the birds blend into the trees;

the small plain ones pose like leaves


perched on the edges of stems.

would that i could join them.


i wonder if they see me:


my long stare, the vacancy there.


i’m waiting for all the leaves to leave

like last year,


like all the years,


so the mountains can

swell up behind them.


i’m a long way

from the arm of the sea


but she still haunts me.


i see you in the piers,

in the long out-stretched palm years;


the way you fed me,


unrolled under foot

red words fit for a queen.


for a time they welled up,

filled me with a singing need;


but i couldn’t, wasn’t, didn’t, wouldn’t


just      yet.


i knew they would return —

but  —                           too late.


what was it we said about piers

becoming bridges?


what was it we did before

piers, bridges, boats?


we just stayed:


on the mainland or island

with those we were born to


and from and among;


and curiosity was just


a little ship


moored in the mind.


sometimes i feel like a great whale,

blue–beached on this continent,

inching along on my estate–belly,


hunting for my kin,

tail and fins slapping in the sand,

sending sonar into the wind.


when i was a girl, i was fascinated

by the grand clicks, whistles,

pulses, squawks:


come back

five more miles

watch out 


if i were a whale, would i know

i was the loudest and largest?

would i watch myself?


where are you

you are my kin

where are you


if i were a whale

i’d kidnap you,

scoop you into my enormous straw mouth,


take you fly–swimming for a trinity of days

across caverns, around continents,

and drop you off right where you needed to be.


as a child i chose a gift for myself from

grandmother: a cassette tape of whale songs

with native american flutes and drums.


it didn’t survive the crash.


if only i had listened to mother,

steered clear of that vessel—

this jagged deep–blue scar


that now sails with me.


when i am a whale

i will finally know

my worth:


O great carbon–eater,




even in death, i bring life,

a giant blue–black stain

folded into the ocean floor.


i am whale;

hear my cry:

save the humans


across the sea

your spirit moves


i feel her in and around and through me


a ruby bird


taking in all the colors of the world and singing them back out


she, you, me, we


a stirring sisterhood, a vast storm weaving flames


across the sea


is how you came to me, in a little red dinghy


to bring a light


a comfort, a joy


a fortitude


solidarity feeding into the solitude, tenderly


now it is time


to love the other sea, to meet another she, you, me, we


westward expanse


across the mountains, valleys, rivers, abyss


thank you, thank you


for the part of you that remains, and the part that takes me with you

we crashed thousands of water bears into the moon

we didn’t mean to;


there was an accident

by the sea of serenity.


in the end the arch mission

was still reached:


pieces of the five kingdoms left behind.


we keep trying to learn from

the tiny-tough among us—


the cockroach, the marmorated stink bug,

the microscopic tardigrade—


how to reanimate, how to invade,

how to survive


a vacuum, a thrashing, a war;


how to live on

and on

on the moon.


will we learn before we are all gone?


will the water bears find water

and take over the moon?


billions of seconds from now, more than you

could count in several lifetimes


—the average lifetime spans

22,075,000 seconds—


who will find these moss piglets:


wrapped around scores of compressed

recordings and ribbons of our DNA?


and what is the story that will be told?



Tardigrades live all over the world in some of the most extreme environments.




Dead End


I’m walking again after all this time.

How I’ve missed the cool air, the pound of feet, the swing of the gait;

the opening—of breath, pelvis, thought.

Whenever I walk, I think of Mom, equipped with powerbar and water bottle,

throwing her leg up against a tree in some random front yard to stretch

while I look the other way and pretend not to know her.

I pass houses, streets, mountains; a young boy on a bike.

Something inside me waves.

I see a No Outlet sign and wonder why they no longer call it a Dead End.

Maybe people protested having the word Dead on their street.

I’ve seen streets with names like Poorman Road and Crestfallen Alley.

How do streets get their names? I guess you could do worse.

I grew up on a dead end street; we wore that sign proudly.

But people still ignored it, speeding down the hill, stopping abruptly to turn around.

In winter, they would spin their tires, fighting ice and snow and gravity.

Dad would put on his hat, coat, and gloves and go give them a push.



A young girl is telling us what we already know,

what we don’t want to know,

what some deny so fiercely they choose to hate a child.

We have gone a long way down this road;

the signs surround.

We are stuck trying to turn around,

a large vessel mired in guilt, anger, gravity, time.

And time is up.





i’m in a hall way on hall street.

(i may not know that second part yet.)


angled light is coming in through the window;

we are bending over a large open chest,

digging through layers of shells:


strips of muted pinks, tans, lavenders, blues—

and so much white.


an old woman leans over us

and says: take as many as you want.


i dip my hand into the click–clack,

feel the swarm of calcifications:


light and thin and cool to the touch—

and so smooth.


i’m as timid as the tiniest shell.


what she must be thinking

as my hand sweeps through

the treasures like a wave;


how her edges must be shrinking.


i stand there for a long time, long after my sister

has scooped up her shells and moved on.


i don’t want to take them out of their home;

they’ve been so far removed already.

(i may not know that second part yet.)


how can she just give them away?

but there are so many.


how can i pick just



i don’t remember the color,

but i can still feel that small sea


knot in my swinging hand

as i disembark down the stair


well—her serrated edges

pressing into my palm like a dime.


she is picked clean—

no sand left behind.


but she remembers.






l i s t l e s s

when you left

my words went with you


i felt them pulling away

like a great tide


how i longed to follow

them into the sea


how i longed to put an end to


them    you    me                 but


i see them floating up

like a buoy


i see them saving you

as they once did me


and i cannot begrudge you this


i watch for a time

from the dry shore


then turn away


turn back to    sand    sand    sand


a long shoulder of bone