7C8E11D8-334B-4878-8F34-DAE2475C05E6_1_201_a
Fragmented into a thousand pieces
the first casualty was my focus—

Once rainwater filled a water table, then
Froze: a thick layer of ice floated above the cold water,
All of a piece. When children lifted the disc
From its confinement,
It shattered into countless pieces.

Though I’ve heard the grasshopper has a thousand eyes,
And does quite well.

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Between miracle and doubt,
between the words of faith healers
and the stoicism of rationalists
there’s a sweet spot—
called hope.

Behold
the stars in the sky
that never stop shining
even when obscured by cloud or smog—
or light.

Behold the seeds
that spread their wings,
that travel on my boot,
that hibernate for years
until the rain and warmth of sun
awaken them.

Between a rock and a hard place,
cactus bears fruit,
hummingbirds take flight,
and the bee ensconces itself
on the shoulder of her lover,
the flower.

Hoofprints of mule deer
crisscross narrow canyon corridors
where rain only accentuates
the cliffrose’s musk.
And though I’ve witnessed
my share of marvels,
still I crave more.

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In the vastness of the universe
You are a speck of dust
From which light reflects.
You are also the eye of the needle
Through which God slips
Like thread to spin
The vast reaches of the galaxies
And stars whose dust you are.

44951E6E-DFF3-4F66-B455-C9EF02993CEEThere are waves
that beat against
a wooden vessel
like the mallets
that beat a story
And in the hold
there are bodies
bolted down

And when the waves roll
and the ship rocks
there’s a clang of iron
like a hammer
coming down

There are waves
that rock against
a wooden vessel
and there’s moaning
in the hull

There’s an anchor
and a landing
iron clanging
voices coughing
as the ship’s hands
haul the bodies
in to dock

There’s a market
and an auction
and a mallet
like a hammer
striking
when a deal
is rung

There is iron
flesh
and silver
and a hammer
striking
“done”

There are judges
in the markets
walking aisles
to weigh
the cargo’s
worth

Then
there’s iron
shoulder
muscle
and a bullwhip
lashing
flesh

There are feet
that strike
the earth
like mallets
and there’s rhythm
in their labor
like the raging
in the wind storm
striking hull
and mast

There’s a roar
that shatters
iron—
and arms
that hoist a new flag
and there’s thunder
in a trumpet
blast

There’s a vessel
plowing oceans
with a stolen
human cargo
and there still
are many more
to come

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Let it rain.
Let the rain fall in a steady stream.

Let the rain fall on the roof with the rhythm
of a handyman nailing shingles.

Let the rain saturate the hardened earth
and satisfy the root
that thirsts like a newborn infant.

Let the rain fall on our shoulders
and mold us to its contours
like rock weathered and worn by rainstorms.

Let the rain flow like fine wine
flowing at the wedding of Cana.

Let the rain pool into its liquid shapes
sinuous as a cat that pounces.

Let the rain murmur.
Let the rain sing a lullaby,
a post card from the ocean,
a mariner’s hymn.

Let the rain begin and end
in this moment suspended in time,
my shoulder blades clasped in your arms,
the bough above us, and the bud,
reflected in the puddle,
concrete now molded into shimmering mirror.

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The Indian paintbrush stands guard,
like one who shall not be moved,
sentinel next to the sage— and grasses—
whose roots she taps for nutrients and water.

John at the cross stands guard too
like a stem, or branch.
“You are the branches. I am the vine,”
the lover had said.

And, now, planted like the Indian Paintbrush,
the beloved is hushed as a blossom,
the upper lip of green flower understated
and tinged with red to attract the hummingbird.

The meadow is a green upper room
alive now with the whir of wings.

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Vested in down,
water wakes
as light cracks
over mountains.

Snow geese chime
like a heart beating.
Their wingtips are black keys
adding counter-rhythms.

Water wears
her borrowed robe of down
until wings lift—

Then it’s morning fly out,
and the river, unmasked,
bares her pores.

430px-El_Greco_-_The_Annunciation_(Budapest)
El Greco painted her
at a kneeler,
face upturned
to face the Unexpected.

In other scenes, the backdrop
is marble, granite, velvet
or wide blue sky stretching to the horizon.

But what do young girls know
except errands,
and chores,
and hope.

I imagine her at the marketplace,
eyeing the kohl,
but satisfied to haggle
for the price of an onion.

Who’s to say the angel
didn’t meet her
in a crowded crosswalk.

The membrane between heaven and earth
is porous.
It opens and envelops us unexpectedly
like a gauze curtain billowing in wind.

Onion skin, translucent
when held to the light,
is a membrane between two worlds:
moist round bulb, on the one hand,
and, then, the light-infused air.

The curved onion dome of an Orthodox church
is a thin barrier between life as usual
and life as it might be.

Gabriel delivers the message
and Mary grasps the onion.
On her face,
tears of surprise.

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I did not need to transpose the key
to join my life with yours.

The seasons marked the time signature.
Cloudy weather was a riff
alternating with sunshine.

Lives intertwined
as the song crisscrossed:
Two hearts, one rhythm
like the ocean—
one force uniting
opposite shores.

A countermelody
nearly choked us
but rising to the surface
we caught our breath.

Even now, I find myself
between two worlds:
Neither sandbar
nor cresting wave,
I fall like salty spray
suspended in air.

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Photo Credit: Daniel Woodard

My life was composed
by another,
the chord changes
orchestrated
like changing seasons.

I learned to harmonize
with white keys and black,
circling back
to the melody
and the opening bars.

Even so, like the ocean
taking her cue
from wind,
when waves shattered
the calm,
I penciled in crescendo
and diminuendo.

The song was composed
before I could even sing
but I wrestled with the notes
and bent them.

Though I did not write the score,
I shaped the notes
and bent them
like a blacksmith shaping iron
on the anvil.

I did not write the score,
but the blue notes are mine.