When I’m with you I feel real,
he said, the gentleness
in his eyes belying the fear
in his heart, the quivering
insecurity of his soul.

He is a wounded one, all right,
the pain of betrayal
steeped in his loins.

There once was a woman,
she said, who hung mirrors
in every room, every niche,
in a towering edifice
she insisted was home.

Done so she could look
and remind herself that she
still existed, that she was real.

Read the “Velveteen Rabbit”,
she said as she softly
slipped her hand into his.

Look in the mirror
and tell yourself again
and yet again,
that you are Real.

She knows that emptiness
brought on by years
of holding herself erect,
while inside she melted away,
the “who” of herself
fading from the “what”
of her life, brought to bear
upon her by those called family.

Within, she said, rests a kernel
of effervescence –
luminous, brilliant, yet
with a purity too true to destroy.

Let the mirror be your guide
into the heart of you.

Unrequited Love

Silence hung in the air, deafening her mind as she stood at the doorsill watching, waiting.  Each day passed thus.  She would rise, send the children on their way the seven miles to school, the old buckboard wagon bouncing and rutting its way down the dust-risen road.

Rushing through the chores, she would take up her vigil, day after day.  Sometimes he came but far more often he did not.  The anticipation, mingled with apprehension, was reflected in the constant movements of Sarah’s body.  Anchored to the sill, she would stand on her toes, lift one foot then the other, tap her feet to a beat matching the craziness within.  Even she could not explain the waiting.

When he came it was not with an ease of manner or a smile. . . her husband.  They had not been married but a few weeks when he told her that, under no terms were they to have a child.  He didn’t want the burden; feared the responsibility.  Marriage, in and of itself, was difficult enough to his way of thinking.

Jeb loved her, surely he did, but it was wound up tight by possession and the need for control.  His father had been the same; it was the way he knew.  Their passion drove everything else away. . . all the thoughts of everyone else, of friends, relatives, even the workers on the farm.

Their voices ebbed and flowed, in torrents or tranquil waters, as he slowly, inexorably, bent her spirit so that it lived only in his presence.  Never a strong person, she would bury thoughts of anger, injustice, and a longing for more deep within her core.

In the beginning, she brought herself to a medicine woman in hopes of ending this threat to the marriage.  The old woman smiled her toothless smile and shook her head, “Child, there are babies inside you waiting to be born. That man ain’t nothing but a curse on you. Someone must have been a heap of angry at you to darken your path with the likes of him.” The young woman dutifully listened, an obligatory measure to ensure the help she needed.

Shaking her tousled, gray head, the medicine woman shuffled over to her cabinets and opened the doors to her secrets.  She instructed the girl how to prevent contraception and made to send her on her way.  The younger one’s fear creeping high as the sun moved across the sky.  “He doesn’t know I am here,” she confessed, “He believes my mind can control my body, stopping seeds from sprouting – it being only a matter of conviction.”

To accept help from any outsiders would be a sure sign of weakness.  When, despite her fear, she thwarted the old medicine woman’s cures and became pregnant, it was an unconscious need to be unleashed from his tyranny.  She had a trembling weakness to be loved more than anything else and, she had to admit, a stirring of defiance whirling in the murky waters of her mind.  For so long she had held such thoughts at bay but the cage she beat her wings against seemed rustier and more confining by the day.

As her womb swelled, Sarah’s defiance swirled between shrinking to a fearful whimper to surging bright and fearful clear.  Jeb reacted as expected. . . with bitter rage and raw nerves. He began to hit he then.  Always seemingly accidental and in areas that wouldn’t show, and all too often, directly against the precious life growing inside.

Jeb swore he wouldn’t acknowledge any child, wouldn’t support them, get to know them and, true to his word, on the day she went into labor, he gathered his things, crossed the doorsill, past the old barn with cattle mulling, ready to be milked, lowing in the evening breeze.  He lit across the wavering fields and disappeared in the distance.  He didn’t look back once – she knew for she watched through the rustling curtains, clutching her stomach as the labor pains struck.  Until that moment, she didn’t really believe he had meant it.

Sarah went out to the barn, trying to do what she could before it was too late.  She couldn’t bear to see the cows suffering from swollen bellies much as she herself was.  She needed to relieve them of their pain – she could do that much even if she could not for herself.

