Between the cracks of the sidewalk catches

the brown and white detritus of cottonwood.


How useless it looks, the fluff now ratty,

the stems bent and broken. No one takes notice


of it, no one stops to take their pictures

with the waste of seeds that will never make trees.


All the cracks of the world, how they gather

the unwanted, hold with no judgment,


make a home for what is lowly, what drifts.

The cracks, how they keep things whole.

This is how



one lives

when she knows she will die—

she sits beside the river

and puts down the book

and lets the sun

scrawl its hot verses

on every page

of her body.

On Emergence




In May I planted a whole row of beans

along the back fence of the garden,

pushed each of the small white seeds one inch

into the spring-damp soil. I waited weeks.

Not one came up. Not one.

I planted them again, planted them in twos

two inches apart. I waited weeks. Three

came up. There were over 100 seeds.

I am trying to tell you that sometimes

what we wish for does not happen.

Though we do everything by the rules.

Though we have known success before.

Though we long for our plans to take root,

to bloom, to fruit. Then all through the rows

emerged this spring dozens of volunteer cosmos.

This morning, a generous riot of pink, dark pink

and white fluttering in the spaces where

I’d envisioned only the green of beans.

Speaking of Love




At the headwaters, the river

is mercilessly clear. Every rock

on the bottom is visible, magnified.


The fish must find shadows

or roots for hiding. I wonder

how it would be to speak so clearly—


a tongue so transparent

we might gaze into each other’s words

and see every color,


even the colors we would hide.

I want that, I say. A gray bird

sings in the spruce tree.


I cannot translate its song,

though it’s only several repeated notes.

This is how it is, sometimes,


even the simplest utterances

are impossible to decipher.

And now thunder. This language


arrives with its charge, its dark verb.

I tell myself I don’t want it.

Then it becomes my greatness.


One New Garden




beneath the cottonwood

three snakes unbraid as I pass—

I offer them my apple





Such delicate green tatters,

the hail-shredded leaves of chard.

I am not surprised,

beneath my disappointment,

to find them beautiful,

not surprised that the heart

should recognize itself here

in the lace. The storms

come, come again.

Beauty is not what

has not been battered.

All around us, resilience,

new life emerges

out of its own destruction.

Already, only two days

after the hail,

a dark wrinkle of new green

forms in the center

of the chard.

I pull away the old leaves.

It doesn’t matter

if the heart asks for a second chance.

There is no limit to the chances,

though they may

not look like anything

we ever thought we wanted

and most of the time

we don’t notice them.

Beauty is the willingness

to offer our attention,

to wander the world

forgetting to want

something more

than what we find.














Driving through the canyon at dark,

I sing along with the radio.

I stumble on the lyrics

and make up the verses I don’t know.


Earlier tonight, I watched again

the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet.

I knew all the words, have heard them before,

have read them and said them

and wept for them a dozen-some times.


We did not stay for the ending,

not because it always ends the same,

but because it was late and past time

for the children to be in bed.


But I wanted to stay, to watch

as the terrible knives

did their terrible work.

It is perhaps not so different

from the way we slow

when driving past an accident,

curious about just how bad it can get.


It gets bad. And sometimes

traveling through the wreck of love

I wish there were a script

I could study to know

which right words came next.

And sometimes I am glad

to be driving through the dark,

forgetting the words, humming

through the bridge, making it up

as the turns get tighter.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 783 other followers

%d bloggers like this: