Sunday, December 30, 2018

The Inner Life

Perhaps when zooming in on a leaf jagged patterns that seem random are, upon close inspection, predictable. So it is with the inner life. Deer move through it, of course, as do the wending paths of birds and the roughness of sidewalks.

Maybe every evening as I very gently tell myself to sleep, thoughts inside seconds and minutes escape as do feelings, both briefer and longer lasting. Don't be afraid of a little chaos (they say) as you are moving things around in bits and pieces. As long as you keep things moving you will be fine. Spiraling from one beginning to another ending may get to feel vertiginous. Inhale slowly, deeply as evening breezes fill all rifts and splits with the crisp fragrance of pine.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

What if This Were Enough?

Perhaps anything and everything we say is a curse that encroaches on someone else’s experience. Words only set us up to have conflicting stories with everyone. With our words, what should come across as an inclusive, all-encompassing account of what it means to be human, is instead a tale that presents only one version of our fractured, tough, protected selves.

Maybe this ongoing story of the intersection of my life with others, constantly recorded and updated, can be checked at any time, much like an email. And while the creative act introduces me to a pleasurable place where I am able to strive and at the same time forget myself, what if each new word I write contains the same message that has come before, so in a way my own words continually come back to me instead of ever truly being sent out?

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Swipe Tap Love

Perhaps while sitting alone at the cafĂ© the brightened screen of my phone reminds me that a catastrophe is unfolding somewhere in the world. As I savor the first sip of steaming peppermint tea, my mind momentarily calms its draw to the rushing stream of world conflict spanning moments, months, and millennia that remains forever at my fingertips with tweets, pings and alerts yet to be received that I can’t and for some reason feel powerless to ever wish to control.

Maybe as I quietly strive to meet the demands of my digital existence with taps, swipes, and scrolls all around me people chat or quietly read books. There is a pleasant smell of baked goods, full of warmth and life, and for a moment I pause to enjoy the golden peace of a world delivered between the crisp layers of a buttery croissant.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Last Favor

Perhaps after waking to the smoke of fires burning thousands of acres of dry tinder hundreds of miles away, blotting out the sun, my mouth thirsts and my hair extends at high frizz as I reach for my appliances: hammer, chisel, gardening shears. Floor and ceiling fans stir up a roar of wind and make me dizzy. The air is angry. I grip the bookshelf. Later you’ll say, that’s not unusual.

Maybe one or the other of us shifts and I lose you for a minute. Moment to moment, much of what’s inexpressible between us gets worked out, but it also gets worked in. From out here, we can only imagine how to untangle the space inside. But we can, at least, begin with the simple notion that we are all composed of relatively pure things such as salt, air and calcium. Do me a favor, I ask, while continuing to carry the tune of a slow, deep breath. Tell me how to hold the overflow back. You shrug, and as creatures that do so much with their lips, ever watchful, you lean close to let me know I am still wearing my apron over my nightgown.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Words become water

Perhaps when the weight of things is written in a brisk tone that disguises its destination, the presentation, shifting back and forth across the years and events, may conjure a tactile, messy, complex and mysterious antidote to life that sheds tears of more than one grief at a time. 

Maybe as I approach each tapestry of gray skies, neglected pain and dark moods into which people disappear, my words suggest the world and yet they are of something else. Attempts at communication are set into a meandering grammar of shimmering, transient matter which allows yesterday and tomorrow to flow together into the present time as thoughts and feelings pour back and forth from one glass into another.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

After the Storm

Perhaps, after the storm, our skin resembles fluid-filled blisters. In our eyes pooled with rain, everything dissolves. As the earth becomes one dripping soaked mass, blue commingles with yellow to form spiral streams into which any evidence of dryness slowly sinks down.

