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

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Color Me Green

New green against morning blue.

My eight-year-old granddaughter is very interested in knowing everyone’s favorite color - Mama’s, Papa’s, sister Lily’s, mine. She insisted I pick just one so I told her without hesitation that my favorite color is green. And that’s true, but so is blue in any shade from robin’s egg to cerulean, and every hue of orange with the exception of neon, rust being a definite. I’m partial to pale yellow fading to cream, and the pink that appears on the horizon at dawn. In fact, pink in every shade (though no hot pink, please) pleases me, as do various shades of brown.  I once had my colors done and was told my palette was definitely pastel. No violent colors for me, red least of all. I like red mixed with yellow, though, and when you mix red with blue I love the vast array of available purples.

Still, if I had to pick just one color it would be green; grass green and pea soup green, hemlock green, the blue green of spruce and every shade of leaf. I like lime and mint greens, military green and khaki on the green side.

According to color psychology, green is the color of equilibrium and harmony, balancing the heart and the emotions. It is also the color of growth and of spring. It restores depleted energy, creating a sanctuary from stress and increases our sense of well-being.

“Green encompasses the mental clarity and optimism of yellow with the emotional calm and insight of blue, inspiring hope and a generosity of spirit.” So says one color psychology site ( When I think of the way I operate in the world, I can see that’s true. I’m a green girl, wanting to understand everything and needing to share what I learn.

I once had a favorite green blouse that made me feel all-of-a-piece when I wore it.  The gray green of unripe olives, the color complemented the yellow in my hair and the pink of my skin. I’d put it on and conquer the world every time. I wore it to shreds.

John Denver’s song, Cool and Green and Shady is one of my favorites. I love green leafy things to eat – spinach, lettuce, beet greens, cabbage, Brussels sprouts – and have decorated my living space in varying shades of blue-green.

I can get lost in the blue of the sky, ooooh and aaaahhh over pink sunsets, dress in shades of russet and brown, but hands down, green is the color I’d wrap my world in if given the choice of just one color.

Friday, April 05, 2019

Something Different

Many of you know that my poetry is mostly about nature but now and then I take a fit and write about something else. This particular night my cat woke me at midnight. I’m not at my best in the middle of the night but when I opened the door to let the cat out, the stars were right there, right there! and the big dipper was so close I could have touched it. This is what happened:

Who Knows Where This Stuff Comes From

In an alternate universe
that only looked like this familiar one
the Big Dipper leaned down over my doorstep
so I climbed in.

Did you know that stars
are really bits of music,
notes that quiver on their way
through the black, limitless space?

They sing
of glistening rivers on fog-mist mornings,
of tumbled brown soil and all that’s green and living,
of whales and cormorants,
komodo dragons and people,
and other ordinary things.

They sing of longing
and belonging.
They are the tears of sorrow and laughter
that gather in the corners
of our eyes and slip down,
down to the earth,
where in an alternate universe
they become the Big Dipper
leaning over my doorstep.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Our hand built cabin in 1979. My mother visited once we had a roof over our heads. 

In 1976 we (my then husband Mike and our four kids) moved to northern Vermont as part of the huge tide of back-to-the-landers making their way to rural areas to homestead in lieu of city life. When cleaning the closet in my cottage recently, I came across several hard cover floppy disks with "Cabin" written on them containing what I assumed were the typed copies of my original handwritten journals I kept about our Vermont experience. I sent them off to a company that offered to convert old files to something more readable on modern computers. Herewith is a portion of one of those recovered diaries with a further description meant for a collection I was making for the kids.

Diary entry: It was twelve degrees outside this morning when we got up. We ate breakfast, piled kids and dogs and tools into the truck and went to the cabin site in Danville. We spent the morning trimming trees and clearing brush. Even little Cassie helped. Bren and Kenny wielded hatchets. Straddling the trees Mike felled, they hacked at the smaller branches. Then Mike took the chainsaw and cut off all the larger limbs.
He is busy cutting trees. The woods are full of fallen giants. The snow is still deep, making it difficult to get around. Though I know the trees will offer us shelter as house walls, my heart hurts at the sight of them lying broken and helpless on the ground. I wish I could come to terms somehow with the tree spirits that now haunt our woods.

