Thursday, December 23, 2010

Three Moments in NYC


My train stops at Harlem 125th Street, mythical location of Langston Hughes poems, James Baldwin stories, and so it is that I find myself on my journey. NYC is so foreign to me. All of it. Fabulous, bewildering, exhilarating and foreign. Tenement housing whirs by as we lurch forward again, red brick landscape slips across tempered glass like text-less microfiche. Next stop, Grand Central. Upper West Side. Noe. The visual birth of Inertia. Another way to be in this life.

I sit in a coffee shop called Utopia where Broadway and Amsterdam meet in a criss-cross intersection at 72nd. The subway station rises from the sidewalk like an Upper West Side mini-Louvre. The busboy keeps passing my table and speaking very sweetly in Spanish. Signed head shots smile or smolder from frames on the wall--Susan Sarandon (smile), Sandra Bullock (smolder), Lisa Kudrow (big smile), Dennis Quaid (smile), Mariah Carey (big smolder). Christmas decorations dangle from the ceiling, and I listen to the small talk at the counter. A fall at 93 is different from a fall at 40. Cat sitting? I'll watch your cat for $200 a week! Allergies even in snow. ATM idiosyncrasies. The man at the register knows everyone's names, and I think if I lived here (God forbid I should live in this wonderful, terrible, godforsaken city), I would come here every day for the tastiest $1.37 worth of coffee 'in town' and for the kindness of these strangers.

A few moments with you, P, and all of the grief of these past years breaks open like an egg in your heart. You have been left defenseless. Wet hair and without my panties in the ER room, you repeat indignantly. Hapless combination of vision and poetry, drugs and fear, and alas, the wildest kind of hope. This is what has left you reeling--a whirligig off its axis and tumbling up into the ether. No way to collect yourself, littered across the sky in delicate, iridescent fragments. I love this city, you intone, and you mean it. You hug yourself as your fanciful eyes follow the slim lines of tall buildings that make a landing strip of a secretly limitless sky, and I wind my arm through yours as we go, hoping that my love will find its way in to where you are.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

In response to Kseniya Simonova's Sand Art...

She waits, she sews, she sows, she grows--old. What we ask of ourselves, of each other, the candles we light, the vigils we keep as the veil of our age descends before our eyes, our lips, our collar bones trembling like birds in nests. What if one's whole lifetime is used up by waiting? What if the whole of her experience is centered in longing?

Her fingers move along the edge of the envelope--after all the waiting, this need to pause again. What news? What news? I grow old, I grow cold, says the poet, but such aging is not rooted in the body. It is the way life tires us, how it wrings us like garments in a river and leaves us flaccid and losing our substance with every drop of water that evaporates, every bit of moisture that lifts away from us and into the sky.

We are dry, finally, insubstantial, quavering like rice paper cut into prayer flags and strung across an empty space. In hope. In hope.

To see Simonova's moving performance art piece that inspired this writing, see

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Monarch for a Moment

The last time I saw you alive you were driving in a 4-wheel drive truck much too big for your little body. Your pale wrists flashed above the steering wheel as you made the right turn onto Mamalahoa Highway. You didn't see me--how could I have known?

When you misunderstood me that night--in our last class of the writing circle--your eyes grew round and dark with expression, and you seemed so relieved. I knew you had misunderstood, believed for a moment that I had said our class would continue and not end. It seemed like a lifeline to you then. No, I corrected you. It was ending, and this was the last class. So typical you would not have gathered this from the various conversations and would emerge from your pink cloud only now to interject your misshapen response. Oh. Danielle.

I know there were other ways for you to be whole and peaceful and to love yourself even a little. I know I couldn't have stopped your momentum away from us and toward the ether. But I would give a million monarchs back to the sky to have you here for one more day, assign you one more poem, tell you one more time how beautiful and how fierce were your words...and your love.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Animal Dreams

I skulk here in my darkness. I have lifted myself down into it, chosen shadow for its anonymity and the comfort of its vagueness.

"Big animal dark," said the poet* and I lick my shiny white teeth, breathe long and slow--primal rise and fall of rib cage, of breasts, of knowing. Surge of the feral wanting that wrings me from myself.

What curls around my ears like steam is the alchemical potion of love and fear, interepidity and shame--paradoxical infusion steeping like tea in my flip-top head.

I run my hand over the 'animal dream'--its heart beats yet, though I have denied it. So familiar, it nuzzles into my palm, remembers me to myself.

"What you long for also longs for you," she said, but if one's longing takes the shape of the night sky and adorns itself with starlight, then how can one distinguish between her own heart and a vaguely pulsing planet? What if, after all, what one longs for is her secret self alone in the universe and hidden, though it clamors its insistent rhythm into the ether?

Is there no peace to be had? No quiet and no napping language--only sighs and the soft moan of time passing without our understanding?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Traveling Blues

Traveling alone always puts me in this melancholy state. It is the vastness of landscapes viewed from above: red mesas that rise out of deserts and then spill upward into snow-covered mountain ranges--all of it through the feathery mist of clouds.