Maybe after the storm we continue to feel the wetness – a gleam that skims along the top of each grey cloudy week, legible yet discreet. When venturing out of our homes, thoughts of the rain at once soak through our coats and clothing, thoughts built of clouds stitched together by lightning. Something has happened that has closed the space that was lingering between a question and an answer. We walk in silence most of the time, eyelashes dripping, skin tingling, deaf to the voices of birds, breezes and insects carpeting the hills and grasses that flourish along the steep sides of the valley, focusing only on the full force of rushing water framed within this tumbling curtain of gentle sounds. 

Sunday, September 16, 2018

swiftly astray

Perhaps by connecting words humans create sentences that inflate in unique formations depending on the mind and time. Evolving slowly and intuitively from a starting point, containing the memory of a certain quality of light, the words build in a process that moves toward an elegant unity and sense of purpose.

But maybe a poem without a reader is just ink, for as we watch the sun slide under the ocean we are reminded that reading the menu is different from eating the meal; that all is actually each -  colorful, energetic, and emotional - the river of living in full flood, and that even as we pause to scribble in wavering lines while fumbling for a foothold this haunting of eroding forms continues to assert hope and the possibility of survival.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Memory's fading memories

Perhaps each day as we wander through a new series of faint rumblings, evocative somethings, and mysterious sounds we wonder if we should have expected this unexpectedness all along. Shouldn’t we have expected this sad birthday, this nagging rumor, this storm threatening, this missed parade, this unlit sparkler? This baby walking, this animal stirring, this meteor shower, this kettle on the verge of boiling?

Maybe, though each unexpected encounter is quickly knit into a terrifyingly complex tapestry of seemingly indivisible noetic cloth, after a time we find so many of the moments we have collected have unraveled and turned to dust. Some will have quickly disappeared, like breath on a mirror. It’s a bit like losing a glove – you still own a glove, it’s in your home somewhere, but you can’t ever use it. And what if you don’t even know it is there, then you can’t even call it lost.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Roots, legs, wings, and fins

Perhaps the entire planetary system is a set of patterns. Whispers. Spokes of thought. To and toward containments, vivid and soft. A constellation of dots. Perhaps we refresh our perceptions each time we sharpen the pencil and make connections; each time we tie individual points together in new configurations using a series of stems and vines, fine gossamer laces, cerebral filigree and stretch marks.

Maybe our new creations will emerge as images of shared aspirations. Or maybe in order for us to embody the lightness we witness in the jumping of a fox, our lone bird of purpose, who draws a straight line with her flying body, will stir the leaf of our utmost elegance in shades of green and undulations of coolness; sunk deep, always in the shade. Maybe, with lit eyes and attention lengthened to its limits, we will drink from the brilliance and invite fish to swim along our borders. Trees will bend over us.

Sunday, June 10, 2018


Perhaps at times my thoughts disintegrate before I can fully grasp them. I feel cerebrally queasy, as if sitting on the edge of the bed, shocked by the sight of my own shoes. At times like this I liken my mind to a glass which is so easily shattered. One wrong move is all it takes. Yet I resolve to regain my composure and find a way of comprehending the situation. While preparing my escape, I call the waiter over to the table and ask for the bill.

Maybe, preoccupied with the ever widening and contracting circles of my thoughts, I have a sense of being completely surrounded by water. Before me a thousand thoughts are waving, as if aboard a great ship sailing away from me, and all hope of them ever seeing dry land again is diminished by each crest of turquoise wave crowned with snow-white foam. A mounting sense of unease takes possession of me, as if in a moment immediately before a disaster. With barely half of the pizza eaten, I grip the table edge as a seasick passenger might grip the ship’s rail.

Saturday, June 2, 2018


Perhaps my drowsiness smells of heat in the dry grass. I sink my hands into the summer stalks and tempt bugs to wander up my arms. Lying on my back, I shut my eyes as warm drops of sunlight drench my upturned face. Sleep is falling steadily. I could go out and gather it in my hands. My hands would know what to do. I could leave my life. I could change completely. Is it time?

