Monday, December 30, 2019


The last lucid conversation I had
With my father went like this:
I took his hand--
already so white,
already so cold--
And said thank you for
teaching me how to . . .

His eyes popped open then
And he finished my sentence.
. . . to communicate?
I laughed and said yes.
Of course.

I can't remember now, three years later,
What it was I meant to say that night
With the snow falling quiet
Outside and all around.
But I'm glad I said what I did.
My father and I,
We communicated.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Blue (for Lisa)

It was a hard December this year.
Ornaments that usually wrap warmth
Around me like a quilt 
Made me cry instead--

The clay angel I made with Becky
In her kitchen while snow fell soft outside
And the radio hummed soft inside—

The enamel rocking horse ridden by three little boys 
My sister-in-law sent me
From New York the Christmas after 
We had lost a fourth—

The pipe cleaner elf sitting on a 
Tinsel chair that hung from my childhood tree
When my father, unknowing of his future,
Scrambled in the moment to create designs
For teams of teenage boys with stiff crewcuts,
Drawing x’s and o’s on a yellow pad of paper
While I sat on his lap and wondered what
This strange map meant--

At first I tried to unhear the song 
Of losses that curved through this December’s air
Around me until finally I accepted it,
Placed the notes of that song on the altar 
Of my heart and allowed it to be what it wanted,
What it needed to be.


Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Be Still

Stop folding that mound of laundry
and give yourself permission 
to lie on your bed like a snow angel
for as long as it takes
to watch this evening's moon
through your window
rise slow--as slow as silver--
up from the darkening trees.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

A Short Thanksgiving Prayer

Be happy in your home and children
and your people and your king
said Odysseus before continuing his journey.
So I am taking his advice
because I am happy in my grown sons
this Thanksgiving season--
in the way they sat around their mother's table
and talked and laughed in voices
that rose and fell and rose and fell
like the waves of a wine-dark sea.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Why You Need Friends

For Nancy

Last year I said I was going to make
Cornbread muffins for Thanksgiving Day.
You stopped in the middle of the sidewalk,
Sharp and sudden as a pony ready to throw its rider.

"Muffins?" you asked, the disdain and disbelief
Dripping from your usually calm voice
Like water before it turns to ice.
"Instead of rolls?"

"Well, yes," I said, "because corn.
Corn is a Thanksgiving thing."
I was bluffing, though.
I admit that freely.

Muffins are easier to make than rolls,
Which require a lover's commitment--
The mixing and the kneading,
The rolling and the rising and the time.

But you. You fixed me with a chilly stare.
"You need rolls for Thanksgiving Day
And for the days that follow
Because sandwiches."

So I made yeasty rolls--not cornbread--
And feasted on them Thanksgiving Day and
On the snow-filled days that followed.
Thank you, Nancy, for setting me straight.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Meteor Shower

To see the sky spit out a mouthful of stars
You have to go someplace dark--
A cemetery, perhaps, where you and your husband
Stand on a wet, grassy knoll
(With a buck who is as surprised
By your appearance at 4:30
In the morning as you are by his)--
All to watch stars tumble through the clouds.

Do you see anything? Your husband asks.
Do you? You're not sure.
Maybe that really was a
Flash of light you just saw,
A star skittering across the night,
The thing you had hoped to see
As you stand out here with a deer
In the dark on a knoll in the cemetery.

As any rate, the experience is
Different than you'd wanted it to be.
You wanted to be bathed in light and sparks
And feel the dust of the stars themselves
Settle on your hair like sunlight
On a January day--cold heat.
Still, you'll take that flash of light
You thought you saw and own it--
Your souvenir of the meteor shower.

Saturday, November 16, 2019


You should have seen it,
My crabapple tree--
Amber leaves all gone but
Filled still with small red fruits,
Dangling like garnets
From dark-armed branches.
Believe me when I tell you
It was beautiful. Truly.
You'll have to take
My word for it, though.
The berries are gone now,
Thanks to a mob
Of cedar waxwings--
Those masked bandits--
That descended on the tree
And picked it clean,
Leaving it--surprise!--
More beautiful still,
Its limbs, slim and bare,
Locked in an elegant embrace
With the new winter sky.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Places You Might Find a Poem

Where can a poem reside?

Behind the moon that
Rises each night outside
Your bedroom window.

Around the conversations
Of strangers you half-hear
While waiting in line.

Above the Ferris wheel
Where you took your boys
When they were babies.

Beneath a river's surface
filled with salmon,
Shimmering in the sun.

Through the thick
Of your suffering,
Silent and loud.

By the side of your big dog
Who still inches toward your lap
When she thinks you're not looking.

In the air over your head,
Waiting for you to catch them
With your open-hearted hands.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

What I Didn't See At First

I thought it was an eagle at first--
White-headed, brown-bodied,
Imperial and large--
As it dropped from the sky
And landed on my neighbor's driveway.

But then it flapped and flopped,
hopped like a too-tall boy
In a too-small suit, nervous,
At his first junior high school dance.
Awkward. Inelegant. Ridiculous.

Disappointed, I walked away
Until it occurred to me--
When was the last time I saw
A duck on my neighbor's driveway?
But when I turned back, ready to marvel,
It was already gone.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019


A vanilla creamsicle boy--
That's what Hannah calls
Her new baby, Sam,
Who is as blond and fair
As a sandy beach beneath
A sweet summer sky.

I think about Hannah's mother,
Becky, who loved everything
About a baby--
The soft skin, the soft hair,
The soft breath, the soft noises.
I think about how I wish
Becky were here right now
With Hannah and Sam and me,
Holding all that softness
In the welcoming yield
Of her curving arms.

Becky would have fallen
Complete and whole
As the moon is full
Into this very moment
Because that's how Becky lived.

I honor the memory of my dearest
Friend by letting her go
And letting myself be only here--
Here in this moment,
Here in this room,
Here with Hannah and Sam,
Her creamsicle boy.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

A Lullaby for the Garden Being Put to Bed for the Winter

To the anemones gone with last week's frost,
But until that a sea of wings
Delicate and pink . . .
The leaves fall and the leaves sing,
Sleep sweet, sleep sweet,
We'll see you come spring.

