Posts Tagged ‘life’


for Billy Miller, remembering events on January 4, 2012



When the man pulled my father

from the icy waters of Lake Michigan,

he did not know years later my step-daughter

would need someone to buy her a sweater

so she would feel nurtured, did not know

that my son would need someone

to make a mosaic with him so that he

could feel loved, did not know

that my daughter would need

someone to tell her that she

was beautiful. When the man

pulled my father out of the water—

my dad had been fishing alone—

that off-duty fireman couldn’t have known

that years later this very daughter

would sit beside her father and hold his hand

and weep at the simple gift

of being able to hold his hand.

The fireman was doing what he knew to do—

to rush to the person in need of help.

He didn’t think then of the other lives

blessed by the man. Did not think

of the other lives he blessed with his hands

when he chose to try, though the odds

of saving the man were low.

He knew only to reach.

Years later, my mother still sleeps

beside the man that was pulled

from the winter lake.

Give us hands that know to reach

for each other—stranger, neighbor,

friend. Give us hands that unthinkingly

choose to save the family

we’ve never met.


See the news story here.






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Make No Mistake




Everything is out to get you.

Still, the thrill of the ice

as your skates glide across it,

still the joy in swimming

even as the water deepens.

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One Example




the candle runs out—

knowing this, the wick

burns no less bright

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In the Garden




I apologize

as I squish

the green worm

that’s been feasting

on the basil leaf.

It does not change

the fact that the worm

is dead. And the basil

now will live.


Yesterday, my friend Carl

stopped me on the street

and wondered aloud

how we die

to the moment,

then greet the next.

He did not,

of course mean

a literal death.


The basil leaf

has a hole in it now

where the green worm

is not. I pick it

and eat it myself,

not out of spite,


to feel how the worm

and I are not

after all

so different.

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then I guess it’s fair to say

that today, we walked on water—

how easy it is to not notice

how our every step

is miracle

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Day of the Dead

it’s a miracle, I tell you

—Laura Kasischke, “Near Misses”


It’s a miracle, I tell you,

that I am here to make the breakfast

and spread the jelly

on the stale bagel,

a miracle for me to walk

down the icy street

in these scuffed up boots

with these scuffed up feet

and my scuffed up dreams

and my scuffed up love,

a miracle to wander through

the smear of the days,

the spill of the years,

my cells slowing down,

my candles blown out

and relit and blown out

and relit again,

yes a miracle, not just

biology, to feel it so profoundly,

this gratitude that I might stumble

and stride through the world,

a little hum finding my lips

as one foot falls again

in front of the other,

and is lifted, then falls,

and is lifted again.

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Rewrite the first chapter,

the one in which someone else

starts to tell your story.

Notice how when you erase it,

all the chapters after it

go blank. Fields of blank pages.

Skies of blank pages. Blank minutes,

blank days, blank years. Listen

for what’s left of your story—

nothing. Miss your friends.

Miss your mom. Miss your old house

and your problems. Go back

to chapter one. Rewrite it exactly

as it was written, but keep

the pen in your hand. You want

to be in charge of the story

from here on in.

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carcass on the trail

the ribcage emptied, still red—

my own heart beating

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Four Circlings




this gray afternoon

we walked circles around death—

the sun came out




be brave, I tell myself

until the only voice I hear—

be true





on the wrist

of the man with hours to live

the watch tells perfect time




make of my body

a bridge, now to now,

love to love, life to life





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Of course I know I am going to die

I know it the same way I know

the sun is dying, too. This is a fact,

that feels far away. All the same,

I carry it with me today as I notice

how the new summer growth

on the spruce is startlingly blue.

And the river, low and clear, wears a shimmer

in its song. Every flower in the bed

is fully in blossom, and the meadows

are lush and green. I know they will die,

as I will die, though all of us seem so wildly

alive in this moment, especially the bindweed

I pull from the garden as if

there will be a tomorrow

with plants that need space to grow.

I speak to the reaching tendrils of beans

in hopes of a harvest,

though there are, as of yet, no white blooms.
I tell them frost will come soon.

When Donna’s letter arrives on my screen,

I am just stepping in from the garden.

It was unexpected, she says.

In her letter, I swallow a hint of what else

is as real as the green all around,

and in me ripens a deeper hint of blue,

a hue that reframes so tenderly

these fleet shades of the living.

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