Maybe everything I love is made of it. It is beauty. It is mystery. It has a blonde smell. I bury my red-hot face in the pillow of it knowing the lullaby of its company doesn’t anchor me anymore. Light, air and leaves are moving in its breeze. There is a sweet taste in my mouth, which makes my teeth feel unfamiliar – the taste of when I was small and lay in bed, not wanting to sleep, not wanting to be alone.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Fog Storm

Perhaps it’s raining softly, too softly to matter to the trees. I notice the rain as small droplets collect on my window. A mist hangs in the air. I open the window and the weather slides in, fills all the spaces in the room, chills my face.

Maybe as I walk beneath a sky that touches down wherever it wants to, I think, how quiet can this city get? There is water in my bottle of Evian, a water that will flow forever to the ocean, a water that connects the people walking the streets of the city every day, people who wonder if they should ever smile to one another. Perhaps someday they will, but today is not the day.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Awareness of Awareness

Perhaps the awareness of awareness always involves a change in perspective. To ourselves we are always who we are, stumbling in the debris of dreams we thought we were entitled to and plans we didn’t think we had made. Yet to others, the person we are is something that emerges gradually. A map of shadows and echoes that arrives with us and then disappears again.

Maybe as driver you twist and turn the wheel to point the car’s nose toward our destination. As  daydreaming passenger I am a necessary part of the equation, yet am left with little recollection of the miles.  Outside the window the sky is the color of pink-flushed hydrangea; inside the car your cheek reminds me of blankness on paper – the smooth white. My finger traces a blue highway along the Pacific coast, seeking the circled star of a particular city. Then, without warning, my hand lifts the entire state of California and turns it over to where it continues on the other side.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Light Upon Light

Perhaps light upon light is more difficult to perceive than light upon darkness. Light upon light contains the soft touch of ‘something else'. And what if this something else could be spun into a fine, indestructible thread, and woven into the most ordinary clothing? Would the trajectory of this new creation be considered perpendicular or parallel?

Maybe it is important to remember that any trail that has long since vanished from air or water still remains visible. With each and every breath we enter the inspiration that binds feathers to the feather-bed, egg whites to the omelet; that infuses a hint of eternity to three coin-sized moths flitting into artificial light, milky-white after months of a dark, melancholic journey - flickering for a moment in the jeweled silky brilliance of their destination's gemstone.

Several Directions

Perhaps every single moment of life stands open in several directions, like the unknown figures we see in dreams. A bird catches my eye, flying low through the air as I hear the woe-is-me call of the mourning dove, the screechy cries of jays and crows hopping on the lawn. Who are you? I ask in my deepest voice, as winged feathery swarms scatter and lift, bright balloons disappearing into the sky. Whose wings will I follow? And why? 

Maybe while the past is lost forever, everything that didn’t happen is doubly lost. Everything that could have been different is the hardest part. No landmark, just the contours of the many missed moments leading me on like a compass point. The tugs on my sleeve, the pleading whispers, the forest more than ever full of voices. I now know the cost of what once seemed effortless, of we who saw each other always for the last time. An absence so large the crows call out its sorrow. I forge on into every dark day searching for you with only a day’s supply of food, a mirror, and a flashlight. 

Sunday, April 15, 2018

The Search

Perhaps they were soft, small and made of cloth so they could easily be held in our arms and hugged.  We clutched them in our sleep, played with them on rainy days, carried them to the post office, the preschool, the grocery store and the park. And since it was not unusual during this time for a lion to lie beside a zebra, for a shark to be cuddled, or for a black panther to be kissed and stroked, they came to represent the world as we often wished it were – soft, small, and good.

