Long Gone

Between sets, she asked us to come back to the hotel suite. Older people were taking pictures with her and offering snacks and drinks. We sat on the bed doing Fireball shots while the band mates talked about which songs to do for the last set. We were cool for a few minutes. Returning to the tented venue, people pushed in hard towards the stage as the band started up again. Even though it was a crisp evening, heat from all those bodies made it sweaty the entire time. Everyone stuck to each other. The band played cover songs across all genres. An eighty year old man in a plaid shirt and high-waisted khakis danced along side millennials with blue hair and screamy voices. My feet stuck to the floor because of the spilled drinks, but everything else was slippery: bodies, lyrics, boundaries. Yet a holiness was there – next to the lake, under a creamy moon, with my friends. This is the sort of night that opens me. From time to time I would snap back to a remembrance of my life but mostly I was long gone.

Today, dull woodpecker taps alternate with the high pitched chirps of nearby cardinals. My ears still ring from the night before and so goes my gratitude for all things unplugged. I take the dog into fields and meadows for a long hike. Goldenrod, chicory, Queen Anne's lace. Monarchs dazzle the stillness and lead us into diversion. The dog bounds ahead, crashing through willowy growth, making a trail. Every so often she would turn back. She seemed happy in this kind of freedom. Am I?

On the drive home last night, the moon hovered in front of us most of the way. It was more full than a sickle but definitely less than half. It hung low like some kind of nibbled cantaloupe ready to roll off the counter. It glowed brighter on its edges so that it looked like it might be on fire. September nights build that blaze in me.

With all of this holiness, I still fail to become lost entirely. There is still a simple picnic of apple slices and salami in the woods or maybe near the river or into the meadow. She lies back onto the blanket, asking a million questions and listening to answers. She gets too close and cannot really pull away. For now, concerts and moons and woodsmoke at dawn.

overtaken by chicory –
this is the trail
I am taking

Murmur in the Round

Summer becomes an origami see-you-later. Lately I have goosebumps when falling asleep. I don't mind the chill but what comes after can be a real problem. The signs of autumn are all around and as usual, I'm not really ready. Conventional wisdom suggests a posture of acceptance – accept cold bones as profit – accept gray overhang as benevolence. Do you suppose surrender is the same as acceptance?

Who migrates eventually returns and I am grateful. Geese – red winged blackbirds – butterflies. This weekend we will stain the deck and plant daffodil and tulip bulbs for spring. It doesn't hurt to prepare the path for future ecstasy, does it? So it is with allowing desire to simmer. To pass. To return again.

Our prophecy consists of colored stones and rivers, not to mention how we die where we lay. Lie? Speaking of stones, I skipped a few at the pond's edge the other night but that seemed a little like violence. Still waters have the shape I need right before winter comes.

And January, if I could, I would write you a letter; it would be a reminder of how you have a ceiling like a chapel – your beams collecting whispers and turning them into something more than hope. In these quieting days I try to remember the last bird song I heard but nothing comes to mind. Instead, crickets murmur in the round. Good night to August. Good night to homeless prosody. Good night to the hot pavement between here and there.

The Old Pew, Acorns and Thirsty Things

The old pew was moved onto the back deck while work was being done inside. I wondered if it had ever faced this many pines or crickets or bird songs — maybe as a tree it knew this chorus of prayer better than any of us. Humidity caused my fingers to stick a little when tracing the flower carved into the hand rest. The rest of the world is on fire. Yet I am here.

Now when wind stirs the trees, an acorn or two drops. I expected more time; I always feel that way in August. My spirit or countenance or whatever it is that decides to float or be anchored, begins to gather from wells. Moonlight pools in fading boats and campfires now dance and flare brighter than fireflies.

Daylight is different now too. Dawn used to perform a surgery of sorts – blazing with exactness. Penetrating. Lately though, it seems to limp a little before gathering the billowing fullness of day. After dinner I would frog about the yard tending to weeds or checking on the thirsty things. I would sweat and maybe sit in a camp chair to catch the last little sliver of sunlight stretching away from hungry shadows. Not now. It's chilly enough now for a sweatshirt and light seems skittish. I was born and raised in these cycles. They should be home. They should be me. I should love this. Her. Us.