It is the dizzying array of humanity--the sensation that grows out of it: myself as a tiny fleck of color on a massive canvas where faces and even names are disappearing and reappearing every minute, ever defying what I know of life, of art, of time.

It is the sense of being unmoored--at sea or on air and floating, floating along, embraced only by my anonymity, my traveling silence.

It is watching everyone doing the best that they can to move from point A to point B--how they must inevitably brush up against the other and then go on, never betraying the fear that has risen in their gorge and then dissipated, leaving the way it came.

It is the incongruity of discreetly stretching my body near a pillar--yoga in knee-high boots amid a thousand traveling strangers, all bouncing off of one another like pinballs.

It is airplanes lined up along a row of plate glass windows like horses to a trough. Someone is sprawled and sleeping on the airport carpet, half a hot dog in her open hand. Someone is calling what must be words into a P.A. system, and I am nowhere, I am in between, I am no one to anyone here. No thing of consequence in this vast place. None of us is, except perhaps for the little knots of family who travel together--or the lovers. I haven't the heart to tell them that they, too, are alone.

It is moving through time zones in dream time, the darkness falling at odd hours to my static heart. Shades of grey slipping like curtains, like veils, between me and the planet I was just on.

It is the single steel wing that cuts through clouds like butter. The thousand shimmering diamonds on my pillbox window at this elevation, the sunlight refracting through them every which way. They grow and connect like islands in a translucent sea.

It is the inconsolable infant whose new mother didn't know to have him drink during takeoff, so that now the pressure of our entire journey builds itself relentlessly in his tiny eardrum.

It is Sissy Spacek, old now, on a miniature screen, her blue eyes as bright as they ever were.

It is how my heart swells and feels as if even in all this wild space it can never really be accommodated.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


I am standing in line at the Boston Logan airport, waiting to board my flight for California, when I glance out the plate glass window and catch sight of light on water. Unexpectedly: the bay. The sea, after all. It is like a secret there amid the vertical array of buildings and bridges, the whispered intimation of that expansiveness that fills my ribcage and swells in my marine heart. I will fly toward the Pacific today, oceanic home of mine, and for the first time in three months, my feet will touch her grey sand, my head will receive her aquatic kiss.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


The lull of history between wars--there used to be times like that, I think. When there was really no war to speak of. But we are utterly engaged at any given moment, it seems, in an armed conflict of some sort. By "we" I mean Americans, by "we" I mean humanity. Of course. Of course. Why blame? It is what ails us all--not any one group: fear. Fear of the other, of losing power or control, of being subverted in some way. Of being less than what we are...but isn't it our acts of violence that diminish us? Make us ultimately smaller and less as humans? Why must we continually violate ourselves by striking out against the other? Violence can only give rise to more violence, and in this engenderment: more and more fear. How to soothe ourselves? What lullaby to beguile the senses, silence the alarm that rises along our spines and explodes in our ears? Oh. Is there no melody that can teach the heart to be still and pray to what is universal and holy?

Friday, September 24, 2010


How we run, how we grow, how we pray to the gods of our waking dreams, how the screams of our stories permeate the present, make us tremble in our sleep. How we look and touch and begin again the quest for the real, try to hold it in our hands--like sand, warm under our feet but unwieldy. We fill our pockets: ballast for the unbearably insubstantial. Oh. This is how we grow, this is how it goes, I sing the song again that simmers in my heart, nourishes every dream I have warming there. These are the days of complete lucidity--body pure and light, opening itself to mind to spirit--personal trinity turned inside out and spilling, spilling across a finite horizon.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


It is the day before 9/11. Every year it is the same for me, the recollection of that morning, dragging the TV to the cable outlet because the radio's disjointed tones tell us something is terribly wrong. It is six in the morning, and we are in Hawaii, as far from New York City as we can be and this by choice. There is fear in the strained tones of the announcer and in the repetition of images on the screen: an airplane, inexplicably, planting itself in the side of a tower. The World Trade Center collapsing into itself like a magic trick. Oh.

We know there may be students with family members affected, so we begin to move like ghosts, me with Taiaroa on my hip, knocking on dormitory doors. Wake up, dear ones. Something has happened. Something has happened.

Nine years later it is still happening, and I am invited to burn a Koran. How a seed of blame can grow in a decade. How we nurture our hate, braid our fear into a new thing that neither resembles truth nor serves any purpose but to annihilate. The other. The self.

What was said to urge this leap from one violence to another, its new victim strangely like ourselves? What did we tell ourselves to be able to point to one bewildered group of people and say You? Why are we so comforted by wholesale blame? Absolute culpability--so neat and clean. Easy. Can we really reduce ourselves, our response to a tragedy, to this?

I am invited then by my Jewish writer friend to read a Koran on this terrible day of remembering, and I am able to take a tiny breath. It is an act that means not forgiveness (how narrow, how presumptuous) but that we try to understand. The other. The shadowy figure of the unknown. It means we try to close a chasm that is filled with our ignorance and surely with our fear. It means that what we seek, after all, is not division but divine connection. Linguistic proof of shared holiness. Hidden in our humanity. It is a way to say I am not afraid and I don't need your culpability to free me from my grief.

