snapshots of summer


we were away from home that day, somewhere out in the city, and got caught in the rain — the glorious kind of chilly downpour that catches one unexpectedly in the summer. when we returned we changed out of our wet things and gathered in the kitchen, just the three of us, as i recall, for chai and conversation sitting cross-legged on the countertops. i have no idea what we talked about, but i remember the spice, and the warmth, and the comfort of being safe and dry in good company. it was all i-don’t-know-how-long ago, yet that one vivid remembrance has come to mind every summer rain since, and sometimes, when dusk whispers coolly against my arms, i don a cocoon of a sweater and fix myself a mug of spicy tea.


what did i do last summer? apparently there were weddings and races and parties and concerts … and tomatoes. apparently i wrote stories and made shortbread. i remember i learned to love solitary walks around the park and the neighborhood … the feeling of moving along only at the pace allowed by my short legs and unhurried soul. i stared at trees. i played cards with friends and laughed and laughed and laughed. i sat in a coffee shop and wrote in a little black notebook. i spent a lot of time chasing a mood, a certain kind of light, a place thousands of miles away where i had been but definitely wasn’t anymore. i read great books about good women, though they were mostly fiction.


this summer has been parties and weddings and cheesecakes and heartache and joy and being friends with small humans and sobbing and hugging and being strong and weak and stretched and learning how to die so i can live the kind of life worth living. it’s a beautiful-horrible-beautiful world and sometimes it makes me so angry i think i will explode (or implode) … yet then there are those gracious glimpses of the glory to come, and i’m reminded that someone much, much bigger, better and wiser than me is in control of all things and is working all this craziness together toward something beyond my ability to imagine. and that it is good.

then i put my hand on my heart, to keep it from flying out of my chest, and breathe.


persistence of memory

i would like to write something new

trouble is, i don’t have an original

thought in my head

and all i can do

is remember everything

that already happened

well, not everything

there are clips missing

from the highlight reel

that loops through my memory

things i wish i could recall

instead of the million insignificant details

i relive with shocking clarity

there was a summer evening once

in a hundred-year-old house

hard wooden chairs

and worn wooden floors

and talk of color to soften

the white plaster walls

then a voice softly sang a snippet

of casimir pulaski day

that quiet first refrain

about light against a shoulder blade

there the remembrance terminates

and though i try to recall

what comes next, nothing does

except a small shattering of ideas

forging a new

and inconvenient frame of mind

out of all the myriad mundanities

eminently forgettable

why does this one remain?

advent, Christianity, poetry


every bone longs for home

every pore, every cell

every corpuscle bustling

through our veins

every ache reminds

of what should have been

every pang recounts

what should not be

but, for now, is

and into this You were born

You, little serpent slayer

entered the world

in the way of all humans

exiting a woman’s gates

to emerge naked and bloody

did You cry as the shock

of the cold clipped Your skin?

did the weight of wrong

weigh on Your shoulders even then?

advent, Christianity, poetry

weight and age

my house has been creaking and groaning lately

joints stiffened, spine misaligned

old wounds throbbing with the shift in the weather

for the first time i noticed a silver thread

among the cowlick hair shocked upright

by the scar that arcs down my head

it joins the company of others earlier earned

i am still so very young, but, when winter comes

i feel the weight of mortality in my bones.

You were my age, once upon a time

a man with wood-roughened hands

and an appearance not amounting to much

since isaiah told the story true —

yet in You eternal joy and the weight

of earthly woe were entwined

a wedding of ancient and ephemeral

fully in-personed in our frail flesh

six years away from a body broken.

so Who were you then,

Son of God and son of a table-maker?

even there i suppose You knew the words i’d write today

fumbling my way toward a greater glimpse of glory

You who of all were sinless still were subject

to a creation cursed by adam’s fall

You the Light had eyesight limited by darkness

You the Healer experienced exhaustion

every fibre of our feebleness You identified with intimately

sleeping, waking, walking, eating … aging

every moment of my life You’ve experienced

sinless at each of the steps i stumbled down

man was made in the image of God

but God made Himself into a Man

and played the same rules He’d written for us

so You, young as You were

once also felt the weight of the world in Your bones

and You, ageless as You are

still carry it for me

advent, Christianity, poetry

strange sunrise

i looked out the window

at the perfect moment one morning

to see the sky washed

in raspberry-colored clouds

as the sun conquered the horizon

when i looked back a few minutes later

the blaze had faded

and the naked trees were stark

against a background of gray

brilliance swallowed by gloom

— — —

so it was centuries ago

when a Sunrise scripted

before the dawn of time

was delivered in darkness

immutable Light immured

within confines of flesh

infinite energy and finite frailty

yoked in the body of a baby

fully God, but fully human

intimately acquainted

with every aspect

of earthly existence

a strange savior

this helpless infant

the Word incarnate wordless

’til He learned to talk

a warrior Lord

who could not walk

but lay helpless

kicking His legs until

stronger arms could

carry Him

and such a One

was sent to save?

why birth a child

into a grave

in sin-scarred night?

so the humble King

could wake us up again

in Son-kissed light

advent, Christianity, poetry

cold, comfort and joy

i walked down the chilly sidewalk

past the rusty frozen oak leaves

and the bird-pecked pines

slowly oozing sap like candle wax

the wind turned my bare hands blue

when i was unwise enough

to pull them from my pockets

we few inhabitants of the park

were silent on our solitary strolls

under that close and clouded sky

in winter the world shows its age

i passed a pair of dying trees

nearly shed of bark

their gleaming trunks exposed like bone

and i remembered all the seeds

planted in the soil this year

old bodies buried beneath the ground

until the day they’ll sprout

and go dancing through the dawn

around a bend in the path

i saw a row of baby saplings

their roots warmed by mufflers of mulch

i eyed their slender trunks

their crisped, curly leaves

and wondered how many

would survive the snows ’til spring

yet what lies beneath is hidden

to my eyes, and deep down

the dormant life awaits awakening

nearing home i left the path

and walked across the field

of drooping grass and leaves

rain-wet lichens shown brilliantly

from the apple tree’s bare branches

and on its neighbor lilac i noticed

new buds forming green and fresh

next to summer’s withered blooms

i scaled the steps and with stiffened fingers

turned the key in the lock, walking into

the welcoming smells of home

in the living room the Christmas lights

twinkled from the tree

and though my face was red

and white with cold

my heart, bright with rebirth

sang joy, joy, joy