To the asters lolling across the sidewalk,
Still frilly enough to
Cut for a vase . . .
The leaves fall and the leaves sing,
Sleep sweet, sleep sweet,
We'll see you come spring.

To the rosebuds still closed
as tight as tiny fists
On a fistful of thorns . . .
The leaves fall and the leaves sing,
Sleep sweet, sleep sweet,
We'll see you come spring.

Friday, November 1, 2019


My grandmother used to stand in our kitchen,
Smoothing her hand over a hip
Curved like a crescent moon,
Saying, "Sweets aren't a problem for me,
But don't make me give up my bread."
Then she'd butter a slice of sourdough
My father brought home from San Francisco
And eat it like a queen nibbling on crumpets.
I'm grateful she still visits me in a poem.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Here's What Writers Don't Tell You

Writers will tell you that
Writing is hard.
Because it is.
E. B. White said his wife,
Katharine, used to commit
A line to paper,
Then take out a gun
And shoot it dead.
That sounds about right.

What writers forget to mention
Is that we're crows at heart,
Scrabbling for the right word
Through your Grandmother's
Costume jewelry word box,
And when (finally) we find it--
Ooooo! Shiny!--

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

To the Cat Who Followed Us Home This Morning

Maybe you slipped out unnoticed
When your teenage boy
Slipped out unnoticed, too.
Is it possible that, like him,
You wanted a taste of living beyond
Call of Duty and the living room couch?

Or maybe you had a human family
That moved and couldn't take you with
Them to that new unfriendly apartment
Where pets aren't allowed.

Or maybe that human family was the kind
Of family that would drive you
Someplace else and turn you
Loose with the promise that someone nice
Would find you and give you a good home
With a warm blanket and a bowl of cream.

Or maybe your owner was an elderly woman,
Fond of cats, but too ill to care for herself,
Let alone you, although, it must be said,
That cats are good at taking care of themselves.

Or maybe you have always
Lived on streets your entire life,
First taken care of by a ferrel mother
Who fed and groomed you to the best of
Her ability until she said, Enough.
Take care of you now--
I have myself to worry about.

Or maybe there's a little girl somewhere
With gold and purple glitter pens,
Making posters and offering a reward
For your safe return while her mother,
Biting her lip, knows full well
that this little girl may never see you again.

Yes. It's quite clear to me now.
A cat didn't follow me home.
But stories did.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

What is Revealed by the Light in October

I drive through the Provo neighborhood
And down the street where I grew up,
The familiar foothills presiding still and still.
There's our house, small and L-shaped,
An American Dream built out of brick.
And there's my father in his Sunday suit,
Tossing a ball to my brothers.
And there's my mother in her pencil skirt,
Her burnished hair piled on her head like a crown,
Cradling a white poodle in her arms.
And there are my brothers, scrabbling
After the ball like puppies on a beach.
And there's me, sitting on my Thinking Rock,
A granite boulder in front of our house,
Spinning stories out of everything I see.
And there's the light of October,
Gold and gleaming, rolling down the hillside,
Reminding me of who we used to be.

Friday, October 25, 2019

I Love Me Some TRQ

It’s not that I don’t admire and respect visual artists.
Sometimes I do nothing but sit out on my front porch and admire and respect visual artists all day long.
But yeah. I guess I mostly think that if you’ve got a story to tell, words are a better medium--says the person who doesn’t draw or paint.
Still. I wish I could take up a box of colored pencils (the really expensive kind that real artists use) and create a portrait of TRQ as she appeared to me on a recent trip to San Francisco.
She was lying on the bed in the hotel she’d accidentally booked for us instead of the more upscale hotel where she usually likes to stay. She looked all languid, sprawled as she was with an excess of pillows, reading her Book of Mormon which she has read without fail every night of her life ever since she decided to get serious about the Gospel. Outside, a noisy recycling truck rattled down the street.
“Honey,” said my mother, exhibiting absolutely no inclination to move, let alone run for cover, “I think those are gunshots outside. Wanna take a look for me?”
When I was a kid I was always annoyed by TRQ's penchant for the dramatic. She could (and still can!) see disaster looming around every corner.  Now, it amuses me—especially because of how calm she stays in the face of the crises she invents. Seriously, DO NOT expect her to get the hell out of the way of gunfights on the streets of San Francisco once she’s all comfy, reading her scriptures and thinking about breaking open that box of Sees candy by her bedside.
Are you getting the picture here?  A real picture could capture all of this way better than mere words.
By the way, I texted my brother with this information, who immediately shot (ha!) back, “Since when did SF start arming it’s recycling trucks?”

Monday, October 21, 2019


Everything made me weepy today.
The gold October light
Spreading through the air,
Saturating leaves and grasses--
The news from Syria of children
With flesh on fire--
The sight of my friend over breakfast,
Her smart suit the color of butter--
The photo of my newest grandchild,
A boy named Raven smiling
Side-eyed at his father--
The memory of my own father's
Rough and lovely sandpaper laugh--
The view of that river twisting
Down City Creek Canyon like
A gleaming gray otter.

Some people think depression is sadness.
It's not.
Depression is a dark endless walk
Down a dark endless hall
Too narrow for tears.
Tears come only when there is a
Glimmer--no matter how faint--of
Light beneath a hallway door.
Tears are a gift.
Taste your tears and rejoice.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Cat by Day, Cat by Night

This is how my cat is
When the sun comes shining down:
Excuse me. Do I know you?
Then, without waiting for an answer,
He flicks his tail and
Saunters away without
Glancing over his sleek cat shoulder.

This is how my cat is
When the moon comes shining down:
Excuse me. I DO know you.
Then, without waiting for an invitation,
He leaps onto my bed and
Purrs the story of his life
Into my forgiving, welcoming ear.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Mac Christensen

Last night I dreamed I went to a men's clothing store and asked the gentleman working there if he would help me find a shirt and pair of slacks for my father.

"Really nice ones," I told him.

I know why I dreamed this, of course. Right before going to bed last night, I read that Mr. Mac had died.

