Friday, December 31, 2010

You Braided My Hair

In that hospital room, my hair fell in my face. 
The long wisps got caught behind my glasses
and stuck to my wet eyes. 

But I didn't dare to reach my arms up and brush it away,
because that would mean leaving my stomach
open to the gazes of our visitors.

They would have to see my still, vulnerable bulge,
swollen with a baby that had already left us.
They would have cringed, looked away.

The aversion of their eyes to my baby would break my heart.
That stomach would press into their worlds and burn there
and force us all to contend with the inevitable.

I resisted the itch to raise my arms, protecting her despite my failure
So I let the hair cluster up around the moisture on my cheeks.
and let it hang there until I couldn't stand it.

Then, you braided my hair.  You sat behind me when I needed you.
I don't forget that you waited for my signal or how that must have hurt.
Your eyes must have dripped and you must have let them.

You protected me despite these human failures by keeping your hands
wrapped up in my hair, never dropping the strands to wipe your nose.
For those moments, you took on the heavy sweet tangle.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Dappled Gray Shifts in the Window

From my place on the couch under stacks of blankets,
I can see a narrow slit of window light.
Through it are clouds, layered purple and gray,
Closer spaces and those drifting further and behind.
But the light hits them, and they appear like dapples.
From here, in my place of little stitched leather imaginings,
Distant gaseous clouds move like a gray horse,
Shifting and grazing within inches of the glass.
Right outside my house, I could mount the distance,
Feel the warmth and strength of withers and long legs,
And move away on wind like the gray's blood rushing.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Man On The Ladder (not a poem)

The day Sophie was stillborn brought on a collage of moments. Some of them were good--I felt better when I took the medications they gave me. I drank my first coffee in nine months--it was bitter, but it tasted like the Catherine I knew. Friends visited even when we told them to stay home. I could take my solace in drifting off into space, eyes locking into what was simply emptiness. That's all I can think of, actually. It hurt (and remembering it hurts) more than anything I hope you can imagine. And then there was leaving the hospital. We packed up our bags. I squirmed into the clothes I thought would fit when I imagined my body post-baby. If she'd been there, I wouldn't have minded bursting with all the remaining weight. Or maybe I would have, but I wouldn't have wished it all would decay and fall away all around me. A piles of bones in the hospital vestibule. But, we brushed our teeth. I showered with the water on boiling hot. They brought me down in the wheelchair, like the moms on tv. Poor Bill carried the diaper bag, and he might remember what else. Maybe it was our maternity tags, or my fat, tear-bloated face, or the way I held those yellow roses like a new baby. Swaddled in their green plastic. But someone knew. A man, late forties. About two steps up a ladder. He looked over as the nurses wheeled me out. His eyebrow went up, and those dark brown eyes asked in eye language, "A baby?" I looked right back, the first eyes I'd met in days. I shook my head ever so slightly and my face crumpled. "No baby." In a gesture I'll never forget, his head dipped to the right, and his hand went to his heart, then palm out toward me. He knew, he understood. That was the first time I felt someone might have known. That man on that ladder.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Night on Toast

I visited the mall today,
and let the girls play
with the oversized foam
figurines and other tots.

The children all around
flitted in and out of view.
Light and shadows,
layering phantoms over real,
like night on toast.

My mind is a place
where fortification is fantasy
and I can jostle the imaginary.
I spread night on toast-
it is sweetly invisible
and tastes like whatever I want.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Roses and Stuffing.

How do you keep collecting things.
Maybe it's part of the magic of mothering you.
I live through the barrel of stuffed animals
that smell new and lightly dusty, and not like you at all.

You smelled like a rose cut days ago.
And your skin was just as soft.
And kissing you felt that way too.
Not like the plush horse in the nursery.
But cool and smooth, I would drink you in again.

Now I sift through packages and old cards,
Once upon a time sorted in two piles:
A small stack of congratulations
and too many sympathy cards to read at once.
Dried roses I got to keep and a dusty mobile of stuffed bugs.

Missed Blizzard Haiku

We waited on snow
On soft white taking over
Missed us narrowly

Waiting and watching
Hearts laid open at windows
Snowflakes fell as rain

The days we missed our blizzard
Still it smells like snow

Thursday, December 23, 2010

"Keeping the Quiet Away"

In these moments,
life's slow plodding becomes a gallop instead.

Sloping strides, fists unfurled for aerodynamic's sake,
and maybe by relaxing the knuckle.
We move so quickly on spindly legs,
fast enough that the wind seals up our wounds.
Places we were sure would never stop bleeding
seem sealed tight by living out in the air again.

But the slowing down is inevitable.
We will surely make it home in time to warm up.
We will curl up our bodies, feeling healed
by the movements of fast freezing.
Then the warmth of homefires softens
the raw places, and the moisture creeps in again.
Blood and tears in those quiet moments.

How fast and cool the days must move
to keep the quiet away.

(This poem needs some work, a project to get back to.)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

"Total Lunar Eclipse, Winter Solstice 2010"

The rusty eclipse felt like a secret.
I did not hear the other doors on my road opening and slamming shut.
I did not hear neighbors shivering, stomping, or muttering about the cold.
Maybe the houses are just a shade too far apart.

The inches that stretch into feet,
Property lines that divide our experiences, shut our mouths,
Walls, and trajectories of vision and sound where walls can't be built,
We avert our eyes and ears to be polite.

We create those walls in stores,
And on the street, we don't ask questions or reach for strangers' hands,
Or take off our sunglasses when our eyes run, or even ask quietly for a napkin,
To wipe our tears or scribble down our stories.

Dozens of stories, living, dying.
Last night, breathing heavy, circling, and threatening to tell themselves.
This impossible task to catalog or recreate the infinity of inside spaces,
Where eyes turned up as the moon went red.

Like the stories we choose to tell,
Or those we omit when keeping certain company, this will be forgotten.
The night we all saw the moon, bone white hanging on some invisible string,
Until all the stories housed here,
Gave it blood and tinged its surface.
Like remembering colors my cheeks
The moon dripped secrets.