Thank you, David, for your invitation. It saves me from the many others that have whirled around our ears over the last nine years. On this day we remember--and we express our infinite hope, because how else can we live another year, another moment, with our imperfect selves?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Rock Star

Fresh-faced boys smile at me from beneath the sweaty rims of their skate helmets. They are finally home and they know it. They teach me this with the ease of their gait, the way they breathe this air, lift faces to clouds swollen with sunset light.

Vermont is this beautiful in part because they are in it, but I cannot deny something inherently and profoundly lovely in this place. Something perfectly familiar and true.

To have built this nest from afar, woven the twigs and leaves of our two-year struggle into the coracle of our eastward migration--I feel like a complete rock star.

It is perhaps my greatest achievement.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


for Basia

The crisp lines of the three volcanoes

against sky—these speak of the clarity

that shakes down at the end of this magical,

terrible time. It is time, Pele chides,

to doff the cloak of suffering and step

into the golden light that suffuses this land

and beckons, without fanfare, for you

to join it. It’s not about place, it turns out,

and you are indeed free.

Pele laughs because you have always

been free—she released you the moment

you were born to this Island.

And yet, your earnest heart bound you

to it—for a time. For a time. As the static

picture of your life on these four acres

dissolves into a slow fade, remember

what you learned here. About yourself,

what you are capable of.

And do not criticize yourself

when the lessons of these years emerge

nebulous or without clear definition—

it is the job of time to distill them

under your eye. Move forward, released

from the inertia that was never yours

but which you willingly entered—

and now willingly depart. Be as gentle

with your soul as you are with your palms.

All is well, sister. I promise.

And for your kindness, for your compassion

and generosity, there is exponential return

as the new picture takes shape. It will come

into focus—for now, rest easy, knowing that

the colors are right, the shapes inviting and soft.

Know that there is love all around you. Ours

is but a filament in the tapestry of love and light

that you lay over your life each night for sleep.

We thank you. This land thanks you.

Like a magical fairy you have tended it

these many years. Tended the people

who have arrived here, in need of your

soothing gifts. Remember your wings, love.

They have always been there.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


And so we gather our things
to make the journey across the ocean
and over land to where the twigs
and grasses are already gathering
and from which we will build
our nest. Our friends wave goodbye
and understand the gravity
that means we will never truly
leave the Island behind us.

It is a gathering of hours
that draws us onward, pulls
us home again, and even in the
deepest white of winter,
we carry Pele in our hearts
where she smolders the million
mirrors that enrapture us
with our own brilliant light.
Divine creatures that crawl
the space between heaven
and earth, we: animated
temples of the gods, oh! How
can there not be peace on earth--
or at least in Vermont?

Sunday, July 18, 2010


River rises in a crescent over heavy
stone beneath the surface--green moss
like a slick beard is evidence of stasis,
though it streams seaward. It threatens
to lift off, whirl away with errant currents,
leave said stone naked and clean; instead,
it clings.

Rain flutters an irregular pattern on
the water, obscures all that is underneath:
coarse sand. Round rocks worn smooth
with their tumbling. Absence of fish.
There is silence there, though the river speaks
to the air above it. It is yes and so and
histories unraveled too fast to repeat or
even to understand. They are our own names
and those of our ancestors being sung to us--
aquatic susurrus that remembers us
to ourselves.

We glide along on the inner tubes of tires,
tip our heads to watch the trail of sky
made by kukui nut trees along the banks
and by the Valley walls. We are entranced
by stone and sand and water moving not
urgently, but with intention. To the sea,
it whispers. To the sea. And we are in love
with the moss because of its many shades
of green and even more, because it shows us
who we are.

Friday, July 2, 2010

"What you long for also longs for you"

On the day of my 39th birthday...'thirty-something' for one more year. Today, I occupy the toasty, oat-colored band of a striated landscape: sand, whitewater gently lapping, turquoise then azul, black lava rock, deep greenery, then pale blue, punctuated by wispy cloud. It is one of the many varieties of paradise that I have known.

The sun is high and reminds me of the abundance that blooms in my life, as I open myself to it. There is peace, after all, and the kind of love I always believed in but seemed to misplace during those whirling, fragmented years. I am filled with gratitude for what can grow, even out of such a fallow time. For the many-petaled love that lives me.

The gifts keep coming, as if in answer to my faith. Oh, I waited for this. I prayed. At last, the gods heard me. Time remembered me to myself. Karma delivered. For what is all this but perfect intention made manifest...every obstacle removed. Beauty of creation, dawn of sweetest surrender. I let go, I let grow, I make permeable the thin membrane that separates me from the all.

It is bliss, it is this, it is the real and the super-real--synchronized by my longing. "What you long for also longs for you." Indeed, and we have found each other at last.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Dear Danielle,

You were always moving away from us...into the ether, along a pale horizon that shimmered with your want. That want, more than anything, populated your world with ghosts. I know that for you, there was no reprieve from the hurting, and I think that for you it was brave to have stayed as long as you did, here, bound by this heavy flesh, these tiresome bones.