The Coach and Mac enjoyed a long, long friendship. I cannot even begin to tell you how many suits the men in my life had because of Mac. And watching him and my father have at it in Mac's store--freewheeling all the way--was a joy to watch. Originally from San Pete county, Mac once told the Coach the place he felt most at home was in New York City's garment district.

I'd known that Mac was ill and I felt prompted more than once to write him a letter, expressing the affection our family felt for him. After all, he loaned me and Ken Cannon the use of his St. George condo for our honeymoon all those years ago.

But I never did write him.

I told Ken Cannon this morning how much I regret not acting on my impulse to reach out.

"He knew how you felt," Ken Cannon said.

And yes. I think he did.

RIP, Mac. Say hey to my father and give him a bad time, okay?

Saturday, October 12, 2019


Here's the thing:
Sometimes Ordinary
Can turn itself
Inside out and
Into a surprise.
Take those crickets,
For example,
Making noise at night
Beneath that open
Window of yours.
It's comforting noise.
But still.
Then there's that moment
You step out at noon
When the sun is high
To get your mail and
You hear . . . crickets?
Yes. Beneath the coral
Roses you planted when
Your boys were young.
Moon music!
In the heat
Of a day.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Why I Write Almost-Poems

It's been such a pleasure to write little poems here, although maybe they're not really poems. Poems should probably mean something, whereas I think mine are modest celebrations of the natural world. Also, I just like the sound of words.

I wrote this on recent trip to St. George.

Somewhere South on I-15

The slipping sun slants across
The long autumn grasses,
Spinning them into 
Threads of gold,
Hemming the highway
As we drive toward dusk.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Now Here's a Post I Thought I'd Never Write

When I was in the thick of raising five boys, I used to CRAVE time alone. Fantasized about it, even. Especially when I was in the bathroom and those kids would slide their little fingers under the door and say, "MOM! WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN THERE?"

Fast forward a million years. Here I am now, an empty-nester who spends at least part of every day alone. There are lots of things I enjoy about this stage of life, for sure. But the big surprise to me has been how much I sometimes miss my boys, their noise and all the chaos. Believe me. I did not see THAT coming.

Which is why, more than ever, I'm grateful for the communities of which I'm a part. Professional. Personal. Whatever. I'm glad I have my people.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

A view from the playhouse

I love fall for all kinds of reasons, not the least of which is the light. Right now I'm sitting in the playhouse Ken Cannon is building for our granddaughters, looking through a window at the vines glowing green and amber.

I'm also thinking of my grandmother, an October baby, who loved this season best of all. When I was a little girl, she was my everything. No matter what I had to say, she listened. As I grew older, though, I found her interest in me intrusive. And, it must be said, I think she resented at a certain level that I was growing up . . . and because I was growing up I didn't turn to her the way I had when I was younger.

Our relationship became complicated.

I've told this story before, but the last time I ever saw my grandmother, I was angry with her. She'd come up to the house to help us load the truck when we moved to New York. (Yes. She was in her 80's and still capable of loading up trucks.) Grandma was full of advice about our impending move, which I didn't want, and by the time we rolled away in our U-Haul, I was barely speaking to her.

Fast forward to the autumn of 1993. My friend Becky called me in New York to say that she'd seen my grandmother and that she looked so thin. I called my mother who said that Grandma had lost her appetite, that she couldn't swallow, that she had esophageal cancer and everyone was deciding what to do next.

I talked to her a number of times, of course, and she still peppered me with advice.

"Do you have enough toilet paper in the house there? You should buy it in bulk."

Thanksgiving day I called her and after our conversation I said, "I love you, Grandma."

She paused, then simply said, "I know." She died the following day.

Those words came back to me this afternoon like a gift. That my grandmother loved me was never in doubt. And it comforts me to think she knew in the end that yes-- I loved her, too.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Do I or Don't I

If I had to choose a favorite book(s), I'd go with TLOR--which surprises me whenever I say that because my taste in fiction usually runs to the realistic.

But. I discovered TLOR at exactly the right time in my life--as a 16 year-old girl in California whose father had just dropped her off at a dismal little mall in Pomona California while he went recruiting. The only thing still opened in the mall was a drugstore, where I found THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING on a spinner. I'm not sure why I even bought the novel--maybe there weren't any bodice-rippers available--so I purchased my copy, went outside, sat on a bench, and read about little men with hairy toes until Dad returned to pick us up.

By then I was hooked.

I don't typically re-read books, but I have read TLOR novels at different times in my life and they've always held up for me--spoken to me about whatever journey I was taking at the time. And now that September 22nd is approaching (NERD ALERT! SEPTEMBER 22ND IS BILBO'S BIRTHDAY!) I've been toying with the idea of reading the books again.


What if this is the time the books lose their magic? And also, I'm old. If I re-read TLOR will I miss out on a few other books I should read BEFORE I DIE?

This is a quandary.  To re-read or not re-read. That is the question.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

What I'm Missing Today

My old column.

I just returned from a luncheon where I spoke about how I became a columnist (the answer is "by accident") and I was semi-shocked to realize that I did a version of the same column from 1985 (when I started writing for Parent Express) until 2017 (I think) when The Tribune asked me to focus on the advice column only.

That's a lot of columns. And I've realized that not writing that column has felt like an enormous loss to me. More than I've been willing to acknowledge.

Because the column was "personal," I wrote about my boys, my parents (especially TRQ), Ken Cannon, the dogs, friends, Salt Lake City, popular culture, whatever. I was fortunate because the column allowed me to bear witness about my own life. And knowing I had a deadline made me pay attention to that all that living . . .  in a way I haven't since then.

So. I know that blogging isn't really a thing anymore. But I think I'll start up here again, along with posting the poems I have enjoyed writing.

Yes. I think this is a plan.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Her Things

An unread book--
An unlit candle--
An unopened tube of hand cream--
An unworn necklace--
They were all gifts I'd given through the year
To my mother-in-law
Who printed my name neatly
On a piece of masking tape,
Then stuck that tape on the gifts
So I would get them back
In the event of her death.