Sweetest Pea.

So, I've posted before about Stephanie Cole and the Sweet Pea Project.  She does amazing work through her foundation to support parents who've lost babies.  Although her work gives her purpose, these next few weeks lead up to birthday of her daughter, Madeline, on January 5th, 2007.  She will be celebrating four years of her life with Madeline's spirit this year.  So, I'll be writing to that over the next few weeks.  And, honestly, I'll be continuing through February I'd imagine to commemorate the losses of three other very special babies in my life.

Finally, for anyone who has experienced a loss like mine, or like Stephanie's, she is participating in a creativity retreat for bereaved parents on January 22, 2011.  It will focus on expression through creativity.  Contact me and I can put you in touch with Stephanie or visit her blog directly to be in touch:

Saturday, December 18, 2010

First Snow

The snow hissed heavy on the frozen ground for hours.
Its sizzle on my shoulders made me wonder about heat and cool
And the whispers I heard and which was whispering.

The flurries stopped at four,
When the deck was covered completely.
But in the yard, an inch of grass poked
above the smattering of white.

I felt, in their blades, they must have known my questions.
All warm complexity at the roots
And exposed spring-like stalks of green
Their still, vulnerable places.

Betrayed by the ground between them
That gave so easily over to winter.

Saturday, December 4, 2010


I took a break today and layed in your toddler bed.
I had to curl my body up to fit there,
while I considered the way you stretch out
and rotate in the night like the hands of our clock.
I smelled your cow and on him there was milk,
and warm breath and the scent of raisins.
I wanted to drink it in, bottle it up like this forever.
Blocking the thought that you'll only be this girl today.
Tomorrow you'll be bigger, always stretching
further into the corners and crevices of the bed.
Someday you'll outgrow these turned spindles,
and I'll clean it out and up and discover the beads
and doodled-on playing cards of your youthful collections.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Girls I Knew.

I once knew a girl who used only pencils.
She liked them sharp and the smell of them
out of the manual grinder.

She listened to classical music
and everyone liked her for it.

I once knew a girl who was too heavy to ride horses.
But her boot leathers creaked like two ancient doorways
as she lugged a trunk of curry combs.

She smoked cigarettes behind the barn
and never once burned it down.

I once knew a girl with remarkable teeth.
They weren't arrow-straight, but diamond-strong
like she could chomp through a femur.

She flashed them under a nose-
that must have either hooked or turned upward.

I once knew a girl who wore floor-length sweaters
Sometimes they were primarily-colored and beginning to pill
I often wondered if they scratched at her smooth skin.

She lightly swept her fingertips against chair rails
and walked on her heels--body tipped backward.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

"FINALLY ALIVE" by Marce Weibel

                      Look at me, look at who I am,
I’ve stopped hiding.
Open your eyes, bare witness,
No longer naive am I,
Leading an unexamined life. Time to care for the woman,
I know myself to be.
Lanced wounds, unbraided events,
Channeled through an inner most shift.
Pulse stirred, countenance billowing,
A chaos of color -- delicious joy.
Deceptive rhetoric jettisoned,
No longer a derailment,
But a prelude to today’s zenith.
My soul is soothed,
The purity of my beauty authentic
Brave and strong
My essence discovering equilibrium.
See me -- see inside of me,
An aliveness, a zest.
I stand balanced upon the threshold,
Living my life as it's meant to be.

Friday, November 19, 2010

"40 and ok" by Paula Scherer Price

When I turned 30 I had a mid-life crisis.  I started panicking because, in my opinion, I had nothing to show for myself.    I was still going to school part-time and it was taking me forever to finish.  I was in a lukewarm relationship with no real future.  I was living in the middle of nowhere without friends or family around.  As a result, I reassessed my life and took inventory of what I wanted to change.  I decided to go back to school and just take the lumps as a poor college student.
Now looking through the lens of time, I see that all of those things that I felt were disadvantages, (living in the middle of nowhere, no friends or family, lukewarm relationship), actually were all things that helped me so much in reaching my goals.  When I started school full-time, I could focus completely on school because I had no friends or family to distract me.  Because I lived in the middle of nowhere, my cost of living was totally affordable and I was able to work part-time, still pay all of my bills, and attend a wonderful private university.  The lukewarm relationship that I was in taught me so many valuable lessons on independence and managing my finances.
Now that it is time for me to turn 40, I’m not panicking like I thought I would.  I received my Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science in 2003 with a cumulative average of 2.97, (I usually round up thoughJ). I ended up moving back home to Maryland and met the love of my life, I’m married and I have a beautiful angel of a baby girl.  She loves me and the first and only words that she has said for the past two months non-stop is Mama!  Mama mama!  Over and over again.  I never grow tired of hearing it because she says it with different intensities; sometimes very low and soft, and sometimes very loud with passion! 
I have “outted” myself to co-workers and friends about my age and the genuine shock that I have received in response makes me feel good.  So I write all of this to say that I’m ok with turning 40, I do have some other goals that I would still like to reach, but even if I am never given anything more in life, I will be happy with what I have at this very moment. 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

"Wanted: Cast Iron Sink with Drainboard"

My time in front of the screen is limited.
The pixies are playing, but one has begun to smell like something gone rancid.
They have taken out the kid-safe flatware, and are moved on to adult forks and spoons.
I have minutes until the knives emerge, so I hastily search for farm sinks.
I run my finger over the screen where the white cast iron's gone rusty.
And picture the cottage where it might've been first installed.
The babies bathed there must have been quieter than mine.
They must have played the piano with skill, no vague slamming of the keys.
They surely never splashed, and if by chance they did, their mothers laughed,
Wiped up the mess, and never hollered about days like hamster wheels.
They never had tech phones, and babies never flung them over banisters.
The babies smelled like buttermilk, and fed chickens from plump palms.
They never took their socks off posthaste upon mounting their carriage,
And if they did, mother simply kissed their toes like grapes for wine-making.
They wore bonnets, and dresses with home-sewn smocking, all in white,
Scrubbed with smiles in the sink against a washboard like replicas on my wall.
But the sink's edges are soft and curved, like the contours of my fantasies.
They lack the corners where I might bump my hipbone, getting me a sweet girlchild kiss.
The babies in that sink never had occasion to smile with sparkling-mischief eyes.
Squeals of delight, certainly, but not at moments of fleeing my grasp in public.
Not parroting chagrin-giving curse words at toe-stubbings--not the children in that sink. 
Not scaling the sofa as I type with plans of leaping into a pile of put-together puzzles.
My time in front of the screen is limited.  And I like it this way.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Death is No Thing Where You’re Not.

