What the Young Man Said in the Stairwell

Chongqing, China

The thought of having to be around people is cause for anxiety and Joshua says that’s probably a motherly instinct. People are usually either trying to get you to glorify the past or expound on a future one can’t possibly know. It may even be blaspheming to try. Mothers of newborns must be present and attentive constantly, with very little room for error. No, I don’t know where I’m going to call home in three months, and it’s not my concern. God knows. But they who worship the god of security don’t even know how to hear this, let alone accept my decision to trust.

Yesterday I realized it was the tenth anniversary of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. On that day I was working in the tallest building in Chongqing, a metropolis 300 miles from the epicenter. As I was teaching a class on the 15th floor, I felt the whole classroom start to sway. Read More

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What the Heart Desires

I came into the room to see my six month-old daughter chewing on a ladybug and listening to Hare Krishna Hare Rama.

I never wanted to be a mom. I’d look at mothers around me with their horde of messy faces and lost shoes. How it took all weary-long morning just to get out the door. And then they’d go around telling people every little cutesy thing their kids did that day. That kind of life repelled me. Where was the depth? Read More

Valley of Maternal Wonder


Victoria asked for a haibun about dusk. I couldn’t help but feel the connection to my birth story in which dusk revealed the colors of knowing birth would be that night, and paved the way for my little Oriahn, who was born just before dawn and whose name means “dawn’s light.”

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The greening grass sweeps the valley from riverbed to pasture as the crepuscular haze to the west Read More

Holy

The Medjugorje visionary saw Mary, Mother of God hovering above the couple’s marital bed years ago, on which we now all solemnly, humorlessly — the Catholic way — procession in and toss rose petals, strategically set as the climax of this strange retreat, hosted by the couple.
“And now, without further ado…”
Blessed be this holy site! Heal me from what ails me!

Miserere Domine!*

…In a nauseous wave I’m moved to clear the air and run out of the incensed house, myrrh potpourri and Advent boughs, perfected confectioneries and stained glass donation jars, into a southern December dusk where woods laugh but take my offering: Read More

Embracing Blessed Pregnancy (Shape Poem)

I am
in bloom.
Full of blood,
bubbling, full of life.
Face aglow, I am awed
by the blood vessels
flowing into womb,
thickened veins and
umbilical pulse.  I can
feel their swollen contours
as they inflect upwards beneath
the skin.  Bulbous breasts plump with
sweet amber, ~~ dripping like blackstrap
molasses. ~~ Soon the ambrosia will pour
forth as the new baby feeds,  feeding the
flowering plants, tuberose and jasmine,
clematis and columbine,  blossoming
blackberry brambles; ~~ this milky
blancmange enriching the fertile
soil of spring. ~~ Efflorescence Read More

37 Weeks, Rings and Pens and a Beautiful Orb

35 weeks/8 months pregnant

Probably my last pregnancy update, but I promise there’s a treat in this post for you poets too!

Well, yay, I made it to 37 weeks which is the full-term gestation that I would personally be comfortable delivering the baby at home. I forgot how UNcomfortable the last few weeks can be, but I’m not complaining as I know it could be much worse. I’ve lucked out and have had good blood pressure, very minimal low back pain, and absolutely no edema. I definitely have a oompa-loompa waddle and I’m pretty much saying “c’est la vie” and letting housework fall by the wayside as I’m just too exhausted for the constant bend-overs that are part of daily life with two kids under four. I’m looking forward to labor but a little worried about if the baby’s a girl because we have no viable first name choices. If any readers have suggestions of a name that fits these, send them my way:

– three-syllables
– different and melodic
– preferably Hebrew (but open to any origin)
– does NOT begin with letters A C J K Q S

Yeah we’re, uh, particular. I also have quite the pregnancy brain and here’s a little senryu to illustrate:

Lost my wedding ring

At least I still have a pen

(Somewhere around here)

That’s not to say I put writing above my marriage, but I definitely would rather be stranded on a desert island with a pen (and paper) rather than a bejeweled tiny circle of precious metal. But poet friends, that wasn’t the treat. Here it is:

Cartoon by Peter C. Vey

Haha! We’ve all been there.

And lastly, here’s just a little touching moment I want to remember. Read More

Lay Low

Photography by Peter Lindbergh

“Lay low awhile.”
Din of grungy mahjong slot machines, smoke thick as port-town smog, slurps of Chongqing hot noodle soup
Watery lager, grease stains, and spit riddled the cement floor,
For the right price she could decipher them too —
“Too many eyes on you and this,”
Boss held up her Read More

Waxen

Photography by Charlotte Colbert

All is white these days, the humidifier noise through the night and late January skies, but I’d give my life not to remain a blank slate mirror anymore. Smooth, slippery cold marble surface, not even the Kronos Quartet playing Philip Glass to the much prayed-for snowfall, not even the kids’ laughs or cries, not even my husband saying poetry doesn’t matter can penetrate, or stick, or stain. Albedo one hundred percent. Read More