Tuesday, April 30, 2013


The day is slowly fading toward dusk. Birds fly in pairs across the pale sky, calling goodnight as they go. From the topmost branch of a slender maple, the cardinal sings his evening song. At the farm, the guinea hens yawp at the setting sun from the roof of their henhouse. The horizon is pure, melted gold.

The small breeze that ruffled my hair and flipped the pages of my book this afternoon has become a mere whisper among the grasses. But, late this afternoon it fanned a smoldering pile of logs behind one of the barns into a crackling fire that threatened to burn the remaining small wood that separates my cottage from several neighbors. I heard the snap of burning wood and smelled the acrid smoke. I ran to call the fire department which came, sirens screaming, a scant five minutes later. There was no great damage done, but for a few minutes my heart beat fast at the thought of what might have been.

Dawn and dusk are my favorite times of day. The air is most often still and at this time of year smells like moist earth and green, growing things. The same hush that begins the day falls again at eventide; body and spirit rest in the silence and soft light.


Friday, April 26, 2013

Spring Prayer

Spring arrives at the cottage in shades of yellow.
I do not want spring to rush past me unnoticed so I stand on my doorstep at dawn, breathing in the still cold air, noting which trees are budding, which flowers are blooming. I watch the sun roll up over the horizon, painting the sky, the tree trunks, the rooftops, the lawn with a gold-tipped brush. The birds serenade the sunrise; even the rooster next door adds his voice.

Mid-morning finds me out of doors and on my knees. If prayer can be a living thing, then heaven must be besieged with gardeners' appreciation. Flowers are such beautiful things - ephemeral, delicate and yet so strong. I like knowing that my vegetables are grown from organic seeds and tended by my own hand. I don't mind weeding. It gives me a chance to be quiet and contemplative. And the reward is a tidy garden bed.

The days are never long enough to do all I have planned. Evening finds me watching as the sun sinks slowly behind the mountain, drawing its light with it until the sky darkens and the stars appear. In the swamp the spring peepers chorus and the larks call goodnight to one another. The blue heron that fishes at the edges of the pond groks as it flies homeward. Otherwise, it is very still, as if the air were holding its breath.

I like knowing that tomorrow (unless it rains) will be the same as today and for a few weeks yet spring will release its tiny miracles of unfolding leaves and petals.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Thank you, Mohini

I have been so busy setting up my new computer I haven't had much time to use it! Events have conspired to shorten my time at home lately and much of it has been spent trying to transfer photos, music, and documents from my old computer to this one. There's a marvelous little tool called a migration assistant tucked in my applications folder but apparently we didn't understand each other. I wanted all my music, all my documents and all my photos to migrate. The MA didn't get that so I've had to resort to various subterfuges (my favorite is Dropbox) to makes sure nothing got left behind. It's been a tedious, weekend-long project.

The newer version of Microsoft Office I purchased required a pin number to activate and of course, it didn't. It was a valid pin, said the first person I called at Microsoft. Perhaps, she suggested, I should call the retailer and get them to activate my card. Turns out they already had. My second, rather impatient call to Microsoft was answered by a woman in India, where it was three o'clock in the morning. She met my slightly frantic tone politely, assuring me that she could help. Then she did something that amazed me - she asked permission to tap into my computer so she could see what I was doing and wham! just like that this person, thirty years my junior and from the other side of the world, was moving the selection arrow around on my computer. I still don't understand how a radio works; this kind of technology is far beyond my comprehension. With a few clicks accompanied by a concise explanation of what she was doing, she activated my download and set about installing the latest updates.

While the little vertical barbershop pole wound its way along the bar, we chatted. We called each other by our first names, Mohini and Pauline. She asked about the weather here and told me how hot is was there. We talked about advances in technology and how she had to constantly train to keep up with it all so that she could be of help to callers. We discussed the difficulties of language barriers, and of always being patient with people while they sorted through their frustrations online. She was the personification of patience and helpfulness and before we knew it, the program was up and running.

