Transport Out

He followed me that day rather
Than our older brother whom he
Adored. I headed for the truck yard
With shipping truck bodies silvered,
Lettered and striped in colors like
Slashes of unknown places. I'd been
Nowhere at that time of my life but
Felt transported by those huge trucks.

I swung open back doors but can't remember
How I managed that at eight years old, small
For my age. Should we be here he trembled, what
If the door closes? What if someone sees us and knows
We shimmied through where fence met cement wall past
Keep out signs? But smell this truck I sighed. Doesn't it smell like far away?
And don't you want to go far away? Don't you? Like me? Really
Far away? It never occurred to me that he wouldn't. Then
I turned and looked in his eyes and saw the fear and the rootedness
To here. I knew two things at that moment: I was already dreaming of away
And it never even occurred to me to be afraid.

I'm traveling (ironically) and missed the deadline for dVerse Poets prompt about Building Characters by Victoria Slotto. I thought of this incident though and wanted to share it.

22 August 2012

Summer Heat

Plants line my balcony parched
in the unrelenting summer heat.
Even with daily sacks of water, leaves
tip brown, flowers fall, unable
to hold. My neighbors say their herbs die.
Against all this my basil thickens, greens
and lushes, reaches to that scorching sun
and grows heedless of what withers others.

My neighbors come to beg basil. They want
what that plant offers, want to eat it, add it
to their food, feed it to their children,
watch it lurch up as most succumb. They tell
friends and friends seek some. The more its shared
the more it grows. Basil takes that blazing
sun, paints yellow on its green leaves, sports it
like a scout's survival badge and just keeps growing.

This is posted as part of Open Link Night over at dVerse Poets Pub hosted today by Natasha Head. It's a talented group, decidedly diverse, who love poetry so check it out.

18 August 2012

To Boldly Go Where Everyone Else Has Gone Before

This is my niece, AnneMarie. She likes to wear stylish clothes with just the right jewelry accessories, keep her manicure and pedicure up to date in the latest colors and have a coordinating backpack and purse on her wheelchair. She enjoys music, word games on the internet, texting, emailing, playing cards and shopping. She works out with a personal trainer every week and uses her pool for exercise as well.

She shares a home with her Mom (my sister-in-law) who describes AnneMarie as a fun and interesting companion to live with. With extraordinary generosity she opens her home to family members who drop by at all times of year and, for the last 5 years, hosts our yearly family woman's gathering for all who attend (8 years now and counting). That includes her 2 sisters, 6 cousins, her Mom, of course, and me. Her Mom and I are two are the Crones of the gathering. Add in spouses and children and it's a large and growing group who love time together and time with AnneMarie.

This is the bumper sticker on AnneMarie's van.

Ten years ago AnneMarie was in a car accident on an icy highway and sustained a closed head injury which nearly took her life, left her wheelchair bound with right-sided weakness and spasticity and with speech that's difficult to understand. Nonetheless, AnneMarie's goal is to walk. It's an ambitious goal that has taken all these years of torturous re-learning to sit up, balance on her own while sitting in the wheelchair, strengthen unused and reluctant muscles, stand, balance on her own while standing despite weakness, a brace on her right leg and muscles that forget how to carry out the messages from her brain. She is undaunted by all that and behind her lovely, feminine demeanor hides a steely resolve.

When physical therapists said she had gone as far as possible and dismissed her, she found personal trainers who would support her goal to walk, who would teach her the skills she needed and help strengthen her muscles to enable her to do what she declared in our gathering 2 years ago she would do, to walk. She called it into being and did whatever it has taken to get this far. When my Honey and I together with our daughter and her family visited AnneMarie and her Mom in February, my daughter filmed this (less than 2 minutes) with my camera. (AnneMarie's personal trainer and personal assistant are with her.)

Perhaps you can tell how proud I am of AnneMarie. I'm glad she's my niece, glad she's my daughter's cousin, glad she's my grands' auntie. She's my teacher in her fierce resolve to set goals and do all that is humanly possible to meet them, to believe in herself, however broken, and her ability to heal, to believe that she'll find others who can and will help her. No wonder our family wants to be around her. You're my hero, AnneMarie. I honor and celebrate you.

p.s. Don't forget to always leave the handicap parking spaces open and remind others to do so, too - AnneMarie needs them to have access to the world we take for granted.

p.p.s. Thanks to my Honey for his technical support in getting this video upright from its sideways orientation that defied my attempts to right it.

16 August 2012

Earth's Talisman

Earth can make of us broken ones

flowers and wear us as a charm,

choose to adorn herself with some,

to be admired, to enchant,

give delight, ward evil, bring calm.

Good luck flows or magic powers.

This turns our mind around, spreads balm:

earth's talisman, us her flowers.

My friend, Ruth, has re-surfaced quietly and started another blog, Washed Stones, inspired by one of Rilke's poems, Not Poor. Today she gave the translation by her friend, Inge, who speaks German, of one of his lines to the effect that earth adorns herself with us like a talisman or charm. I love this thought, actually got flipped inside- out by it, and explored it for the prompt by Gemma Wiseman, offered by Gay Reiser over at dVerse Poets to write a Huitain. She tells how so check it out.

