Tuesday, December 27, 2016


While you, gray clumsy duck, swim and dream
through my big bellied days
I am not idle. I twist and twist the thread
(What swanwings some mothers dream)
Await with dread your hatching into
this marsh of imperfections.

Sorrow enough to be a refugee--
How can I bring you forth? What prince,
with what brief day's skin-inclination
will cover, too, you (angles
and wet feathers, eager maw,
mad demanding eyes)
With the thin gloss of lust unsatisfied?

Unborn, already, your wings grow
twisted: uncovered they will outrage our eyes
like skin scraped off
and if you fly--
                           (poor bird, you will not fly)
I sit sewing tiny shirts to wrap you in

Nettles and thistles:
I will wrap you tenderly, in prickles.
I have been saving thorns my mother gave me
and thorns I sought out new.
For you, little bird,
for you:
Oh, I will prick scars in your new skin.

The spinning bites my fingers.
I do not stop twisting. The shirt is oddshaped,
I work, and wait. I know
this garment I make,
rashing my hands,
it cannot make you
(Sweet crooked bird)

Wednesday, December 7, 2016


In spring you shared good news--
two babies! Due November --
like a plate of freshbaked cookies.
New life is sweet in the mouth,
brown sugar and vanilla.
A taste to savor--
God is good
Taste, unseen, eyes built,
fingers unfolding,
the knitting of new bodies with new souls

Summer brought figs and wasps.
Untwinned, too, one twin
One sister, to be born
half of a pair--
What memory of sister cells long melted?
What redseamed and burning loss
sewn up in every stitch of joy?
May I beside you drop my tears
for these dear twins
Purl tears, still, for that pearl
that little lump of cells
they took--
unfingered still, and unfarewelled--
in glass

The birthday--Ruby Mae!
Born in November
in a cold far place,
a white gray winter
To know you hold, at last, the small bright crown
to nine months' long ring of grief and hope
Touch her fingers.
Hold her curled into your shoulder--
We unwrap your news like early Christmas
bright with red ribbons.
Is God not good? 
The tears we paid seem guarantee
of days and years thick with sweet memories--

Till an imperfect heart's small raveling
surgeon stitched, still opens
and opens, and opens
its unstoppable switch: breath
to emptiness.
We watch ribbons spin and shred in a black sea.
Was one not enough?
Something beside you--faroff
in my own gray home
I share the indignities:
mucus, tears, acid
puncturing the days with its
unbearable taste--
Dear friend,
Let me sit down with you
at this bitter plate.
To weep
and hope
and pray.
God is good --
To believe, together,
that promise,
that unshakeable one day.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Tell you a story

It was a long time winter when you were born,
redfaced and reaching
squawking--sure of clutching
some sweet something--

it's still long winter.
Burrow down. Hide in your caves
from the long dry drowning,
snow on snow on

a bleak midwinter--
The world's long winter bites
our bones grown weak with cold
grown weak with grief

Beneath, earth cracked
seems a myth--
no more-- we told
to strike a sputterhope into this cold--

Sputter hope--shiver
like muscles, jerk and tremble
teeth chatter
inside your ears aches,
deep inside your brain
and lips crack like riverbeds.
To breathe this cold,
you know,
is pain.

Tell you a story:
green trees. Peaches.
Halo sweat slicking your skin.
Squash thick.
Mosquito rich.
laden with tomatoes
tender beans
sweet milky corn.

You came out widemouthed,
made for thriving.
Learn surviving:
Set your teeth hard.
Set your shoulders.
Bow down like long winter
sits burden on your back
The weight of years--

Been waiting years.
Keep your guts clenched warm
around that memory/

You might see (some days) redbud fuzz:
too hopeful trees--

Tell you a story:
Summer. One day.
One of these days,
come and upsprung.
The whole globe goldened
Black dirt,
green promises unfolded.
Tell you: Peaches
drip sweet juices
down your chin.