Posts Tagged ‘consequences’


for my mother

Because you are the morning song,

I sing dawn into the sleepy room.

Because you are a prayer,

I have psalms for hands, vespers for feet,

and there is holiness in the spatula,

devotion in the chair,

faith in sirens, in old vases.

If there are cranberries in my thoughts,

it is because you are the sugar

that taught them not to be afraid

of their own sharpness.

And the white and red petunias

that flutter inside my hope

are there because you planted them

decades ago.

I didn’t know all these years

that I was being made—

but because you are the abacus

I am the calculus of possibility.

Because you are the basket

I’ve learned to weave.

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I couldn’t believe

she tossed me

into the back of the car—

after all, a key

is an important thing.

But toss me she did.


You should have seen

her face when all

the car doors locked,

me sitting there

on the back seat


That can’t happen,

she said. But it did.

That can’t happen,

she repeated,

as if her words

might change the world.


But everyone knows

words won’t open

a locked door.

That can’t happen!

She’s still ranting,

walking circles

around the locked car.


What’s done is done.

How many innocent choices

have pitiless consequences?


Tossing a key. Not

washing your hands.

Not saying I love you

when given the chance.






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It was my biology teacher who taught me

to let things go. It was true, I didn’t like him,

no one did. And that is why, when he left

his coffee cup on our table and we

were dissecting rabbits, Kathy looked

at me with a small pink part

in her hands, then eyed his cup.

My face lit up with the wickedness

of it, but I mouthed to her, No,

then watched as she dropped

the bit in. It didn’t float. There

are moments of our lives

we will forever revisit and wish

we had been more brave—

but I was scared to betray my friend,

scared to make waves. As it is,

we waited for him to pick up the cup,

and when he did, tried not to stare

as we wondered when he would

take a sip. Five minutes before

the bell rang, we rebagged

our strange accomplice and wiped

the table clean, then left the room

not seeing what happened next.

What happened next. I thought all night

about the effects of formaldehyde.

I thought he might die. I thought

of how I could have taken his cup

from his desk and quietly poured it out.

I thought of the twist in his heart

when he found bit at the bottom.

But the next day in biology, there

he was, corduroy coat and big brown glasses,

his awkward smile, his coffee cup.

He didn’t mention the crime.

I could barely look up. I had never felt

so small. And if he knew, he never said.

Sometimes the worst punishments

involve lack of consequence,

leaving us to live with our offenses.

And though I don’t recall his name,

I do recall his grace. I swore never again

to keep silent for such a prank.

I’d like to think that if we met, I’d tell him

about that day. And how sorry I am

I didn’t speak up. And how much I admired

the way he let it go. Could I? To this day,

what I remember most, the horror

blossoming in my stomach

the color of rabbit flesh. And

when I dared to look at him, his smile.


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A big snowy hill
and at its base
a wooden wall
and an open lake

and teetering there
on the wooden edge
in red plastic saucer
is a smallish girl

who to this day
cannot recall
if she fell in
or walked away

but she remembers
how she sat so still
with one side safe
the other in peril.

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By accident she snipped
the amaryllis stalk

still crowned with buds
red and unopened—it happens,

it happens like this,
these moments in which

we do what we never
believe we would do—

what were we thinking?
scissors in one hand,

and all that is no more possible
in the other.

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