Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Winter Ending

When skies conspire
to suffocate the light
and leaves wither
and breathing creatures crawl into
ground-holes and wait--
winter lays its stiff shroud
of snow; and all is silent.

This winter has been long,
Narnian: not wicked in itself
but ill-conceived.
There has been no war
for many years but
neither has there been
feasting. Our dim hearth fires
have not brought joy and have made
no gains upon the cold.

I discovered today, while
folding a child's shirt,
that I begin to want goodness;
not merely as a matter of course
but as longing.

Ah, the melt begins!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

What We're Missing

Lightening struck two of my neighbor's trees today; it was unlike anything I've ever seen--split a huge old Oak tree right down the middle. It's still standing there, stripped of most of its bark, a slit in the center, letting light through. Another tree next to it lost all its bark on one side. There are splinters and fragments all over the yard, but no big branches or pieces of the trunk fell at all, no chunks or slabs of bark--its as if the Looney Tunes' Tasmanian Devil roared by, or a sudden plague of locusts. Now you see it, now you don't. Pow! The trees stand naked and ashamed.

The power went out all over the neighborhood at the exact moment of the strike--a bright flash, a sizzle, and a pop--then all was dark. I prayed my new computer was safe. I hoped I'd have refrigeration again before my milk spoiled. Since our well pump is electric, I couldn't wash dishes or laundry or even flush my toilet more than once. I couldn't work (or dawdle) on my computer, I couldn't listen to radio or use the phone. So, I lit candles in my living room and did puzzles with my four year old son. He said the candles were pretty and was more excited than usual at finding where each puzzle piece exactly fit.

Later, while I sat with my legs tucked under me, reading on the couch where the light was strongest, everything turned on, again. I did take a moment--a long one--to notice the change, but I did jump up, then and check my email to see what I had missed while the world went on and my neighborhood slept. I had missed nothing. But all afternoon and into the evening, cars pulled off and stopped along my street and people stared, dumbstruck at the naked trees.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Stopping By Woods

A poet could say many things

About a white wood;

I can only say

That I brought my heart here

And stepped mildly aside

There is a wound that only

A white wood understands,

With its eternal memory

Of bark and leaf and forest floor

Of the man and his dog

Who are back again,

Standing in the same place

But finding it new

Friday, February 23, 2007

More Qube Stuff

My new blog at Qube Books has been filling my writing time, and this blog has fallen by the wayside. I plan to change that by finding more writing time. In the mean time, I am enjoying thinking and writing about Qube questions. If you read the blog or are interested in the idea behind it, you can join the qube books mailing list by emailing info@pencil-sharp.com

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Birthday Boy

Ethan turned four, yesterday. I asked him, "How old are you?"

"I'm three years old," he said.

"Nope. It's your birthday today. That makes you four years old." He giggled and looked at me sideways, the way he does when he can't figure out if I'm serious or pulling his leg.

"Silly mommy. I'm three years old," he said.


Four years and eight months ago, a faint pink line announced him to me. He was a tiny parasite, with a beating heart; I was his host. I began talking to him when no one was around, as I had to each child before--beginning with the first, unwelcome one, who took root in my immature womb. I held the secret close, then, because I was afraid; but I let it sink deep into me and fill me with wonder.

I held the secret of Ethan, too. I talked to him, let him sink in and waited for the wonder. I wasn't ready. I wasn't well. I was afraid.


His birth was a miracle, for the ordinary reason of new and tender life. His perfect lungs gulped up the air of our world--air polluted by cruelty and want, and made pure through love and beauty. He cried, and he purified the room with his trembling wails.

It was a miracle, too, because a holy stillness caught and held me, and I labored without pain. I fell silent, listened and waited for the wonder.


"I'm three years old" is a phrase of definition and identity, which my son has applied to himself for a whole year--as long as he remembers. Yesterday, I took that away and gave him a new tag to wear. Four years ago, he had already re-named me by the time I blessed his wet head with my lips.

Ethan talked to his grandmother today. I held the phone to his ear and kissed his forehead. He said, "Hi Grandma. I'm four years old."