Friday, February 21, 2020

Choosing Joy

A robin flew into my yard today and
perched himself on the bird bath
while I puttered,
waiting for spring to come.
He looked straight at me,
an invitation to approach,
which I ignored because
if I took a step (I knew!)
He would only fly away.
So there we were, the robin and I,
until I thought what the hell
and stepped toward the bird
who did not fly away but
welcomed instead my tentative steps.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Home


And when night fell they came to Ithaca's bright fields . . . 
              from Emily Wilson's translation of The Odyssey

That year we lived away
our old stone house
stood in a thick thicket of green
like a fairy tale cottage
at the forest's end.

Who could argue with the beauty
of that place, full of tall trees,
talking to each other in the wind?

But not until we returned
to the west where
moon-bright fields of sage
spread wide as oceans before us
could I say this is home.


Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Moon Time

Odysseus will come
within this very cycle of the moon:
between the waning and the waxing time . . . 
                       from Emily Wilson's translation of The Odyssey

How often have I wondered what might come
between the waning and the waxing time--
Will my son get a job?
Will my mother's health hold?
Will my submission be accepted?
Will the pansies planted in the fall
survive the tail end of this ragged winter?
Will my cat, missing for two days now,
reappear (again) like Lazarus?
Will the car start this morning
or will the battery roll over and play dead?
Will that check finally arrive?
Will class be canceled?
How rarely have I wondered what might come
if I took a vow and a breath to reside
between the waning and waxing of this moment only.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Instead

They could have been friends, our two cats--
but they've chosen to spit and hiss instead
whenever they meet
which is usually on the staircase,
because one of the cats lives upstairs
and the other lives downstairs--
both by choice.
This has been going on for thirteen years.
Thirteen!
What a waste of time because, you know,
they could have been friends.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Laughing

They were four men of a certain age,
white-haired with faces lined like road maps,
sitting comfortably at the table next to ours,
companions of long standing swapping stories,
laughing.

There was so much laughter,
even though they were all of an age
to have known loss intimately--
a friend gone, perhaps, or even a spouse,
a job or a belief once held tight against the heart.

When the server finally brought them
a tray tumbling with outrageous desserts
one of them called across the space between tables
and said, "Come join us!"
And just like that, we were laughing, too.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Last Words

The day before my grandmother died
I called her long distance and said I love you.
I'd been unkind to her the last time we were together.
Not intentionally--
Not deliberately--
Unkind, instead, because I was exhausted
and didn't appreciate the unasked for
tidbits of advice she tossed my way
as though she were feeding birds in a park.

But when I said those words
She gifted me in return.
"I know you do," my grandmother said.

I think of that moment today
after a friend tells me her grandmother's
last words were a deathbed curse.
You are a disappointment to this family.
I will leave my grave and haunt you
until you change your evil ways.

How would it be to die like that--
I wonder--
with venom dripping from your lips?

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Words are Birds

Her words were light as feathers
               from Emily Wilson's translation of Homer's Odyssey

Words are birds--

Sometimes brash as starlings
moving in beneath the eaves of your house without asking--

Or melancholy as mourning doves whistling,
 perched overhead on telephone wires--

Or quick as bright hummingbirds
darting madcap among the trumpet vines--

Or harsh as a murder of crows,
their raucous conversation splitting open the morning air--

Or pleasing as a lark, singing solo to no one
and everyone in a mountain's meadow--

I have no favorites.
Let them all come home to roost with me.