Page 52: Impounding the Overflow

I think it was during National Book Week that people on facebook used to post, say, the 3rd sentence on page 52 of whatever book was closest at hand. This is a found poem from 2012, cobbled together from a bunch of those sentences.




Methanogens, red paper hearts, 

white paper lace, cartoon cupids, 

grey seals, are archaea. 

The central brainstem stands up

like a fist on an arm, renowned 

for many haul-out sites

over and around it, 

dominating it both physically and mentally..

Every computer fits easily on the page

by impounding the overflow 

from the spring into a reservoir.

Besides being a theological dilemma, 

it is also a judicial one–

think about it critically.

I think it was this line of reasoning 

that roused me or maybe 

it was my desperation that made 

me unconsciously pound the door 

with the back of my head.

That was, ‘I love you.’


Obtain title to “desert land” 

by irrigating twenty acres.

As you begin, understand 

that the Indians’ new homes 

are ‘settled, fixed, and permanent.’

as a product of their metabolism. 

Lounge in the sun and enjoy 

the abundance of fish

Consider the Indians friends and neighbors. 

Produce the flammable, odorless 

gas methane. Explore flash 

content on other webs.

Go to sleep now like a good child.


Cooper treads through the darkness, 

enters the tent, and is asleep instantly.

Winter Prompt #15: DOTE

(and then this happened)



Winter Prompt #15

Today, the given word is “dote.”

Perhaps I’ll write about a goat?

Or something I wrote about before?

A Dr. Suessy sort of note?


I will not write about a goat.

I will not write about a stoat

or a note in Dr. Suess’s style.

How about a winter coat?


Is a stoat anything like a weasel?

Do weasels eat oats?

People make winter coats from weasel fur,

but only when it’s white.  In winter.


Maybe weasels eat groats?

This is ridiculous. A kind of compote

of rhyming words on this white page.

Don’t quote me, please.


Compote, compose, compost. . .

Take the mote out of my eye,

and don’t quote me, unless to say,

“It’s all she wrote.”


With the mote removed, I can see!

Do you know that anecdote?

Anyhow, “It’s all she wrote.”

I’ll end this with an antidote.


This needs work.


Sei Shonagon’s Categories (I think):


Magnolia trees, their blossoms like exhausted ballerinas. Stars carved into the backs of delicate comfortable chairs. All the air bubbling, the will-the-wisp nonsense of a blue veiled dance, a fetching look. Vibrations of molecules along wires, into the ether.  Pigeons huddled on the warm side of a tower.  A row of white porcelain teapots. Tiny stones in the deep blue pond of the air.


A blue stucco house with no curtains and a front yard of dirt and stones. The stoicism of Northern people living through March again. Flowing water, blood, milk.  Years of bending and filling.


Gray-haired women knitting yellow hats for premature babies. A country with many saviors and sacrificers working to make the world a better place. Heroes and heroic tales.  Anguished young martyrs baring their bosoms to the sword.


The smell of snow.  A village celebrity who thinks he is entitled to a special seat in the café. A narrow path opening to river shallows. An old man with a Tootsie Pop.  A strip of pebbles by the river where someone small might bend to drink. A clear flute in the dark. Walking toward one’s shadow.  A stack of blue saucers.  Old ladies in corsages.  A stack of white porcelain cups.


The way dark hair curls down the neck of a handsome clerk and children wearing pointed hats sitting on tall stools in corners. Flocks of birds and people clapping.  The end of hurry and a red leather shoulder bag with compartments for everything one needs, including a paper knife and earplugs.  The solemn descent of oak leaves and a chickadee with cold toes clinging to one’s finger.


Young men in baggy flannel trousers printed like pajamas. The moon through lace curtains. Cows scratching on a rock at dawn.  Clean water.  Narrow benches with odd legs.  A group of young women talking with a baby in a maroon snowsuit.  Crows chasing hawks.  Sitting in a folding chair.  A brown paper bag filled with false mustaches.


Broken houses dark in the noise of war. A blank page. The compulsion some people have to go downhill fast.  Strawberry shortcake made with donuts.  A willing ballerina with a broken shoe.


The end of tribalism.  A round white stone. A clear space.   A walnut-shell bed with a rose petal coverlet.  Engraved notepapers.  A yellow dog eating cherries from a tree.  The smell of snow.  A thin green fish, transparent but for its dull black eyes, who swims its life away between the tentacles of a giant squid.


Anyone who thinks his place is  more important than anyone else’s, who stares and clears his throat until you get out of his way. A breathless anticipation of Whales.  A small boy struggling through thick snowflakes. A veil of cloud draping a mountain after rain.  A gravedigger waiting in a red truck, playing the radio, drinking coffee from a paper cup.


The hiss of an espresso machine.  Garden spiders guarding the beans.  Leaving parties.  A coffee grinder like a dentist’s tool. The secret knowledge that one is a better poet than any of them. A dead sister in a bridesmaid’s dress.


The chipped and scratched jelly cupboard built and painted white by one’s grandmother, full of English teacups and blown-glass vases.  A fat gray cat sitting on a seed catalogue.  Beaded ballgowns, silks, handmade suits.


A dresser full of  perfume bottles, tin boxes, bolts of cloth. Many photographs of people you don’t know standing in front of Japanese temples or tall white houses in Greece. A monkey searching for the brightest berries.   A small black cat looking for an open door.


A closet full of fur coats that one is ashamed to own. Waiting for a friend who is always late.  Fountain pens nibbed with gold.  An upright bass with bright blue strings.  Air tasting of diesel fuel and pine sap.  A woman frowning at bananas, wondering if they will ripen too soon.