Near the lake the other day I watched the slow swing of willows over the water.

green blue green

summer waves


All Night Gigs

At the winery across from the fairgrounds we drank red wine and ate sloppy nachos. When the tractor pull events were underway, the noise of the engines was so loud that my ears would begin to feel watery. Our conversation halted each time a tractor or truck had its turn. As the sky turned from cotton candy to deep lake blue to summer blackberry, neon from the fair rides glowed like an activated time machine – back to youth and summer indulgences. I remember the time my parents took me and the neighbor boy to the fair when I was 10 years old. We held hands on the teacup ride until he vomited on my shoes. We didn't talk much after that. He toilet papered my house one night when he was a senior. I called him out in math class and he was shocked that I knew he had pulled the prank. “Your shoes gave it away,” I said.

Summer boats are fading now and trees are beginning to drop seeds and tired leaves. We must stain the deck this year, especially before autumn falls and falls. U-pick sunflowers wave along 40th Ave, and chicory pokes and prods the last days of August.

Not long ago, a man looked at me with your eyes. It was unnerving to know him before being introduced and even more so, after being introduced. Throughout the night of conversation, hairs on my arms pricked forward. My spirit kept tumbling into and through him. I knew him because he was you. We parted that night in the way new acquaintances do – nice to meet you, travel well and take care. Yet the interaction shimmered and swayed through the days and dreams of several weeks. How strange those thin places can be; how familiar in their unexpectedness.

Sleeping with the window open now is almost like inviting October to come and stay a bit. Crickets never seem to fatigue in their all-night gigs. I realize that there is nothing more to say really, but having the conversation is still nice; fireflies agree.


My body stretched out like a crucifix over Lake Michigan. The core of me was both warmed by northern sun and chilled by the glacial up-welling of deep waters. A sea plane dropped low, tilted its wings, and everyone bobbing and bathing reached their arms up high to wave. My toes could tickle the sandy bottom if I wanted. I am undisturbed. There is nothing to become or calculate or understand. To lose one's bearings is to begin again. Become nameless with me; grasp less; float.

Of what use are urges? I wake early in a slumping summer fog. After too long without rain, the night unfastened and poured itself hard unto even harder land. Cardinals syncopate between Blue Jay screeches. What makes these redbirds holier than others? A dissolution makes way, changing the relationship. With each rising, a gap lengthens between the naming and the nothing. It seems immature to sublimate it all now. Maybe the center is no longer thought or feeling; maybe it is no longer me.

Mums are being sold at the local grocery store. Summer bends the knee. Before August even ignites, September bears down. Daughters go back to college and sons stay up past 3 a.m. tangled in a net of anxiety. College visits, senior pictures, careening expectations. Dawn comes more slowly now; charcoal at 6 a.m.

Krishnamurti says, “Only when the breezes stop does the lake become quiet. You cannot make the lake quiet. Our job is not to pursue the unknowable but to understand the confusion , the turmoil, the misery, in ourselves; and then that thing darkly comes into being, in which there is joy.”

One doesn't have to search for the light or flee the darkness or study any particular thing. Remove the barriers and perhaps, float awhile. Are we not together?

Old Wood

Fireflies rise and fall – soft kindnesses abound in the way August arrives. Summer's light narrows and my eyes are full of chicory. Blue into blue; your image is my true face. And yet, perhaps it is time to see another way. On the jade path, ferns tickle my knees. This year more than last, I am freckled and tanned; my skin smells like sunburned pine.

Night raises a sickle moon. Midnight unties its silken sash and tiny pinpoints of forgetful light pulse in every direction. Still, a hot wind pushes leaves to chatter. Even in the dark I can see the trees slow dancing. I am so very fond of how effusive these nights can be. Earth's musk no longer has to compete with laundry machine exhaust or burgers on the grill. A mist in the black meadow erases all into balance.