Like an iridescent little exposed nerve, a dandelion gone to seed, you wavered in the too bright air, trembling. Your sense of beauty, ever refined and exquisite, spoke itself in your art, though we could not convince you that what you generated was truly art. It was too messy, you thought. Who ever gave you the idea that art was tidy, angel? Who ever?

No matter. Your skin carried in it the moonlight, and in your languishing eyes, we could always see ourselves. What we did not know and could not fathom were the distances between joys for you. How the suffering we saw there was ceaseless, and even your love was tempered with its bitterness. We could not see that you couldn't begin to receive our love in a way that meant wholeness. Validation. Real connection that soothes what aches in our trembling hearts.

I am too old to accept blame in the way I might have fifteen years ago, and yet there is the small wound of carelessness...perhaps if I had...maybe if I...but no. They were our efforts, our love, that carried you this far, and for that I know you are grateful. And now, released into the ether, you are star-like, beautiful--in all the ways you wanted to be on earth (and indeed were to those of us who love you). What I know is this: in this new and bodiless shape, it will be possible for you to love your self, and for this it is I who am grateful.

I envision you with butterfly wings. They are iridescent, gossamer, and their movement whispers all the blessings that you were never able to claim as your this life and without them. I call you Nereid and wish to have you back, if only for a moment, to see your expression as you receive the epithet. Oh. There was love. And though I cannot conceive of it, though it pains me to think on it, somehow I know that none of it was wasted.

"You are perfect," I told you that night--what was it? Two months ago? Five years? It was an echo of a thing I have said so many times before. Perhaps even to you in those early days of your adolescence. "Not in your word or in your deed--for whose can be?--but in your intention. Perfect." That counts for something, darling, and though I do not know what, I know you know this already and laugh at the way that you have already transcended my earthly wisdom. How every syllable I issue, even now, is for my own benefit, my own healing. Such is the limitation of the "mortal coil"!

Remember Hamlet, my love? Yes and yes. Good bye for now, sweet angel. "And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest. Sleep dwell upon thine eyes and peace in thy breast." We will meet the ether.

Sunday, May 16, 2010


All that is lacking here
is the silence of snow.
It decks the peaks
of Mauna Kea occasionally--
sometimes even Hualalai
and Mauna Loa--but it
is a guest, a fleeting traveler
on its way to a place
that will sustain it.

We float mid-pacific,
laced 'round with rain forest
and waterfalls. There is ever
the coo of doves, ever the shriek
of koki frogs by moonlight.
When it rains in Kohala
the drops are heavy, laden
with the endowment of the ancients.
In Waimea the rain comes like mist
off the sea but with the force
of the upcountry wind.
Ka Makani in fits and starts.

In this place
we know nothing of that kind
of silence.When the air is heavy
with mango and plumeria,
hot and close and absent of
movement, there are still the antics
of the dragonflies, the call of the
myna bird who knows nothing of
south. She nests perennially in her
Hawaiian home, only peripherally
aware of having come from somewhere
else--following the canoes of men
who would know what the vast ocean
held out to them. Men who would
become this land, their bones singing
from volcanic tombs.

Seasonal splendor and the silence
of snow--these are reserved for places
other. Ours is the sound of things
growing, seeds splitting, shoots breaking
the earth and unfurling their green
beneath a cloudless sky. Ours is the chant
of the elders whose hands rap the gourd
and whose voices remind us of
the mythology of the real. Wahine
move to this rhythm, eyes ablaze
with Pele's promise, ti leaf skirts
whispering against sinewy brown calves.
Their hands tell the stories of the ancients,
and the keiki kneel at their feet, listening
with their bodies.

The silence of snow fills the ears of those
who choose it. There, on the other side
of the globe. We are vaguely aware
as we move between these places
of the polar relationship between ice
and lava, contemplation and expression,
silence and sound.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Duck Dive

Mother's Day 2010. Day before my baby's birth, nine years ago. Day after his birthday party. Month of our redemption--moving into the phase of loving, abundance, the ever after of this two year period of struggle.

The dragonfly spoke to me last summer--she landed on my finger and reminded me of two. Two year phases that comprise such experience as I was undergoing in that moment. I shook my head, didn't want to believe her. She shimmered there, gently insisted on her message, let me walk her all the way across the crowded room, out the door and to the edge of the deck. Only when I extended my hand for her to go did she fly, but she left me enchanted and aware of having been touched by the Divine.

I was exultant but also resistant--adjusting the start time of the "two" in my mind--pushing it back and back to put my present at its end. But this--almost to the day--two years after we made the decision to leave Europe, choose family, choose each other over every other thing: my head breaks the water.

It is as if we have duck-dived a massive wave, felt the turbulence pass along our spines as we moved inside its blue-green might, focusing all our energies on punching out the back side of the enormous wave: symbolic willingness to change. We generated it. Indeed we must have created the underwater terrain it would drag itself across to pitch itself into air, curl over, collapse in a wild melee of energy and whitewater and force.

