Sunday, June 30, 2013


I strayed to your side
of the bed last night.
For a week now I've
only occupied
My half
Of our private square.

I was restless with the heat
And the thrum of the fan
Did not mask the absence
Of your snores.

I felt a little guilty 
stretching out; but
I confess to a certain thrill
As I lay my head
On what should be your pillow.

I am rich with choices
when you are not here.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Sounds Heard on a Friday Summer Night

A/C cranks loud
drowned by wind chimes
that tease in gusts.
Neighbors are drawn out
on stoops and sidewalks
to stare at the sky
with vague desperation
and "storm"
is whispered
with superstitious glances
at a tumbling gray sky.
Thunder rolls.
Sashes squeak upward
to catch every cool breeze.
In the sudden absence of compressors
supper talk leaks
from dining room windows.
Texts trumpet
heralding approaching relief
street by street reporting
drops have fallen!
Impatient rustle of leaves
spatters that dry without witness
follow the advancing line of hopeful
Creaks and rumbles echo across
the sky until the sound 
is dampened by the patter of

written in response to a prompt on G+


Kinnikinick. Fir. Granite.
These are my flesh
my bones.

My blood tumbles like
The stream falling over
Sodden logs where fish
Hide in pools.
The warm vanilla of Ponderosas
Twines with the bite
of pine sap
To make my only scent.

I grew up on stories of pioneers
Who bent iron
And trees to their will.
Their backs rose strong and
straight like the stone towers
That made their homes.

All that's left is the faint
taste of adventure
In recipes made a
hundred times on
the same wood stove 
that still
warms the kitchen.

Saturday, June 22, 2013


There's a constant breeze from the south. The house is surrounded by maples. From my bedroom window I look across the road to see the grand old cottonwood and its companion willow. We recently planted two oak trees whose tops are just rising above the sill. The rustling leaves of each tree sounds different, like instruments in an orchestra, blending into a gentle papery symphony.

A cardinal declares his prowess from a high snag, dropping trills and notes to me like royalty dispensing coins. Robins ignore his conceit, sharing their short melody then swooping between trees to offer it again. Other songs are unfamiliar. I listen with my eyes, trying to spot the artists, as if seeing could improve the glory of calls and responses, songs and conversations.

The dogs gallop past, chasing some elusive, possibly imagined, target. Their passage brings to mind the thunder of the racetrack as the horses pass.

Wherever I am the sound of "MOM!" rises like smoke signals, begging an equally loud response. Our family communicates by echolocation. Some days I choose not to respond. The noise moves trainlike around the property, changing tone as the caller approaches or paces in the wrong direction. When not exasperated I find this secretly amusing.

Cyclists and pedestrians chatter past as they tour the scenic byway that runs before the house, gravel crunching, unaware that I watch them from my window. Stanley-dog's voice has shifted to a slightly lower register. He's a talker, responding to queries with grunts and growls. He delights in raising the alarm, bark rising to a yelp that echoes like a gunshot from the trees, or rolling thunder. The passersby startle, then laugh, at his bravado.

An aluminum ladder clanks. A hammer pounds. My husband's expletives pepper down as he works on yet another repair. He clatters down and sighs with satisfaction to cross another fix off the list.

The compressor on one of the refrigerators is failing. In the morning it squeaks and squeals and breathes frosty mist whenever the door is opened. Afternoons it settles to a gentle mechanical snore. I find it somehow endearing, and put off the craigslist search for a replacement.

I close the windows against the chill, and light a fire. It's quiet enough that I can hear the fluttering of flames in the fireplace, like flags on a windy day. The dogs whimper and trot in their sleep. The children lean on me, and I read to them quietly as the sound of their yawns draws me, too, toward sleep.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Bare Cupboards

The cabinets are slowly emptying. The refrigerator contains little more than pickles and condiments. I am washing walls and baseboards in preparation: we leave in a few days to spend the summer away.

It's a splendid opportunity. My husband's family has a traditional summer "camp" in another state which we visit every other summer. There's a lake and sailing and a motorboat. We have a tennis court and a wide array of warped wooden tennis rackets which add a hilarious unpredictability to the game. We've strung a hammock. We have a croquet set. Everyone we know is invited to visit for however long they can. Some do, and there's a delightful confluence of strangers-become-friends eating, playing cards, staying up late drinking and discussing every topic imaginable.

There was a period during which maintenance was sporadic. Leaks developed. Shrubbery became overgrown. Foundations sank. With each visit we make it a little better -- cleaning, repairing, updating. I take before- and after-pictures to document the transformation. Still, we leave with project lists for the next visit, then spend days deciphering what our cryptic notes mean when we begin packing anew.

Packing takes weeks of planning. There are lists and spreadsheets. We make piles in the basement, in the living room, in the garage. Fitting everything into a pickup truck is a jigsaw puzzle made more complicated by the need to save space for four people and two dogs. Over time I've taken less and less. Babies require far more equipment than toddlers and my children are now old enough that they require little more than books and clothes.

Traveling so far away, for so long, requires a paring. A cutting back of wants and needs. At home I have a knife block with ten different viciously sharp knives. There I use two. Five hundred CDs are replaced by a single radio station. Three or four highly recommended novels go into my bag; I leave behind stacks of unread books on my bedside table and dresser. Three pair of shoes cover the entire summer: sneakers, flip flops, and a pair of flats, just in case. Upon my return I will be appalled at the excesses of space and goods in my home, even though I claim to live simply.

I speak enthusiastically about our trip, but there's a hesitation in my heart this year. I believe it's a factor of time and distance. We are not moving, or relocating. That would imply a permanence and sense of purpose. This is a dislocation. Our summer routines will be just the same -- eating, cooking, cleaning, learning, reading, writing, playing, exploring -- but elsewhereSometimes I wake from a dream disoriented, unable to find the lines between realities. The same happens with our summers away. Upon our return the weeks seem dreamlike and our regular lives resume immediately, as if nothing happened.

We leave in four days. We will drive unceasing to Ohio, then collapse for a night before pushing on. I hope to arrive in the daylight. We have, in the past, arrived late and with no electricity. By the light of headlamps we did just enough unwrapping so that we each had a mattress, then collapsed into sleeping bags. Morning light squeezed between gaps in the shutters and we woke to the possibilities our our temporary home. Despite my trepidation this year, whatever time we arrive I will wake to a marvelous dream.