How are you?
she asks walking by
as I sit on my bumper
and unlace my ski boots.
And I say, The track is amazing today,
and it’s true, the snow is hard and fast
and my lungs are still burning
from pushing myself
in the cold winter air.
What I mean is, I miss
my son every minute,
and my heart feels like
a skinned rabbit still alive.
She says, What length are your skis?
I know what she means is,
Oh friend, I have felt that way, too.
And I tell her one ninety,
and we talk about how much
has changed over the years—
like ski lengths, like skins versus scales.
What I mean:
Like the way a person is here
and then they are not.
Like the way I once
could hold him.
Like the way he could once hold me.


Sometimes, when I fear
the small light I bring
isn’t big enough or bright
enough, I think of that night
on the beach years ago
when every step I took
in the cool wet sand turned
a glowing, iridescent blue—
and the waves themselves
were a flashing greenish hue—
imagine we could do
what 7.9 billion
one-celled can plankton do—
can shine when it’s dark,
can shine when agitated,
can shine with our own
inner light and trust when we all
bring the tiny light we have,
it’s enough to illumine the next step
in the long stretch of night.

This Season

It is true, every day
brings a sadness—
sometimes like a blizzard,
sometimes like sleet,
sometimes like a clear morning
of fifteen below,
but I do not wish any of it away.
On the coldest mornings here,
the birds that choose to stay
fluff up their feathers
to trap in the chill air,
warming it with their own bodies
until it becomes their insulation.
This is, perhaps, how it is with grief—
by holding it close,
it transforms from something
that would hurt me
to something I infuse
with my own being,
thus becoming something
that allows me to survive.
It would be wrong
to say I like it. But I hear
how, with every day,
it is teaching me
a new way to sing.

Practical Application

Knowing now how one moment
rewrites every moment after it;
how in an instant, the heart can trip
over its own beat and need to be retaught
how to love; how irreversible takes
only a second to say and yet
contains all eternity; how quickly our breath
can be claimed by the tides of forever,

for this I buy deep pink tulips for the table.
For this I make Dutch apple pie.
For this I walk through the canyon
in moonlight. I remind myself no guarantees.
For this, I pull you in and hold you. For this,
I stand still in the spruce trees and breathe.

Again, the heart
is a too-tender thing—
its wild ache spreads
through the tinder
of the chest
until all is ravaged
and all is singed
and red is too red
and raw is too raw
and each feral beat is
a bell clanging run,
but there’s nowhere
to run to,
and love is too
goddamn alive
and each pulse
spills more

it is a long time
before I feel
the stars
reach down
to hold me.


O body, cracked bell
that still sings when struck,
O leaky cup,
O broken stem,
I love you, body,
your crooked path,
your crumbling walls,
your faulty math.
I love the way
you stopped believing
you could ever
hold it all,
how you began
to let yourself
become the one
that’s being held.
I love the graffiti
on your inner halls—
scrawled names of all
who shaped you.
O body, my wreck,
my holey glove,
my street worn sole,
my crumpled page,
forgive me for years
of trying to fix you,
for believing the fable
of whole,
you, my perfect
splattered heart,
my stuttered hymn,
my sacred
begging bowl.

Off the Clock

I want to wake with no sense of what a minute is—
no watch on my hand, no dial on the wall,
no method to measure this life into units of should.
I want to lean into the spell of sunlight like orchids on the sill.
I want to be a question only the moment can answer,
want bergamot to tell me it’s time for tea.
And if there is a pressing yes, then let it find me.
Let me feel into the field of my upper back—
how spacious it becomes when I act with integrity.
Let me be rhythm of shadow and birdsong
let me be rising wind. Let me be time itself,
not the arrow of time, but the infinite sea
and the sand that slips and the silence that swells
in the absence of tick tick tick. I want to wake
to no hands but yours and mine. To be born into the day.
No was. No will. No once. No when.
No deadline. No finish line. No wrong date. No too late.
No too late. Not even a little too late. It would never be too late.

The Opening

Finn dancing, April 2021

Like this lily on the table
giving its everything to the world,
that’s the way I see your life.
For seventeen years, I watched you
open and open and open—
watched you hurl your body
off cliffs on skis. Watched you leap
on the stage more gazelle
than boy. Heard you weep
when your friends broke your heart.
Full on, my love, that’s how you lived,
the way so few others dare.
I saw you fail and try and fail and try
and fail and try again—every morning,
your petals outspread as you learned
how to be in this world, this world
that does its best to close us down.
You were the perfume of the wide open lily—
in every room you entered,
even when you were quiet,
everyone knew you were there.
Your presence. Your presence.
I honor the way you lived,
splaying wide, then wider,
your heart on full display until
you could no longer live this way.
I want to give myself
to this opening, though it hurts,
though I am left with the absence
of your bloom. I want to honor
the way you charged every room
of my heart with the beauty,
the pain of your being.  
I want to open
to the every memory of you—
to the memories where you shine,
to the memories where you
say goodbye to this world,
this world that asks for everything—
though the opening makes me weep,
though the opening asks me,
oh please, god, oh please, no,
not this,
the opening asks me for everything.

What’s in a Broken Cup?

Not everything broken
need be fixed.
Even the loveliest cup,
the one that seemed perfection,
the one that fit
just right in the hand
and held the favorite wine,
even that cup is only a cup,
and, being fashioned
out of breakable clay,
it was, we could say,
made to be broken.
The fact it was fragile
was always a part of its value.
In shattered fragments,
the cup is no less
even more treasured now
that its wholeness
isn’t taken for granted.
There are some who
would throw the pieces away.
There are some who
would meet them with
glue or even with gold
in an effort to repair.
But there are some
who will cherish what is broken,
hold it even more tenderly now,
trusting its use—
though different—
is no less valuable.
Trusting a fragment
is sometimes more than enough.
Trusting in every end
is a beginning,
and we might now
sip our wine
straight from the source.

For two hours, I am
more lung than thought,
more legs than loss,
more heart beat
than heart ache,
and so holy alive
as I become rhythm
of push and glide,
push and glide,
pole and swing,
I transform into
a flying thing—
each shift from ski
to sliding ski
a calling on balance
that comes from
the core.
By the time
I ski back to the car,
it’s not that I have forgotten
my loss, it’s just
that every cell in me
now remembers
the dance between
falling and recovery,
falling and recovery—
how it happens
again and again—
how this is the way
we recalibrate
we fall, we recover,
we move forward.

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