We have shot out into the near silence on the other side--the cool promise of glistening bubbles frothing and popping in a hushed susurrus of relief, blue ribbon of horizon gently beckoning, our own hands interlaced and expressing our perfect intention to do this, whatever it takes. Together. I open my mouth and pull in a mouthful of the air on this side. It is good. It is real. It is good.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Home Again

We must ever be searching, I think, for "our peeps"--throughout the world searching for people and places that feel like home...which perhaps exist at the same vibration, shimmer in the same way, that we do.

Being a foreigner, a stranger--this is important too, for a time. To know what it's like to be "the other." To learn empathy for those in the unique circumstance, at any given time, to be 'strange' or 'foreign.' We must ever be aware, too, that there is a place in the world where each and every 'stranger' is indeed not 'strange' at all, but home.

Over time, I think we learn to carry home with us. To become it. It makes all the sense in the world that I am a cancer, a crab, by birth and by sun sign, carrying my little sense of home on my back. Our new adventure awaits.

In the brief meantime we will love Hawaii, fill our days with her places and her people. Fill ourselves with her beauty and her fun. Thank you, Pele, for being the midwife of Inertia the novel, for showing yourself to us fully this year, for fostering new Hawaii friendships and nurturing old ones. For healing old wounds and embracing us in our time of uncertainty.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

In Gratitude

Thank you, Great Spirit, for loving my little boy up--for making him strong and healthy so that he could transcend these challenges. As his ninth birthday approaches, I remember:

You are very small. Much too small for photographs or phone calls or bubble gum cigars. The incongruity of what this moment might be and what it is leaves me pale. Still. The empty pouch of my vast belly loose and strange in my lap.

I am alone in the room, and I know you will not be brought back to me here. I make one phone call to my mother whose sleep is still heavy in her voice when she answers, sounding very distant and slightly alarmed. "The baby is here," I say in a monotone just tinged with hope. I feel five years old, except my breasts are enormous and already leaking milk.

I have given birth tonight to a too small boy with lungs that stick together on the inside, so that each attempt to open them again, fill them with this stale air, is a monumental effort, and you will soon tire of it, I know.

Daddy has followed you and six doctors down the hall, has promised me not to leave you alone with them. Our tiny moment of contact, you sputtering quietly on my chest and me whispering my love already--it is absorbed in this protracted night of your absence. I can see you at nine a.m., I am told, and I do not sleep or move until then.


As I reflect on this year so far, and on the new developments in our lives (namely the opportunity to move to Vermont and work at our dream school), I flip back to a journal entry made back in January:

Doors open and close around me, and I understand them as what the Universe offers me so that my hope does not die out entirely. Each door sends a slight disturbance of air that fills my lungs with possibility and keeps me breathing for another week or two. I cling to each rung of hope like monkey bars, believe I will eventually arrive at the other side, though it is not in sight.

It is time to be where I need to be, and perceiving that I get a sense of urgency, allow myself to be influenced by so many things; as a result, I lack clarity. The spirit world makes sure that the interval of each opening is not long enough for me to pass through.

When it is the right door, it will certainly be a grand passageway that is unmistakably right, and I will move through it in gratitude and with certainty. I understand these words as both placating and as potentially containing the higher truth that sustains me.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Eat Cake

I say that I let go, and then I immediately attach myself again to the shape of things as I want them to be. Why does everything in my life seem like it has to be part of some arduous spiritual lesson?

I see many people going through life as if they are sleepwalking. It seems to work okay for them. I wonder furtively if heightened consciousness is not completely overrated. If it wouldn't be easier to be a spiritual pedestrian, wholly ascribing to the popular interpretations of ancient texts, where "God in us" is dismissed as wholly metaphoric, rather than recognized as the suggestion of God-consciousness I believe it to be.

What if I closed my eyes to the super-real? Ignored the energetic layers of our existence and, say, ate cake? Ha ha. This bizarro symbolism for complacency only reveals my twisted mind: eat cake. I love cake.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


In this one you are hovering above the village of Monthey like smoke or fog. Dwaine will say it has to do with heat and cold, pressure and altitude, but I see you there.

You are no longer strung about with the golden cords of our desire, our longing for you, but are free to move among us, above us and below. Freed from your flesh and bone, you hover weightless, all intention and light. Nothing to encumber the perfection of your intent.

Your mother will howl tonight, your father melt into a medicated bliss, because you are gone from them and will not return. Not the way they want--their boy in his blue down coat, ruddy cheeks and mussed hair the color of straw.

No, you are something different now and I glimpse you beyond my prayer flags, slinking along the base of the mountain we climbed last fall. It is a glorious resting place, but of course you are only there when I am looking--the way I need to see you, in the place I need you to be.


I hang my clothes to dry now. The Mediterranean quality of our climate allows for this. It encourages a kind of airing out of everything in our lives. We move from day to day like this: each action protracted, slowed almost to a stop. It is this waiting that is so heavy, this place that counters the sensation with light.