14 August 2012

Shooting Stars and Other Love Stories

Venus, Jupiter and the crescent moon,
a bright, three point line strung between
Perseids meteor shower winging stars across the sky
to mark our anniversary. We count them as if counting
our years or all that shot into being through us.

Is that how stars fling themselves to the
far ends of the universe, scatter star dust on every
surface to be taken up and formed into all that is?
Is this why we love to stretch out under the sky as
streaks mark their way across our vision and feel
our oneness with the universe?

Or is it the yearly reminder of mystery and
miracle that thrills us because we know it's about us, too.
We scooped up star stuff and made our life, made
our daughters, aligned ourselves with universal
coordinates, took our place in the scheme of things together,
streaked love across our lives, hurtled it here and there
at random and on purpose for thirty nine years, scorched by its scions.

Our anniversary is August 11 and is often marked by visible meteor showers. This year, the richest of them, Perseid Meteor Shower , was active and showed its ancient self in the pre-dawn sky. My Honey and I went out at 4AM and saw 10-12 shooting stars. What a great anniversary gift. Venus, Jupiter and the moon lined up particularly bright as well (my attempt at capturing this is the photo above).
Happy 39th, Honey! My God, aren't we brave?

 "…The brave things in the old tales and songs, Mr. Frodo; adventures as I used to call them. I used to think they were things the …folk of the stories went out and looked for, because they wanted them, because they were exciting and life was a bit dull…But that’s not the way of it with the tales that really mattered, or stay in the mind. Folks seem to have just landed in them, usually–their paths were laid that way…But I expect they had lots of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn’t. And if they had, we shouldn’t know, because they’d have been forgotten.." ~from The Two Towers, © J.R.R. Tolkien.

This is posted for dVerse Poets Open Link Night hosted by Claudia who encourages us to share the "stuff you discover as you go". What more treasured discovery than love and shooting stars?

13 August 2012

Naming Free

I wish I could say I knew
what was happening in my body.
It is my body. I am a nurse.
Surely that's not too much to ask.
The pain was intermittent, insistent,
signaled something wrong with my pregnancy,
sent me to the hospital. But
I'd never felt it before
so I turned on my stomach to ease 
the pain as I waked off and on
through the night.

I wish I could say I knew
what was happening in my body as I woke that night
to urgently go to the bathroom.
A nurse had put a container covering the toilet.
Why, I wondered.

I wish I could say
I picked up that tiny girl
in the white plastic container,
held her and whispered what I thought: 'I'm sorry 
I failed to carry you long enough for you to live.'

She looked so perfect as I stared at her
but she didn't breathe or move
and all I did was stare, never 
touched her. And for every day thereafter,
I wondered how I didn't do this simple thing-
touch my daughter and
name her.

I wish I could say that I told that secret,
sought help for that remorse
magnifying my grief,
forgave myself, didn't have guilt
that sleeping on my stomach caused the miscarriage,
didn't have nightmares for years 
about forgetting crucial things.

What I can say
is that it took until I was 50, in therapy
over another loss, for all that to come flooding back.
I grabbed the chance to do it again, do it
as I wished I had done it then-
hold that baby in my arms,
greet her, tell her of her family and name her-
name her love, name her wish,
name her Free.

This is posted in response to the prompt of Stuart McPherson at dVerse Poets for Poetics: The Beautiful Sadness. I posted this poem two years ago under a different title but have reworked it for this topic because beautiful sadness perfectly describes what this experience ended up being for me.

07 August 2012

Presenting Peppers and Hot Pepper Oil

Our peppers added to our neighbor's olive oil add punch to all manner of food.

Presenting this year's hot peppers, grown from seed, blooming on the balcony.

By the dozens.

Takes eating locally to a whole new level. And bringing the spice of this land to favorite foods.

03 August 2012

Moon Phase

heat shimmers wavered
full moon shone bright
earth that's summer baked
from the balcony last night

full moon shone bright
lights of a far off city flickered
from the balcony last night
between bright and faint glimmer

lights of a far off city flickered
the air felt rooted
between bright and faint glimmer
somehow expectant

The air felt rooted
I've lost concord
somehow expectant
with moon force

I've lost concord
when body alliance moved
with moon force
in sun's heat from moon's cool

when body alliance moved
I'm kept marooned, bereft
in sun's heat from moon's cool
this forty year connection left

I'm kept marooned, bereft
to find fresh ways to ferret
this forty year connection left
earth wisdom I search, detect

to find fresh ways to ferret
accords unknown, now emerged
earth wisdom I search, detect
with deeper light, shifted yet effulgent

accords unknown, now emerged
earth that's summer baked
with deeper light, shifted yet effulgent
heat shimmers wavered

This post is in response to dVerse Poets prompt from Samuel Peralta in Form For All: Pantoum. He has great examples and directions on how to do this difficult but challenging type of poetry.
(photo from Google Images)