Her daughter returned them all
To me last week.
I knew that not using my gifts
Was her way of honoring them.
A child of the Great Depression,
She was frugal, careful with resources,
Turning out lights when she left a room,
Running only as much water as needed,
Eating leftovers until they were gone.

She saved those things for me
Because they were precious.
Only I wish she had worn the necklace
Until the silver turned dark against her skin,
Opened the tube of hand cream and
Rubbed it all on her sun brown arms,
Lit the candle and watched its
Flames flicker until the wax
Melted into memory,
Opened the book and devoured
Each word as through it were chocolate.

Thursday, August 22, 2019


Some say there's rosemary, that's for remembrance,
But I say please fill my arms with Russian sage
Growing wide and unwieldy along the gutters of
Second Avenue, planted by earnest and well-intentioned
Xeriscapers wanting to save the world,
But who did not, perhaps, fully understand
The true nature of this aggressive
And sharp-scented beast.

Saturday she pushed her own stroller
All the way home from 7-11,
My two year-old granddaughter, Buster Boots,
Who cannot be contained by a mere strap in a seat.
She meandered beneath an arch of blue stalks
On the street corner that left tiny blossoms,
thick as honey bees, in her unwieldy hair
So when I turned her over to her father that night
She smelled of Slurpee and sun on skin
And sweet, sweet wild sage.

Saturday, August 10, 2019


"Understory: A layer of vegetation beneath the main canopy of forest."

I learned about understory in Alaska
As my friends and I waded through the 
Green grasses beneath the alder trees on
A tiny island in a river as silver as Coho
Salmon while dragonflies flitted 
 Past us in a sheen of blue.
I marveled at the thought of each quiet
Thing--seed and leaf and moss and shrub--
Whispering their stories there 
Beneath the noise of our unhearing feet.

Friday, August 2, 2019


I once asked a friend which
Emotions he feels most strongly.
Love and fear, he said. And you?
Love and loss, I said. Love and loss.
This morning in a melancholy mood
I felt the urge to count those losses
Just as the moon, solemn and silent,
Counts her stars like coins each night.
I began listing the things I miss--
Oh, the sound of certain voices
And the feel of those voices
All around me.
But then I saw a daylily,
Its dawn-pink petals, curved and fluted,
Arching above a spray of green leaf,
And it must be said in the moment
I was distracted by delight.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019


This morning on our walk,
Sally said the smell of sawdust
Takes her back and
Almost makes her cry,
Which made me think of
My grandpa's garage
Where he worked as
The town mechanic,
Tinkering with trucks and cars,
While telling tales to the
Old men who wandered
Inside and bought
glass bottle sodas, then
Sat on chairs and window sills
Like elders of a gas station church.
I saw them again this morning--
My grandfather and his friends--
When Sally remembered sawdust,
And I missed them all,
Along with the scent of oil on concrete.

Friday, July 19, 2019

To the Moon (and Back)

I make it a point to check in with You each night
Usually through my bedroom window
But sometimes from my front porch where
I can see shining You, riding high in an inky sky.

Fifty years later we're all watching You tonight
After men landed like gnomes in your lunar gardens.
We were in California that day, our parents and
My brothers and I, on one of Dad's recruiting trips.

It was their anniversary, a small step for mankind,
An enormous step for them,
So Dad announced, "Yessir, your mother sent me 
To the moon and back."

Mom, who was knitting, punched him in the arm.
Not in front of the children.
Dad laughed while 13 year-old me felt
Mortified for them both.

Turn up the radio, I said
Or maybe I only wanted to say it.
But when I see You tonight, the laughter
Will unspool from me now like my mother's yarn.

Friday, June 28, 2019

In the Heart of the City

On our walk through the grassy cemetery this morning
The brown dog stopped and stood at attention,
Quivering like a new recruit on his first day at boot camp.
I followed her yellow gaze and saw
The thing following us--
Another dog, I thought at first,
But less brown than mine,
Its dull coat shot through with gray and gold,
Prick-eared, lean-legged and steady-eyed,
Its yellow gaze unafraid.
Not a dog, I realized, but a coyote,
The desert trickster surprising
Me and the brown dog this morning
On our walk in the heart of the city.

Sunday, June 23, 2019


What was Solstice like in Finland?
I ask my husband on this summer's eve.
We are sitting together on the patio,
Watching a granddaughter blow soapy bubbles.
I only remember the long white nights
and the bonfires lit by the lakes.

It's not much of a memory but
I can see it all and more, lily-of-the valley
and birch branches strewn like leafy wings
on the shores of burning seas where
the mermaids call each to each.
And yes. I hear them call to me.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019


We drove across the Mojave Desert
With all the windows down--
My younger brother and I rolling around
Unfettered in the back of the old
Family station wagon, our faces and fingers
Sticky from peanut butter sandwiches,
Salty from a stale bag of Clover Club chips.

By the end of that day,
Just as a red disc of sun began to sink
We crested a sand-strewn hill and saw
The ocean for the very first time--
An undulating blue-gray beast,
its scales glittering in the last light.

Can we?
Yes, our father said,
Then parked the car on the side of the road,
The air all around us thick
With the scents of decaying and living.
So my brother and I stripped down
And raced across the beach to the water's edge--


Tuesday, June 11, 2019


In my next life, I
like to say, because
I am always talking
about past lives and
next lives, I want to
be a peony farmer.
I will have fields and
fields of blowsy blossoms
in shades of red and
 rose and white,
their thin petals curved
around each other
like shimmering fabric,
alive for five minutes
before shedding their
beauty and breaking
my heart all over
again as they have
done for spring upon
spring upon spring
and yet, I cannot,
as the French say, stop
from eating my own
heart when the month
of June comes and goes.

Saturday, June 8, 2019


This morning I saw the brown dog
Sitting on the deck perfectly still
Except for her nose
Twitching as the breeze came
Bearing scents of roses
And sour milk from the cartons
In the recycling bin and
Those dogs next door
And that cat beneath the spirea.