I no longer have to scoop hot, snapping ions into my arms but instead pick one cool, wet garment from the basket at a time. Shake out its folds. Clip it tenderly to the taut line above my head, where it will flip and snap along the breeze and lighten with each passing moment until it smells like the earth and is as dry.

I hang my clothes to dry now, and it is a meditation of sorts. It is a reminder that I am on the ground now, no longer floating on air like a kite. This is real and I am now and home is an action.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Karmic Recovery

I finish the next layer of revision on Inertia today. The novel finds its shape. I keep breathing, keep holding space for the miracle of seeing our little dream emerge from beneath the snow, bloom into this air, open to receive us. Oh. Thank you thank you, as the reality unfolds in its perfect timing. It is as it was always meant to be. It is as we dreamed it. Indeed, as we created it. I begin to sense the restoration of my faith in our good karma, the fine manifestation of our perfect intent. I add the 'm' and close the syllable: Om.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Negative Capability

I begin to understand that my life up to the age of 30 was not, in fact, mapped out by me and did not occur according to that plan. That only appeared to be the case. The events of my life, from high school graduation onward, with the exception of a few isolated events (which though they radically altered my core beliefs did not significantly reroute the intended course) only happened to coincide with the plan I had laid out for myself at the age of fourteen.

Starting right around the age of 33, nothing has happened as I might have anticipated. I could choose to see a causal relationship between that and the essential end of my teenage-heart-generated blueprint and its subsequent absorption into the general "happily ever after" I had envisioned for myself, but I rather think that their synchronous occurrence is entirely coincidental.

I become aware that though it may be my higher self, God in me as it were, directing my life, I am in no way consciously determining its direction. The generalities, yes: profound love for my family, deep appreciation, intimacy and camaraderie with my husband, shared vision of a mindful, compassionate, environmentally conscious lifestyle--check. But as far as the details?

Well...I can't say I've been shocked--the epiphany has been far too gradual to call it that--but I've been incrementally surprised at the infinitesimal (if extant) degree of control I actually have over the pieces of the puzzle. Where we live, how we support ourselves, where the boys go to school, how much time I am able to devote to creative endeavors, seem to all be dictated by some benevolent force. And I am only now able, and still with some dubiousness, to use the modifier benevolent. There were months, maybe even years, during which I could not have been sure, and these were punctuated by brief moments in which I was sure that the opposite was true.

I sit back and relax. I have enough evidence, finally, that the puzzle pieces have been laid (notice the passive construction) in a way that will indeed form the whole picture of my life. I resist the desire to expedite their placement, not only because it is futile, but also because certainly its completion is tantamount to the end of my life, which I hope will be fantastically protracted. Therefore, it is with peacefulness that I allow those pieces to find their ways to fill each gap, bring nebulous color and line into focus as identifiable image.

I begin to feel the end of a period of struggle upon me, as I relinquish my imaginary control. My boys are happy, beautiful in their innocence and perfect intent; Dwaine and I are exultant in renewed love and the approach of our seventeen-year-anniversary; I bloom into the novelist I had not allowed myself to become until now; our home is abundant, eden-like in its tranquility and beauty; our friends are near--this year not only in our hearts but in physical proximity as well.

Such blessings. Where do they come from? My ribcage swells with gratitude, and I feel ready for the next leg of our journey, whatever that might look like, whatever the pieces of the puzzle, wherever they may land. I open myself to change. I open myself to stasis. I open myself to uncertainty. This is what Keats called negative capability. Being able to embrace what is wild, uncertain, mystical and strange in life, so as not just to experience it, but to become it. Yum!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Six Ways of Seeing this Horizon

..after Wallace Stevens


Aquamarine filament slithers between heaven and earth:
we are in good company.


Thin membrane between the real and the super-real
lies like gossamers along the ocean's spine.


Whispery kohl promise--blue-black line
shimmers beneath a heavy sky: we
are who we think we are, after all.


The boundary between days. Inky
sheath separates yes from too tired.
No from perhaps.


Gold presses down on coal, limning
the edges of our world. How we
know one moment from the next.


Thin axis of our longing.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Touching Down...

The wheel of my artistic experience disengages from its airborne axis--that which has elevated it these many years, yes, but which has also kept it from touching down, gaining traction and moving with purpose on this earth. Such art is otherwordly, I know, but it is in this world, on this ground that it will serve its purpose; this voice, these limitless words, they carry the vibration of truth, the strange and visceral instructions for harnessing one's own ability to achieve balance, effect right relationship, heal the soul.

Easter Weekend 2010

Tucked at the back of the Valley, dripping with lush foliage, rainwater and perfect intention, the quanzit hut cradles three boys and the four parents who love them--who by their love and in creating moments like these hold space for them to grow, live, become the fullest versions of their little boy selves. Their lights swell and fill the cornerless space, fill us with hope and the desire to protect their innocent, burgeoning faith--but we will soften, open ourselves even to their vulnerability. It is the only way to save ourselves from this devastating desire and to pave the way for the unfolding of their many petals.

Thank you P, R & R for inviting us to your Waipi'o hale for this special weekend. Namaste.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

This Dream


Albert Einstein is still weeping
over the application of his perfect
constructions. Ideas and even language
can be perfect, he croons, but people
never can.


