Sunday, November 03, 2019


I think, said a friend once,
that you were a tree in a former life.

That would explain my deep love of the out-of-doors,
my longing for roots and an inordinate love of homeplace,

my penchant for being a watcher, a witness,
rather than a willing participant in human endeavors.

What sort of tree he didn’t specify.
A pine perhaps? I’ve always admired pine trees

with their towering, pitch-knobbed branches,
their prolific and diverse cones,

their forest-green needles that turn a faded orangey-brown at death,
a different shade of beauty.

I doubt he meant an oak — too mighty and steadfast and regal in bearing,
too impenetrable and strong, treasured for its sterling qualities.

He could have meant a redwood, but my human self is drawn to them in such astonishment
that I can’t imagine being invited to join their ranks.

Perhaps he was thinking of the birch, a water lover, compatible with my Zodiac sign, recognizable for its elegant bark, its pliancy, its delicate greenery,
though I’ve always felt, were I ever to be a tree, I’d be a willow, the weeping kind
that likes its toes buried in the damp earth and its head in the clouds,

a mothering being that bends and sways and waltzes in the wind, whose immense green arms
offer secret hiding places for birds and other small creatures, and children with books.

If I believed in reincarnation, I would believe I’ve been a weeping willow tree,
a habitat, a host, provider of shade and safety, my toes holding the erodible earth,

my leaves breathing, my body a nurturing source of shelter and warmth. This time around,
I think I am simply a mother incarnate.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

autumn morning

how can ordinary words
describe the sunlit undersides of geese,
or how the swamp maple,
in the first blush of dawn,
thrusts an implausible pink trunk
into the sky?

exactly which upper
and lower case letters will allow you to
feel the bite of the first frost
on your carelessly bare feet
skipping through the wet fire
to the sound of syncopated honks?

hours from now
unless these observations are
fixed on the open sky of the page
who will understand how your
shadowed footprints melted
into the dying grass
or how the great birds were swallowed
by the rising light?

Monday, September 09, 2019

A Little Taste of Heaven

My two young granddaughters and I travelled to Pennsylvania this summer with my daughter who was doing research at Bucknell University. We stayed at a wonderful farm B&B in Lancaster County. Tucked away among vast acres of corn, the farm was a haven from the bustle of Lewisburg. We were free to roam the barns and yard, to peek at the newborn kittens and, when the chore bell rang after breakfast, to help feed the animals before taking a wagon ride tour of the neighboring farms. When we were introduced to her dad, Jim, and later to her mom, Mim, our host Jodi asked if any of us had ever stayed on a farm before. I confessed that I’d grown up doing chores at a dairy farm, had once milked cows, helped put the hay in and had even driven a tractor. My dad raised chickens when I was a child, and when I was in my forties, my own family homesteaded in Vermont, raising pigs and chickens, and growing a huge vegetable garden for home consumption. For the rest of our stay, I was known as “the farm lady.”

If you appreciate hospitality without undue hovering; if you love the sound of locusts buzzing, of murmuring chickens, and the bleat of goats and baas of sheep; if you’re delighted with barn cats who butt your outstretched hand with their warm heads, begging for a pat; if you can hear the whispered secrets of a million corn leaves in the breeze or lose yourself in the silence of a sunset; if swooping barn swallows and cleanly swept barnyards delight you, if rockers on the porch whisper your name; if baked oatmeal with blueberries, chocolate chip pancakes, melt-in-your-mouth egg dishes with ham or spinach, and crispy breakfast potatoes sound delicious; if an immaculate room, a comfortable bed, and air filled with the scent of roses appeals to you, you might want to book a spot at The Country Log House Farm B&B ( Tell them the farm lady sent you.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Runaway Memory


behind the library
that used to be the grammar school
where the old yellow bus
cranked open its doors and
spilled us out like
so many windup toys from a bucket
there’s a patch of mowed grass
smothered in bluets
and dotted with white violets
surrounded by pine trees
I clearly remember sitting under
with Donny and Raymond
my two best friends
since none of the girls would
play with me given I was fearfully shy
and dressed in the fringed cowgirl
skirt I got for Christmas
instead of a twirly skirt with crinoline

many of the venerable pines have fallen
since my school days
their brick colored insides scraped by a foraging bear
looking for grubs, maybe
(I saw the claw marks in the soft wood
and the dark distinct mass of its calling card
in the grass at the top of the knoll)
Pine Knoll they called this place
the stretch of green grass that grew straight to the edges
before dropping off in root-gripped cliffs that fell to the swamp
a great circle of grass humps and fetid water I once escaped through
darting off in the opposite direction when
Teacher headed the line into school after recess
sliding down a short cliff and hummock-hopping
my way to the main street before hooking a right onto
my home road and showing up at the door
startling my mother.

She didn’t send me back that day
let me sit instead on the porch swing with my PBJ
and a glass of milk contemplating my deed
I still don’t regret it and only wish escape was as easy now