Within the bed she had lain long nights reaching out to touch him, dreading him awakening, dreading him not, her thoughts and feelings swirling together in one cacophony of torment.  She was married to the man – she loved him, hated him, feared him – all mixed up, intertwined in a thousand knots.  She was always afraid she would break in half from loving him so hard.

Sarah lay in bed, crying, curled up into a tight ball as her swollen belly lurched and heaved in contractions.  As luck would have it, her midwife arrived for a weekly check-up in time for the final throes of delivery.  The squalling, pink babe was a small girl, already carrying a haunted look in her eyes.  Preternaturally wise, the eyes spoke of the knowledge of those pokes and jabs meant to be spent on an innocent fetus.

Jeb would show up from time to time, taking what was his – her body – even as the baby cried in another room, her needs going unmet.  Sarah dared not leave his side unless she was prepared for a beating  As it was, she was likely to suffer through one if he couldn’t take the baby’s cries.  For as much as she knew his love was tainted and not fully encompassing, she couldn’t turn him out of her bed and her heart.

He was quick to leave once his needs were met, taking whatever he could find to support himself.  Workers from nearby ranches were helping out on their free days – concern showing on their faces as they watched the drawn, pale woman pull in on herself.  She struggled hard to make the farm keep going.  Slowly she added on a worker or two to handle the heavy work while she maintained the gardens and livestock.  Sometimes, at day’s end, she would feel the breeze of the air against her face and know a freedom nothing else in her life brought.

Soon those around her noticed her belly swelling again . . . how she dragged herself across the fields, caring for the livestock, her baby strapped to her back waiting its turn. And a few months later, another child, a boy, was there to suckle, drawing nourishment from a woman who had long been denied that same nurturing spirit.

Jeb was her albatross and her obsession.  In the denying of his love, he fueled a need within Sarah so powerful she was helpless to resist.  She gave all she had to the farm and her children.  She was a good woman, kind and grateful to those who helped her.  She loved her children and gave them the attention she herself deserved.  But she couldn’t rid herself of that one weakness – Jeb.  And he, miserable wretch that he was, wouldn’t release her from the slave chains he wrapped around her spirit.

When he disappeared for good, heading for the West and its claims of gold, she was released from his bondage.  She prayed and wept and at last divested herself of the need for him.  And after a period of mourning, her rage exploded, sweeping clean the last vestiges of subservience and shame. No longer trapped in her cage, she lived a life of toil but triumph.  Her ranch did well and she gave her children the love she had in abundance. All those things had been there before, but as long as Jeb ruled her consciousness, she couldn’t truly appreciate them.  Now she was a woman free, no longer fettered by the twisted, convoluted love she shared.  And unwilling to ever walk down that road again.



As the year ends. . . .

As the year ends . . . how many articles and writings are beginning with this right now?  Just this morning I saw a few.  Really its just one day inexorably moving into another one, a simple feat done as it’s been accomplished since our world began in its present form.  Still, the need to change one number when you write out a check does give me a certain pause.  (Not the least because my brain needs to catch up to the revolving times).

When I think of the things I envisioned would happen this past year just a scant 365 days ago, the reality has proved so much different.  I try really hard to differentiate between projecting and planning.  For instance, I am planning to go to California to hold my first grandchild and spend time with the family I love most in the world.  But Life has a way of tilting even the most solid plans and shake them into razor whipped ribbons.

This past year I moved and then began plans to move again, to California.  The California plans didn’t work out for now.  I am planning for a move in a couple of years, eons from now.  But within my current home, I am making friends with wonderful people, am safe and secure, and even have had people offer to walk my cat (on his leash) when I didn’t feel up to it.  That wouldn’t have happened if I had moved.

By all rights, I shouldn’t be alive right now.  I nearly died a few years back, was given up for dead if not for my son’s tenacity and insistence.  Afterward, I had dementia for a year due to a drug reaction. I had to wear a colostomy bag for a year.  All these prepared me for the work I do now and the compassion I feel for those in similar circumstances.  I’ve learned acceptance and rational hope.  I’ve watched people die and I’ve seen people fight their way back from the edge.  How can you plan those things in the beginning of a new year?