The mushroom colored dawn intimates rain, but no rain falls. Plants are wilting and the ground has turned to stone. I make my way to Lake Michigan to submerge it all. I come up gasping; she takes my breath away every time. These lakes – how could I ever leave? But these winters – how could I ever stay? Michigan and my heart.

I was foolish enough once, you know? I was half-way gone.

nothing comes next
day / night / day

old wood stacks
the same

Water and Water Again

All day heat builds and the sky piles into lumbering elephants. I pace, just wanting it to storm already. If it won't rain, I must water. And water again. Squash blossoms match the yellow-orange slants of day slicing into me. Yesterday I cut my finger while chopping vegetables. The ER doctor said I was lucky. Do you know how many T's and R's are required when typing the story? The lesson is slow down or type less or order pizza next time.

There is no distance as the moonlight and I keep falling. We descend into each other, catching our reflections on the way down. This reflection is life, beloved. I need to see who I am so that I may believe.

The fan whirls full blast yet it is not enough to keep beads of sweat from beginning at my hairline and trickling down my jaw and neck. My breasts collect their own reservoir of summer. How delicious it would be to slip into the lake, mixing waters. Most assuredly, that very thought is my downfall – swimming, free, touched and buoyed by water, floating into one who is also invited. Thirsty. Feet stirring in the cooler depths. Arms smoothing the racing ripples of heartbeats. Nearing one another until only water is between. It's a thought that behaves like a memory, filled with heightened senses and acute knowing. And yet . . . and yet.

Because there is relationship, there is existence. Do we please one another or has that passed? Am I now a body looking at itself in the shiny morgue ceiling? God, how does anyone put up with my dramatic bent? Surely there is divinity in the jest.

Cicadas begin to rattle which, maybe to most, only indicates summer's full sail. For me, it is a reminder that this light is only passing through. Bull frogs banjo their way to sunset as woodpeckers roll their cadence on oak. I know there is no where to go. But that doesn't mean I haven't already been here before.

Far From Night

July lets blue sky loose.

Morning begins with an extravagance of sun and shadow trembling across bending grass. Flowers and spiders and topaz toads are baptized in light bright enough to hurt the heart. It is in this time that I bear witness to the eminence of individual trees and leaves and grasses. A rabbit sips at the creek and a moth scrawls secret letters over hosta blooms. I see all of this and scoop it into my breast. Yet, it is never enough to fully protect from the cavern I will undoubtedly disappear into at some point during the day.

Tea on the back deck.

A firefly far from night lands on the freckled terrain of the back of my hand. Joy for one full second is the currency of eternity. I'm wondering about color; what color is your silence? What color is your harm?

At night, Ursa claws up my back toward some other apex. Hours pass with no beginning. Then again, morning. Sometimes I just get so tired of the words. Instead: digging vines, moving shrubs, laying stones just so, working until my fingertips go numb. Finally the heat of summer translates all the waiting unto being. My shoulders turn brown and warm. On days like these I see my image in the east-eating windows and it tumbles me – so this is the woman you see. You, you, you.

Water into Water

Rain rolls through dawn without sparing a single sanctuary. Raindrops splash up from the deck like a hundred frogs startled into the pond. My eye follows the wooden path from deck to gazebo. Vines and weeds have found their way in between the planks, and a large oak branch has fallen – too heavy with rot and water to hold up the sky any longer. Those lofty seams find a way to speak, even when they come apart.

Yesterday a large woodchuck popped up from under the deck and rested his face on the edge. We stared at each for a bit before the dog got wind of the intruder. The woodchuck lives here now but it will not be easy keeping it safe.

Everything is water-shaped lately. My mind slides without resistance from here and not here – an open door to the rain. During the day this means a certain type of floating from frame to frame. At night, it's an unmoored drift from old letters to walks in the woods and back to light touches under white sheets in the dark.

Cardinal visits are abundant now. Hardly anything directs my attention more.

Red birds / red wine / red handed.