I sit on the deck, and the silence taken off from a breeze brushes my cheek.
I must be cubbied just so beneath the eaves of the house.
It is not nothing, cannot be nothing, there is something in that stillness.
Something warm and static, the negative space
That defines the small and large things that I am.

Cradling and holding up my face, the air all around me.

I get up and walk to the house, having to pull hard on the sliding glass door.
It must need oil, but I still don’t do those kinds of things.
And I let up when the space is just large enough to pass through,
The relief in my neck and shoulders is immense,
Inaudible—that lack of tension is something too.

The moment after I crack my back is one of our greatest times.

I pour a cup of coffee, but like it lukewarm, so it’s way too hot for drinking.
In the minutes I wait, steam pouring from the mug,
You are there--in the time I am forced to accept my own silence, and my moments
Ticking by, and how freshness rubs me the wrong way.
I curl my paws around the steam, hot and vital.

But I prefer the outsides of my hands, the bony crust left to motionless room air.

(This poem is "to be continued."  Also, it is of note that it is inspired by Marie.)

Monday, November 8, 2010

"A Good Reason to Eat Dairy."

I take you to the food court for lunch, slinking between oldsters shopping
and other parents looking to make it to naptime.
It’s an expensive way to pass the day, but it’s worth it to treat ourselves
to pretzels and pizza on daddy’s dime.
You beg me for ice cream, it’s a special occasion, the chocolate looks heavenly,
and you both need a post-carousel sugar rush.
I acquiesce, I’m a quick sell, and with enough dark chocolate, you might
stay up until I settle you into your beds.
As I fish for a five dollar bill, I dream of the moment I lift you from the car,
your heads on my shoulders—you might survive the transfer.
Two kid-sized cones please.  Hand her the money.  She pops—pop— her gum
and hands me the cones without looking.
I hear small feet beat rapidly on the marble floor of the mall, tap tap tap tap,
the excitement is contagious.
We sit down on a bench, you with your sleeves pulled up and small hands
opening and closing in anticipation.
I am armed with baby wipes when the moment arrives, tongues like tiny
fans flicker and slurp, you yell, Brainfreeze! Bayfeez!
Your palettes hurt, so you slow down.  It’s understandable but I urge you on.
I’d like to avoid the shame I’d forgotten.
Your ice cream begins to drip, slowly onto your shirtsleeves and patterned tights.
Slide.  Drip.  Plop.  I look around.  Panic.
I want to scream, I don’t eat dairy, Out of principal, but I know that would
be a shade crazier than what I’m about to do.
I make a slight scene, saying too loudly to kids too young, Too bad mommy can’t have ice cream.
I circle the edges of your cones with a wipe.
I am aware that I look batshitcrazy.  That mom with the near-buzz-cut looking back and forth,
talking in an outside voice,
tidying up cones with
a cloth untongue.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

"Only for a Niece, from her Aunt" by Jean Marie Gelso

The spaces between the birds still chirping
(my eyes unopened)
The feeling in my tendons as I stretch
The warmth of shower water pulsing
The movement of a breeze through trees
(closing my eyes and hearing it still)
The smell of cold and pine needles
The lightness of a drifting leaf or of a coasting bird
The sound the stars make moving through the sky
The loneliness a pensive moment brings
(or the moments in between)
The words I never bring myself to say
(to anyone
not even myself)
The relief I feel when tears still come
(the comfort they bring as they warm my cheeks)
The desire I have to visit you
The tightness in my chest that stops me
The repetition of your name and your soft face in my mind
The hope you showed up in my dreams and I just didn’t remember
The fear that time has gone by
The questions that are in my mind
The thought of you every hour (of every day)
The strangeness in knowing that no one else knows that
The secret I hold
Is you
My sweet
How can anyone ever know
I do
I really do
I hold you with me
Deep inside
In corners unexposed
In crevices dark (uncovered)
Where I remember you
Not mine to claim
Not mine to discuss
But mine only to remember
By others
Who don’t understand
My love for you my sweet
My one I’ve never known
Never felt
So these are times (private)
When I remember you
They are mine and yours together
And the only secret bond we share.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Thank you.

I've mentioned the support I got on Halloween of this year.  These supporters are too many to mention.  But, I've just posted a poem I received from Marce Weibel.  This poem mirrored my own feelings, a sense of full circling that I know will ebb and flow over time.  I hope you enjoy it and feel vicariously my own joy at having received it. 

I also got quite a few pictures. 
One that my hubs took on his phone
of me and Ellabella visiting Sophs.
and a beautiful butterfly from Melissa Durst

and candles burning at the
homes of Stephanie Cole

and my close, wonderful friend
and fellow traveler, Andhra.

I also got an amazing poem from my sister, that also traces the development of her own auntly feelings for Sophie.  Sometimes, the feelings of our sisters are the hardest and most wonderful for me to handle.  They are raw and as vulnerable, complex, and personal as mine.  It means the world to me that they not only remember but feel and wish and imagine.  That poem will be going up later.

All my love.

"Empty Arms" by Marce Weibel

A baby, a bit of star dust
       Blown free from the realm of the sky,
Upon the breeze of mystical magic,
       To become the joy of a new day.

Sophie’s journey, a trail of innocence,
       An exquisite purity -- always.
Her memory -- the sweet sounds of wind chimes,
       Forever stirred.