So this year I am scattering my expectations to the four winds.  As the icy chill of the air blows outside, I will bury my preconceptions under the snow so when Springtime comes, as it tends to do, I can laugh at the fantasies I built my life on and cherish the realities I have been given.  For even if I don’t understand why they are happening, or don’t see them as fair, I Do know I will always learn from the realities that grace my path and grow stronger (hopefully) as a result.

May all your expectations bring fruit to bear that is fragrant, luscious and life-giving. And may changes shatter your preconceptions and awaken untravelled realms within and without you.  Happy New Year.



Best Wishes

In these times of holiday blitz, when running about trying to make everything perfect and cramming as many activities in as possible, I want to take a moment and send my fervent hope to all those struggling.  Be they shut-ins, mentally or physically ill, suffering personal losses and the death of loved ones, or those living in desperate circumstances, they need our love, devotion, and attention throughout the year but perhaps, especially now.

Most of us spin through our days accomplishing goals, worrying about the dramas and needs in our lives, or working so hard we don’t notice the rest of the world.  We are in a time when that may be more necessary than ever before.  But the Holidays are here to remind us of the outer world and the greater good.  As much as you are able, extend yourself to others.  You may never know what that gesture will do.  It may make all the difference to someone who will, in turn, pass it on to others less fortunate than ourselves, for, let’s face it, for almost everyone there are multitudes who are less fortunate.

Let us also be mindful of the results the actions of technology bring.  As companies and scientists seek ways to increase food production, let them do so with forethought for the outcomes.  Genetic manipulation of grains for better yields might result in negative impacts on the soil or on the people ingesting those grains. We need to increase food production but not at the risk of harm.

And let us not forget those people in life-threatening circumstances such as the refugees and those trapped in war.  The Rohinga,  Syrians, and those who lack shelter and the bare necessities to maintain life need our help.  We can not turn a blind eye to their needs even if the least you can do is heartfelt prayer.

My wish is for all of us to unite as one people, not many, as unrealistic as that sounds.  Our political leaders may seem hell-bent on destroying each other and their countries but let us lobby for moderation and sanity in all their actions.

As our society becomes increasingly radicalized, let us seek education to inform the minds of those easily swayed to induce harm on others.  We all are alike under the skin, may we seek to always remember that in these shifting times.

Finally, my thanks to all those who have read my work.  I draw strength and guidance through much I read in your work.  I hope the holidays and the coming year bring health, happiness, wealth and a positive, uplifting journey.  Merry Christmas.


My baby has a bump.  A growing, wriggling baby bump all her own (and her husband’s).  It delights me.  I believe I may even be enjoying it more than she does; although she’s excited, she has to go through all the rigors of pregnancy.  I see her pictures, each one bigger than the last, now beginning to see the full loom of pregnancy.

Her 30th birthday was yesterday.  She is but a few months off the schedule I had when I gave birth to my first, her brother.  She waited until later, as did I.  I’d give anything to be there with her but economics is one reality I simply can’t avoid.

I look at her pictures and see this thriving adult, about to enter an entirely life-changing chapter of her life, and can’t help but see in my mind’s eye the little girl she once was.  I wonder if it ever truly leaves a mother.  Are my children always going to be my babies?  Or, will I allow them to grow up?

Not too long ago it was me telling them, in succinct terms,  not to parent me.  Our relationships are so much better since we passed that hurdle.  But I wonder if I am trying to claim ownership of them even as they are fully adult, with mortgages and spouses, college loans and now a baby.  Is it that I am so far away that I hold fast to their childhoods, something I can connect with despite the miles between us?

I am so blessed.  Even though I can’t see them often, every 1 1/2 years or so, I have a great relationship with both my children and their spouses.  We talk every week, sometimes more, and my son still calls every time he is sick to ask what he could be doing to feel better.  He called yesterday saying, “I’m dying Mom, what can I do more for this sinus infection?”  There were few words I could share as he had already learned the lessons of previous sinus traumas.

