First blush

All summer she basked
in the sun.
Now the days are dwindling,
the autumn wind is gusting,
and hope courses
through her veins.

She changes quietly
she has much to do before
becoming
a tree of splendor,
before she sheds
each ruby leaf
and finds the beauty in release.

“Be gentle,” she whispers
to the others (but more so to herself)
“Give me grace
while I transform.”

Newborn standard time

These are the days of
his small head nestled
against my chest
skin — velvet smooth, unmarred by time —
to
skin — a soft place
to
dream,
drink,
rest,
grow (some days,
I swear, I can see
him thickening
in the shelter of my arms)
and some days blur into nights
cradling him close
feeding
and being fed
by his warmth
our two hearts
beating in sync
his slate blue eyes
searching for mine,
which of course, are bloodshot
and glad (some nights, I swear, holding him
feels like heaven on earth)
some nights
I feel suffocated
by all he needs
and these are the nights that blend into days
when golden light lingers
at the edge of the crib
each day becoming a little longer
as if to say,
“Take heart,
change is coming,
so be sure to
treasure these days.”

A few things I love

pink clouds

I love sunsets,
I love words,
I love paying attention to the movements of birds,
I love the warmth of a fire
and hearty conversation,
I love taking long vacations,

I love my husband’s strong embrace
and our son’s melodious laugh,
I love piping hot coffee with half-and-half,
I love fresh-cut hydrangeas
and a candle on my desk,
I love having really good sex,
I love minestrone and Aperol Spritz and fresh-baked baguette,
I love a Bad Day ice cream sundae to help me forget,

I love it when the clouds are painted cotton candy pink,
I love reading writers whose work makes me think,
I love practicing yoga
and walks in the woods,
I love seeing people collaborate for the common good,

I love the mountains,
I love to sing,
I love pushing my son on a tire swing,
I love MagnaTiles and Hot Wheels cars strewn across our carpet,
I love using drive-up order service at our local Target,
I love the smell of fabric softener wafting in the breeze,
I love how my dog’s presence puts me at ease,

I love being with friends who feel like home,
I love and crave more time alone,
I love baby announcements and heartfelt letters,
I love chunky and soft oversized sweaters,
I love rainbows, the first snow, calming waters, blazing leaves,
I love watching Hallmark Christmas movies,
I love feeling the wind tickling my hair,
I love how protests and petitions can be a form of prayer,

I love faith that makes space for questions,
the grace that sets me free,
a church that affirms each person’s dignity,
I love hearing my preschooler’s silly jokes,
I love listening to the stories of ordinary folks
I love art that’s beautiful and bold,
I love how writing invites me
to behold.


artist inspiration: Courtney Martin, Lemn Sissay, Ashlee Gadd + the Exhale Creativity writing community

Ode to light-catchers

After Dale Chihuly’s “Glasshouse”

Call it foolish, call it futile,
say flamboyant if you dare.
As for me, I’ll call it radiance,
suspended in the air —
a glass dragon roaring 
with amber, fire, maize,
mid-flight, bouncing beams,
ever-wrestling in its cage.
Or a vine of glossy poppies
honey, rose, persimmon glow 
floating high in a rare greenhouse,
never meant to seed or grow.

From my vantage point I watch
them juxtaposed against blue sky,
and Seattle’s Space Needle reaching
for the star that grants us light.
What was the artist thinking?
another bystander might ask.
Does a fragile glasshouse
matter amid brokenness en masse?
(All these tired, hungry people
looking for a place to rest.
Such extravagance demands
we raise our eyes, pause and reflect.)

Me, I could’ve stayed
for hours bathed in warmth,
beneath the sun
roused by beauty,
held by brightness
from the Maker’s hands was spun.

God only knows (a sonnet)

Where can we get a baby?
my son asks, his blue eyes piercing
in the morning’s heel.
It’s far too early to navigate this task.
Oh Jesus, where are you? Please take the wheel!

He wants a brother — he’s an only child.
Stalling, I tell the tale he loves to hear,
You once lived in my tummy —
isn’t that wild?
He nods and smiles at me, his joy sincere.

A baby is a miracle divine:
from clay the Artist sculpts a newborn soul
with aptitude to love, create, refine.
How wonderful the sight is to behold!
My thoughts don’t make it to my child today;
instead I say, It’s a mystery. Go play!

some signs of hope in 2020 (a list)

the faithfulness of wildflowers
& the changing seasons,
children laughing,
for once a good news story,
hot coffee (preferably first thing in
the morning),
dogs, especially puppies,
the friend who texted, “everything ok?” when
you didn’t show up to Zoom book club,
your new haircut, &
this poem that made you realize
you weren’t the only one
who felt like that,
dreams (sweet ones) scrawled in
your notebook
alongside mantras like “one day at a time”
& “you are enough,”
geese soaring someplace warmer,
prayer,
people standing up for racial justice,
voting for kindness,
your son, &
how he beams at you when
you’re holding hands
twirling.

(breathe deep) find hope

inhale, rise. exhale, fold. 
stretch        float        flow
repeat. beyond your window 
winged wonders chirp, twitter, tweet

you, too, salute the sun, rest in its golden bright
before they wake, limbs tangled in the sheets,
before the headlines make you clench your jaw if
“hope is the thing with feathers,”
what is dread
a clawed predator,
lurking in the very air we
breathe deep, remember:
you’re safe in this nest

meanwhile essential birds flit to and fro
till the earth, tend the brood, fight death—
(breathe deep) what you’ve been asked to do
(nest) barely feels like sacrifice

still
you bow your head, weary
you close your eyes, wet
you fold your hands,
pleading
for miracles.
indoors,  your little one wakes
outside, a robin warbles

Beautiful

She looks in the mirror

violet crescents shadow

the delicate space below

her tired eyes

ring fingers tap cold cream

trace new wrinkles

etched in the corners

and here’s

an annoying pimple

in her reflection,

//

her eyes move to

her softened belly, 

once ballooned to carry a baby

small breasts,

once swelled to feed that baby

two arms —

she flexes twice —

her arms have never been stronger

nearly three years later

her baby still begs to be carried.

//

Once upon a time

she picked at her flesh

and prodded 

and planned

stepped on a scale

let a number dictate her 

joy

her diet 

she aimed to reign in

what she now knows is wild and free 

and maybe aging

isn’t something to 

fear like they taught us.

//

This time 

she drinks in her reflection

and calls it

evidence of

pain

evidence of

bliss

evidence of

a woman evolving.

she calls it