I'm surprised by what comes when looking the other way, like when the lake turns silver, deep with night. Throw a stone out into the black waters and see how memory cannot hold beauty and love. But I do remember when I felt love and beauty. I remember how it was alive and real and fresh – unobtainable and unconventional. I remember abandoning the old in an instant in order to open fully to the new. Moment to moment presence.

Yet there is no way to hold love there. Love unexpectedly curls its fingers on our shoulders from behind and pulls us back, turns us around and draws us into itself. In one moment, the narrow path loses all borders and we become water into water. That is the love of now. I do not wait for or conjure it. I do not call it home. I just speak of water and rivers and lakes and never ending rain to say that I am grateful for this watery love I cannot stop or start.

Silver on Stone on Dreams

Without the sun one must speak of moonlight bending down to brush my cheek. Two nights ago I accepted this proxy into my bed.

From the three seasons room, I hear the neighbor whistling a bird song over and over to call a sickly squirrel. No birds or squirrels respond. Over the mournful plea I listen to a Maslanka concerto and I am healed.

Your questions are a compass to the truth. My hands are slow in the dark but they do not fumble. Lord, hear our prayer.

Before sleep I empty my pockets of the day's lessons. In a small stone dish, my silver elephant necklace, two rings and tiny silver hoops all fall upon each other for the night. My image in a dusty mirror – a cleft in the void – my body understands more than my mind.

Silver on stone on dreams. It is hard to tell what is dead or merely just dormant. Speak to my blood and see if it rises. Otherwise I am only a vessel of image, floating from dawn to dark and thinking of nothing.

Rapt in the here and not-here. Tell me again that story using all the words that you knew would melt me. Trick me into kissing it all away.

Under remnant scraps of October leaves, acorns take hold by sending one thick shoot down into groaning earth. I rake and uproot; I clear and am cleared. Sometimes turning the dirt is useful to induce forgetfulness.

Gray upon gray but no rain. This spring waits and waits but I am not fooled. Despite the standstill I know winter arrives on time, no matter how long summer delays to know me. Tell me this Mother Earth: why am I not already one of your tall grasses bending in the wind?

Hide and Seek

On the dirt road to Hermitage Pointe, trees arch over the lane to touch each other. Soon the deerflies will make walking murderous. As a child I ran away from home down this road and hid in the arms of a massive oak. I heard them calling my name but felt nothing for their search. Summer still had its sheen and the ruffled bark cut into my long, chalky legs. I'm not sure I can outrun the years of not being known. Driving down that road today I can see the path to that tree and remember everything. Such hallowed ground keeps asking: do you forgive?

On certain June mornings when the night has been sharply cooler and sunlight hits the tree bark just so, moisture lifts off the trunk as steam. Science as magic.

Small daisies growing at the trailhead brushed the palms of my hands, dancing a little. The sense of having certain plants and birds and animals sewn together in a pattern of attention never quite leaves me. Our wooded hike hides gray skies; so many hours this spring are gray hours. My blooms are staying tightly bound — my skin significantly less illustrated.

sun – freckles – blooms
summer hide
and seek

There is this river that flows in and through and around me. I can drink from it and cool my ankles in it and sit beside it in a trance. But loving this river makes me a liar because I cannot tell anyone how it makes me feel. I can share the river with everyone and anyone and yet, it is my river. Water as teacher. Swallowing as dream. Tell no one the nothing that I mean.

Little Dashing Hiccups

With the slightest turn of the prism, the teacher still has something to give. Because the black bear processes life as a bear, it is a teacher – and so the squirrel and the red-winged blackbird and the mosquito. Neighbors have cut down a tree and now dawn is different. Sunlight's arrow pierces a hermetical darkness, so I am cracked. So I am grateful. So winter finally fades.

Folded and breathing; can I finally be still? What is left when the archives are silenced and intuitions are stretched as far as east is from west? Pines sway as a puppet master might, creating flickers of light and shadow along a damp path. Walking with seriousness into the east, the sunrise seemed inexhaustible as it untangled and unraveled every intention. Cardinal chirps lifted my chin with their musical fingers.

a few steps
bring me here –
after one thought
I’m gone

I love the ease of rain shushing on an early Sunday morning.