Further description:
"Tim-berrrr!" Mike yelled.
The kids and I scrambled out of the way as the branches of the big spruce whistled past us. The tree landed with a thud that shook the ground. Immediately the kids swarmed over it, hacking at the smaller branches with their hatchets. Cassie tromped through the snow making a path to drag the debris to the growing pile near the edge of the woods. Mike set the chainsaw down and wiped his forehead with his sleeve. "It's not much above twenty degrees," he said, "and still I'm sweating."
He glanced up toward the tops of two trees that leaned against each other in a tangle of boughs. "I've got to free the one that's hung up." He pointed to the partially cut trunk of the nearest tree. "I'll tie a rope to it and you can pull while I cut."
"Won't it fall on me if I'm pulling it?" I asked.
"Just pull hard enough to dislodge it," he said, "then drop the rope and run in the opposite direction."
I kicked at the deep snow with my boot. "I will get about two feet away in this stuff," I complained. "That tree is going to fall on my head."
"I'll be careful," Mike promised. "If it looks like it's going to fall your way, I'll grab the rope and pull it around."
He tied one end of the rope around the tree as high up as he could reach and handed the other end to me.
"Pull it taut," he directed. He started the chain saw and stepped to the base of the trunk.
I backed up until the rope stretched in a straight line from my hands to the tree. It wasn't very large around but it was tall. Its spindly trunk reached into the sky over my head.
"Start pulling!" hollered Mike as the blade bit into the tree trunk.
I leaned back, setting my weight against the rope. Mike cut the trunk clean through but the tree didn't budge.
"I'll have to cut the other one, too," he said. "Their branches are so tangled that the one that's still standing is holding up the one I just cut. Give me the rope. I'm going to tie it to the other tree."
"Won't the two of them fall together if you just cut the second one?" I asked, hoping to get out of harm's way.
"I don't think so," Mike said, handing me the rope. He yanked on the chainsaw's cord.
I backed away, nearly falling as I pushed through the deep snow with my heels. The chainsaw buzzed, there was a sharp cracking sound and a sudden, terrible yell from Mike.
The first tree struck the back of my neck and head, knocking me to my knees. The second pushed me face down in the snow. The branches sighed down around me, pressing me more deeply into the snow with their weight. I heard Mike shouting, but his voice seemed to come from a great distance. I couldn't breathe, I couldn't see. I turned my head to free my face from the snow and cried out in pain.
"Are you all right? Are you alright?" Mike's voice was hoarse with fright. "Don't move. Stay still. I have to cut the main trunk."
The saw buzzed above me and suddenly the weight lifted. "Mommy, Mommy," cried Cassie. "Come out!"
Five pairs of hands pulled at the tree branches until I was able to roll out from under them. Brendan pointed to my face. "You have a big red mark," he said, his eyes wide and frightened.
"Why did you pull the trees on your head?" Kenny wanted to know. "Why didn't you and Mike just push them from behind?"
Mike took my arm and helped me walk to a nearby stump. He made a ball of snow and handed it to me for my bruise. Cassie and Jen leaned close. My legs shook and my head ached.
"I am okay," I reassured them. I took the snowball away from my face and there was blood on it.
"I'm sorry, Pauline," Mike said. "The book said that a tree falls against the cut. I really didn't think they'd fall on you. It's a good thing the snow is so deep or..." He stopped, seeing the fright on the kids' faces.


And here the entry stops! It all ended well. I had a headache that night and the next day, but the deep snow and the myriad of needled branches saved me from getting killed. I have two more disks to send to the data recovery company. I hope they are as revealing!