They say you shouldn't project
Human emotions on animals.
Fine. But the brown dog sitting
On the deck perfectly still
Except for her nose this
Morning was the closest thing
I have seen to a creature--
Any creature--
Being devoured by joy.

Thursday, June 6, 2019


The sky this morning
Was pink and pearl and gray,
The color of doves
Descending from the heavens
With invitations to
Step into a fresh new day.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019


The brown dog wanted a walk
So she and I took to the hills
Covered with long slender grasses
And suddenly their scent,
Sweet and sharp as mown hay,
Sent me to those hills back home--
Three houses away from our house--
Where my girlfriends and I hiked
And made forts from scrub oak
And talked about the boy on our street
Who gave us shy smiles when
He knew the other boys weren't looking.
I had not thought of these things for
Years until the long cool grasses

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

How the experiment went

Well, obviously I didn't write a poem a day in April. And obviously my poetry skillz need some work. But I enjoyed myself so much I've decided to keep going a little. Writing tiny poems sharpens my focus as I move through my day. Thanks for your kind indulgence.

I noticed by accident that my cactus
            Was in bloom—studded by three
            Tiny flowers the color of rubies.
            But when I looked at it the next
            Morning they were already gone
            Like twilight on the mountains
            Like a sudden flock of cedar waxwings
            Like the glow of a full moon
            Like the scent of lilacs
            Like a wave on sand
            Like a snowflake on a windshield
            Like a white-winged butterfly
            Like the son you held not 
            Long ago in the bend of your arms.

Monday, April 29, 2019

At a Rest Stop in McGuireville, AZ

The desert here smells clean
like air scrubbed  with sage.
The desert here smells sweet
like citrus blooms that fill your dreams.
The air here smells fresh
like a western rain after noon's heat.
The desert here smells like memory
of a station wagon filled with my
brothers and my parents and me
passing this way on moonlit journeys
when all of us were young.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

If You Stayed in Bed This Morning . . .

This is what you missed:
A watercolor sky, washed with pink
The air thick with pear blossom scent
A coffee klatch of sparrows, planning their day
The feel of a road beneath your feet
A fleeting taste of spring

Tuesday, April 23, 2019


And now the ground that was
flat and bare brown is a green
quilt of thready stems--
lily of the valley shoots
twist and uncurl upward,
reinventing the garden
with each morning that passes.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

In My Backyard

The yellow sumac--I planted
in memory of Marilyn,
whose backyard was filled
with sumac she treated like family.

The snowball bush--I planted
in memory of Becky,
who believed its flowers in coffee cans
were the only acceptable offering on Memorial Day.

The butterfly bush--I planted
in memory of my father and our trip
to Normandy's graves when the shrub's long purple
blooms were in honey-fragrant season.

The lilac bush--I planted
for myself in memory of all
the Anns I have been and will be when
another April rolls down the mountain.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

April Moon

A full April moon
is the Pink Moon
is the Sprouting Grass Moon
is the Egg Moon
is the Fish Moon
is the moon that rode low
over my street in the
dark of this morning
and made me marvel

Wednesday, April 17, 2019


I understand the biology behind Spring--
The green sheen of the male mallard
Attracts the female and so life goes on and on and on

But is so much excess strictly necessary?
The giddy chatter of robins?
The scent of a sun-warmed hyacinth?
That glistening goblet of a yellow tulip there?

Seriously, I can almost hear the gods say
Well! As long as we're at it,
Why don't we put on a real show!

Monday, April 15, 2019

Things I Thought Would Last Forever

My knees
Stratton's fruit stand on Orem's 8th North
The volunteer orange poppy in our backyard
My crush on the British royal family
The Hawthorne tree my parents planted
The restaurant where my parents ate Italian sausage sandwiches
My great-grandmother's house on the shore of Bear Lake
My kids living nearby
My dad's voice on the other end of the telephone line
Notre Dame

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Beware the Hawthorne Tree

Beware the crimson Hawthorne tree--
Not because of its circlets of thorn
Or it blossoms that smelt of death
in London when the plague came
and reaped her streets.

Beware because a faery may lead you beneath
And when you emerge, blinking, seven
Mays later, you'll discover the blossoms,
which you dreamed of deep in winter,
have already bled from the tree.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

What My Father's Mother Said

My father's mother had fourteen children.
Seven boys.  Seven girls.
She was a farmer's wife and
Spent hours in the kitchen
Spinning flour into bread.

When my second son was born
I thought my grandmother would
Be in love with his red roundness,
So I asked if she'd like to hold him
And she said,"Not really."

Well. Who could blame her?
After that many loaves of bread
She was done with feeding, done with caring.
And yet, somehow I have a photo
of her holding my baby on the sly.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Happy Accident

If I'd had a GPS
on that trip to Arizona
I would have turned north
instead of south when I left

If I'd had a GPS
I would have noticed
much sooner that I was on
my way to Nogales instead of

If I'd had a GPS
I wouldn't have made a late
U Turn in Nogales
just as dusk drenched the

If I'd had a GPS
I would have been in Phoenix already
and missed the earth bursting with bloom,
exploding against a mauve and golden

like a murder of crows.

Thursday, April 11, 2019



Today while driving to Hires
to eat a hamburger (even though
I often think about giving up meat
because I once looked straight into 
the eyes of a long-lashed calf)
I nearly ran over a stray red journal,
red and limp from rain, lying
in the middle of the street.

I swerved to avoid it as though
it were a human being in a wet red sweater.

Well, of course I dodged it 
with its possible recounting of kisses and 
and fights and trips to the grocery store 
at midnight for a pint of coffee ice cream,
as well as the scores of Jazz games watched,
because what could be more human
Then the words of human?

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Pieces of My Life

Sea glass

These are the things I have in
the memory box my husband
made from the wood of a
much loved peach tree.

The notecard is filled with words
my grandmother read to me
on my wedding day.

The ornament is from my mother
in memory of the baby 
who didn't make it.

The sea glass is from the beach
where my brothers and I watched
our children grow up.

The cotton, which I picked beneath 
a low-slung Carolina moon, is from
the field next to the home where
my granddaughter lived.