Candles – writing – tea.

When one forms words in way that feels like art, one can realize herself free and full of spacious impulses. Tilted just right, these little dashing hiccups, these letters sewn with intention, resonate to catch the universe. Also in this way, the teacher makes no promises. They just write us together on the unyielding path; there is no otherwise.

A rabbit kit the size of my palm takes measured hops beneath the rain-stained pine. Its ears barely pop higher than the wild violets. My attention joins the current in Sunday's somnolent stream. Let's take a nap together near the open window and dream along side the falling rain.

Slipping Through the Net

A ladybug in my red wine causes an involuntary “oh!” Chit-chat continues as if nothing amazing occurred. Small little blips in the background noise of conversations become a reminder of hearts attached to beliefs which descend from my own. Yet I wonder how much longer I can let it sip from my sense of space in the world.

Spring's delay has thrown everything into the spin cycle – spitting out random blooms here and flooded fields there. In that way, June feels like a stranger. I don't yet know what spring wants to say in its reach to arrive.

While making the bed I bruise my shin on the corner of the bed frame. Birds begin their song before 5 a.m. and it makes waking so lovely. I wonder if he can hear the floor creak as I move from side to side, straightening and tucking blankets. I wonder if he says, “Oh, she is awake, doing her thing,” or does he filter out the sounds in the attempt to sleep further into the morning? The things we no longer know slip through the net that holds it all together.

Lately a few cardinals pose in the corner of my vision. They arrive as a bleeding flash but leave as a soothing salve. Birds as messages. Red as life. My gratitude is quiet but intact. On these cool nights, especially around the fire, my countenance wanders . . .

east towards sunrise / north into the origin of pine / into God's gaze / blue

Between Lips

I tip-toed across the bridge, watching a heron watch me, until he lifted away like a ghost who simply had enough. All night, storms ripped apart the darkness but in their wake, a clear blue morning pierced a sleepless fog. How close I am to intuiting heaven when sunlight zings off the water! A painted turtle slipped back into the ruffled pond and truly my day brimmed.

Hundreds of Lily of Valley bloom in the backyard. Their sweetness rises along side the yard work. I pick two or three for a small vase on the kitchen sill, yet even the fragrance from those few make my eyes water. You who make me feel like water — the water-bearer carries a hundred secrets in his jar but spills nothing.

petals –
a border
between lips

Your sweet what-if's no longer kiss me in dreams. However, I did plant Forget-me-nots around the mailbox and near the creek. Their diminutive showing is a modesty to treasure. And their blue – oh that blue – the eyes of God. Look down upon me so that we both may be saved!

The lakes are too high and some bridges and roads are closed. Lake Michigan is predicted to rise another 9-12 inches. Though the snow is gone a harshness of season lingers. My spirit rolls around in the arms of pines like thunder. Maybe June will melt all that begs for protection.

Rain, Bears and Ball Caps

My mustard colored baseball cap has the shape of Michigan on it and it's my new favorite. Today it goes with ripped blue jeans and a gray T-shirt sporting an elephant on the chest. Thunder grumbles like hunger pangs and morning birds mock me. My eyes are swollen and I wonder how much longer I can use the rainstorm as camouflage.

Another black bear was found within the city limits. Yesterday, I leaned on my shovel and thought about the bear. I thought about how often she has lumbered through my life.

Rain – latent birdsong – bears leading.

Today, the truth is harder to confess than predicted.

We fought hard about things that weren't really the thing. I threw a bowl of grapes and when they hit the kitchen cupboards they smashed into their separate worlds, rolling under the fridge and the island and the dishwasher. The dog came out of her den to see what was happening and then she shrank back into safety. It's been day since we saw each other's face. I'm scared that we somehow simultaneously love and cannot stand each other. There are stories we tell ourselves and then there are other truths.

