view of the mountain against the night sky with street light and cypress tree

at night, we lie in bed hugging the warm body of our despair

head sinking in the soft and cold pillow,

street light beaming joyfully,

murmuring tales of another life imagined

sometime in the prehistory of us,

these tangled arms, these limbs comfortably folding into one another,

matter-of-factly, a genealogy of love and being with

is it ever overcome, this deep and muted sorrow pooling around them

the solid darkness of the cypress tree outside the window is a sombre comfort,

a tender but unsmiling grandparent who won’t let you have your way

hush now, it whispers before sleep dissolves

all that life has been for the day-




at work, I got to thinking


Our ghosts sit hunched over disused desks

they have the faded, vaguely placeable eyes of childhood friends

their youth rendered translucent, changeless, defunct

sometimes they weep real tears that drop onto our startled skin

as we go about the business of life, making the bed, checking the power bill,

they throb momentarily, these men and women made of memory,

of so many individual memories that carry them,

those varied ever-fluid imprints that make up the mosaic of being

here, they lean back on a bench drenched by the midday sun, cross-legged,

they bend close looking all around them with an impish smile

to share a wicked comment at a funeral, heretics that they always were,

they glide past holding the day’s third, fourth cup of instant coffee,

simple, unimportant gestures that had once seemed so permanent,

in this, more distant yet, they turn in their small hands, they’re barely teenagers,

frond after delicate frond into little votive crosses

and we’re left itching where they were torn off from the flesh of who we are

stunned to contemplate how uncanny that we should have

these ghosts all our own,

moving through the punctured landscapes of our days,

gaps here and there in their likeness

remembering, loving still, sometimes just giving in,

letting our eyes linger a while on those endearing ineffectual holes

for what else is there to do


late on a Sunday


there is a little garden inside of me

more often than not it resembles the pots

of withered lemon trees and wizened succulents on my balcony-

but this garden, like the actual plants I am

so dismissive of needs water and sun and breeze

to grow and flower, it needs tending if it is

to breathe and grow and be fresh

and life-bearing, this little garden of words-

how fragrant and soothing with the slightest

weed plucked, the thinnest ray of sun allowed

to pierce through the darkness and feed the waiting stems

asking so little, giving back so much

my garden of words


my fifteen minutes in the morning

I had fifteen minutes to myself this morning, and they made all the difference-

a rare slot of quiet, a pocket of stillness in which my parched mind could receive a soothing trickle of words-

reading and writing have always been my painkillers of choice, and my estrangement from those simple acts – or acts I once performed without thinking much about them, nonchalantly, arrogantly even, like all things done by the very young – has kept me in a sort of protracted withdrawal syndrome- can fifteen minutes in the morning do the trick? These here lines perhaps?



Samantha French, Breakthrough II, 2013, Oil on canvas, via

…a passing. A quiet exit: a labored curtsy, a smile. I keep seeing her in that photo from the week before, at the birthday of her two granddaughters. I think this is how I will see her from now on, old, frail, and laughing with eyes closed, hands on her lap, wedding ring on, cross sitting on her bosom, surrounded by that small part of the world that was of her own making, loved, hated, loved again, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother. This is a strange sadness, diffuse, dull, erratic, unpredictable- I miss her so. I miss knowing she was there, in her dark home, head stooped, eyes long blind, but there where I could reach out and touch her-

In the casket, a white gardenia was set at the side of her head in that bed of white chrysanthemums where she lay. I still wonder who left it there.

…a sense of growing up – agony replaced by satisfaction replaced by panic replaced by relief. You can do it; must do it or no one else will; have done it; will have to do it again; Learning you alone are there to give the pep talk and pat your own back when all is said and done. Life is finally here, and now.

…a little boy with bouts of assorted phobias. We have resolved to stay calm, let him explore the world and embrace the fear it sometimes inspires so he can walk past it, and be brave and strong. I am writing in the journal I keep so I can one day hand him a small piece of his very young life: put one hand around your fear and use the other to push your way through life.

…a night on the beach, under a full moon. How lucky we are to have access to such simple beauties – a relaxed conversation with friends, sand between your toes, our kids scampering around, small bites held tight in their tiny indifferent hands, a cool breeze like a whispering of reassuring words- It’s time to give thanks for what we have been given.


looking out the window

The weather has changed overnight

Abruptly, this last protracted summer was over

its jubilant sound still travelling through the wind and rain

suspended yet hushed

a vibrating pianissimo carried on as if by an unseen pedal

Frail memory of light extinguished barely a day ago

and our common tasks seem suddenly exalted

in the murmurs of this subdued glow

our moments impregnated with a meditative seed

How marvelous the finality of shift

that makes the present appear to have always been the present

that stretches the fabric of the passing over and beyond the timeless

I can hardly recall the sun today.