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POETRY

The Words That Aren't on My Vitae

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HOW TO TALK TO YOUR CHILD ABOUT SCHOOL SHOOTINGS

When bodies of children are

once again

strewn around the room

by an AR15

it is

once again 

time

to talk to

our children

about school shootings.

So first,

gather in your home

where you do not have alters to weapons

and sit

in that chair

where you wrote messages

to your representatives

and penned checks

to lobbyists.

And remember how

you voted

each and every time

to make gun control

a central issue. 

And make sure

you have plenty of time

to talk to your child

between the usual conversations

of how they are doing

checking on

their mental health. 

Just like

you tune in

to the people around you.

and notice those who 

struggle,

who are unhinged

and hurting. 

And remember 

the other day

when you argued

with a neighbor

about why having an

assault rifle

was not a right. 

And maybe

you didn’t change his mind

but you’ll never

be silent. 

And then you sit

holding your child 

close. 

breathing in

their innocence. 

Showing them

they are loved. 

Knowing you

can’t protect them

always. 

And then maybe

you say 

something

like

how danger can be

anywhere

how violence can 

enter their 

safe spaces.

And that is why

they have to 

practice

hiding

under desks. 

But they will look

uncertain

uncomprehending

because 

pure minds

cannot grasp

what

we

have allowed 

to happen. 

Mom with Stroller

SUPERMOM

You see the spit up on my shirt
the messy hair and
fine lines
and you mistake it for a cape. 
You call out 
“Supermom!”
I look around before realizing
you mean me. 
I know you mean well, 
but I want to run and plead and show you
that I have no superpowers. 
That I don’t need this battle.
Yes, 
I peeled myself out of bed in the dark
and showered before I heard the needy voices.
I wrestled with messes of limbs and clothing, 
I fed uninterested mouths. 
I bent and lifted and struggled and hugged and wiped noses and tears and said goodbyes and felt guilt.
And realized it was only 9 am.
Time for work.
I tried to focus and pumped and struggled to prove my worth and pumped and wondered if it was all worth it and pumped and sighed about all that was left undone
And realized it was 5 pm.
Time to get the kids.
I listened to vague recollections of the day and absorbed the meltdowns and felt guilty and tried to play but the baby was hungry and tired and there was never 
enough 
time. 
So I filled the tub to the chorus of wails and giggles
and filled a brief quiet moment with baby suckles
while I still had Moana to babysit
and watched the microwave spin as it reminded me there was never
Enough 
Time. 
And I prepared food but ate so fast I could not taste it
and played and read books and snuggled and said a prayer and refilled water and put the covers just right three times like we practiced and closed the door with nothing else left of me.
I wanted to say there is nothing heroic
about being forced to wear a cape 
without a safety net.
And it’s impossible
to be everything
to everyone
including myself.
And I’m not fighting a battle of good and evil
but still I’m pummeled and sore and distracted and so blessed and tired and I tell myself I’ll do better tomorrow
but then I remember there’s never
Enough 
Time.

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LOVE STORY

In Honor of my Grandparents

Do you love a love story?

The swelling music and 

magic-in-the-mundane

kind of 

devotion,

crafted over decades

of tender gazes?

Then I have 

a doozy.


A tale of 

girl pursues boy

And

unrequited puppy love 

finally sparks and 

ignites

and burns brighter than any

diamond he gave her. 


Of children one - two

and grandchildren three - four. 

Of autumn leaves 

and pathways up mountains 

and

gossip at bridge club

with stories that never quite end

about you-remember-so-and-so

while he sits as her proudest 

Spectator.


And they knew 

how to love 

and traveled the world

collecting friends 

as souvenirs. 

And used their hands to craft 

beautiful things

like memories -

stained glass recollections and relics 

trapping family history 

in wood and cloth and stone - 

building a home and life for themselves, 

but when that was done

he took up his tool belt

and laid new foundations.


So love burned 

while life blazed on

and broke them 

piece by piece -

his eyes and ears

and then

her mind -

until one day

she didn’t know him.


And he ached 

and remembered

the pact they had signed 

when their bodies were still

theirs to control -

that at the end, 

the very end, 

they would be together and

if not

they would go together.


I imagine he kissed her

as she lay there

and remembered 

the width of her smile 

and the expanse

of their lives

and all the brightest moments 

but mostly, 

as always,

he remembered what she wanted.

And he knew 

he only wanted her.

So in a moment 

(that was a lifetime 

in the making)

their love was sealed 

in one final act.


The epilogue 

was shipped in boxes

and lovingly placed on

non-acidic pages

to carry their story 

and remind us that love sears and binds

in beauty and pain.

And it simmers but can also explode and splinter off into disparate stories 

that we hold 

with

one

certainty:

They knew how to love.

Waves

I STAY

An Anthem of COVID-19

I wondered

If I could be sea sick,

Having never

Spent much time at sea,

But these days the tilting

Shifting tides

Crash relentless

Around me,

And I realize that 

Forever bobbing 

In 

Uncertainty 

Is a torturous thing. 

I breathe in beauty 

And somewhere within me

It is hammered into fear. 

All waking and sleeping

Defined

By waves of difference. 

My bones long

For solid ground

But I’m told

It may never be the same,

So I crumble

Into dust

Hoping the winds can scatter 

Me away.

But, sadly, 

I stay. 

Image by K. Mitch Hodge

WHEN I LOST YOU

I remember when I lost you. 

silent tears

flooding the 

black and white hole

where your heart

used to be. 

How the words they didn’t say

landed loudly, 

and for awhile

were all I could hear. 

I remember how each 

dream of you

was wrenched from me

over and over. 

I still have 

some things

for you – 

shoved in the dark

as if

you’re on your way

to claim them. 

Your name hangs

wordlessly

in the air as

we continue on

without you – 

a lifetime 

that wasn’t meant to be. 

A small piece 

of death

within me. 

Image by Jon Tyson

TENURE

I bleed time from my tired veins

aching to be 

Enough

and receiving only the most 

rationed dose

of recognition.

The constant wanting

needing

elusive sense of what I should be doing

what would make me worthy

and really

it’s all 

about 

Time. 

When my baby was there

at my breast

warm bodies straining to 

connect to

grow together

I was pulled each hour

to the ticking 

of 

More. 

I stamp my name

as many times

as they will let me

in hopes

One day

it sticks.

That one day a full second

can hold all of me,

and that this clock

won’t strip away

who 

am. 

Or lose

the weight of each 

moment, 

of the endurance

to strain 

and carry the things that

will never

truly 

be 

counted, 

and yet

are the only

things that 

count. 

And I wish I could smash

this ticking

force that makes 

me dance

and contort

and doubt

myself, 

but I don’t know how

to stop what’s already 

Deeply -

Embedded -

Within me. 

Image by Gary Meulemans

RESILIENCE

I woke up
the shallow pool
that holds my pain
was full to the brim. 
She saw me there,
spilling over,
her own well deep 
and well tended. 
She surveyed my loss
nodded
and kindly said,
"It's ok, love. 
Start digging."