Around the fire I thought of all the things I want to burn; my own bones come to mind. How satisfying to think of my grayish smoke drifting over white pines and dunes and the Great Lake. I think of Emily's grave and what it would feel like to visit the soil of those who loved her. I think of being on the same page and pages burning and having no more paper to read or fold or write upon. I think of the bones of dead dogs buried next to quiet trails. I think of the bones behind my eyes – no longer tangible yet still igniting.

I meant to do the grocery shopping this morning while the town was at church. Instead I sat in the three seasons room surrounded by a lessening night, listening to the world wake. I'm still here, thinking about amends, wondering about viability and hope and powerlessness. A shredded heart makes a huge, grotesque mess. I don't think rain or bears or ball caps can cover up the stains.

Tending the Backseat

Work at the greenhouse is slowing now. The hours are exhausting, but the pace is definitely less. I am waking again with that familiar panic in my chest – soon I will have nothing of value to do. Housework and yard work and relationship work all needs tending. Yet, there will be long summer days of wide open hours demanding to be somehow filled. Despite waiting all winter for this warmth, for this sun, my countenance grinds upon itself like metal against metal. Is the remedy to just do something? It can all feel so very empty.

On my back in the new grass I watch an oriole weave string and thin reeds and fluffy things into a hanging nest high above me. The sway doesn't bother her task. Nearby, the male blazes like a torch; his sing-song whistle carries everything higher.

Spring planting is behind schedule. Even at the greenhouse, the lack of sunlight has delayed shipping. The dogwood on the corner of the house blooms, but barely. To be born under pine shadows is to know the scent and sound of whispers. I am grateful for the Michigan I hate. When her sunlight tingles one might forget about the months of granite ceilings or the snowflakes gathering in the cracks that once held all the incense of summer. With one sky-blue day, all is forgiven. Writing is relegated to the back seat. A friend asks to go hiking and maybe hammocking, because hammocking is a verb now. The earth tilts and all of the sudden I can gaze into the campfire and slowly simmer in a bottle of beer. Days are different now but everything is still laced with the residue of deep and abiding connection. The ripples of heat from July are not yet here. But love is. And I want so badly to let it be.

certain birds
and stars I know –
May I

Facing East

To watch spring rise from the ground like a symphony is to breathe like a sparrow. How the heart hops along with light little feet! Yet tulips remain tightly bound and the daffodils now begin to lose their sunny disposition. Rain and more rain softens every hard edge. I am alive now, though. The dog and I stare out the window – she is facing the direction of greatest protection – I am facing east. Always east.

Every perception in my scope has been informed. There are no pure explanations or thoughts – no untainted prayers – no discovery whispered as absolute truth. I used to have this insatiable capacity to melt into complexities. The push into complicated hemispheres was to be admired and more than that; it was proof that this life, this world really, is a fertile existence that can not help but yield the birth of that which is deeper. For so long, there was a pulsing drone: dig, find, allow. Nowadays, there is just this little creek bubbling towards and away from me. My little creek has mossy rocks settled along the banks which have become a host to those wishing to drink or bathe or reflect. A cardinal couple has been there already this morning, dancing from stone to stone, taking sips and flinging up water into the air as they rinsed. Ferns are now overtaking the unfurling hostas in height and the Lily of the Valley pips have begun to outflank the wild viney ground cover that simply refuses be managed.

This whole world as viewed from my east facing window is just that: my whole world. The quantum physics and the metaphysics and the myriad of explanations have thinned into an early summer mist that has both not quite arrived and has already been long gone. Squirrels eat the birdseed and ask for no pardon. Late frost nibbles the hyacinth's perfume and can't be bothered for reconciliation. Why would we be more than these?

