I go outside

and look.


The yellow yellow locust,

the red red maple,

the brown green oak.

Color sinks into my chest cavity

 and reverberates

sound effection.


After so much time inside

my body calcifies.

It no longer hums

looking at blue screen

instead of blue sky.

The wind moves leaves and trees, reverberates

and reverberates against my skin, my nose and eyes and ears and drums


and in-blows against my chest in thrumming waves, to loosen my over tightened heart strings.

Without reverb, the world is dry sound, strange.

Without sound reflection, life is dampened,

subtle shifts in colors and the murmurs of sparrows muted.

Winter pierces the ear, crystalline.

Spring rises with cacophony

Summer washes languid waves of heat that drown all, but fall,

fall beckons my body to belly breathe in

wet leaves and damp bark exhaling before the winter sleep.

I stop to see Blue Jay flash from pine to pine

Goldfinch alight on fuzzy seeds of grass stalks bent low

a musty moth resting on zinnia petals the color of sunset.

I go outside to reverberate and feel the world around me again and again, past the pain and guilt, to the point where I know what way to walk that day. Quietly. I have nothing to say beyond an apology for myself, for what I have taken without asking, what I have harmed without knowing, what I have stolen from other mothers and daughters in deaf consumption.


I go outside

and am soothed

by sound reflections so quick and close as to be indecipherable as individual delays.

We are not individual delays.

Earth’s reverberations thrum

from deep mantle and thin crust,


from high and low tide,

morning and evening,

acorn and oak,

caterpillar and moth,

child and parent,

seed and sequoia,

string and symphony,

you and me


Wasp Spa

Tiny, cobweb width limbs reach quickly forward to rub her mandibles. They move on to stroke the delicate line of her left antennae. She starts quickly near the base where it connects with her ovally head, then slows as she reaches the antennae’s end. A tiny curl at the end of her leg (a foot?) reaches it last, bending it oh so slightly at the end.

She is so precise! Every time it is the same, the same motion, the same meticulous timing.

What is she made of, those tiny parts, able to move and bend so quickly without breaking or turning to dust, then springing back to where they came from? As if there were an invisible frame around her tiny body that is made just for her.

She moves on to cleaning her stomach and braces her lower abdomen with her four other legs. The base of the abdomen comes to a menacing point.

That makes me cringe a bit, that point, but if I just look at the top of her I can watch as she fluffs her antennae without concern. Sometimes she reaches up and rubs it with the crook of her little limb (an elbow?).

She moves on to rub her back as if there is an itch or some tiny particle I can’t see.

It’s been 10 minutes now of meticulous preening in the window of this coffee shop. Maybe, because she can’t get out, she is taking the time to stop and care for her own little body while she watches other insects fly by.

Her wings lift, her abdomen now at a ninety degree angle to the sill, stinger pointing up, so much more menacing than before. She turns one wing with her arm, cleans underneath it, rotates it on an invisible axle.

I am paralyzed as I watch this miniature solo spa. That stinger and those bold black and yellow lines keep me on a cautious watch. What should I do with her? Get a cup and let her out? Leave her here?

Maybe she doesn’t want to return to the outside, those millions of children, the buzzing nest. She saw the wooden doors open and slipped in, following the window’s light to this lacquered sill. It’s quiet here, no birds hovering, no other wasps buzzing, nothing to build, no one to listen to, no expectations. Just this. Time to polish her antennae, shine her sub-wings, rub clean invisible particles.

The World Tilts

there is more than one way to mark darkest of night,
Newgrange in Ireland flooded with light,
stone shed in sand lit by starlight and strangers
holding oxen and mule and a child-filled manger.
in Ohio the serpent mound coils away,
Mayans on Tikal still keeping the days,
in Montana a stick thrust deep in the snow,
the Koliada bonfire will grow and will grow.
the birth of the sun and the Son are the same,
crossing from darkness to light in one name
before all the things that imprison our eyes,
all the paper and plastic and things money buys,
was silence and stillness, a coldness and bleak
the slow march of winter on frost bitten feet
Before the slow grip of new electronics,
were birds tweeting carols, celestial phonics.
owls in the twilight, frogs in brumation
soft fur of hare, the bear’s hibernation.
let’s not forget what this slow time is for,
a Light in the darkness, a knock at the door.
welcome! welcome! invite invitation
to come in, to rush in!
A Holy perturbation

Jacques and Sylvia

I’m sure they had their bad days
Mornings the coffee was no good, the ship off course.
Days people didn’t even care that they dove
down, down, into places hardly any other human has seen.
Quietly flying through the sea.

Mysterious and utterly enchanting.

Only to surface to gravity pressing on them, waves slapping at them.
Heaving equipment onto the deck, peeling wet suits off their bodies and trying
to describe heartbreaking beauty to land lubbers.
Falling in love so deeply they couldn’t stop.

Wailing love letters from the ocean like sirens.

And like sailors who can’t be bothered to stop,
we close our ears and refuse to listen.
Sylvia! Name like a silver fish!
And Jacques! An ocean of secrets!

Human, like you and me, in love with the sea.

In love with maternal whales, grumpy groupers, ruthless sharks,
eels, corals, currents and caves.
They dove into the dark and were enlightened.
Sylvia, Jacques, speak to us!
Cry out from the depths of our own sea souls
until we let the water carry us back to ourselves.