Your little girl
       A sonnet unwritten
       A symphony not heard
       A painting unfinished.

Tears of color bleeding onto
       The canvas of your heart.
Silently, oh so silently,
       Rocking with empty arms.

Lancing through the wounds of despair,
       An evolution of dissipating grief,
Allowing for a spring time’s promise,
       To be planted and nurtured.

As a butterfly’s chrysalis opens
       Revealing nature’s wonder,
So shall your love become
       A syncopated ballet of hope.

New days come,
       Cries are heard,
Your arms empty no longer,
       Feeling the profound joy or your children.

                                               Marce Weibel 10/10

I'm here, and breathing a little.

Well, I have to be honest.  My October IMAGO project really wore me out.  I loved it.  And I think I produced some writing I will really value.  And it helped focus me.  And to emote all along.  And I was able to focus my creative energy in important ways.  And I had to write, which is 50% of wanting to be a writer.  But, at least an hour a day of writing, plus school, work, the kids, a broken computer, being sick, and a very busy month, November 1st came, and I crashed.  But, I'm gearing up to get back in business.  Soon.  Thank you all for reading, I'm amazed at the support I've gotten via email, facebook, in person, etc.  It's felt wonderful.

And as for Halloween, we had a wonderful day.  We went to the cemetery, and the day was sunny and clear.  Just like the day of our sweet girl's funeral.  And our other sweet girls played and talked about stones and boxes.  It was just their way of understanding.  Eleanor tried her best to get it.  Of course, she doesn't understand death, but she listened to me and tried to speak to my sadness.  She told me not to be sad, because Sophie was just in a box.  And she would get out if she could, but she couldn't.  Just because she is a baby and babies can't climb.  Well, that is kind of an upsetting thought.  But, from a three year old's perspective, it shows the infinite feeling of existence.  And of course I want my kids to know the realities of things.  But I don't see any reason to impress upon her the many sad reasons people are in "boxes."  If her only association with inability to rise is newbornness, I'm happy for her obliviousness.  And Josephine put candy on all of the graves.  And didn't even try to understand anything.  And that's ok too.  It was lovely.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

You are my "Good Glue," sweet five.

"All you fear is here,"
came crackling over the radio. 
I shivered at the ad
for a haunted house
that was guaranteed
to scare you senseless.

Hearing promises of
ghastly ghouls and
guts and gore,
made my own
blood boil
once upon a time.

Five years ago,
plus two days,
I would have
heard those ads
and shrugged,
feeling that youthful
sureness that my
baby would
be born by then.

I refused invitations to go on haunted hayrides,
and laughed to myself when fatigue intercepted
my plans to sew a costume that made me a pod--
and her a pea. I'd just drink cider instead.

Four years ago,
each intimation of Fall
brought me to hysteria's brink.
Rushing, alone, weeping
out of rooms
and hastily
off of phone calls.

I refused invitations to Halloween parties. 
Fuck you for inviting me.  Put that in your
fucking prop pipe and smoke it.
Hope it burns going down.

Three years ago,
we skipped trick or treating.
We stayed in
with the new baby
and left the door ajar. 
We shivered on the
couch and I cried
when we had
very few visitors.

We went to the cemetery that year, taking a pumpkin
I'd decorated with permanent marker. Your sister licked it,
and I cussed and cried and broke heirlooms as
I drew your angel wings--and all the way there.

Two years ago,
I begged you
to come back to me.
Pregnant with your
littlest sister,
I longed for the family
I'd carried this
great distance.

Again, we stayed in on Halloween night.
A handful of ghosts came by, but not one of them was you.
I probably made pizza and put the middling girl to bed early,
and ignored my phone--eye rolls and polite thank yous to friends' futile good wishes.

One year ago,
I still wept and
imagined you might
come home.  I
might find you somewhere,
and fit you snugly into
our family of five--
minus one.

We finally braved the suburban streets, and your sister hollered,
Happy Halloween, to every friendly face.  And I even smiled,
while I carried our newish baby in the pack.  Later we sorted candy
and scrubbed faces clean of green paint, and laughed at our exhaustion.

This year,
I have dreams we might
accidentally adopt you.
But those are few
and far between.
It is harder to conjure
up those scenarios.
I smile daily,
and even today,
I can count the tears
on one hand.
I don't recognize
the woman who
1825 days ago
to this minute
was dosed with
narcotics and sleep aids,
trembling against
the nightmares
and hitting her
own aching head
in a hospital bed
on the most remote floor. 
The woman who
quit her job
and planned to
hang in the basement.
She is just an old
sad friend of mine.
Somehow, these five years
have aged me fifty.
They might have
anyway, how
should I know?
But I only know they have.
I am wiser now
in these things.
I don't know beauty
without pain
anymore.  And,
yet, sweet Sophie,
I don't know
a single great pain
without beauty.
When hearts are
broken, I see
good glue.
Thank you,
five years
on forever,
for peace
and wisdom.
I should have
known you
by your name,

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Five Years Ago.

I was waiting on an angel's face.
This year I'll see girls her age
dressed as ghosts and skeletons.
The irony will be lost on their parents.
But I'll smile that they live
with the luxury of never knowing.

Friday, October 29, 2010

"Sunrise like Sunset"

Driving, headed east, and the fog was thick.
       The shoulder was heavy with forest silhouettes.
 Shadows of black branches stretching skyward.
       Looming over the slick early morning road.

Driving into sunrise is a high price to pay
       For running fifteen minutes behind daybreak.
But the strength of the sun was dissolved by mist, and
       It shined the color of mustard, but gentler and less acrid.

Light painted with water behind tree-brushes.
       And its gold washed over me like sunset.
I felt the day ending, while sipping my still-hot coffee.
       Time ran together and I was disordered.

When sunrise looks like sunset, budding like falling,
       Morning like night, calling like saying goodbye,
I am all exploded inward, yelling sweet things,
       And whispering curse words like vespers.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

"A Cherry Danish"

It was a Thursday,
and I heard from a coworker
there was a cafe in Journalism.