Sea Glass

Tuesday, April 9, 2019


When I looked in the mirror
this morning I was surprised
to see I still had long hair.
I didn't recognize myself. 
Last night I dreamed hard
that I had shaved my head like a marine.

The dream felt real enough to eat.
I was full of regret but 
also resolve to live this
new way with less of me
because what else can you do?

So! I was happy to find myself
unchanged in the weak light
of morning--at least for now.
The mirror will surprise me again
as it always does and then I will 
start at the things it nakedly reveals.

Monday, April 8, 2019

A Poem a Day

First thing. I am not a poet.

Second thing. I admire poets immensely. (I'm looking at you, Wade and Lisa.)

Third thing. I attended a poetry workshop taught by the above Lisa this weekend.

Fourth thing. April is National Poetry Month. Yes! It's a thing! 

Fifth thing. I'm accepting the challenge to write a poem a day and post it here.

Sixth thing. I suck and I know it.

Seventh thing. That was a disclaimer because I'm REALLY SCARED ABOUT DOING THIS.

Eighth thing. But yeah. These are just drafts, written quickly.

Now that I've established all that, here's today's offering.

The Odyssey

I thought I remembered what happened
in The Odyssey, which Miss Nelson made us
read in AP English the year I was 17.

But now that I'm reading it several 
lifetimes later, I am discovering 
I barely remember any of it.

Not Calypso and her "gleaming, glittering" chair.
Not the horse-lord Nestor's eldest daughter, Polycaste,
who rubbed oil on Telemachus's skin.
Not Nausicaa, who welcomed salt-stained Odysseus
to her father's kingdom.

Instead I remember the boys in my class 
with their surfer boy hair and their 
pachuli-scented jeans and the way all of us
stared out the classroom window past the 
track and the field and the streets and 
the blue, blue mountain to the west

Wondering, perhaps, what our own voyages
might be.

Friday, March 22, 2019

How I Became a Feminist

Okay.  First things first.  If you believe your mother, sister, daughter, wife, female partner, or female friend should get paid the same amount of money for the same amount of work for the same job as a man, than guess what.  You're a feminist, too.

So now that we have that out of the way, let me continue.

I've been following the journeys of a number of young women I know who have come to their feminism out of a place of anger--sometimes, I think, because their experiences with the patriarchy at home, at work, and at church have left them feeling both diminished and furious.

I was lucky.  I had grandfathers, a father, brothers, uncles, and neighbors like Stan Collins and Tom Brown who assumed (and behaved like) women were their equals--and possibly their superiors.  It wasn't until I was older that I realized not every young woman has this experience growing up.

Dudes.  Give your daughters a reason to celebrate you and the rest of your sex, yo.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

TRQ and the stolen cigarettes

One of the things I love best about TRQ is that she will laugh until the tears are running down her cheeks--even if (and especially when) she's laughing about herself.

Take the story we told each other yesterday at her birthday luncheon.  We remembered the day one of my brothers (WHO WILL REMAIN NAMELESS BUT YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE) stole some cigarettes when he was twelve.

OK.  I love that sentence.  It's so quaint, right?  You'd think that he'd stolen cigarettes in Mayberry.

OPIE'S FRIEND:  Hey, Opie! Let's go steal us some cigarettes!

OPIE:  Yessir!  Let's just make sure my dad or Barney don't catch us.

If you wanted to steal some cigarettes by contrast today, however, you'd have to take a golf club and break the cigarette case first instead of just sneaking a pack off the shelf like you could have back in America's reckless days when nobody wore seatbelts.

Anyway.  My brother did just that and Barney Fife arrested him.  So the Coach had to leave the football field during practice to go pick up my brother at the police station where Otis the town drunk was taking a nap in a jail cell.

Needless to say, TRQ was not best pleased with my brother.  So I said to him, "Why don't you come to work with me tonight."  I was busy working at Albertson's bakery in those days, busting up whenever I had to do some "suggestive selling" over the PA system and also busy losing wedding cakes.  But those are stories for another day.

My brother was thrilled to leave the house.  But as we crawled into the car, TRQ came out and said, "Don't steal any doughnuts at your sister's work tonight, you little thief!"

So he didn't.  And to this day (thanks to TRQ) he doesn't steal doughnuts now.

Or cigarettes either.

Friday, March 1, 2019

When TRQ and I were driving around SLC this afternoon . . .

. . . I made an impromptu left turn from a right hand turn lane. I'm not proud of this but it needed to be done if I wanted to expedite our trip to Ruby Snap for a cookie haul.  Which I did.

Meanwhile, TRQ, gripping the door handle, noted, "That's something your father would have done." It wasn't meant as a compliment.

I couldn't help but marvel at the synchronicity of all this.  I just picked up a copy of Healing After Loss by Martha W Hickman to read today's meditation. Here's what she says:

In the weeks, months, and years that lie ahead, we may find qualities and actions in our lives which surprise us until we smile and think, "I wonder.  Yes.  Maybe that's a part of _______ living in me.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

What I Remembered Today

I'm going to tell you something I remembered today.

The thing I DON'T remember is if I've told you this before.  Sorry if I'm repeating myself.

Anyway. After Dad died, my therapist friend told me to keep a notebook and any time I remembered something or felt his presence somehow, to jot it down.  Which I did.  Which I continue to do.  At some point I remembered a conversation we (Dad and I--not the therapist and I) had while we were in France (my therapist didn't go to France with us), behaving like Americans who are trying hard not to behave like Americans.  I told him that I sometimes really, really, really missed my old lives--particularly the one I had when all my kids were at home and we were this crazy, noisy, vibrant, male-centric family.  And Dad said to me, "Oh, Honey.  You can't live your life that way," meaning that I couldn't keep living while looking over my shoulder for landscapes that have disappeared.

This morning at the store, I spoke with a clerk who knows my mother, mostly because they had a friend in common.  Barbara.  BIG personality.  Generous and inclusive and always game for a good time, even if her idea of a good time was going to BYU Education Week.  So the clerk told me again how much she misses Barbara and how she would give anything to go back to those days.  And suddenly I heard my dad's voice in my ear, "Honey, you can't live your life that way."

