Aging is interesting.  Like a first pregnancy, it takes us into unfamiliar terrain, prompts new
perspectives and is tinged with both excitement and fear.  Last week I had a cardiac calcium scan, where they look for calcium buildup to gauge the heart risk of high cholesterol.
I got a score of 200.  Yikes!  One website said I have the heart of a 78-year-old.  (I’m 74.). Another site said a score of 200 indicated that, without some change, I would have a stroke or heart attack within the next three to five years.   My doctor just said he wanted to start me on statins.  Interesting…

Several years back a brain scan indicated that my brain was shrinking and had white matter.  

Both scans put me deeply in touch with my mortality.  The idea that my brain is shrinking was particularly disturbing.  I’ve passed whatever apex I’ve aspired to and it’s all downhill from here!  No one who knows me will be surprised. 

I find the heart business comforting.  My family has two natural paths out of this life –
heart attack and cancer.  At age eighty-two, my paternal grandfather had a heart attack while driving in Wilmington and came to a stop against a telephone pole.  No one else was injured.  My father was eighty-five when he got up one morning, poured orange juice for himself and mom, sat down in his chair and died.  If the statins keep me around for ten more years, a heart attack sounds just fine.  

Of course, none of this is known.  At each doctor’s appointment, we work to continue in good health knowing that one day the other shoe will drop.  It is not given to us to know the how or when.  Scans only supply intimations.

When I shared the cardiac scan info with my son, he said, “Mom, you have the heart of a lion.”
How could I not adore this man!


Driving Route 73
in Knox County,  
I could eat the air:
gobble stands of balsam
nibble tidal wrack.
A pickup speeds toward me.
The  seagull, busy with roadkill,
is slow to rise.
He’s smashed by the truck’s grill
and bounces, dead, across my roof.
Each day I see his body, 
white and inert, at roadside.    
So sudden the flight from life
to stillness at the road’s edge.


 All my life, in addition to manager, teacher, dog walker, night librarian, cleaner of tiles, rocker of babies, folder of laundry, dish washer extraordinaire, I wanted to be a writer.

Women are rarely one thing.  We can’t resist our innate talent for nesting, team building, nurturing, placing others before ourselves.  This is our gift.

Our hearts are larger than we know.  We learn this
by plumbing those depths in safety with women on similar treks.  

Not only can we write, speak, laugh, cry, loose old bonds which keep us tied, but we find, after many drafts, the titles we long sought rest in our own hands.
Gobi Desert Market


Matter persists they say – 
not just the stain on your favorite 
sweater or the mole on your arm.
Molecules themselves have endless 
lives in a material soap opera.
This week one’s Christ, then Mozart
then Charles Manson.
That’s what they say.

Descartes believed he thought
hence he existed – something 
his laundress and wife doubted not
his dirty socks evidence enough.
Who would use his atoms next
be thoughtful or obtuse 
a tree, a bird, a slug?
I die therefore I live.

We’re each on loan 
from earth’s library
one size fits all
pretty or dull, fast or slow
joyful or sad.
Cinderellas headed to the ball
when the clock strikes twelve, 
we become someone else.

Relentlessly frugal
earth wastes nothing
in its global recycling.
So too must the light
which animates us
continue its journey 
becoming the sparkle in other eyes
or the ache in another's heart.


Before a war we think we know
exactly how the war will go.
Accountants happily project
raised GDP and its effect.
Predict each country will adopt 
a free economy and co-opt democracy 
who’ll bloom just like a desert rose
but that is never how it goes.

During war the News Hour lists
each soldier whose return is missed
and the places they called home,
a soldier’s life reduced to loam.
No locals named, not friend nor foe
who is who? How can we know?
The war drags on, a swamp, a mire  
repeating tours, souls under fire.

It’s forgotten once we start
wars pay for nothing not a part
of their pile of pain and loss
yet we ignore the total cost.
Lives, limbs and minds are left behind.  
We're told the same lies every time.
The goals and actions are a fake
leave ravaged landscape in their wake.

Once home, our soldiers dream the war
and wonder what it all was for.


Why can’t we eat clouds?
The tall white ones would be
vanilla like Turkish taffy.  Grey 
scudding clouds black as Necco 
wafers. Snow clouds pure as rock candy
whose splinters of crystal
melt on the tongue.
Green tornado clouds taste darkly 
of Key West and Matcha tea.
Dawn’s pink clouds are gossamer light
as cotton candy at the church fair.
Sunset cloud's tang colorful
and sweet as Life Savers.

How fine to dine on clouds and color.


A stranger stands ahead of me 
in line at the Post Office 
in a dusty black hat 
grey gauze hanging below its rim.
Her neck, also dusty, is
bent, the vertebrae like tiny peaks.
An old black jacket hangs from her shoulders.
As she stands in line, she tugs at the jacket
to straighten it.  Her worn black pants fall 
to just above the cast on her ankle.
Gauze wraps that too.
I am afraid to stand near her,
hang back as the line moves forward.
I cannot see her face but fear 
it may be ghastly.

Her turn comes at the counter.
I’m next.
When I glance over, I recognize her. 
She is the gypsy I’ve seen here so often.
Her dark penciled brows 
and bold rouged cheeks usually
paired with dark skirts and tops.
Today, hurt, she does not look herself.
She leaves a suitcase by the door
while she gets her mail.
That task complete, 
she straightens her jacket,
collects her suitcase 
and wheels it and her pain
back into the world.

depositphotos_150954514_xl.jpegOctober 11, 2021


As I approach the river in the fog
a heron takes flight, dark winged angel.
“Good morning, Mom.” I say.
Since her death, I greet
each heron and feel blessed 
by the sighting. Mom’s love
of nature saved my life.
When sun sparkles
on saltwater and I feel 
the wash of waves,
Jamie, my summer brother, is near.
As teens, we surfed September breakers 
then collapsed onto the sand
laughing always

All my old boyfriends are
dead (except for the one I live with.)
Maurie, lifted his 6’4”
frame into the boat like a wet otter,
his homely face offset by
a quick wit.  His farm town 
roots were exotic to this suburban girl.
He believed withdrawal would work.
Good thing we broke up.

John, a handsome bad boy,
drove his dad’s T-bird. 
He was my first male obsession.
He rose at Jamie’s funeral 
to hug me, share our grief
for old times, old backseats
old friends.

Ann died last year.  Forty years
of friendship, knitting and laughter. 
Each project and strange new style
prompts me to call her. 
In New Mexico, when Linda 
decided to drive - Ann and I  
jumped in the back seat.
I am still laughing.


A hundred questions 
cross my mind
	What was that song dad used to hum?
	What college did my mom attend?
	Where did Aunt Marge’s friend come from?
I failed to ask
	or make a note
	of many things 
	while they were here
	just within reach
        alive and near.

A hundred questions
cross my mind
              About Dad’s mom
              who died so young.
              I’ve no idea what she died from.

My favorite stories too are gone
               The battleship
               for whom Dad played
               Hail to the Queen
               a serenade.
               Salts stood attention at the rail
               Dad asked them down to 
               drink and sail.
	       He went onboard to drink instead.

These questions come
at oddest times
	  Old photos with the names now gone
          A tune, a food, a place, a song
          I wonder and will wonder long.