A Literary Journal
I saw her first one autumn day as she stepped out
for fun and frolic, walking briskly on a strand,
the scent of salt afloat upon the air about
her lovely head, the ranks of scudding clouds as grand
a scene as one could wish, and leavened by the green
and brown of rocky slopes that lie along the sea
and link the Cuillin Hills to Skye's abrupt marine;
and when I die, that afternoon will die with me.
When the world
sounds to me
like buzzing insects,
or the crackling
and I ask you a
say no with that
like it is something
you hadn't thought of
but not at all out
of the realm
well, I am still
sorry I asked.
the way your
knit at me
there for a second.
a robe of
world by touch
apple peel --
the compost bin
I could learn
Miner of the
in your tiny
in the moment's
When we hatched out of the crust of mud
we were thirsty and latched on to the first
mountain we saw.
The slope was slippery but fertile.
The high priests taught us
the name of the peak was Ima.
In those early days when the liquid flames
came down the hill
we did not know what hit us.
How could we grasp it came
from the same source
that gave us our milk-bread-water-shelter?
When the smoke cleared we went right back
to the bosom of the slope,
rebuilt our homes, replanted our gardens.
The earth was fertile as ever before.
When the liquid flames came again they
caught us in the middle of a motion
a shovel just about to penetrate the soil,
a sandal strap about to be fastened.
The high priests told us we were the cause of it.
We became meticulous about every detail.
Measuring the distance between the seeds
in the field. Agonizing over the shape of the fire.
The ratio of each water particle to grain of rice.
We learned to see it before it came.
Smoke signals, patterns of luminescent blood
and dark in coals, the shapes in rotting
organs of animals we had not killed.
Every fleeting bird became an omen.
Sometimes our fear made it happen.
We thought we saw her lips quiver,
our muscles went stiff, the birds took off, like a chill
passing through the spine of the mountain.
And the flames gushing out of the mouth
burning us alive. We should have seen it coming
but every single time, when it was over, all we wanted,
all we could do, was go home.
for the first dog in space
Terriers always love to go for rides.
I imagine her hopping aboard,
dreaming maybe of Mars--
a new world to explore, red dirt
to dig for bones;
watching Earth recede,
a shrinking quilt of fields and rivers,
the city she used to stray.
But this ride was lonely.
Her only master stayed behind.
Wherever she was bound,
she never made it;
a trip not programmed for survival.
Pert terrier-ears perked
for signals from out-there, or home--
how long does it take
for a howl to travel back to Earth?
Sonic years, decades?
On his evening rounds
my dog stopped, cocked his ears,
as if listening for a call
far distanter than coyotes, dark
hollowing empty space.
Winter rain sizzling
in the Jacuzzi,
your hands under my hips
I was the fern, raised
in a hot-house of emotion.
Your boxy-brown Volvo,
the bucket seats too far apart,
gearshift and handbrake
as awkward chaperones.
You were the succulent,
knowing you in the dark:
your hip in my hand.
Resting in your desert silence,
I didn't need an answer.
That first summer
your fuzzy, satyr legs
and the smell of sunshine
on your shins.
I chose the dryness
Without a secret you could never be alone.
Whatever is under the scum on the pond
or whatever is under that flagstone,
that rattlesnake, for instance,
that I killed with a hoe so it wouldn't bite
the dogs going crazy in the periwinkle.
Secrets are no danger but you need
to cover them with algae and stones.
You need to keep your eyes flat, keep
your voice from cracking like our goat's hoof.
winter to winter
black strokes against white
ink blocks brushed in old kanji
a Basho winter
through murky waters,
a lotus blossom rises:
a Buddhist moment
red juices drip down
forming rivers down my chin
someone took crayons
across the rolling green plains
stroking august moons
the giant pine trees move
slowly across morning skies
or is it fog?
is my country
as my only
on my customs
when I cross
to visit, Pablo
"The Estero Trail is a sensational trip on a warm early-fall day..."
-- San Francisco Chronicle, September 26, 2007
My husband knew the name of every plant.
(He always did incline to the pedantic.)
Now here with you, the one who might supplant
Him feels half-bittersweet and half-romantic.
The lupine and the tar-black cormorant
I can identify because he taught me.
And if I sometimes look at you aslant,
I'm learning how to dance (still) with who brought me.
You're new: I hardly know you. But I can't
Quite seem to shake the startling impression
The stars have all lined up, determinant,
And watch, bemused, our tentative progression.
You take my hand. We hike though head-high sedge
Like it's the hundredth trail we've navigated.
The wine, the kiss, the wind, the water's edge:
It all unfolds just as anticipated.
A rainbow, upside-down: Now that one's new.
And never -- cross my heart -- with any man
Have I felt so strangely certain, as with you:
He didn't love me, but you could. You can.
Wherever you find words, there am I,
plopped down among them; all those idle
consonants and vowels, syllables and
sentences in a jumbled pyre. Sometimes
I stack each gaudy noun or verb like an
infant's brightly hued blocks in a tower
towards the stars. It doesn't require
God's hand to slap me back to earth
again. Pride, the poorest mortar urges
me higher, too high, too fast. Hubris
won't heed even a calm breeze, mind far
removed from Pisa. Soon enough I'll
tumble of my own accord.
Had they explained it to me in math class
using the circular plate, pressed in a crust
and prettily fluted the edges, added a filling
tempting to taste buds -- apple, cherry,
any kind of berry, pumpkin--but not mince,
never mince--then baked it to a gentle bubble,
I might have understood or at least gotten
a glimmer of the miracle of mathematics.
But being told that pi is the ratio of a circle's
circumference to its diameter made no sense
to my teenage brain. It was all I could do
to remember its first five digits--3.1415.
They held no meaning for me--I could not
taste, touch, feel those symbols. But pie, I
could understand--Grandma's cinnamon-y apple
with its lattice-top crust. A small Chinese man
walking through his restaurant with his
banana cream (a recipe, it was said, that he
brought with him from China).
A man I loved fork-feeding me bits
of cherry pie he'd made from scratch.
Pie, it turns out, is love in all its infinite forms.
Numerical or baked, it is a constant. It is both
irrational and transcendental, and, I have
learned, this miracle of numbers and dough
and filling continues, without repetition
or pattern--on and on and on, ad infinitum,
After the funeral
We learn to suffer.
Old men with umbrellas
Lean into the wind.
You are layers of air,
The twist of water.
I remember your color,
Stones in the night.
Your face had to say
What your words could not say.
Now, day after day
The dry wind blows,
And the wind that remains
Is the shape of your pain.