Thank you, Dad.  You probably knew I've needed that reminder.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Now Appearing at a Blog Near You--a Poem!

Lately I've been free-writing prose poems at night in my journal.  It's a fun exercise and a way to capture and crystalize a thought.  I was happy-ish with the way this one came together.

Thank you, I said to the orchid
When the last blossom folded its mottled white wings
And floated gently down to the counter.
I release you now, I said.
I’d bought the orchid one day soon after my father died.
Looking at it gave me soft comfort,
Made me think of my father the gardener,
Who told me I needed to discipline myself,
To resist the temptation to plant things too close together
So that each plant would have the space it needs to grow.
Like people.

The orchid bloomed and bloomed.  
Then stopped.  
Then bloomed and bloomed.
Then stopped.
Then bloomed again.
And I believed my father somehow had a hand 
in all that wild unexpected blooming from a grocery store orchid
And I also believed that when the blooming stopped for good
My heart would break all over again.
Until recently.

The blooms were gone from the green stick-insect stems, 
had been gone for a while this time and I felt . . . fine.
So I said I release you now. 
You’ve done your job.
I can manage from here.
I lifted my orchid from the counter to take it outside
And give it back whole to the ground
Because from dust to dust
But noticed that another tiny half-hidden bud
Was willing itself to be.

Thank you, I said to my father.

Monday, January 21, 2019

What I Love About TRQ

She called right now to ask if it's snowing in SLC.

ME:  Yes.

HER:  Are your snowflakes fat?

ME:  I'll look.

HER:  Well, I looked and the snowflakes here are fat.  Some of them are little and dainty though, but Doodle [one of TRQ's poodle-types] likes to bark at the fat ones.

And at this point TRQ sighed happily.  "Isn't Nature amazing?"

Yes.  Yes, it is.  And it's equally amazing to have people in one's life who notice and who take delight.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Thank you, Mary Oliver

. . . for this poem, "The Journey."  And for all the others, too.  RIP.

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began, 
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice --
though the whole house
began to tremble 
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voice behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do --
determined to save
the only life that you could save.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

When a Butterfly flaps its wings in one part of the world . . .

. . . it causes a hurricane in another part of the world.

I've been thinking a lot lately (because I'm old now) about the long-range unintended consequences of certain actions.  Take the Writers' Guild strike in 2007-2008, an action I completely supported because when you looked at the puny percentage writers were being paid for successful  projects (the guy who wrote the screenplay for Forrest Gump, for example, hardly made anything) you  said UNFAIR!  Or at least I did.

Anyway, the strike gave rise to reality TV, which was a way for networks to keep producing content.  And what they discovered was that reality TV is cheaper to produce AND also there's an appetite for it.  Enter Donald Trump and The Apprentice.  David Frum, George W. Bush's speechwriter, had interesting things to say in this article about how Trump's image as a titan of industry and business was actually crafted and burnished by the producers.  And yeah.  That's the Trump that the American public saw and that't the Trump they elected.

So there you have it.  Writer's strike.  Reality TV.  The Apprentice.  And now this moment in America where our president is refusing to sit down at the high school lunchroom table with our allies and having keggers up the canyon with a former KGB agent instead.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

White Teeth

I'm watching FBI right now, a new show which I actually like.  BUT.  I am so distracted by how WHITE everybody's teeth are.  The characters don't often smile given the fact they're busy busting drug kingpins and so forth, but when they do . . . WHOA!  I AM BLINDED BY THE LIGHT! (Also, I'm revved up like a deuce.) (Also, I'm another runner in the night.)

I definitely like white teeth.  Some days I do nothing all day long but sit on the front porch and think about how much I like white teeth.  I want whiter teeth myself, in fact.  But I'm trying to decide if so much white-ness is actually a good look. #firstworldgrooming

Monday, January 14, 2019


Dear Dylan,

This time 35 years ago I was holding you in my arms at LDS hospital, rejoicing in the perfection of you.  It was snowing outside, the flakes wide and soft landing against my dark window pane.  I'd had a few visitors earlier, of course.  Your dad.  Your two older brothers.  Grandma.  Aunt Becky, who was working at the hospital at the time.  Also some people from the ward I didn't know very well who came and stayed FOREVER which taught me that short visits to people in the hospital are the best.

After I was alone I held you close and said a silent thank you to the all the stars in the universe for sending me another boy.  And I have been so grateful for you ever since.  For your loyalty, your sense of humor, your absolute tenacity, your kindness.  It hasn't always been an easy go for you.  But I can truthfully say you always have and you always will make me proud.

Happy birthday.


Friday, January 11, 2019

The More Things Change . . .

The more they remain the same.

So last night at the store I shelved baby board books with these titles.

Feminist Babies
A is for Activist
(And my personal favorite) Baby Loves Green Energy 

When I first started writing for kids a million years ago, the mantra was DON'T PREACH! Because of course that's what kids books often did.  Preached.  They had morals, don't you know, like Aesop's fables.  And the sentiment when I started up was that you shouldn't preach--that a story should be a story and if there was a takeaway from the story, fine.  But an agenda shouldn't be the reason for writing the story in the first place.

This is a principle I have taught my own students and, frankly, it's a principle I still subscribe to.

HOWEVER!  First World America, which has honorable and admirable intentions, clearly didn't get the memo.

Different agenda.  Same religious fervor.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

On Pulling Books and Sending Them Back to the Publisher

Yesterday at work (I'm a part time bookseller at The King's English) I "pulled" our YA section.  In other words, I loaded up a bunch of books that haven't sold well to ship back to the publisher to get a credit against our balance.

It's tedious work under the best of circumstances, but for a writer, it's a particularly disheartening job. Every time I took another book off the shelf, I thought to myself, "This represents months, if not years, of work for an author who cared enough about a story to write it. And poof! Here it goes up in smoke after a couple of months of sitting on a shelf."