Maybe as we grew and our childhoods were crammed into small cardboard boxes, we continued, for a time, to demand justice against the sufferings of the world. Yet at some point it was easier to forget, along with everything else we were never very comfortable talking about. Today, although there is very little light left on the road, we turn around in an effort to reunite with what was lost, what was forgotten, what was harmed. There is still time to find it, we believe. It couldn't have gone very far. Neighbors come to help, but immediately become aware that the road is very long. What are you searching for? they ask. Please tell us where you lost it or put us into the path of where you last saw it. Several of them are smoking cigarettes. One of them is looking at his watch.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

After the Rain

Perhaps from the trees’ black shadows, small birds burst into color, their bright feathers flaring like the sun itself.  As their warmth drives away the wetness, poppies in bloom cast a tangerine glow over green water. Large bands of clouds dissipate to reveal a blue sky mingled with a magic of tint and pigment, forming an arc of translucent hue - vast, brilliant, evanescent, and fanciful.

Maybe to look at bright green leaves against the black trunk of a wet tree is similar to asking a question. I wonder, how to grieve for the blackened part? Sunshine spreading like a golden fever into my veins moves across my eyes as shadows abandon the objects that once projected them. Yet in my heart I am pinched by something sharp as the dark, as the receding root of winter chills the air around me. I walk out into the morning surrounded by colors so bright and restless I can’t bear to look at them for long.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Someone's Memory

Perhaps I once entered someone’s memory. The place was planted with a forest of large shade trees and loud voices. On one of the trees hung a painting of a cat, a cat sleeping on a fence, a cat who was famous to the birds. The cat woke up to stretch as daylight ended. I called out to the cat, to the trees, to the birds, to the loud voices; I called out to the shadow of the sky’s wide and immense stare, to the empty, black, interstellar nothing, to the dark gleams appearing on the backs of leaves, but not even a breath of wind answered me.

Maybe as the night progressed I called out to the moon who appeared to be so close that it would be possible to travel there to visit her. I called out in a silence only the moon could understand, but the moon was looking elsewhere. My mind moved on to the next memory, a story that formed a treeless forest where all possibility of upward escape was cut off.  I met you there once in this field of wildflowers and running streams, but who is going to tell me how to find my way to you again in this land I am speaking of? Who will dare to plant a single tree in this field where eye and spirit remain divided in layers of stopped voices and inverted shadows?

Sunday, March 4, 2018

A More Beautiful Question

Perhaps we should consider what’s worth doing even at the risk of failure. Then quietly ask ourselves, what are the odds that we’re wrong? And wonder, why did we love doing this so much as a child? And how might we better pry off that lid and stir the paint? Better yet, what if we could use one paintbrush to replace another? And being that we all live in the world our questions help create, how do we get more people in the door, and really make the numbers add up?

Maybe, in the face of uncertainty, why not ask, why are we climbing this mountain in the first place? And what are we leaving behind, deep inside and down below? And what if we succeed? Who will miss us? And finally, what if we could ask this question in a way that it has never been asked before?

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Your memory (guest post by Tess P)

On November 26, 2017 my dear friend Tess Pfeifer left this world. It is fitting that Teresa and I first met in a writing workshop in Amherst, MA as the precious core of our friendship had, at its heart, both the love of language, and the language of love. Teresa's contributions to family, friends and community left this world a better place. A devoted mother, teacher, librarian, sister, poet, mentor, grandmother, and friend - she is missed by all.

This poem by Teresa was originally posted on 2/12/2017

Perhaps your memory is hazy as sea glass, smooth and etched into softer blues, subtle greens or chalky whites. The clarity of a window you passed long ago has faded. You remember church bells, the smell of basil, the day you found your car had been towed, but then the sun melts into the bay and here you are.

Maybe a bad memory is no memory at all, but a haunting. It could be a story someone told you, a newspaper column about a Japanese woman who died and was eaten by her cats, or the other stories you read for pleasure. Sometimes you wonder what’s behind that door you closed, the place where you came from, and then you're treading dark water. Your bad memory is like a stray dog that wanders off somewhere and once home, you think it may carry a disease or it must have ticks or fleas.