Don't Blink

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Oh boy. I am overrun with nostalgia lately. There's nothing like your kid starting high school to 1) Make you feel old and 2) Make you teary all the *&#*ing time.

I have finally started to call myself a poet, accepting that I love brevity and that, for better or for worse, I'll always be trying to collect images and crystallize them in as few words as possible. It sure is helping these days, when I can hardly keep up with the world inside and outside my doors.

I've been riding my bike more lately, too, and I've found it's a recipe for more clarity, more connection to myself and what's happening around me. That's what happened this morning when I passed Whatcom Middle School and immediately looked for Wyatt on the playfield.

Wherever you are today and whatever you're doing, I hope you're happy and wistful and engaged and growing.

Don’t Blink

Riding past the middle school playfield,
clusters of kids in the morning sun,
I remember with a jolt
that you aren’t one of them anymore.
I thought I’d have those three years
to stretch my legs, take a breath,
get my parenting act together.
Teach you how to cook a few essentials,
maybe take you to Yellowstone or New York City,
figure you out more than I have.

High school started without much fanfare.
I’ve discovered I have to stay up late
for any chance of sliding
into that thin envelope of light and tenderness,
the one where you laugh at my jokes,
I fix you a sandwich,
and we’re not strangers anymore.

Song of a Reformer

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Song of a Reformer

I can't stop trying to be good.
It's my illness, though some days
it's in remission.

By the river, I take my shoes and socks off,
find a flat rock and patch of sun,
let the glacial water baptize me.

See how the river cuts its own path,
how the valley surrenders,
how the eddies and currents, unruly,
are as good and as beautiful
as anything I've ever seen.

Morning Wake Up

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Morning Wake Up

He's a hard sleeper just like his dad.
When I say his name, touch his arm,
he sleeptalks and says he's getting up.
I sit on the bed's edge for another minute,
straighten his twisted covers,
look at him with the kind of love
he'd squirm under if awake,
the kind of longing I had
that first morning,
the room spinning around me,
every cell in my trembling body
saying, Thank You. Thank You.

So Long, Emily

There's Hurricane Harvey and the West Wing travesty and a non-native salmon spill in Puget Sound. And famine in Africa.

But tonight, there's Emily flying to California for the year, and then who knows what after that. She's my person, as anyone who's read this blog even once probably knows. We are good at staying connected and it will take a hell of a lot more than this move to change that.

But still. Sad and it's all a little surreal. Nothing to do but write a poem. I love you, sister.

So Long

You'll get on the plane
and text me when you land.
I'll see you before Christmas
and fill your virtual and actual mailboxes.

But you won't be leaving notes
on my desk,
walking my dog,
sleeping in my house
like you are tonight,
your breath, body, footfall,
your "I am here"
always making me
into the wildest, loveliest
dream of myself.

Little Poems for Dark Days #13

Little Poems for Dark Days #13

End of the day, nothing written yet.
If I have anything to say,
it's thank you.
Thank you for my life,
thank you for this anger,
geyser of revolt rising up in me,
that part of me that won't sit down,
cloud of witnesses
who won't be silenced,
worker in the field,
first responder in his boat,
writer with her pen,
refugee in his tent,
loud Chorus of Love
on the bleakest, most sodden of plains,
singing though there's every reason
not to.

Little Poems for Dark Days #11

Little Poems for Dark Days #11

I'm tired of the bitter river!/Tired of the bars!
(Langston Hughes)

Whether it's because we built an ark
with blood money
or happened to be born
on top of a hill,
those of us on dry land
have always been smug,
directing others not to be angry
or to work harder
or to have more faith.
What's that you say?
This bitter river comes for us?

Little Poems for Dark Days #10

Little Poems for Dark Days #10

Today my free tote bag came in the mail.
The fridge is full of washed fruit and little yogurts.
I manage to clear my desk,
send a note to my aunt,
have an idea for a poem
or the urge to learn something--
tennis or Spanish or pickle-making.
Sparks in the dark, all of it,
sticks and tinder, hope against hope,
making fire in the cold.

Little Poems for Dark Days #4

Little Poems for Dark Days #4

My neighbor Laura makes oatmeal
for anyone that ends up in her front yard.
With solar glasses and pinhole projectors,
this little band of dogs and humans is ready
to see the moon eclipse the sun
then to see the sun come shining back again,
ready to remember that our planet is still suspended,
that we are still, mercifully, alive in the universe.