I love the light. It is so easy for me to get lost in the shadows of my mind, to focus in on all of the truly horrible things happening around me, around all of us. It’s a propensity I have for getting my foot stuck in negative quicksand, then struggling to find my way back to the light.

All the while the light has been literally infusing my life, even as I shift in and out of the actual shadows created by the earth’s own rotation and her simultaneous seasonal orbit around the sun. All the while I’ve been tinged in a more figurative formation of light. Grace would be the closest word I can find to describe it, even as my mind honed in on the fallout of humanity’s inhumanity.

Everything I’ve been reading, all the conversations I’ve been having, everything that has been happening in my life and in the global events and conversations around me, all of it has been pointing me toward this, the light, and my responsibility to focus with more equanimity on the light, to trust the shadows to retreat in her presence.

How He Loves me


When I drove up the driveway today after work, I stopped beside his grave, where I’ve stopped every morning and every evening since the night I buried him. I had laid out an old blue lawn chair, the lounging type, beside him there. So he’d know he wasn’t sleeping alone. So I could feel like he wasn’t sleeping alone. I’d draped a faded old yard flag with my favorite photo of him on it across the tree limb over his resting place.

I wasn’t going to get out of the car, but the flag was twisted up, and the chair was turned over. By the wind, maybe. As I righted the chair, the flag started flapping gently about. I shivered. I looked up at the tree, then back at the flag. No leaves were stirring anywhere, so why his flag? I loosened the tangle it had made of itself. I lingered.

Good boy, Heath. My precious good boy.



This morning I had a medical appointment out of town. I stopped on the way back to work for protein at a local fast food, and went inside to use facilities. In front of me in line to order, a tall lumbering man shuffled from one foot to the other. His feet made greasy tracks on the floor, as if to teach the next one in line how to do his lovely dance. He turned to look at me then stepped out of my way, said he was just waiting to talk to his wife. I smiled and nodded. He looked down at those tracks on the floor. He fidgeted. I know a worried face when I see one. “You alright this morning,” I asked, trying to sound friendly and casual, trying not to be intrusive. He said he needed to talk to his wife, that their car had a belt so thin it was coming off, it was going to cost to repair. He continued his shuffle. Put his big hands in his pocket. Took them out. I expressed empathy for how stressful car problems can be. I paid for my food and expressed good wishes for him. I wanted to help but I know nothing about cars, and I don’t carry cash. I drove away thinking of all the times my father helped me when I couldn’t afford to fix my cars. I thought of how very generous my parents have always been, no matter how I may have frustrated them, or distanced myself from them. I thought of whether this man had anyone in his life who helped him in times of trouble. I thought of his wife, serving food behind the counter while he waited. I thought of my dog. I started crying again. He gave me everything he had – his whole life was devoted to me alone. When I got home from work yesterday, he could barely lift his head. I couldn’t save him. I never deserved his unconditional love. I never deserved parents who did their best to take care of me. I am drenched in grace that I didn’t ask for and definitely don’t deserve. I pulled into the bank near that restaurant, and took a hundred out of checking. I went back, found my dance partner of today, shuffling around on the same dance floor. I held out my hand to shake his hand. “I didn’t catch your name,” I said, searching his eyes. He grasped my hand. “Anthony,” he said. “It’s not much, but I hope it helps,” I said as softly as I could. He pulled his hand away with the hundred I’d hidden in my palm. “Thank you.” He said. I left without looking back. Thank you Mom and Dad, for your generous care. Thank you Heath, for your generous love. I didn’t deserve it. Thank you Universe, for raining grace. Thank you Anthony, for the dancing lesson. May you be well, loved, safe, and happy.

The Disparate Magi




A photojournalist on NPR talks of Amal.

Not Amahl, of Amahl and the Night Visitors,

whose infirmity is healed under the star of the

Christ child, but Amal, a starving girl in

Northern Yemen. He describes his close-up shots of


her blank eyes, ribs, her dark cot. But he is not the Magi, the bearer of Christmas miracle.

His haunting photos point the world’s blind eyes to Famine in Yemen,

but the photos nor the world will get this child the specialized healthcare she needs to survive.

Amal will die in the week to come.


Spring issue of a poetry journal in my mailbox

the pages more like Winter to my fingertips.

I forgot I subscribed. Submitted.

We found…nothing overall that seemed quite right for us

Such kind rejection.