I walked there,
and tried to be charming
while I took too long to order.

The cashier wasn't smiling.
So I shoved my hand in my wallet
and hurriedly ordered the danish.

I had to pee,
but it simply is nasty to take danish
into the public bathroom.

So I planted myself
on a piece of office furniture
and ate there with the sophomores.

While they bantered,
about hip hop politics
and did not eat cherry danish.

I tried to eat it daintiy
and not to soil my book
or low cut mauve sweater.

But with each bite
the flakes drifted and tore away
from each other, into the folds of my skirt.

I knew the girl
sitting catacorner from me
must have been stifling a laugh.

As this shaggy headed
nearly thirty nibbled
pathetically at the crumbling pastry.

And she must have
"rotfl[h]ao" when I stood up
and danish flew off me like dandelion fluff.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

"The Shell"

mostly glistening pink
but lined with elephant brown
so the peachness of it caught her eye
split her stride right down its determined middle

she bent at the waist
spread her thumb and forefinger
turned it over and saw its sweet, fatal fracture
and thought it a thing better scooped softly between palms

it smelled like seaside
french fries and sandy towels
but something that once breathed
something that bled was layered invisibly underneath

she saw babies
swaddled in peachflesh gloss
somewhere in the eye of that shell storm
and she felt a name on the warmth of butterfly breath

(that shell was my baby
and the giving of it
was hers)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

"Babies and Brothers"

We fancy our babies and brothers so different
from young buds
picked from wick branches
by nonchalant hands.

Yet I took countless blossoms in my pincer grip
And twisted them fast,
Unripe, but their branches
Finally relented to my tug.

And I rolled the green teardrops in my fingers
Until yellow and chartreuse
Stained my thumbnail
And then dropped forgotten.

The would-be-flowers hit the earth floor
And reabsorbed into things-
Found a place with things I'll never see.
In an instant those buds became kin to my baby.

But, we fancy our babies and our brothers so different
from young buds
picked from wick branches
by nonchalant hands.

But buds are babies lost in heaps of moldering leaves.
And the spry green folios,
Are brothers taken by stronger winds.

If we were merely branches, we might forget
As soon as our stipules sealed shut.
But our raw places bleed
And muddle our brains
And hearts irreparably.

I'm sorry.

The series of delays in posting have been awful.  I've been keeping up with my promise to write.  But I haven't been blogging.  Between my computer, school work, being away, work, the kids, etc., I haven't been posting or even reading the select people I keep up with via internet.  But, enough of my whining.  On to posting.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Turns out I can.

I can post via my phone. Thank you again i. My computer is kaput. So I posted my imago posts this weekend via "Three Plants on a Rock" comments. So check those out if you'd like. But they're just sketches. I will try to turn them into posts tomorrow. Plus, I'd like to add to them some things that are on my heart today. A beautiful peach shell I received as a gift. And the gift of knowing Gladys Fuller, whose funeral was today. She was the lady love of my grandfather, and she was one of the funniest, sharpest, frankly most kick ass women I've ever met.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

"The Fantasies Always End"

We'd need a new home to house you,
So I dream one up.
We'd need a bigger car to drive you,
So I buy one with mind money.
You'd need plenty of clothes to wear,
So I scour thrift store shelves.
(The clothes are preworn,
and that doesn't hurt the fantasy.)
We've come into an extra brown horsey.
You can have that one.

We'll just find you somewhere,
With your big blue eyes,
And hair I can't imagine.

And it will be easy all over again.

Until I need to put away the chest,
Bearing the initials of the you that came first.
And I close up your memory box,
So I don't scare you with your pictures.
And I never visit your grave again.
And tell my own newfound self you're not there anyway.


My thoughts don't work on this old machine.
The screens are getting bigger and smaller,
But all things rely on tiny, perfect preciseness within.
When I can see the pixels in the words,
Which I've already chosen for their intricacy,
It feels too complexly layered.
Visually it is just too meta.

Random Creepy Haiku, because I'm sick and my computer's gone bonkers.

the day draws nearer
we'll pack the car for graveyards
and all have lunch there

easy to be here
when it's warm above the ground
not as cold descends

hard not to picture
your tiny skeleton there
bits of things all cold

just like your sisters'
poop and pee felt on my hands
your corpse feels like home

but don't get me wrong
I might turn my nose up at
other cadavers

Monday, October 18, 2010

"The Real Fear in Academia"

I sneezed as I held my tiny slip of paper.
I climbed stairs and wound through halls.
PQ, PS, looking for a specific journal.
The smell of real books was all around.
Forcing me to breathe differently from glowing articles.
I had to use the cranks for the first time.
Twenty feet of rolling stacks.
Putting all my weight into turning them.
Manipulating literal tons of books with my shoulders.
I must have looked a mess.
Suddenly, I had managed to create a small cave.
There was space for me in with those journals.
I squeezed my body into PR, and stood in the dark.
Suddenly, I thought of all those lowly GAs.
Just like me who'd been trapped in those stacks.
Just like me, they'd wedged themselves in.
Just like me, they'd been so relieved to clear space.
Just enough to breathe and read by the fluorescent crevice.
Just like the others, I had not looked before I cranked.
At any moment, someone in PN could see their chance.
Catch a bit of momentum, ride the big, black, plastic wheel.
And forever I'd be trapped in real pitch with PR.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

"Fallen Things"

It took us 90 minutes to walk a mile.  But we did it.  And we mused about it.
He thought, In Buddhism they say to walk slowly and deliberately, taking each step with care.  This is certainly one way to do it.

She thought, Funny how you go on a fall hike to see the trees.  But I haven't looked up in an hour.  With kids this small, we focus so much on the earth, the rocks, the moss, the leaves already fallen.

So we walked slowly, crunching steadily and intentionally on a trail mix of Fallen things.

