The rock does not cling to the river, 
but yields
to snowmelt.

Rain surges to fill the emptiness:
the hollowed out space
of our tracks—
the bowl of the earth
where we slept,
the bed of our pitched tent.

Where would we be
if we didn’t keep losing ourselves—

to each other,
to the days we left behind?

Everything that escapes our grasp—
the fish in the river,
the breath we exhale—

returns, I’m told.

Even the sea returns to shore
continuously,
like the swing of the pendulum,
as she licks her wounds.

Will we recognize the fog 
as last year’s puddle
as transpired sweat
as a little ghost of ourselves?

Remember how the clouds
gave themselves up.

Then do likewise


Like Alice, I have been falling
and my feet still haven’t touched ground.
Like a golden ball flung toward the horizon
I fall without a sound.
See me shapeshift into ribbons
with arms wide as the sun.

Deep inside the earth’s core,
magma buckles and mountains peak.
Give me a lever long enough, wrote Archimedes,
and I could move heaven and earth.

See how the universe expands into the darkness,
carrying with it light beyond the Milky Way?

As we drive west across the Continental Divide,
neither smoke of wildfires nor soot of car exhaust
can block the muted rose of the sun’s rays, 
last hurrah before nightfall. Oh the shadows
are always with us as they seek to block the light,
yet ribbons of pink and peach persist,
lingering on the horizon.

Like abalone or mother of pearl,
we are both castaways—
the sun’s ray on cold rock of earth—
the marine shell stranded on distant shore,
deep indigo of the ocean
now shipwrecked on the sandy beach,
muted colors of pink and peach unfurled
in the contours of the abalone shell:
a distant mirror of the sun.

Along the rain-soaked trail 
next to the wild strawberries,

I balance my backpack 
to reach for tasty red fruit, 

each crimson berry 
small as a thimble. 

The act of foraging,
a balancing act:

Next to me: 
fresh bear tracks.

Second Meadow
I don’t know how to distinguish flowers 
by their sweetness 
save by following the bee. 
In a field overflowing 
with flowers, the Indian paintbrush 
grows in shades of scarlet, purple, 
pink, and cream, and I follow 
the bee to the sweet spot: 
the cream-tipped stalks, 
and where the bee sucks, 
there suck I.

Amanita muscaria alongside Elk Creek Trail in Colorado’s San Juan Wilderness
In the tent, chaotic dreams emerge,
like pikas darting from their den.
Was that an airplane flying overhead,
or traffic? I hear a crash. “He’s dead,”
someone cries. Car doors slam. 
Feet scurry down the slope 
from the isolated highway. 

Flashlights shine, illuminating the walls of the tent. 
“Wake up! Wake up!” the voices cry. 
“Can we borrow your phone? 
We need to report an accident.” 
I know we’ve left phones behind in a locked car.
No service here in Colorado’s San Juan Wilderness,
and the nearest road 
is more than 8 miles
from our tent site.

In my dream, I ask my husband
for his phone. I shake his arm.
His eyes open, and I ask:
“Are you okay? 
Did you hear anything? 
See anyone?”

Roused from my dream, awakened from our sleep,
we shed sleeping bags, like cocoons.
We unzip the tent, then step out.
Stars shimmer across the meadow-—
Second Meadow—-as it arches its sinuous back
for two miles alongside Elk Creek Trail.
The stars are luminous and thick
as fireflies from my childhood.

Soon, it’s back to the tent.
We zip closed the screen behind us,
but the moon’s reflected light 
penetrates the opaque fabric
of our tent, thin sail hoisted on a meadow,
like shining from shook foil.

I knew a lady who sat outside
a mut hut concession, opposite 
a marsh where breezes blew 
palm fragrance in her face, 
to wait for alms. She leaned 
against a neem shade tree 
whose roots exhausted soil. 
I think she kept a garden of her own, 
although her fingers may have been 
misshaped for tilling earth. 
At any rate, she needed change 
for pharmacy antibiotics; 
passing on my way to church, 
I’d drop coins into her hands.

I remember Sunday mornings 
spent in a baobab’s shade, 
clapping and signing of converts, 
a young man telling gospel, 
but most of all, a leper-lady 
whose fingers curled with leprosy 
like soft peeled bark. Her 
fingers could not feel my hand 
or anything that came their way. 
I wish I had the healing gift. 
All I could do was spare pennies 
for those outstretched hands, 
roses where no thorns are.

After 15 months’ hibernation, the tents 
put up sail again—quietly at first. Then, 
with weekend’s arrival, wayfarers’ feet 
stir up dust on the disused path. 

Chromatic colors of sneakers, strollers, 
scarves, and baseball caps circulate
around flea market stalls. Even chihuahuas 
appear, resting in the arms of their humans, 
and a young child balances a piglet 
in his arms as he examines handmade beaded jewelry. 

We fist bump. We shake hands. And the conversation 
is all: “You made it! You’re here!”
The smell of roast mutton and roast corn 
wafts between stalls selling acrylic paintings, 
gospel CDs, silver, turquoise, herbal remedies,
flour sack aprons, T-shirts, mugs, fossils, rocks.

At one stall a woman displays a loom 
with her half-finished rug, reminding us, 
perhaps, that the work is done, yet undone.
A stack of baby quilts is testament, not only
to long hours at home under lockdown, 
but testament to hope.

At the Gallup Flea Market, the old blends seamlessly with the new: 
the handwashing station, the newly built stage for country bands. 
I buy baby quilts for two friends and leave before the dance, 
but by day’s end, I scroll through photos of couples, dancing, 
their eyes disclosing hope, the crinkles of their eyes, smiling.

The blue heron lives a solitary life, 
or so it seems, perched on shore,
peering at its reflection, 
like a chess piece pondering checkmate. 

