When our grandson was not quite two, we brought him to a park, where we pushed him in a swing for a long time. After awhile, he wanted to stop. He just sat there in the swing, staring ahead of him, with a half-smile on his lips and a faraway expression in his eyes. I took a photo of him, like that. I keep that photo by my desk.

The Father is Silence. The absent, silent one. The Son is Word, the teaching presence within and with and beside and behind and before. The Spirit is Practice. So they say.

I take the dog into the pine woods every day. Sometimes I take her twice. I take her there in all weathers. Lately, heavy wet snow covers the path. It’s too sticky for snowshoes, so I slog through in my high heavy boots. The dog bounds. Lately, I’m watching a broken tree for signs of sheltering animals. I’m watching a hole under the roots of another tree to see if anyone is using that. So far, I have seen the tiny tracks and the tail-drag of a white-footed mouse disappear into that hole. 

A Bargain for Frances is about a little badger girl whose friend tries to trick her out of a china tea set she wants. When I was a little girl, we had a tin tea seat, turquoise and white. I will buy our granddaughter a tea set for her birthday, a china one, packed neatly into a little white basket. She already has a tea set that used to belong to her mother, but it isn’t in a basket.

There is a place on the front step that is always icy after a heavy snow. This happens because the snow piles up behind the bars that keep it from sliding off the metal roof. The weight of the snow causes it to melt underneath, like the water melts under a glacier. That melt drips onto the step, and freezes there. I keep a bucket of sand just inside the front door.

My friend Molly recently sent me a poem by Tim Jones, a poet who lives in North Carolina. I liked it so much that I looked him up and found a book of poems written by him, and I bought it. This is from his “Lent” poem: “Blessed are you, for yours/ is the lengthening of the light.” This morning, just at first light, I awoke to hear a cardinal singing in the shrub under the bedroom window.


The Watershed Center

The name you can say isn’t the real name;
the way you can go isn’t the real way.
	~The Tao Te Ching, version by Ursula K. Le Guin

What can we observe
about this creature,
in this forest?
Stop and look.
Make no assumptions.

Sometimes she walked
straight along an open path,
sometimes she zig-zagged
under low branches.
She stopped here 
by a deer trail, and here
beside a coyote’s trotting way.

She stopped
in front of this yellow birch,
and this hemlock,
and this white pine.
See how she sank her heels
into the ground.

For awhile she sat
in this clearing,
looking toward the south.
Notice the nutshell 
and the breadcrumbs.
Notice the prints beside her.
She wasn’t alone.

We can see clearly
that she wasn’t here alone.

O Again: 7. Emmanuel

O Again


O Emmanuel (already)

O God-with-us
in NICU bassinets
and nursing homes
and truck cabs
and warehouses.

on battlefields
and bombshelters
in churches
and congress (even there).

dashing through the snow
on city sidewalks
in the bleak mid-winter.
O. That’s all. Just O.

*(cat typing. Why not here, too?)

O AGAIN: 2. Adonai Reversed


O Adonai (reversed)

Lord of Might.
O my, how we crave one.
Somebody to fix it all up.
Do It Yourself
is awful hard work.

Giver of Law.
So much simpler 
to follow along.
Obey the rules. 
Do what we’re told.

Lord of Might? Jesus.
the trees around here:
every year they burn 
and are not consumed.



This one from the milkweed growing against

all odds on the edge of my driveway or

one of those rescued from a predator

in Polly’s patch. Remember the story

that one might change the weather of the world?

Maybe not the movement of its wings.

Maybe just the vision: that brave orange

and black animal, fragile against a leaf,

blown across the sky, what it’s like to change

that way, and who knows who, seeing it, will change?



It’s a recipe they’ve been cooking up
for ever so long.
Leaf through a shiny magazine,
pore over today’s headlines
and tell me I’m wrong.

They whipped up 
like a glop of imitation cream
the illusion that rich means good, 
then spoonfeed up the iffy dream
that anyone can have it all.

Lesser creatures never matter
birds and forests, air and water.
They keep stirring fast and faster—
cooking up yet more disaster.

Caterpillars ate every leaf
on every oak and moved on
to the popples and pines. 
They poured over one another,
creatures of bristle and hunger,
objects of an inner recipe
that transforms leaves into frass 
and shed skins and cocoons 
of iffy goo and moths and
more caterpillars.
the oaks are showing
what can be done.
Every twig, sports a tiny leaf or bud.
Every twig. Every single one.



Now come the bears.
They’re everywhere.
They’re fed up with our cars,
our hayfields, our guns and dogs.
They’ve studied our weaknesses.
They remember when we worshiped them,
when they ruled our deepest dreams.
They are hungry again.
They have demands.

"Should you be worried?" 
the media query, their hysteria 
palpable through the screen.
Monkey pox, Autumn surge, 
flood and fire, Putin’s bombs. 
And I answer, No.
Since they are back,
I have a single holy fear—
Will I be eaten by a bear?

the world, the flesh

An unexpected poem.

        the world, the flesh

They did it to me when I was too young
to resist: in my name they renounced 
my skin, my heart, my lungs,
my sex, my brain, my little fingers. 
They renounced my senses, 
my fears, my hungers, my animal urgency.

They renounced the world. 
The deserts and trees, mountains and seas,
everyone who crawls and swims and flies:
denizens of the dirt, tigers and dogs and whales.
They don’t have souls the story goes,
and all that matters is what isn’t.

When the trout lily leaves emerged, 
when the bears came out of their winter dens,
when the buds swelled on the maples,
every spring we remembered our renunciation. 
How strange when the empty tomb
recalls the garden and the flesh. 

I repent. I reclaim all I was taught, 
along with the devil, to renounce. 
Beginning with this patch of ground 
where rotting trunks flower out their fruits,
where robins overturn the unraked leaves
and acorns sprout along the edges of the unmown grass.

Words again: a Story











Our grandchildren found a baby bird 

in the driveway. 

What is it?

Where is its Mommy? 


In this hazy time 

when every little sorrow strikes a blow,

when the news pummels and pounds,

what is Daddy to do with this scrap of life

gasping in his hand?


The mouth of the dark tunnel

has narrowed again.

So many mommies, daddies,

so many lost, so much is lost,

and what sense can we make?

I used to tell myself I was a poet.


It’s a little turkey. 

Let’s put it in the long grass by the brook

where sometimes we see them pass. 

We’ll put some corn around for them to find.

Now wave bye-bye.

One way or another, this will resolve.


We saw them the next day

he told me. A parade.

Two hens with six poults

and a tom and a hen with one poult

scurrying between them.

The kids agreed that it all worked out fine.


We can tell ourselves stories, can’t we?

They all lived happily. . . 

Can’t we tell ourselves stories like that?