What the experience did do for me, however, was to remind me that writing a book should be a labor of love . . . for you. There's very little you can control after you finish your book, so you ought to enjoy the journey while you're writing it.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

On Movies You Liked But that Critics Mostly Hated

I finally watched The Greatest Showman this past weekend while taking care of grandchildren in Flagstaff. And wow. Much to my surprise I kinda loved it. Elephants! Hugh Jackman! Spurting Flames! Chicks with beards and pink hair! Hugh Jackman! Also Zac Efron! Singing! Dancing! Angry mobs! Dudes dressed up like nutcrackers! Horses! Hugh Jackman!

Yeah, I know it wasn't historically accurate. And maybe Michelle Williams was just a little too happy about hanging sheets out to dry on that slum rooftop where she and Hugh Jackman lived. And maybe the soundtrack will sound dated ten years from now. And maybe the drama part was kind of cheesy what with Hugh Jackman rushing into that burning building to save Zac Efron's life, although (personally speaking) I am very glad he did because the world might be a less good-looking place without Zac Efron in it.

BUT STILL.  I really enjoyed the movie.  So I got online and read the critical reviews, which were mostly snarky although actual audiences seemed to like the movie as much as I did. And, lo, I am pleased to say that I didn't care.  I no longer feel bullied by critics who disagree with me.

Oh yes. I am such a grownup now.

P.S. I feel kind of bad that my grandkids will probably never see a circus in real life now.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

On Re-reading Books

Which is something (with the exception of LOTR) that I don't often do.  Because my experience is that books I once loved often disappoint later on.  And, frankly, I hesitate to re-read LOTR these days because I'm afraid it could do the same.

BUT! I re-read VENETIA by Georgette Heyer this weekend in response to feeling a very strong need to escape entirely into another world.

Oh, Georgette Heyer.  I discovered her when I was going through my high school/college rabid Jane Austen/anglophile phase, as all bookish girls of my generation were wont to do, and I enjoyed her novels hugely in spite of their overabundance of Regency slang.  The women were strong and independent and anyway who can resist a comedy of manners?

Then . . . I don't know.  I got over my anglophile-ness, largely due to DOWNTON ABBEY, which irritated me beyond reason.  And, also, somewhere along the way I turned into a communist.  KIDDING!  But the older I've gotten, the less patient I've become with the whole freaking notion of class.  Living in New York, btw, was a big catalyst for that development.

Anyway. I re-read VENETIA in spite of all the above and discovered I enjoyed it even more this time around. The characters are sharply drawn and the story, while largely comic, had (for me, at least) real emotional power.

Well, who doesn't love a pleasant surprise like that?

Monday, January 7, 2019


I'm wearing a ring right now that TRQ and I pass back and forth, depending on who needs it the most at the time.  We like to think that whoever is wearing it gets a little extra love and guidance from her mother, my grandmother.  So if TRQ is in a bad way, she gets the ring.  Same holds true for me.

TRQ slipped the ring off her finger at Christmas and put it on mine and told me I needed it and WHO AM I EVER EVER EVER TO ARGUE WITH TRQ?!

So I'm wearing it now and yes.  I am thinking of my grandmother.  Both grandmothers, actually.  I've been taking care of some granddaughters myself for the past few days and I am remembering all the small ways my grandmothers took care of me--especially my maternal grandmother with whom I spent more time.  How she combed my hair.  How she let me run around practically naked in the fruit orchard behind our house because I wanted to feel the sun on my skin.  How she told me trees could talk if only I would listen.  How she smelled like cold cream when we snuggled in bed at night.  How she said I'd look like Jackie Kennedy if I ate my beets at dinner.  How she knit me carpet slippers for Christmas.

I had lunch with my cousin Deb this Christmas who came into the big boisterous Edwards clan when her mother married my uncle.  Deb was four at the time--Dorothy had been married before--and Grandma Edwards sent her the same sparkly birthday card with the same crisp birthday dollar bill tucked inside that she sent to all 86 of her other grandchildren.  Deb told me she still has those cards--those sparkly pieces of paper that said yes.  Welcome to our family.  You are no different than the others.

I was so lucky to have grandmothers that knew how to love well their small ones.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Therapy animals

So you sure see a lot of dogs in airports these days.  I feel like I'm in Europe thirty years ago where I first saw people take their dogs to places like restaurants and so forth.  At home in Provo where I grew up you never saw dogs in restaurants.  They were too busy roaming the streets in packs with fellow dog gang members like Otto and Ferd and Daisy.

Also, you barely saw restaurants in Provo when I was growing up.

But now I'm starting to see the dogs show up in all kinds of places as (I'm assuming) "therapy animals."  Which is great.  If a dog or a cat or a peacock or whatever helps a person manage anxiety, more power to everybody involved.

It's just that MY dogs--even though I love them-- cause me a certain amount of stress.  Especially in public places because they're all PARTY! PARTY! PARTY! and IT'S ON LIKE DONKEY KONG!  Stuff like that.  If I took Tinkerbell to the airport, for instance, I think she'd knock over the first Auntie Anne's Pretzel Stand she saw and immediately consume all the pretzels in sight, as well as the pretzel clerk's right shoe.

And yeah.  That would NOT make me feel totally zen as I was about to board an airplane where there is nothing between you, your seatbelt and the hard ground below except miles and miles of empty air.

Not that flying makes me nervous.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

A New Year's Resolution for 2019

. . . because why would I keep making resolutions for 2018?  Even though I accidentally put on my husband's running shoes after we finished bowling with the grandkids yesterday instead of my running shoes ("Wow!" I said to myself when I put them on.  "Who knew bowling made your feet shrink!") I am not stupid enough to make resolutions for a year that's already in the rearview mirror.

Anyway.  I had a moment not long ago when my friend Vikki was reading my Native American medicine wheel cards, which is a thing, yo.  I realized that I have spent that last few years walking away from my self-identity as "a writer."

There are a lot of reasons why all the walking away has happened.  Discouragement. Fatigue.  Family issues.  Distractions like the internet.  Changing interests.  So on.  So forth.  And mostly I told myself I felt okay about it.  Hello.  You don't need to be a writer to be happy in this life.

But guess what.  I need to be a writer to be happy in this life.

And so my goal this year is to own my true identity and write.