I thought I might take my ukulele outside
and sing to the compost pile after it was made.
Maybe crazy,
but so was Mozart
and Patch Adams
and the man who plays his guitar
on the median of
East Michigan Avenue and Howard Street.
I think I know
that playing Bach’s Cello Suite #1 to cattle
just before slaughter
feels a little crazy
but is the sanest thing to do under the circumstances.
When I was young,
crazy was awkward
and we may never get past
the way we think we look to others.
But at 40 I finally know that to sing to compost piles
wear a wig while composing music
or a clown nose while treating patients
and bring Bach to beef cattle
and play a guitar on the median
makes beautiful sense.



The crossover
became my move.
Sometime in middle school,
when I went to a summer camp with my friend
whose Dad played Beatles songs the 5 hours it took to get there
(“She loves me, yeah, yeah, yeah”)
Sometime in that week
I used it during a 3 on 3 scrimmage and
the coach, probably a college student,
yelled and cheered, jumped up and down
and ran out on the court and hugged me.
I quietly cried I was so happy
to be hugged by a coach.
So it became my move,
the crossover.
It made people happy,
so i sweat and i teared and i worked
to make others happy.
And those bitter tears?
Those were for disappointing people when i lost.
My relatives and friends who drove hundreds of miles to watch.
Who flew hundreds of miles to watch.
It was too much pressure.
It never occurred to me to play for myself,
to play because i loved it.
I played for others, but I don’t think they knew.
I tried to convince myself I played to glorify God,
but my heart disagreed.
I played for the rush of cheers and hugs,
and they didn’t need to care, really,
because it wasn’t up to them to feed my soul,
but my heart broke, and i became
nothing when college was done.
I had burned myself down
to the bone and i became
no eating, no feeling,
just running and sacrifice.
Just punishment,
It never occurred to me to forgive myself,
to live for something i loved,
and now, 20 years later, it occurs to me
and my heart is broken for that young woman
who wanted, above anything, to make others happy
because it made her happy, too.

Eight Notes from the Bell Tower*

She is in the tower,
the camponologist,
calling out to heaven from her stony perch,
pulling thick rope until the tower shakes, resonating
the air with beautiful clamor.

A new voice was pulled that day, and it washed the sky
from dusk to starlight, pastel morning to deep night,
striking thick tones.
She bathed the blank sky until
the air was crisp, the stars shone, and all was so,
so still.

The bell tower stands
like an empty shell.
Tiny window-gems rise
in a golden line.
Empty thuds of feet climb
the inner ring
to the top where sallys hang
like the ends of candy canes.

Down and up
back and forth
pull and

in perfect union, all eight, and she
the first to call in the year,
to whisper the command
into tremulous, thundering beauty!

“Look to!”

curves of steel, ageless, without wrinkles,
arch in graceful curves
others hold their breath
tension all around

“Treble’s Going!”

now ring in time, in birth, in death, in union
sing clear and strong
for years to fall in place.
all around she rings them in,
a lassoer of skies.

“She’s Gone.”

The campanile
the village sleep
and rise.
The bells
and ring

Cambridge Surprise?
Not a dessert of clotted cream eaten with small spoons,
but a clear chorus of bells, rung by human hands.

Not a grand sire, ruling from his palace,
but a faithful ring, struck true and constant.

Double Bob Minor?
Not a slow duo of melancholy notes,
but the clean, swift weave of a two ton bell dancing among the other seven.

Birds hold, people stop,
airs quiver, stars twinkle.
The awesome resonance of bells,
bells she rang – the first – the camponologist.

*St. Mary’s church in Adderbury, England, (see below) houses 8 bells, the largest of which is 2 tons. It takes a minimum of one year to learn the most basic combinations. The leader of the bell ringers is a “camponologist,” a position that takes many years to earn. This poem celebrates the first woman in Adderbury to do so.



The ravens’ wings flashed

In a high sun

Purple blue iridescences

Like a mob of teenagers

Good natured

Riding the sky

Like bicycles
Climbing and coasting

Taste testing freedom
Carefree-ing exhilaration
Squeezing dare

into every fibrous feather

Resonating flares

Into every hollow bone

Riding invisible drafts higher

And higher
Bold and fierce
Plumes of feathers

Cawing, climbing,



I know you

I know you.
Your face behind the window in North Beach,
how you sit alone and order coffee on a cloudy afternoon.
I know you.
The notebook you keep in a purse, the pen you can never find,
how you feel your thighs on the chair beneath you before crossing your legs and making a promise.
I know you.
The way hours slip by in shades of grey and purple,
how you wander in front of the couch or lie curled up on the floor.
I know you.
The sound of an ocean crashing in your ears,
how the tide goes out each day taking away some of the ache until it comes in again.
I know you.
Planning to create and write and do something that touches people on the other side of the glass,
how you see all of them walking past.
Shatter the glass if that’s the only way.
I know you.
Your away-glancing catches you mid-life and suddenly
it is urgent,
how you look back at the tree of your life
and find yourself stranded on a limb and no fork left to take.
I know you.
Let’s sit together now, both of us.
The roots remain. It’s not too late.
I know you.

Life Line

My daughter draws on the pages of my diary
Strong lines that are her–strong willed,
loving, frustrating,
so much me and not me.
Lines that split my words and remind me
of the divide
between what I can write and what I can feel.

Poetry sometimes fills this divide,
softens the line and
takes us to a place where
words become soil, born from
constant decay.
Life we can’t predict.
Messy life we can’t clean,
only nourish the best we can
to be a life line

that sprouts from words
up and to the sun.
Always up and to the sun.