My daughter is taking such good care of herself.  An avid runner, she is not doing so, preferring gentle pregnancy yoga.  I wish I could be there for her, taking care of their baby.  I’d move there now if not for the exorbitantly high rents in her area.  She plans on working after maternity leave.  Her husband plans to care for the baby while studying for his Divinity Masters.

If only the world went according to my plan.  But until then, I’ll have to depend on God’s timing and will.  And be content.

A Wrinkle

A wrinkle
slit depression in my skin
lying slightly off plum
so I find myself mirror hopping
seeking whether it will fall
hanging down like a drunken sailor
whose feet are mired in netting,
or extend out as crow’s feet.
Deep sighs abound
for I’d rather have
the illusion of something
created by laughter
than the droop of a line
dragged down by depression.
I suppose it is inevitable
in its coming
I am aging . . .
my body clearly shows it,
gravity worked its travesty
But I can forget my body
in my mind’s eye
so quick to forgive and forget
it does not fit the mind’s image
But in a mirror capture
of my reflection, there is
no hiding from the inevitable
so that slight depression
is acknowledgment no amount
of glitter will ever fool others
into believing this old hag
ain’t gonna be kickin’ those heels
in any young girl’s dance

Purging the Soul

Only now can she say
her soul has been purged
scraped raw, exorcizing
that which is best left behind

She has slumbered long
passing through months
followed by years
with the faintest of life-giving energy

Perhaps the past held its  merits
but those were not honored
and in the deepest, darkest night
merged with dreams as fools fodder

Awakening comes with acknowledgment
those omissions raucously colliding
with acts of substance

How does she feel anything less
than complete and utter shame?
her days are more numbered
than most and having less

She sees her squandered actions
Her thefts of objects, honor and time
so trivial, yet from desecration
comes her only hope of renewal

Let it come . . .


In the space between two breaths
she is caught unaware, unknowing –
having spent a short lifetime
eternally busy, frenetically paced
always in motion,
never internally directed –
she is lost, adrift,
her skills and talents
not having prepared her
for rejection, for misdirected words –
she has never allowed
for this contingency,
Who is she beyond the accolades,
the activities, the endless
leadership roles –
what lies beneath?
What feelings exist
in her picket fenced heart
which let in undulating waves
of anguish
filtering out love, trust, kindness.
Like a drug she moves
in perpetual motion –
running, leading, moving, teaching
no reflection of hows or whys
attempting to fill the void with verbs,
no static, resolute exploring
of hidden secrets and mysteries
which hold the heart’s true measure.
No breaking through the resistance.
The moments have arrived
when razor sharp clarity
begs for expression,
where it chips away subterfuge
so real work can begin,
to explore the dim reaches of the soul
to enter terms with
the bald face of reality,
finally unmasked, stripped,
laid bare, but . . .
will she take
the proffered challenge
to grow, or backpedal,
rewind the inner tape
until she can splice, edit,
a produce a facsimile
of the original in its unedited form,
honoring the pain motion covered
the fear leadership masked,
the need unhinged in teaching,
all the imports of a life
skated over in terror and avoidance

Your Rage

You – so full of youthful righteousness
from resolve etched in fear
slipping down the planes and lines
of your furrowed brow
glowering your rage and frustration
despair flung out, rolling in waves
warding off the heavens
with its glad tidings
and earnest appeal
granting no access within
wanting only to ward off all
who might crack through
that thin veneer and reach
the fragile underpinnings
of your heart
Try to remember dear one
all words are not weapons
some hold elements of honesty
to the eyes and mind of another

You are safe
though you choose to fear it
your childlike emotions
do not threaten me
Safe may not look like you
envisioned it
but safe nonetheless
You are loved little one
You are loved

In Dreams there are no dreams

In dreams, there are no dreams
tumbling out of your mind –
crystalized to diamond hard planes,
or blurred and fuzzy about the edges,
elusive and faint
upon the gossamer wings of a moth.
No dream waking moments
when you have a step in one world
and one in another.
Not quite sure which is
most worthy of pursuit,
or which needs following
from one moment
to the next.
Dreams of great import.
In dreams life is stable
makes a weird kind of sense
that seems to matter greatly
in morning’s dawn
but fades as dusk grows nearer.
My dreams carry through my days
yet still I wonder why
in dreams there are no dreams