I might have looked up to see the sun shining through the trees. 
And I do that often enough, in more solemn moments.
But this time, I answered questions about moss,
About why this hillside has ferns,
And why those rocks are white with blops of slate.
Squatting and getting my hands dirty.
Talked about how the earth stays so warm and wet.
And focused on the things that make up their world.
It is heavenly to be part of both.

Friday, October 15, 2010

"Lighting a candle"

She doesn't light candles much anymore.
Too many small hands to put in danger.
Too much tempting them with the glow of heat.
She doesn't always need the smell of pumpkin pie.
Too much effort to find the lighter.
Too little time to bask in the warmth and luxury.

She lights one tonight though.
And she remembers the days
When candles felt like all that she had.
When the careful lighting of them took the place of nursing.
And gentle bathing, and sweet baby mouth breathing over her shoulder.
And she puts her hand just close enough to the flame
To feel it nearly scald her skin.

She will throw caution to the lost wind
And fall asleep with one burning.

She will hope that the waxy trails of smoke
Draws babies into dreams the world over.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

"The Marriage"

She is twirling, all pink tulle and sparkles. 
She doesn’t even like purple—that’s boy stuff.
She won’t wear shoes with laces.
The way her hands trace cabinets and dishwasher knobs is magic,
As she pirouettes through the tiny kitchen.
The room smells spicy like food cooking and cheap scented candles.
Mom is sitting on the cupboard,
Legs pivoting up and down on creaky knees.
She is playing an ancient drawbridge.
The classical station is playing some song everybody knows.
And she dips and stretches catlike on the floor.
She seems so young to stay on beat.
She leaps up and grabs Mom’s legs and hangs,
Her own legs flailing with the fast runs of music.
And she asks Mom to marry her,
In the way she’s heard princes do on her cartoon movies.
Mom always says yes .
A few more minutes of a pas de deux,
And she tells mom she’s going to marry a lady someday.
A real lady, with pearl earrings and a fuchsia scarf.
Mom smiles as she whirls off like petals from dyed daisies,
Tenderly holding soft imaginary hands.
Mom knows that at least today,
she’ll be back to marry her again.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Infinity works in funny ways.
Hands wielding metal, making massive and miniscule approximations.
A chisel nips and bites off small bits of wood.
Smaller and smaller until somehow edges mimic curves.
Slicing at a mahogany block on all sides,
the fingers tingle until the halved-bits fall away like nothing.
One great gust of air through tight, bristled lips—
and a fencepost magically becomes a duck.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


I can't recall the last time I sang.
A hoarse throat doesn't stop me from singing.
Singing is one of those things I cut out some time ago.
A luxury that would take me away.
When did I finish with that?

I'll take a shower now, just so I can sing in it.

Monday, October 11, 2010

"One Mean Thing"

One victorious sparrow perched, pumped up, on my deck rail.
The deep chocolate lining his tan chest, strained to accommodate his swollen ego.
He’d chased the others away, with twittering beak and shrill yaps.
I chided him for the aggression toward his kin, yet he did not budge.
And again I asked him to leave me, the way of all flying things.
Take off from here, if you’re not going to be nice, you bird.
Still he hung around, tilting his head in my direction only briefly
Before swinging it sharply back toward the way they went, terrified.
But I couldn’t let it go, couldn’t let one mean thing go without redress.
With my bare foot square on its bumper, I gave him one last warning.
Ignored, I powered the red coupe toward his post.
He watched it come, less scared than indignant.

With a slam against the rickety banister,
And what could only be a shrug,
he finally flew away.

"Rabbit Hutch"

There was that time we built the rabbit hutch
Out of the old green kitchen table.
And scrap window screens from the new back porch.
We took the rusty hinges from the ice chest.

I was still very small then, not quite five.
Tiny enough to climb inside once we’d secured the legs.
I’d rest my braided head on warm wood chips
And forget the warnings about breathing in cedar.
Even now the smell of trees in smithereens
Bends my knees and makes me touch my face
Just to feel the heat of something.
And I smile about the lop eared rabbit we never got.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

"Turkey Buzzard by the Road"

The she-buzzard
even disgusted,
my younger self.
As did her grave
black wings parallel
with the windshield
of my car:
Meant to appropriate
her smooth flight—
to keep up with her speed.
Cruel insufficient mimesis.
But now her great
craned garnet neck
has my respect.
I never look away.
The buzzard is sharp.
She makes real promises,
and her terms are absolute.
She is both eager and cool.
She is full of ambition
I can understand.
She is never ashamed,
as she waits on a carcass.

"Boat Show"

A great turtle glides, making his way slowly out to sea.
Huge motor torn shell groans, arms and legs unhurriedly part the water.
Head like a toy rocket rises occasionally above the silk gray.
And eyes just as cool survey the horizon with addled interest.
Of course he should be afraid of the huge triangles of shark fins,
Circling in the distance. 
But he knows prehistoric things.
Somewhere under those hovering isosceles rainbows,
Quiver mad, massive, smooth skins, and old eyes that mirror his own.

He dives low where the real cool begins,
his only traces a thin fold
where the water
bows to his descent.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

"Silence" CAGB

I was silent again today.  The thoughts were flying, blood pumping—making it hard to hear. 
As the minutes drained out of the hours, I was further away.  Words slipping into focus just long enough to blur. 
At one point, I imagined my head down on the desk.  If I’m not lucky enough to drown in my tears and snot and saliva, at least I’d like to sleep through tomorrow.
The day ended.  My voice didn’t come back though, this time.  It rose and bowed to some salty blockade somewhere near my uvula.   That turned out to be lucky.
I made it to the door of the building—almost out—before that uvula-levy broke. 
Struggling with the heavy glass door, I bent my head down inside the lapel of my jacket, a grown woman collapsing in on herself under dying oaks.
Between my heaving shoulders, the missing and the exhaustion from the missing competed for all of me.

On Work, an idea.

