In Crepuscular Light

These warm summer evenings
I take in the nighthawks
looping above the field.
I take in their fast and agile flight,
take in their long and pointed wings.
Come winter, I will be grateful
to have stored such things.
When the nighthawks are gone
and the world is dim,
I will want to remember thema—
their aerialist displays, the way
they make of the dusk a playground,
the way the whole night
seems to hang on an angling wing—
Oh summer is such a generous thing.
Even the dark is charged with the thrill
of living. Even this heart, wounded
and bruised, can’t help but open
to the wheeling of nighthawks,
how they arc and sweep
as the sun disappears
and then continue their swooping
long after the light is gone.


After midnight I stand
on the leading side of the earth
and watch as comet debris
speeds through the atmosphere.
Oh, the universe is big, and tonight,
I’m in love with being small,
my tiny heart flung wide to the mystery.
I think of the meteors flaring across the sky,
how they’re made from dust
the size of a grain of sand.
It takes so little to make something radiant,
something worth pointing at,
something worth waking for,
something vivid and bright.
something fleeting and beautiful as life.

At Last

After a week, at last the peaches
on the counter smell like peaches,
their sweet summer scent reaching
across the room to where I sit
trying to balance numbers.
The scent is like a flirty lover
who won’t take no for answer,
who trails fingertips down my cheek
and neck and lightly tugs at my collar,
then tilts my head back
to whisper into my ear,
Isn’t there something you’d rather
be doing, my dear?
And damn if I’m not distracted
and hungry and all I want
is to sink my teeth into peach
and that’s what I do.
So much of life feels like letting go,
but tonight life says,
Pick me up, sweetheart. Take me in.
And the gold sticky juice
runs all over those numbers.
I lick my fingers clean.

She carries a vase
of delphiniums and daisies
and I carry a tune
and we toss them all
like wishes
into the river.
Some wishes
are more beautiful
for knowing they will never
come true.
When we are done
we hold hands in the twilight
and watch the last
of the flowers float
in the shimmering eddies.
This is the moment
I would not have known
to have wished for.
I lean into this moment.

After the Memorial

The mother walked
in a deep river gorge
forged by water and time.
She knew herself alone.
She moved with no urgency.
She stepped as if she’d forgotten
what time was.
She paused at the wild currants
and pulled the small red fruits
into her mouth.
She paused on the bridge
and watched the water
continue its forging.
She paused on a flat rock,
removed her shoes
and slipped her feet
into the cold water.
She did not mind
the hem of her black dress
spilling into the stream.
She sat.
She didn’t weep until she did.
She wept until she didn’t.
She sat until she forgot
she was sitting.
She sat until
there was a clearing in her
the way the river will eventually clear
after it’s been muddied by the rain.
There’s no magic number
for how many minutes
or hours or years
it takes to clear.
It is, perhaps, sufficient to know
clearing happens.
At some point, she rose
and walked toward home.
She was not alone.
There was nothing that was not beautiful.

After hours of weeping and laughing
and hearing stories that make me fall
even more deeply in love with my boy,
after flower bouquets and tear-stained words
and full body hugs and cello and viola and Country Roads
and leaning deeply into grief and grace,
I sit alone in my car and discover
with a quick glance at my phone
someone has given my address
to internationalcupid.com,
and in the last few hours of heartbreak
and breaking wide open, I have amassed
dozens of likes and letters of nascent love
from people around the world.
And part of me is annoyed and part of me
thinks my son must have coordinated this prank
from beyond the veil, perhaps
as retribution for me coordinating a sing along
at his memorial. I can hear him.
Mom, you’re embarrassing me. Mom.
Really? Mom. What are you doing?
Mom, stop right now or else … or else …
But I can’t regret I shared the song
I wrote for him before he was born,
shared the song I sang to him
when first they laid him on my chest,
shared the song I sang him almost
every night of his life, shared the song
I sang to his body before they rolled it away.
And the hundreds of people who gathered today,
they sang it back, true and full of love.
It was worth it, Finn. It was worth it
to hear the air ring with your song.
Could you hear it? I think so,
based on the quick retribution. I’m not sorry.
You are the song I’m still listening for,
the song I’m still learning to sing.
You are the song I will continue to share,
the song I can’t help but singing along.

To Face the Dark

To face the dark,
one does not need a light.
Nor does one need a watch,
a feather, a melody, a sword, a pen.
One doesn’t even need a friend.
To face the dark,
one needs only to face the dark.
There is something easier then
about the facing, when we know
we need no preparation.
Nothing is asked of us except
the willingness to face the dark,
the willingness to pause
in that moment when we
cannot see, cannot know,
cannot float on the sea of habit,
cannot fly on the feathers of routine.
But already, I’ve taken this too far.
It’s so simple, the invitation,
that it’s easy to miss what is asked.
Not a journey. Not even a step.
Just the chance to face the dark,
to meet yourself in that facing—
and to notice what being erased
and what’s doing the erasing.  

for Augusta    

There is not a shade of judgment in her voice
when my friend says to me, “You feel serious.”
Serious, I know, is a kind way to say,
There is joy all around you that you aren’t seeing.
Serious is her way of saying, Sweetheart,
I can tell you are locked into stress.
How strange and beautiful to have her name
the seriousness, and that’s all it takes
to feel my thoughts ease, to remember hands,
remember breath, remember lips.
There are, of course, good reasons today
to be serious. And there is also a tea party
with a seven-year-old girl. And yellow snapdragons
in ecstatic bloom. And a juvenile grosbeak
at the feeder. And daisies gracing the river bank.
There’s goat cheese and sauvignon blanc.
There’s waking to the purr of the cat.
Oh the gift of spaciousness. How it leaves me
astonished at life—so able to see there is more.
So simple, sometimes, when a friend
shows you a door in the day you never
could see on your own. So generous,
how she doesn’t try to offer you the key.
She just trusts you to walk up to that door,
perhaps push, perhaps see what happens next.  

Tonight it’s his willowy body I miss,
the way it fit so easily into my arms,
the way he’d find me on the couch
and slip in beside me and loan me
for a time the full weight of his loneliness.
I miss how sometimes we’d say nothing
and let the quiet crests of our breath
be the only thing that need be said.
I miss how sometimes we’d talk for hours,
our thoughts unspooling like ink-dark yarn.
I miss nuzzling my face in his hair.
I miss being with him everywhere—
in the kitchen, in the car, in the yard,
on a plane, in town, on the pond,
in the store, by his desk. But most of all,
tonight, I miss him in my arms,
here in my too empty arms,
this place where so many years I held him,
this place where the memory of his beauty
still leans full weight against my chest.

August 15, 22, 29

Join Rosemerry and pianist/composer Kayleen Asbo for a three-week ekphrastic exploration–writing poems about art that explore the work of van Gogh and our own heart awakenings. Each class will include a brief historical talk, a conversation between Kayleen and Rosemerry about how to meet a work of art with music and words, plus two writing times and a chance to share what you wrote. Sliding scale. On Zoom. 

To register and for more information, visit here

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