In this lifetime, he is
a caterpillar, destined
to live only two days
as a blue butterfly. Life
curtailed by beauty.


I fly across the night
sky without wings, the stars
breaking on my shoulders,
my forehead, like water.
Like dreams. Celestial
baptism in my insomniac

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

...inspired by Lucille Clifton

The poem at the end of the world is the one that is punctuated perfectly, each syllable measured out to contain the transliteration of the human heart. It contains, too, that truth which is so elusive, which gives meaning to every little act. It elucidates what is otherwise obscure, and it vindicates the fallen. It is the only perfect use of language, and yet it crouches on the horizon like a thief. It shifts and disappears like a trick of the light. Makes us distrust it. It is not that we want so to possess it, or even to achieve it, but to lay it over or lives like a code-breaker, a veil though which each mineral truth might shine like veins of or in stone, and we, assured by the sudden movement into focus, might read hungrily there the surreptitious instructions for how to proceed. How to relinquish fear. How to let the bitterness dissolve.

Not waiting but being.

I soften my face, my lungs, my judgment against myself. Forgiveness can't be far behind. I allow myself to float down to the bottom of the river, the last bubbles of my breath wobbling to the surface above me. My hair sweeps out in all directions, as if feeling for the light that is muted by my aquatic milieu. Body weightless, skin textured with cold, I hover; my buttocks graze the sandy bottom; one foot dangles, draws circles in the sand there. My face, cast blue by the bending shafts of sunlight through water, is smooth, expressionless, for fear has left me empty of more than air.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Faith what will be. In what I create each moment in my life. Whether or not there is an audience, a reader, there is this life. This commitment to finding and indeed creating meaning. I begin this blog today, intimidated as I am by this technology, to express my belief in the very real pursuit of my writing. Poetry, fiction, non-fiction. All things linguistic. Yes, please, oh.

History of Touch

published in the Waimea Gazette in 2005:

No one will tell me the stories of my grandfather. I have asked my grandmother many times, and her only response is a kind of blank searching, a dim confusion and often a reference to whatever is showing on her television at the time. I have gotten used to watching its movement in the reflection on her glasses. I have gotten used to her emptiness. I endow her with the greatest of anguish, because it is the only way I can understand a woman who won’t speak of her husband, or even of her children as they grew. Some days I think she has no memory of them. Even of my father who sits before her during our customary biannual 30-minute visits, making attempts at small talk, speaking gently, as if to protect her from something they both know and will not speak.

My father was too young when my grandfather went missing in the Korean War to remember him, or to remember his mother and father together. What it felt like to touch him. That day in September of 1952, when my grandfather’s plane did not return from its mission along MIG Alley over the Yalu River, my father was orphaned. He and his two brothers lost their father, though many would hold out hope of his return for years to come, and they lost their mother. She was in their lives, but she became a ghost. A shell of what she had been. My father has not a single memory of a tender touch from his mother, the entire time he was growing up. Finally, at fourteen, he left. Why wait around for something that was lost before he ever became cognizant of a void? It just made sense.

Last year when the crash site of an F-86 Sabre jet, along with the remains of Captain Troy Gordon Cope, was exhumed from a Chinese man’s front yard, my relationship with my dad changed forever. It is difficult to describe. It’s not like we were waiting. Fifty plus years after the fact, and we were not swimming in daily grief over the loss of my grandfather, and yet what was not there, what never had been, had forged a chasm between us that was so wide I had settled in to the idea that I would never be able to traverse it. Distance was ours, and we moved along in our way, loving each other, but always aware of some ghost between us.

It was not the ghost of Grandpa Troy. Perhaps he’s taken another body. Some 50-year-old man or woman out there, living the next leg of the spirit journey. Or camped out in my mother’s heaven, waiting. I have a sense of him as infinitely patient. No, it was not his ghost, but the ghost of my Grandma Rosie, still living in the town of my father’s youth. It has not occupied her body for many years, 52 I suspect, though something exists in that body to move it from room to room in her tiny South Modesto home. Her ghost has been hovering between me and my father for the last 33 years, all of those that have comprised my life. Where it breathed its lamentation for the 19 years preceding my birth is a mystery to all. But last May, I think we squeezed her out of that space. Unintentionally, mind you. I think I would have taken her in any form, had I understood, so great was my need to know her. But I did not.

When we walked into the JPAC building (Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command), my father and I crossed a threshold. It was the doorway somehow to a place we never thought we’d find ourselves, and it was to represent our effort, as much as anything else, to find each other. Our charge was to view the remains of my grandfather, to see them safely stowed and folded into an army blanket, according to a tradition that dates back to World War II, and to follow their progress from laboratory to funeral home to airplane to home soil, where Grandpa “Gordie,” as he was called, would be buried in a full military service at Dallas Memorial Cemetery. I was amazed at the treatment we received from the JPAC staff, from Senior Advisor Johnie Webb and the lab’s Evidence Manager, Sardiaa Plaud. We were apprised of the general mission of JPAC and of the ongoing effort to recover the bodies of missing soldiers from past wars as far back as World War II. We were taken aback by the sheer humanitarian aspect of this division of the military, devoted solely to accounting for these missing men and women, devoted solely to providing closure to their families. The debt that is owed to these families is duly acknowledged, and it was with great reverence and formality that we were ushered back to the labs and secure areas of the building.

