cake dressed

in lavender lace

tastes of springtime

and sun

another sip from the chalice

another year done

sweet sixteen

and never been kissed

she wisps ’round the garden

in carapace white

kids run with kites

chilled champagne

sipped by mothers

who fight to think not

of the flight

of the numbers

i am the bell

i am the bell

being rung


the round waves

of sound


the half–moon ears

they ripple to


some thing made me



deep to my



sung through

with love


it’s been a long time trying


climbing out of holes

crafting ladders


of wood and rope

of skin and bone


i am the creation

the artifact dug up


again and again


i held on as he rocked and bucked

as he shook and cried and spat curses

i clung until i felt it push into me

until i saw red: a river of blood

bright as if spilled

exploded as if out of body

i held on until rage flung me to the floor

he didn’t even know

he wasn’t in the room

the hill


dew soaks through shoes

fog clings to everything

metal clang of flag raising, lowering


lying on angles under stars

girls tuck into dampening sleeping bags

wait for chief to come say good night


some preside at the top, worthy of the climb

lodge where we take our meals and mail and share shelter

watching the storm–sheets sweep in

chapel where we sit in rows under a roiling bell

where we sing, chant, cry,

repent, sin, fly


others crouch at the bottom, drawing gravity

stretch of pool we tumble to with towel arm–wings

faded farmhouse where the other life is lived out

rushing road that knows not our stillness

that divides the lofty hill from a flat field

its humble counterpart


boys on tractors mow slowly through the grass

time moves slowly

girls are already women



what comes between


she shows up each

night to the fire


cleaved        in half        

heart        taking sides


no one speaks of it

especially her


mouth        split

with precision        


the fire holds her

and the people around the fire

and creatures around the perimeter

and sky and trees and moon


in time


the smoke and words and stars and songs

creep into the chasms

quiet welders at work


not like before        

there is no going back


but now a molten patch runs

through and holds the halves


and honors what comes between





another day yawns

blinding light

creeping air


dreams latch on

eyes threaded

flailing into patchwork

gilded with a thousand lives

hinging on revelation


i exist right now

just what is

kites for arms

legs like lead


mother calls less and less

no one wants to always chase

other times i’d be impressed

pandemics have new rules


quarantine’s a waterbed with a pin–prick

running out of duct tape


sending more bodies into the ground, into the air

trying on the next life

ultra–violet seams unraveling

violence steeps


water water everywhere

x–ray hindsight

young cells without mouths cry out

zoned for rapture



October is the finest month. I step out into it, straight into the sky. It opens and opens. It holds everything—my thinning crown, ten years of father gone, the horror of child death. Objects greet me from below—a hunched leaf like a toad, an old tennis ball turned peach, a strip of rubber snake. I hear the blue jays, screeches from early memories.

I walk among the houses propped up like giant gravestones. Most are gray or tan or neutral without a name. A few pop in bold shades of rebellion: Bellini Fizz, Melón Meloso, Avid Apricot. Some dance with the dead, strung with webs, orange lights, skeletons.  

Dad asked to be cremated. Even in death, he was thrifty. We had to sign a paper stating that fragments of other people’s bones may reside in his urn. 

The trees are the color of slate, the color of the clouds. One tree reaches out with lavender arms. When young, we’re taught to color trees brown, brown, brown. We don’t yet know the color families.

The years begin to swallow up the bones, starting at the jaw, moving to the collarbone, the hips. The fat fills in. I let my hair grow. The teeth have a mind of their own.

Each porch tells its story: Piles of packages by the steps. Interrupted chalk play. Lighthouse painted tiger painted vase. Mud-caked gardening boots at rest. Hollowed pumpkins wait for their end.



When my 8-year-old nephew visits

I teach him solitaire,

a worthy endeavor

for a near–Only.

I, born close between but distant–deep,

have used it to climb

out of holes


on puzzles, books, televisions, poems.

I, and my mother,

each press on



the decade tick.

We have grown used to it.

We have grown some thing

some would call Wisdom,

wired close to the chest.

It is hard–earned.

It has other names.

It spreads across

the sorrow fields


for signs.


you remember

one owl

i remember


it was snowing it was night

it was all new


in a red cabin in the blue mountains

what did those snowy owls see


on an iced branch under the wide moon

through the windows in our door

the panes we never thought to cover

until they held the head of the intruder

the haunt of missing children

boot prints in the snow

a decade of forever

a solemn promise:

to have, to hold;


a vow we aim to keep,

but few achieve.





under that weeping willow of green,

in a sheen of white hydrangeas—


are the



we hold up,

hold onto,





only you know

the true fullness:


the alchemy, the labor,

the bliss.


because we all know

it can be hit or miss.


a solemn promise:

to be celebrated,


honored, held

in awe.


you are a light

to each other


and to

us all.