Bill sent me an email yesterday saying he liked "The Last of the Season."  I admitted to kind of liking it too.  But, I told him, "Well, thanks, but it needs work."  That ignited a whole conversation, part of it about revising poems.  He was surprised to hear me say that a poem I posted wasn't complete.  Feeling like poetry is, by nature, organic.  And that maybe it should be so.  But I had to disagree.  I never stop changing my poems.  If I had them all in from of me today, it would be a real anomaly if one went unaltered upon reading.  Of course, once they go into "real print," I suppose you have to give up on changing them.  But I'm not there yet, so I have that onus and luxury, both. 

As much as I am in school studying literature, write poetry daily, post it here, write about writing poetry, and want to make my life of this, I don't fancy myself some all-knowing artist.  (Like most people, I spend 50% of my poetic time writing, and 25% revising, and 25% wondering if I'll ever feel like a "real poet.") 

Anyway, so that got me thinking about creating a poem line-by-line.  I wonder if there's a way we can try something here.  We could take a short poem, and publicly fancify/simplify/ossify it.  It could really help me (maybe others?) to workshop something, and see how other people might workshop the same thing.  And that way, we could all add what we have to offer.  Like, if you read it and think, this poem makes me think of ________.  We could find a way to add that.  Or this word doesn't flow/fit right/jive/is repeated.  Or I like this, but what does it mean?  How could we make the meanings more clear? 

Any thoughts?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

"Finding Out" (CAGB)

Night settles on the day we met you
Stars rise over the moment
Making you real.

Morning light pours through the window
On another red day with you
Closer to leaving me.

Music laughs and cries in the tones of your voice
Felt only in tiny thrashing appendages
In the deep of blue womb.

Knowing this day would dawn like any other
I brace myself for your strength
And sweet, Sophie Salome.

This is something I wrote in June of 2005, almost 5 1/2 years ago.  This is from the day we found out Sophie was a girl.  Although, I'd say we knew all along.  We also reposted this during my pregnancy with Eleanor.  And, I have the urge to share some of my more painful writing tonight.  This isn't one of them, but I may post them in a few minutes.  My plan was to write something today, but my mind is preoccupied.  And I've been feeling rather defeated.  And these are as good as any, in that they force me to reflect and that feels so so good.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

"The Last of the Season" by CAGB

Iridescent viscosity.
My feet are sticky and suctioned to the last maple leaf on our tree.
My wings are beating and railing against the howl and press.
Must not be carried away.

My looms of silk are torn and wind stretches slivers around my edges.
Flapping frenetically.
I’ve brushed my wings too many times into passing, eager, greasy fingers.
The black veins that course and travel across my brilliant orange,
Pulsing, straining, and growing large.
And all at once I am tired, 
I resign with one last heave and a cloud of vermilion,
Then I tuck my warm, insignificant body away into the folds of my great arms.

I whirl and tunnel, a whisper on the air that once belonged to summer.

I am the last of the season.
And it’s better this way.

The Sweet Pea Project

Stephanie Cole, who I've mentioned here before, is the founder of The Sweet Pea Project and Beauty In the Breakdown, and author of Still.  She writes sweet, soulful, and honest poetry about her daughter Madeline. 

Her Madeline was born sleeping, like my Sophie.  And, coming up on Madeline's fourth birthday, Stephanie has decided to take part in Imago.  We've written recently and discussed the release that pausing for creativity allows.  The tension of grief can begin to build, no matter where you are in the grieving process.  At the beginning, it seems to come daily.  Later on, as the seasons turn.  While I am sure the pain is part of our amazing human nature and the body's way of remembering, I also believe that the creations that spring forth from those depths are integral to the living process.

Please check Stephanie's blog to read her poetry and for a very complete list of resources for grieving parents. 

Also, of course, both she and I would be honored to post October poetry on our sites, for anyone who feels inclined to share.  Please make this project your own.

As always,
Thank you.

Monday, October 4, 2010

A Haiku

Naughty Monkey pumps
Crush dead leaves one day early
I’ll go as coffee.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

"Two Hours and Thirty Three Minutes" CAGB

5:57. Wake up.
Child tugging at my covers.
Needs milk.
Two cups.
Text to Mom: LY.
Fastest shower in the history of Earth.
Another child crying from the crib.
Get child.
Change diaper.
Brush 72 teeth.
Lift older child onto toilet.
Wipe butt.
Wash our hands.
Put on three pairs of pants.
Three shirts.
Two pairs underpants.
Brush two heads of hair.
(Chopped mine off to save time.)
Six socks on.
Six shoes on.
Ten seconds to breathe.
Ironically wish there were eight.
Heart breaks.
Back to business.
Toast bagel.
Spread Butter.
Chug cold coffee.
Two pairs shoes taken off.
Put them back on.
Stern reprimand.
One sock completely vanished.
Carry still somehow sleepy kids to car.
Kiss fluffy cheeks as I go.
Buckles big into seat.
Wants to swing like a monkey.
No time, in you go.
Buckle little.
Forget lunches.
Run back in.
Fuck. It's (only) 6:25.
Get on the road.
Kids eat all of bagel.
Wish I had made two.
Spill coffee going over traintracks.
Slam. Traffic. Red lights.
Kids wonder "What's wrong?"
45 straight minutes seeing red.
Turn off car.
Get out bigger child.
Backpack, stuffed cow, lunch bag.
Smaller child.
Walk into school.
Sign child in.
Hug goodbye.
Starts crying.
Heart breaks, but got to go.
Find younger child.
Grab younger child.
Drag back to car.
Fuck. It's (only) 7:30.
Still only 15 miles from home.
Back track onto 29.
Red fucking lights again.
Red on the horizon.
See red. Expletives.  40 minutes.
Younger child poops in diaper.
Starts whimpering.
Onto Route 1.
Full blown crying from back seat.
Something about "poopy pants."
Defunct businesses.
Five minutes to go 10 miles.
Red lights again.
Pass work.
Arrive to dorm of lovely sister in law.
Turn off car.
Get baby out.
Laboriously unhook carseats.
Laboriously hook into SIL's car.
So many bags.
Baby insists on carrying her own lunch bag.
Notice she's getting bigger. 
Heart breaks.
Kiss baby goodbye.
Lament always being so late.
Back out of lot.
Stop for stupid frat boy.
Stop for stupid frat boy.
Drive 100 yards.
Stop light. Red. Expletive.
Longest light in history.
Green, finally.
Stop for stupid frat boy.
Weave through campus.
No parking spots.
Next lot back.
Got one.
Chug last of cold coffee.
Out of car.
Sun's finally risen.
Grab bag.
Stop for stupid frat boy.
Arrive to office gasping.
Day begins.
Fifteen minutes late.
It's (only) 8:30.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Walking on Leaves in Baltimore.