I walk over soft yard grass under starless Winter sky,

enter the warmth of home wafting with

scent of long-haired dog, pull off my coat, set

poetry journal atop pile of twelve others, and

greet again my luxurious sorrow.



St. Francis


(from a writing prompt, L.H. in NM: “Pay attention to something for 10 minutes, then write about it for 20 minutes”)

St. Francis sits stoic, almost wooden, on the stump of a tree. I could swear he was made of wood, for, were he really St. Francis, would not the birds who chatter in the branches overhead come instead to light upon his hooded head? His hands are folded, one over the other. Would St. Francis sit so still? Even the lines of age entrenched around his cheeks resemble the grains of wood, as though time had carved his face from the trunk of the tree he sits upon.

Most insulting, though, to me, is that he won’t even look at me. He stares beyond, with fixed gaze, as though some other bird were more colorful, some other bunny with a cuter tail. The deep lines across his forehead suggest worry. Compassion perhaps…not meant for me. I picture him like this, 20 minutes from now, unchanged. Should I stay, just in case? I picture him like this four months from now, the shoulders of his robe dusted in snow, his eyes still unblinking.

Me, I pray to be seen. Please St. Francis, God, my Father, my Mother, my brother, my sister, my lover, please, St Francis, gentlest of Saints, turn your gaze my way. Don’t make me sit in pretense anymore, don’t make me put on make-up, panty hose, a flowing skirt. Must I twirl and dance and flirt? I spent my life hidden in plain view, and I liked it that way. Better hidden than pretending. But I languished there in pain ~ between fully being and fully hiding.

(Whoa, St Francis! Did you send that fancy bird just now? Is that you? God? You surprise me in the most beautiful and unexpected ways!)

What was I complaining about, oh yes – the wooden church, the wooden parent, the wooden St. Francis sitting on a stump…

But God, the bird, the real, just flew into the late afternoon glowing sunlit tree with tail of deep red fire and wings tinted green, then dove down near my head and flew on by.

God is not wood. My heart will not become a stone.

Apparently, this is all the seeing that I need.

I’ll be damned, St. Francis, you of wood, what magic in those eyes….


2018 entire memory card 4717

Something I Never Saw Coming


(response to a writing prompt, L.H. in N.M.)


I have entered the doors of Aging with great suspicion and trepidation. Suddenly, my body has started a slow and painful process of breaking down, on the way to its eventual disintegration. I shouldn’t be surprised. I’ve been educated my entire life that this would happen.

Once, I had sharp memory and only occasionally forgot the location of my keys. Now, I forget what I was saying mid-sentence, mid-morning, mid-day, all day, oh, mid-dear! (my-dear) Where was I?

Oh yes, forgetting. The aging, the contracting of my brain’s capacity for memory. But also the loss of steadiness on my feet. I miss and grieve the loss of balance and agility; the jumping, leaping, climbing, bending, twisting, skipping of my youth in which I took joy and pride. The absence of lasting physical pain.

But none of that is the thing I never saw coming. As my pride falls away, as I am forced to accept help with simple things I used to do for others, something new emerges. A gentle humility. Something new expands, though my body contracts. Something beautiful increases while memory and agility decrease.

What I did not see coming was this sudden expansion of my spirit. A constantly growing capacity for love, understanding, compassion, and humility.  An ever-deepening appreciation for every second I still have my breath, my beating heart, my senses, and my consciousness, with which to be ever increasingly present to the beauty of this weird and precious living – to feel the expansiveness of the wide open New Mexico sky, to be able to see her colors and feel them all in the core of my heart, to be able to meet each new moment, each new person, each new place, each old friend, every experience, with this new breath, this new heartbeat, this ever-expanding consciousness.

This is how I accept with grace and love each new pain, each new suffering, each new loss.

This beauty, this, is what I never saw coming.





Stay open

when the sun is out.

Let it warm my face with grace.

Pull in the petals

when the icy wind moves in.

Protect, I must.


when the predatory wind

has thinned

to a gentle breeze,

and the sun again

searches out my face,

remember then, toward the light,

I bloom.




Simple little Chickadee,

clamped onto a slender twig:

I saw you,

thought you plain, and

wished you were instead

the elusive Winter Waxwing.

But you flicked one wing

into the air, and

backlit as you were,

made of yourself a prism,

so that

tiny colored jewels of light

trickled down

into all the unlit corners

of my simple mind.

Sweet little Chickadee.


dedicated to Jill and Sheila