HEARTS

I did not know when I birthed my son
that he would take my heart with him.
 
At night, desperate for rest
half asleep, barely present
I’d attempt to nurse him.
The choice frustrated us both.
 
One night when he cried, I took
him downstairs to my rocker,
made tea, made us comfortable
and realized he was my life.
 
He grew. I watched my heart
learn to walk, read
navigate friendships, school
and grieve a first love anew.
 
He became a man
who with his spouse created
three children into
whom he placed his heart.
 
Together, powerless but present
remembering our own youth
we watch their spirits grow
as they navigate their lives.
 
We’re participant and spectator both
since we freed our hearts
to beat, break and love
inside our children.
 

TREE MAN

Squirrels remind me of a man
I loved, who with rope and spike
mimicked them
climbing trees and swinging
limb from limb.
“They are my brothers”
he said.  Came home crying one day
because he crushed a nest,
killed babies, when he felled
an oak.
 
I stop to watch
a tree man work today.
High in the air he swings
in chain saw ballet. As
I watch him cut,climb     
leap from limb to limb,
my young life returns to me.
I see my love without a net
fearless and free
against the sky.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

TREE MAN

Squirrels remind me of a man
I loved, who with rope and spike
mimicked them
climbing trees and swinging
limb from limb.
“They are my brothers”
he said.  Came home crying one day
because he crushed a nest,
killed babies, when he felled
an oak.
 
I stop to watch
a tree man work today.
High in the air he swings
in chain saw ballet. As
I watch him cut,climb     
leap from limb to limb,
my young life returns to me.
I see my love without a net
fearless and free
against the sky.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

LOVING AND LOSING

Loving you prepared me for Walmart
where greeters are friendly but the merchandise
is made by strangers in dark, distant rooms.
 
Losing you prepared me for Reductions in Force
Being told “You’ve worked hard. This isn’t personal. 
It’s about stock price.”
 
Watching you leave broke me like an egg
Nothing I knew was true – zip – zero – nada.
I must start again from the beginning.
 
Starting over prepared me for God,
who waited at the still bottom of a life 
emptied of passion, distraction and theory.
 

SHALIMAR

My mother's scent was hers alone
familiar from the start just like my own.
Shalimar and lipstick
salt air and steam irons
biege powder dusting her dressing table,
scattered sweaters, a turquoise negligee.

Once, invited to the Waldorf
for a DuPont dinner,
she spent a fortune on a formal dress.
Arrived in lace and pick satin
to face women clad in cocktail clothes.
Edna, ever the Indiana girl.
How many Manhattans did it take to kill 
those feelings?

After her death,
I asked Sister Jose Hobday
“Will I ever smell that scent again -
touch her soft white hair?”
So much of me left with her
I am my mother’s child.

Peaceful in all worlds,
Sister Hobday laid
her hand on mine
and smiled.

LIKE ME

Like me.
That’s the drug – a draft of this nectar
can own me into the next life for an accolade
you barely recall.

Like me.
Quiet my fears with the smile and nod
I awaited endlessly at war zone dinner tables, parentless
performances and lonely surgeries.

Like me
and it’s ok not to have been born a son,
to be funny, a tree climber and never a prom queen
to get migraines.

Like me
and I could weep, run,
dance, spread my arms to this fast warming world
in joy, terror and love.