"Gathering Apples" CAGB. 10/2/2010

Her head was down while she tried to catch her breath.
I saw only the severe part down the middle of her gray hair. 
We slowed at the stop sign next to her driveway. 
It was one of those sunny, cool days in early October. 
She must have been sweltering in that shapeless ivory sweater. 
I wondered if it might have been her husband’s. 
I looked for traces of him as we came to a full stop.
One car sat in the driveway, an older model blue minivan.
No flag for the local sports team, no miscellany of tools.
Just a hodgepodge of dried mum wreaths and navy barn stars.
As we picked up speed, she was bent low over her garden rake.
Calloused hands on wooden staff, wide wale hunter green corduroy.
We drew her attention as we accelerated.
She tipped upward her chin, met my eyes, and she smiled.
Epics wrapped up in the curves of those lips and angles of teeth.
As she moaned and gathered her fallen apples.

Friday, October 1, 2010

"Negative Spaces" CAGB. 10/1/2010

Not looking on empty playgrounds much anymore.
Smiling at sun making stripes with trees and browning leaves instead.
Cyclical days of sky pink and sweet music.

Blue crops up, flashing impressions of your eyes.

White clouds like corn popping, salt melting into crevices.
Stepping on crinkled, ruddy tree stars.
Photographs of the nothing between blades of grass.

Night comes on purple, then black like hair.

Morning rises like cream paper around your clippings.
Heart breaks and it breaks softly now.
Rain drops and lands by eyes and lips.
Taste and it is clear, fresh, and it hurts clean.
Chin still trembles when another girl has your name.

But I fill the spaces with anything-but peach walls
And memories built up strong like castles.

Growing older now, but peace lives in these wrinkles.

Before I post my poem for the day...

I want to address something.  This hasn't been brought up to me.  And likely it wouldn't be.  Because we are all so used to things being so readily pre-inscribed with meanings that do or do not include us.  But, I don't want this to be that kind of place.  It's not really a place at all, of course.  It's a space for the poetry of our lives. 

I went to the wonderful Food Co-Op on campus this week.  While I stood in line waiting for a girl in a chartreuse hat (her name happened to be Miranda, lovely) to make my falafel, I saw the poem on the wall.  It was "First they came", attributed to Martin Niemöller.  It got me thinking about what it means to have a project. 

Now, I don't fancy my blog to be something that will change lives.  Although, of course, I think poetry can or I wouldn't write at all.  And I also do know that this blog tailors itself to specific emotional discourses.  Like my recent IMAGO project.  It is "Poetry for Parents," as the button says.  But, I realized in thinking about it, that it is that for me.  Because that is what I need to get through this month.  This time is of such great personal significance (and that happens to also be National Infant Loss Remembrance Month). 

But, it isn't just my month. 
It is also LGBT History Month. 
Breast Cancer Awareness Month. 
National Depression Education and Awareness Month. 
National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. 
National Infertility Month. 
National Arts and Humanities Month. 
Diversity Awareness Month. 
Positive Attitude Month. 
And, amongst so many others, National Pizza and Cookies Month. 
Interestingly, ahem, it's also National Co-Op Month. 

I've gone off course here. 

I guess my point is that I am ecstatic and really, truly humbled and honored if one person grabs my IMAGO: Poetry for Parents button.  Or even reads my daily poems.  And I hope I made clear that you can choose to write any single day for IMAGO.  It doesn't have to be every day.  Or here.  Although I'd love it to be both.  But, also, it doesn't have to be part of my agenda.  This is a place for emotions.  And if you feel so called to the IMAGO project, please make it your own.  This is about our lives.  My poetic life centers on my sweet Sophie.  As much as I might stray from her to other muses, she is my poetry.  But we get our muses where we find them:  in the sweet, and the beauty, and the breaking.

I've made up some alternative buttons, and if a single person expresses interest in them, I will display them here.  And I may anyway.  And should you participate in IMAGO or want to call people here from other spaces, I'm happy to make you any IMAGO banner that fits your positive mission for healing and expression.  I considered this for a while and decided that including other projects doesn't detract from my own writing to my Sophie, but strengthens it.  Thoughts?

As always,
Thank you.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

"You Win" by Marce Weibel

    You win – I surrender!
    Broken hearted and battle scared.
    Waiting, patiently waiting, for you to trust,
    Only to find it’s an elusive shadow.

    After all the stops and starts,
    We keep coming back to here, the edge of nowhere.
    Eyes, weeping eyes
    Who do you think you are fooling?

       If I only could turn back time,
    Maybe I would find a way.
    No matter though – you’d never let me inside.
    Insignificant am I.

       Your familiar silence, a weapon of disregard,
    Always brushing me aside.
    A wounding weapon – BANG!  BANG!
    You’ve shot me down.

       Through the saddening pain,
    So profound the ache,
    Flickering clarity emerges – an unfortunate truth.
 My heart cannot take anymore coats of paint.

       A sacred chant of knowing,
    Whispering – Denial is being vanquished.
    I’ll allow myself the freedom,
    To complete this journey.

       No longer do I need to endure.
    Strong and courageous, I’m proven to be.
    When all is said and done – you’ll be the lonely one.
    I surrender – You win!
                                                                                                     (Marce 12/09)