Why I write
I began writing poems out of necessity. It was June 2019, and I was looking for a Father’s Day card. One that conveyed all that I felt, the immensity of my love. I should have known without looking that no card gleaming in a rack in a shop could know all that. Those things were inside me. And for them to come forth, I had to make way.
I didn’t know how. Does anyone ever know how the first time? Or even the fifty-first? No. We learn as we listen to our own breathing. We learn as we let our fingertips touch their way to truth. We learn as we hand those things over to others to peruse, to know just like we do.
At first I simply printed out my poems to affix to blank cards that I bought. But by fall I was bored with this. The pictures never really matched my poems. They were poetry of their own. But silent. I wanted something to sing.
Most aptly, for my dad’s 72nd birthday, I wrote a poem about a song. And I decorated it in feathers. And though my skills with glue and tiny colorful feathers flying in the wind are limited, these things came together. And with a card that cohered, something also clicked in me. I love doing this. I want to see where it goes.
Besides creating cards, I have written a few poems that serve as beacons when I feel sad, or stuck on something—even someone—from my past. These poems are almost prayers. They came from that place in me. And they show me all that is possible. It is so very much.
Dad's Birthday (72)
Don’t you believe
That the best way
To wake up
Is by the sound
Of a rooster?
Not a real one
That pecks around
In the yard
And shirking foxes.
No. A real one could be trouble.
I am taking about
The one that starts the song
That starts our day.
And that has
Nothing to say
But it’s OK.
Because no matter what happens—
Or what doesn’t—
Really it is
And some days—most, in fact,
Are much better than OK.
The rooster knows
That no matter
When and how and why
We wake up
It is always
a good morning.
My Aunt Miriam
My first shower
Like so many things
It just happened.
But I’ve never done this
Holding onto the soap
Standing beneath mere sprinkles
Alone. In flip flops!
Camping for the night
In woods that I don’t know
But she is with me
And I am not afraid.
Even as the green fades to black
She showers in the stall next to mine
Talking the whole time
So that I know
She’s still there.
SHE IS STILL THERE
Walls of concrete
On three sides
On the other,
White plastic curtain—try not to touch!
You can do it!
Cause me to believe
Not just now, but always.
And all the ways,
I CAN DO IT.
When a mom says, “Stop”
When a mom says, “Stop”
When a mom says, “Never stop!”
You keep going
Even if it takes a long time
To get to your destination,
To be all that you are.
A mom will await your arrival,
Even if it seems to take forever.
A mom is keenly aware
That this is all of life, and
That you are worth waiting for.
Though I didn’t always play with your dolls,
Sometimes I did.
But then I added unwanted nipples,
Which, like human nipples, you cannot just scrape off.
But still, you invited me to play.
You kept a close eye on me
From beneath your hair
I could see,
But you let me play.
I didn’t always do the same.
I didn’t want you out with my friends,
Or dancing at my prom,
Or watching me puke in Elizabeth’s bathroom.
I definitely did not want that.
But you were there, seeing what came up.
Observing. Waiting for me to arise again.
And I did.
Jaw set and hair still very much in place,
I pulled myself to stand. Head held high. Trying not to smile.
And in all this were emotions, sure.
If you don’t want nipples, you don’t want nipples!
But something more.
Something we can never scrape off or undo,
But we would never wish to.
In those moments, the very essences of us were on vivid display,
Like a peacock or the stars at night.
Your inclusion of others,
Your ability to be where you are meant to be,
Even if you have to fight to be there.
My attention to detail,
My doggedness, even when others doubt me. And when I doubt myself.
These things are gifts. Or reminders
To be welcoming. To be tenacious. To be proud.
To keep going.
There are no words
Her shine says everything
When you at the same time
Cannot even locate the truth.
Your eyes looking elsewhere.
Salivating over something not real.
She sees everything
With her eyes shut.
Even you. She blinks,
And looks the other way.
I keep finding Easter eggs
Long after they were lost.
One in my work bag, which is Milwaukee Packout,
by the way,
no longer Louis Vuitton Monogram.
One from the path at the park,
dropped by a plastic stork, perhaps.
One camo, which I would have kept watering,
had I not stopped to pluck
the crinkled, colorless leaves of my philodendron.
WE MISS THINGS WHEN WE DON’T STOP TO SMELL THE ROSES.
Each egg opens in asymmetric anti-climax.
Each holds nothing, and anything I wish.
EMPTINESS IS VAST, INVITING.
The possibilities pulse in my hands.
I AM NESTING. Not just here in the house.
ON THIS EARTH.
Awaiting all that is to come.
The possibilities pulse everywhere.