Sardiaa led us on a tour of the facility and told stories of JPAC’s successes over the years, carefully treading the line between her exultation of the science of their work and her awareness of the bittersweet nature of their successes. Her compassion and energy for our individual cause, her conviction that ours was a groundbreaking case, and her utter respect for my father’s loss were compelling, and when we were finished she felt like family. It is not like me or my father to welcome a stranger so easily into our personal experience, especially if that experience is difficult or painful. Indeed I had refused a British documentarian the opportunity to accompany us on this visit to JPAC only a few weeks before, simply to protect my father’s privacy and to hold sacred what it was that we were doing. But my father grasped Sardiaa’s hand and spoke to her in a way that told me she was in. Forever. If ever she needed anything. If ever we could be there for her in the way she’d been there for us… Yes, she was in, and I was never more grateful for a person’s grace and sensitivity than I was then.

The moments we spent together in the presence of my grandfather’s remains were ones I will never forget. After having taken each piece of bone from its Ziploc bag with such delicacy one would think she was handling robin’s eggs, Sardiaa ushered even the scientists in their lab coats out of the room, so that we could be alone. The silence and the whiteness of the space, the way my dad struggled with tears that surprised him in their intensity and relentlessness, it was all very surreal, and yet I felt entirely grounded, like we belonged there. “If you’ve never touched your dad, you know,” he said as he reached to touch the bone fragments. And I did know. And it was not only about his dad but about the whole convolution of his life, of the changes put in place by the extraction of this man from it. It was baffling. I touched the bones then, too. It was shared loss, loss at the cellular level. Representation of change. What might have been. What was. And I touched my dad, too. I hugged him. Hard. It was then that I felt Rosie’s ghost slip out from between us. She didn’t mean to be there, I knew. Perhaps I had set her there in my obsessive interest in her past and our shared history. In the countless poems I had written to define what seemed nameless to me but wholly integrated in my own identity, my own self.

When we finally reached Dallas and stood on the tarmac as the coffin was lowered from the cargo compartment of the airplane, I stood with my arm looped in my father’s arm. I felt us as inseparable. I knew him in a way that I could never adequately describe with words, though I knew even then that I would make it my mission to try. Something had healed between us, and I was grateful to the man whose remains were here encompassed in a green wool blanket beneath his army uniform with all its decorations. 52 years after his death, and he was still changing lives, still having a profound impact on us. Ours is only one story of conciliation around this event. My father’s sweet Uncle Carl, Gordie’s brother, sent a card in the week following the service, thanking us for being present at this “bittersweet pickle of a time.” I have begun a correspondence with my cousin Johnny Cope, Gordie’s oldest son’s boy, who followed his grandfather and his father in military service as an aviator. His experience, standing by the graveside in his dress blues, honoring our grandfather and perhaps for the first time understanding even in small part, what his father lost as a child, is a story in itself.

Back at JPAC in Hawaii I had placed two leis of tuberose inside the coffin, on the pillow. I had been asked if I wanted them pinned inside, and I had said no, because I knew they would surely wilt and need to be removed once in Texas. Six days later, it seemed to me miraculously, those leis were still white and alive with the fragrance of the islands, and they remained in the coffin for the service. They are buried with my grandfather, Troy Gordon Cope. They are my thank you to him. For teaching my dad about sacrifice and in his way, about how to love. For healing our wounds, so many years after he left this earth.

I believe in the great love between him and my Grandma Rosie. She did not attend his services in Dallas. Indeed it is difficult for her, health wise and emotionally, to leave the confines of her house these days. But she was there. I felt her. When the F-15’s of my grandfather’s own 335th Fighter Squadron, flew overhead in the missing man formation, I felt her in the movement of the air around my ears, and as I gasped to see the fourth pilot disappear vertically into the clouds. She was there, represented subtly by the red rose in the white bouquet my mother had ordered for the ceremony.

I think she knew-- the day he was proclaimed Missing in Action. She knew he was gone, and it was then she began to float, hover in the air rather than occupy the body she had worn with him. I sometimes still hope that she will find herself. Reunite body, mind and spirit. Recreate the trinity of the woman my grandfather loved and prayed to rejoin after his last mission, scheduled only a few short months after his last letter to his brother Slim. He had written of taking his boys fishing and of his love for Rosie. She was so beautiful, he had said, and his adoration pervaded the letter that was ultimately returned to Uncle Slim, along with his own final letter to his little brother. I hope secretly that she will finally speak, finally give me the stories I have always wanted to hear and that would give my father the answers to all of his questions. And yet this experience, this crazily anachronistic occurrence, has left me satisfied, and it has given my father the thing he has always needed, it turns out. The chance to touch—his father, the truth, his own hurt, and finally, his daughter.