I still think birds make the best poets. They don't seem to be interested in the pattern of results or commercial literature or theories of our time. They just accept what emerges and continue in the beauty and full-feeling of whomever they are. Cardinal as philosopher. Creek as teacher.

as light


Heal Thyself

The countenance arrives before the poetry. After her visit, words began to sink down or float up or move out from the place they go to rest. Now, silence gives way. My ears hear tingling in my fingers; my eyes see the smell of tulips. The unlatched gate groans a little in fainting rain. Tell me beloved: how far do these spirits swim? They paddle out, float for weeks and head back in towards hiccuping shores. Ah, but that's the metaphysics talking again. Pour me another, won't you? Sitting kitty-corner on the couch, we both slightly rise to clink wine glasses together. Heaven works without interference; one day you look around and you are it and it is here. Prayer is a whisper for your mind, a way to settle, a way to open to what is already alert. In that way, she is a prayer answered. A monk arrived here one time in sheep's clothing. He took my hands to kneel but at the last minute, grabbed my wrists and held them high against the wall. Prayer is that, too. I can no longer kiss, though. Medice, cura te ipsum. April begins with daffodils and hosta fingers clawing up from the grave. Hyacinth tries to bloom but its faded purples and pinks are damaged from the late snows. This inventory has become the color of survival. At night the earth smells soggy and alive; my benedictions live here. May you, who is we, know the extent to which you are loved – like the surprise of first bloom with the power to heal.

This is My Well

Timing and mood.

A wintry mix of snow and ice falls with hesitation, maybe apologetically, on unopened daffodils. Tiny balls of ice bounce when they land on a ground whose breath smells so hungrily of spring. It happens every year – this icy hiccup of timing. First blossoms are always ruined by this kind of storm. Michigan has her way of staying honest no matter how many ways one tries to romanticize her dunes or pines or bears.

Movement against the descent catches my eye – a nuthatch works its way up the oak – two hops forward, one hop back. Otherwise, the entirety of spring has hunkered down for the storm. From my nest in the couch I can see where I had been working the dirt yesterday. My shoulders and back ache as a reminder of how hard I had reached. Now on the other side of this white veil, the toil seems a little bit silly. But this is my well . . . this writing, this Michigan, this untamable yet utterly mundane existence of here and not here. I draw from it – drink and swallow – and invite others in my own quiet way.

Logs in the fire crackle a bit and the wind growls. I am cold, even with a dozing dog curled at my feet. In these moments I write. Signals and awarenesses and the deep lisping of internal shores all converge to urge. It's the way in which the world gives in and gives to and gives up. And then after, when there are words somehow on the page, it is all abandoned. In the wicked white light of April's unmanageable storm, this creative abdication is how I know love. It is the proof of knowing how to be home.


Morning asks to begin before dawn – before I am ready. Though it has taken a week to crawl away from the clutches of a virus, my body tosses and turns, unable to squeeze any more sleep out of 4 a.m. Lately, dreams contemplate the luminous faces of past teachers. A musing of time considers the nonlinear appearances of light – of wisdom – of love.

Yesterday's daylight dipped into the west and a chorus of birdsong continued to burble into a warmer darkness. Night is not as empty as it was in February. The greenhouses are warming enough to warrant shorts and tank tops but I'm the last one to shed the winter layers. It is strange how the work and the building and the people and the plants all amalgamate to affect a million mirco-changes in me. Entanglement is less and less subtle.

Hours of repetitious planting causes the musculature of my fingers and hands to noticeably change. Even the skin underneath my fingernails presses up against the nails somehow differently. While planting, the dirt and oils and chemistry of the plants is shoved deep into the pores of my fingers. Sometimes green or black residue stains the spaces in between my fingers and begins to cake. That feeling makes me feel uncomfortable and irritated. With each shove of the plant plug into the dirt flat, (because really, this type of planting is a violence) I try to conquer or ignore or endure the compulsion to wash that feeling away. We get two breaks, one at 10:30 a.m. and one at noon for lunch; I play it cool but I'm always in a rush to be the first in line to wash my hands. In this case, exposure and repetition does not lessen the trigger of duress. In a 7.5 hour shift, planting by hand, 6 planters in our greenhouse can fill a hoophouse with 100,000 plants. Compulsion – control – repeat.

Yet I grow here. And I am grateful.

East falls on my face before work. And I see

how love is managed –
spring robin bathing
in the creek