Then, in one swift
movement, swoops, lifts, 
and wings
toward the wood, 
whose silence 
is pierced 
only by the cry 
of hungry beaks.

The weather changes 
by the hour.

The wind changes 
by the minute.

But my heart is Rock—

pierced, split, and cracked

only by the sprouting Seed
planted by your Hand.

On the steppingstones that cross the creek 
your boot left tracks thin as cat whiskers.

“Leave no trace,” they say.
And though, one day, we will leave no trace,

for now, we pack out trash 
and secure our gear on limbs 

sturdy as the saplings 
the beavers gnaw for their lodge.

One day we will leave no trace, 
but even so I like to believe 

we will leave behind
something of who we were,

something of who
we hoped to be.

A flower’s a labyrinth 
for pollinators. 
A sapling’s 
a log for a beaver.
A riverbed’s home 
for the snowmelt.
The belled flower, 
a beacon for the hummingbird—

who jostles among  
uplifted stalks 
but never visits for long, 
who sips while suspended, 
a flurry of wings, 
who resists capture 
even by photograph—

If you have ever sewn a dress—or 
tried—you must be impressed 
with the flower who tailors 
her blossoms seamlessly 
and perfectly proportioned.

Think how the beaver 
articulates a shelter 
of wood hewn from 
the living branch 
to weave a cradle of protection.

I came to a field
of flowers, seeking
nourishment, like a bee.

Those we love 
never seem to know
how much we love—
The bee hovers over 
the bee balm
the way I listen to
Einaudi, the way I 
crave you.

The tree offers shade
with roots deep
as mother’s love.
The tree shades us, 
her leaves, a manufacturing 
plant for chlorophyll
but even they, powerless 
without the deep work 
of the roots.

The roots never
upstage the leaves, 
nor even the branches.
More so,
like the unsung toil
of rootball, 
or heart’s muscle,
so much of 
the work of love 
is hidden.

Flowers along Bear Creek Trail
I walked seven miles alongside 
a creek. The stream ran on and on 
over rocks. A squirrel clambered 
over roots, rustling pine needles. 
Wild roses lifted pink goblets 
to the sun, rain drops shimmering 
on fragrant petals. Nature
spared no expense. Even 
the short-tailed weasels
popped their heads playfully 
from between rocks and ran 
in circles. I did not solve 
any problems for the world, 
not even my own. 
But the stream rustled: 
“Here I am! Here I am!” 
And the bird sang: 
“Just be!”

First, they perch 
on the front porch lamp. 
Then, they smuggle mud and twigs 
to lay masonry: 
each plucked twig, 
an expenditure of wings, 
each mud bead, 
stucco that trusses
sprig to sprig.

On tiled steps, 
their cup spills, 
the overflow of twigs that don’t fit, 
the clay slip of pearls 
that drop from beaks.

Watching the nest grow, 
I don’t sweep discards. 
Each dry blade of straw is long as a tailfeather. 
Each clod of clay, an opaque pearl.

Swooping and diving through air,
the barn swallows catch insects
on the wing,
then scoop mud for the nest
without once touching down.
They are restless 
creatures of feather and flight.

Day’s end, the barn swallows 
perch again on lamp and nest, 
and peer at me through clerestory windows. 
Looking within and without, 
in each other’s lives we see the detritus
of misfit straw and misfired clay,
that multiply like loaves and fishes.

Yet, in each scrappy act, 
we see that love is restless 
once the work’s begun,
that love meanders like a stream 
until its task is done.

Love is like a river. When blocked by debris it forges a new route. 
When it appears frozen on the surface, it moves still below the surface of the ice, 
swift as fins on a fish.

Love is like a river. Love holds nothing back but gives all, rounds every corner. 
Hoard love in a Hoover dam of thirst and you damage the entire ecosystem. 
Yet the beaver tames the river just long enough to raise its young, 
then lets the river unwind. Everything depends on the river.

Love is like a river. When you are hot, it soothes your ankles. 
When you are lost, the river says: “Follow me.” All of life, 
and even the earth itself, depends on the river. Because 
the river loves all, it nurtures both trout and blue heron. 

The river holds two opposing elements in its mind and resolves 
any conflict by giving itself over and over, drop by drop 
over to the hard heart of the rock, so that even bedrock, 
worn down by the river, is softer 
than the human heart.

The river folds itself between a rock
and the hard place
of your heart—that parched
watering hole—
where love crafts the riverbed. 
Love is a river.

The axe is a mighty wedge. It can splice trees to fell logs 
for a home.
The beaver’s tooth is a wedge. It shapes rivers.
The wedge in your heart, well,
let it be a ship wedge.
For the ship wedge bears a ship—heavy 
as the grief of the Titanic—effortlessly,
and then releases it at one stroke,
and launches it,
and sends it off to sea.

I was profligate with my prayer, 
Casting it into the water like food for ducks,
And it went unanswered.
Now I have it packaged neatly
Into the mustard seed
Small enough to slip
Through the eye of the needle.





It doesn’t matter how much you love,
Only that you love. You’ve seen how
Everything swells, the bud into bloom, 
the thin lip of the new moon 

into the radiance of a full moon,
spilling into the small pond.
For love strikes where it will,
if you are willing to receive it.

It doesn’t matter how much you love,
only that you are open to love, like a sail,
hoisted to the mast, ready for the windfall,
poised to ride the waves, precariously.

It doesn’t matter how much you love,
Only that you love, through thick and thin—
Even when you are hollowed out 
as the drill hits the bone:

The shadow recalls the light. The thorn, 
the fragrance of the rose. And when love 
seems cold as cinders, remember how the iron prod 
sparks the ember that still glows red.

For love strikes where it will,
if you are willing to receive it.