Mohini's graciousness, her infectious laughter, her enthusiasm for her job, came across the phone line and changed the way I thought of people on the other end of helplines. We who have technical problems are impatient to have them solved. We've paid money for a product and we want it to work perfectly. But little in life is trouble free. Thank goodness for the Mohinis of the world who, with expertise and grace under pressure, teach us more than how to use our computers. They teach us that kindness and patience are far more valuable than the machines they are helping us to understand.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

A Moment Here

The days go by so quickly, full of small, precious moments - hugs from little arms, pats from little hands, toothless smiles, big-girl words, first haircuts, first roll-overs and attempts at crawling. There are runny noses to wipe, worms to discover, bugs to inspect, shoes to tie, sand buckets to fill, clouds to watch, songs to sing. Daily household chores get fit in where they can. As for writing a poem a day, well! I thought about it but words and paper haven't met in a long time.

Here's one that managed to write itself in my head. I've taken a moment just now to jot it down here.

The prompt: Write about an intangible gift.

Unwrapping the Obvious

There might not be a deity,
long hair flowing,
robes folded neatly about his feet,
book of deeds open
on a gracious, forgiving lap,
who gives a fig leaf if I'm happy,

but there is a small child
whose arms circle my neck,
whose wild imagination
includes me in all her games,
who points out worms as small miracles,
who holds my hand when we cross the street,
who cries when I leave
and grins with shy delight when I return.

There may be no point in praying,
but there is a point to living,
to providing a teething baby
a friendly finger to chew on,
and two arms to rock her safely to sleep.

There may not be a deity
somewhere in the far reaches
who listens, who speaks,
but there is infinity
in the eyes of a child.

 Thanks for this, Hilary

Sunday, April 07, 2013

April 4

Write 7 small (3-5 lines), disparate poems with a mysterious ending.

If I were a cat
with 9 lives
would I would live eight of them

The trees bend and bow
to each other.
The wind dances with them.
Who plays the violin?

The air hangs heavy as a magician's cape,
full of rabbits and scarves and half-sawn bodies.
Lightning is the severing wand.
What calls forth the magic?

Why does a cat
choose to drink a dirty puddle
when a bowl of clean water
sits just inside the open door?

I would like to wake up
some morning in another world.
Would I crave coffee then
or long to run?

People only see
what we let them see.
In turn we only see
what we allow ourselves
to acknowledge.

How is it
the wind always knows
which way to blow?

April 5

How a poem gets started... 

Start anywhere.
Start with a chair.
Wonder who sat in it
and chipped off, with a fingernail,
a piece of paint shaped like

Did someone sit opposite and drum
his fingers impatiently,
beating a nervous tattoo of sound
on the scarred table?

Why has one chair fallen over?

April 6

Music becomes the metaphor — the notes are boats, the violin forgives, the universe becomes a tambourine played against your thigh.  Go anywhere with this.

combined with

April 7

Write a poem having to do with listening, perhaps a deeper kind of listening, a listening below the words and in beyond the sounds.  Or your poem might simply tell of something heard in the world.

resulted in:

Listening hard, I heard
underneath the unremitting, pounding rain
the dawn-call of a rooster,
and under that the bark of a small dog.
Beneath that a mourning dove spoke,
and then a daffodil opened.
Too soft to hear,
a worm tunneled beneath a blade of grass,
and a cloud's shadow drifted across the yard.

The music of the spheres is a constant,
ever-changing symphony of movement,
of water on earth on rock on air,
like a cricket's wings
rubbing together in the stilly dark.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013


April 2

In this second exercise move beyond pure image into I statements, You statements, metaphor, or perhaps anthropomorphizing.

The grass on the other side
may be greener
but it's still grass

At dusk
I watch the swallows play chicken
with the gnats

To be pithy
one must put large thoughts
in small spaces

April 3

 Write a poem that a child might write.   Fall into that voice of slightly goofy innocence and wonder.  Trust simplicity and the way children give human emotions to objects... 

My toes like sand between them,
and the foam the waves leave behind.
If toes could giggle, mine would.
They would laugh out loud like the gulls
that swoop and glide
because they know that tomorrow
they will still be at the beach.

Monday, April 01, 2013

April 1

April is National Poetry Month. I receive prompts every day from a writer friend. Here's April 1.

Write a few small poems that are purely image.  Do not interject yourself or your thoughts into your few lines of clear and exact image. Just describe.  Do not allow in abstractions.  Do not address the reader.  Notice particulars.  Make every word count.

Sunlight dances in silver slippers
where the whale disappeared.

The sun rises
on the wings of seagulls.
The sky itself is silent.

Seagulls are noisy children
of the sky.

Circus animal clouds
parade under the big-top sky.