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springtime, senior year

Springtime, senior year.
The whiteboard I usually
scribble with questions that have easy answers—
Best Disney villain,
Marshmallow peeps—yes or no,
Marvel? DC?—Now, one smart, anxious senior
has taken it over.

Each morning
she updates the board with how
many days till graduation
erasing yesterday
and its number
with the side of her left hand
stained green for hours—
With her other hand she writes
the new number in fluorescent green

Some days
she writes while complaining about us—this school
full of teachers and students she has outgrown
Other days, she writes on the edge of tears—sentiment
or fear of the future, that translucent figure
hiding on the far side of the board, the blank side
where changes hover
those possibles the future is holding,
ready to hand to her
Its arms capacious enough to hold a future
for her, for all of them, for each of us


We gather
beneath the sign
that tells us to

We arrive
as we are
deep in the wild bush
or manicured lawn
sparse ground
or bare

We talk
every kind of talk

We cry
every kind of tear—
exhaustion, and
laughing until we cry

We laugh
How can we not?
rueful or goofy or joyful
we remind ourselves, we
remind each other
there is so much to
laugh about

rain, almost all the time
watering the world
for the season to come

Then once again, our gathered selves
return to our spots on this green world
heavier on the scales than when we arrived
but lighter in our hearts
All of us singing
or humming or at least
whispering the words we know
All of us, the same song—
grateful and grateful and
blessed to be known

in other’s words

some days, the words
knock at my door.
Some days,
Some days, other words
arrive. His, today.
Some days, someday,
yours too

“…poems are a testament to the process of noticing. A single moment can open a door to an experience that’s bigger than the single moment implies. Sometimes, that opening is a challenge. Sometimes, it’s a comfort. Other times, a question. Very occasionally, it’s an answer.”
from: Padraig O Tuama, p. 4, his introduction to the collection Poetry Unbound: 50 Poems To Open Your World, 2023, W.W. Norton & Company.

last weekend’s candles

last weekend’s candles
burned up—
lasted, lit and luscious
through wine and olives,
Easter chocolates, lilies,
laughter, love, long nights

On Wednesday,
I remember—
Throw away
those foiled spent wicks.
Fill the glass holders
with creamy unlit white
waiting for Friday
and you at the door
with a match


so much has happened
while the garden slept
I hold in my hands, my
apparently dangerously fragile
hands—our future
full of possibilities
not all of them sweet
not all of them conjured by
my imagination.
Some of them will come for us

In the garden, dark purple crocus,
wild violets, one grape hyacinth
poke up between the frost and last year’s dead leaves
We too
We two
travel through these seasons of wake and sleep
we too move through this linear time
Some day, this will not be my garden
Some day you and I and all those we love
will not be here
Someday we will not be

So, bloom now in this spring
while we are all here to stretch
towards warmth and sunlight


it is not a sidewalk stumble, a missed step
a thing you right yourself from
and carry on
as usual

not a fall off a mountain, damage
done to every part of you and the
small trees in your path, tiny path
of destruction

It is as sudden
but also, slow
slow, and by degrees

more like a climb down
down a mountain to the
valley below
fast but
out of control
there are places to rest
along the way
no map
no path
just a trust that when
I reach out
there will be a handhold
sturdy as a rock
steady as a mountain


An expert says
the letter m
once upon a time
shaped to signify water

Interesting. However,
these days I am tangled in another—
my beloved
letter t
lower case
for tumble together
for tangled
for tender

tender has become the translation,
my whole view,
of this complicated, troublesome world.
I touch it all on its soft, tender body

tender, also known as an offer, a payment.
I’ll pay.
Whatever it costs us to arrive at this tender
I tell you, love,
this tenderness, this t that hooked us
has me opening, willing to tender it all

the waiting moon

the moon was
waiting for us
already awake
when I opened the door
The dog and I, we both
sniffed the cold air
He wandered out to
tred paw prints in the snow
I nodded hello to the moon
We decided, all three,
Today will be another
happy day

where they went

distracted by joy
these days
words for anything but
are gone—
ordinary words
for utensils and implements
sharp and practical-shaped words
curl up and sleep in the corners
of our closets—tangled with the other
forgotten things, out of season but not
out of our lives
These days I love
and find room to love
the patience of words

our houses

Our houses show their age.

Some years well-loved, full echo
of long-grown children, laughter
Other years? Neglected, worn down
by lack of will,
lack of money,
lack of time,
lack of love.

You need a whole paint job, and new windows.
I show damage from long ago water flowing
where it shouldn’t.
So much water, its shadows still
a stain on my ceilings.

The floors? All our floors are scarred and scraped and in need
No matter.

There are new sheets on the beds. Pillows I bought just for us.

You lead me outside and show me, near the sheltering
walls of your old house, the place you chose for me—
Right here, you say, I’ll turn the ground for you
Right here is where you can plant an herb garden

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