Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Pieces of Her

A man sees his young wife      through a camera lens                         in a floral dress.                                 she tilts her chin toward him.           he snaps, captures 

alas, the end result by our 

fledgling photographer skims away the top of her head

and I think

how could he?


after all this time,

and now that she is gone 

we understand, 

the photo finally makes sense


we all are fragments   

none of us ever truly whole 

as she will never be 

again, to us

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Tiny Plants


Most of the women I deeply admire 

raise small plants

there is something

soothing and reassuring

about a cozy

prolific community of

cacti, succulents, and baby ferns


clay pots with matching 

drip plates 

weathered, tended, wiped clean of mites and mold

hand made pottery, 

earthy, sturdy 

aesthetic groupings that complement

companions who nurture each other in the light and mist


I always look forward to visiting 

these human caregivers 

my friends 

they inspire me to do better

to care more 

I leave their houses

bursting with ideas

that I execute like a happy thief


on my way home

I stop at the florist

or garden center

gently place the plants 

safe on the floor of my car


I carry them into my own forest

my tiny growing beings 

new grace, more green

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Imagining


I have wondered what it means

to become a widow


uttering these words 

sounds profane, I know

forgive me

indulge me


But I’d be a liar if I said I never

imagined how It would feel 

to get the call

hear strange sound from a

distant room

or no sound from any room 


I’d be required to stand 

in a line of black-clothed people

root through boxes of photos

allow a funeral director, 

previously a stranger, 

guide me by the elbow to a

designated front row chair


After

I would organize my dresser

locate precious papers 

home made greeting cards 

signed with a heart


have drinks with a friend

who would comfort and tolerate 

as I sob into a glass of white wine


I’d go to work on the house

scrub bathrooms

take down lace curtains 

(a job formerly his)

wash them on gentle

iron as needed

climb a step ladder to

hang them back up

the room so sparkling

it would hurt your eyes 


he would be impressed with

my industriousness

though he might cringe 

if I made sauce

only to botch his special recipe 


the cats would move in on me

permanent and needy 

quilts upon a death grip 

nudge me toward the middle 

help minimize the inevitable space 


Friday, October 21, 2022

Thank You Notes


I really am a much better person 

than I make out to be 

It’s just that it is so much work, 

this obsessing about the 

access of what is good and 

the suppression of negatives

that are wholly unacceptable to others (especially you and you)


it’s an unavoidable dichotomy, 

dear only ones

whom I desire to impress 

and wish to be remembered by


everyone else 

will have been fooled,

and who cares anyway


but you have been there 

my constants 

harboring an innate intelligence 

you refuse to flaunt 


my only ask is that you

hold this message close.

on rainy nights place it under

your pillow

consider it a 

thank you in advance 

for all the grace 

the slack cut

the humility served 

to this soul of secret hierarchy 


Saturday, October 8, 2022

Moon Thief



I think everyone has a secret desire to hang out alone

with the moon


our house would grow quiet 

little brothers asleep in their beds

parents clearing away 

the day’s debris

eventually off to their room

sisters listened to music from a 

bedside radio


opportunity presented 

and I’d slip out of my bed

into the upstairs bathroom,

the only bathroom, who am I kidding


in flannel nightgown

I’d gently maneuver 

the wooden window sash wide open



these were my woods 

dormant January 

brushed against my face,

not a sound 

not then

before commerce and developers

stole the farmland away


this was how I took the night 

for myself 

making sense among the oaks 


a sliver of full moon 

sliced through branches

reached toward me

as if it understood 

Saturday, October 1, 2022

Marked


It was a long time ago

though these marks

one not only sees, 

she feels them

on skin and bone and muscle

more deeply in soul and heart 


these bruises are the sort, 

in any usual corporeal sense,

where a doctor might say 

we should  probably 

run a few tests 

maybe some blood work

ask a few pertinent questions 


if all results are negative

then we take a wait and see 

until next time 

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Flapper, in Zigzag, Issue #13

Now and then, it comes up in random conversation “What disease was it that grandmother had?” asks my brother. “She was a total pain in the ass is mostly what I remember. And by the way, where’s that naked picture of her? 

Why does he care, I wonder. It’s not like he would do anything with the photograph. 

A photograph, dated 1924, of a young woman. She dared. He dared her. Maybe it was a honeymoon photograph — shades of sepia and cream, taken with an old-fashioned camera. Every bit of young grandmother revealed, as she posed on a wooden side chair, her only adornment, a bow clipped onto her bob hairstyle. 

Shocking, laughable, a bit frightening was our father’s mother. 

If our mother had known this photograph existed, she would have shredded it. Or burned it. I scold myself for losing it. The treasure. The spontaneous X-rated, personal memento of a time when our grandmother could show off her lithe, 19-year-old body. A photograph meant for her new husband’s eyes. 

Before motherhood. Before the mental illness truly took hold. 

And now my brother wants the photograph. My niece asked for a copy to convince her pals that her great-grandmother, indeed, posed lewd in the nude. I think tomorrow, I will rummage through my boxes of old  photographs once more in search of my grandmother. But so much time has passed. I fear we have lost her for good.