The underside of a nuthatch, white and patterned with brown. Yewbush needles defined with dew. Black limestone wet with rain. A small girl in tiny eyeglasses who has never seen a burdock root. Awakening in the morning to find the garden full of dew. The line of the east gable of one’s house seen by moonlight.  A catbird, who, having no song of his own, makes one from clippings.


A red squirrel’s tiny delicate feet. Old people excited by the smell of frying donuts.  A wagonload of small children on an outing with plump and cheerful teachers who stop often to point to butterflies or orange tulips. A black puppy with sleepy eyes waiting in the backseat of an old green car.


A ruined bedroom where one was ill. The back of a kitchen drawer.  A mouse’s abandoned nest.   A cheap orange sweater with a hole in one sleeve.  The sound of dry leaves blowing across the cement floor of a hospital parking garage.  A plastic bag entangled in a broken barbed wire fence.

my categories


Yellow curtains.  An oriole singing in the top of a wild apple tree.   A lawn with maple color covering.  Spotlessly clean eyeglasses.  A chubby man carrying a zucchini into a doctor’s office.  God’s peculiar kind of household growing like a mustard seed, or like a banquet of cripples and fools. Children crying at the funerals of old ladies.  The sound of an approaching parade.  A field of pumpkins.


Magazines in dentists’ offices.  Football games in the cold.  Sleepless nights in generic hotels.  Descriptions of movies one has no desire to see.  Piped in music in funeral homes.  A cold kitchen that smells of turnips.


A baritone singing lieder with piano accompaniment. A waning moon like an sore red eye.  A “feminine need” away from home. Spaghetti stains on a white shirt.   A stink bug laying eggs on a sheet hanging on the clothesline.  Easter communion bread stuck in one’s throat.


Weeding the thready roots of coreopsis from hard white violet knots and the long white ropes of mint.  Picking ugly apples in the rain.  An irritable ventriloquist’s dummy.  Washing piles and piles of old towels.  Scouring cat litter boxes and bird feeders.


The cries of a lone gosling watching its parents fly away.  A woman in shorts and high-heeled slings, displaying to advantage her rippled midlife thighs.  An old man with tattoed ankles sitting in a wheel chair.   A broken robin’s egg with a tiny, rubbery embryo inside.

AWAKENING THINGS:  The mint overgrowing one’s dead sister’s herb garden.  A texting driver swerving to avoid hitting a rabbit. A white-crowned sparrow preening in a broken pine tree, stopping now and then to throw back his little head and sing.  An 83-year old grandmother trapped in a mangled car, sucking moisture from her socks.  A new pink tulip in a blue vase.

July, 2010


To Han Solo:

I am simply trying (oh, once again!) to accept the snippiness in myself.  Would anyone be surprised if I did it? Sometimes I wonder if anyone would even notice.  I didn’t write a poem today when I first got up.  This means that I’ve missed that odd loose brain state–emergence from the fragmenting, defragging stuff of dreams.


To Sir Isaac Newton:

Chimpanzees don’t get backaches.  Maybe if you could grow longer arms?  Knuckle across the ground?  Would you then worry about leopards?  We’d have to live in pods then, I suppose.  I wouldn’t want to fish for termites, either.


To Werner von Braun:

When they said “We have died with Christ,” maybe they meant “We have accepted the inevitablity of our death, so that we may fully live.”   This day stretches ahead of me like an old rubber band that holds together a bundle of letters or a tattered cookbook.


To Lao Tzu:

Oversleeping leaves a part of my consciousness abandoned in dream.  I probably shouldn’t try to write until I find it, but there doesn’t seem to be a map.    I’ve been meaning to write, but somehow the time just slips by.  I’m occupied, it seems, with many things:  reading to the cats, making mittens from milkweed fluff, carving swans from bars of soap.   Have you stopped stressing out on your own personality?    I would think that the Right Man would accept it in you.


To the editor:

The cats are restless.  Money seems to be the preoccupation.  There are more important things, it seems to me:  orcas killing whale calves off the coast of Baja California.  Sext messages.  How I yearn for cheese.


To Her Majesty the Queen:

Not only is your work suffering, but your child is drifting away.  Come see us if you can get a housesitter for the dog, and if the bluebirds finish their nest, uninterrupted by swallows.


To a Grecian Urn:

I’m beginning to believe in angels again–oh, not the pre-Raphaelite ones, but the ones who burst in screaming “Fear not!” and you wet your pants.


To the Benandanti:

I’ve been rereading Milton, with more sympathy this time.  I think it’s because I finally begin to understand what he means by “the worm.”


To Raggedy Ann:

If you don’t begin to understand that it would be best for awhile to forget about attracting a man, I don’t know what will become of you.


To Milton, on his Blindness:

Do you find it difficult to sleep in the dark of the moon?  I do, and wonder if it has to do with the presence of predators, back when we had no strong houses.  It’s difficult to cook meat-and-potatoes meals alongside vegan ones.


To my Dead Sister’s Ghost:

Is your brother better?  I think of him often, wondering how he can stand both the pain of the injury and the knowledge that he could have changed things for Ellen and you.



To a Skylark:

Have you noticed that as the sun sets later, your knees are more likely to ache?




To Ophelia:

Birding in the Azores?  What will you be doing next?  I’m sure things will work out with Sue Ann.   She’s a good soul, but needs lots  of space, and less time.  Buy her a green balloon next time you go to the zoo.


To Dr. Kevorkian:

I’m so sorry we didn’t make it to the party–by all accounts it was fabulous!  I had no idea your daughter was so accomplished–and the flowers!  and the music!  Next year, I promise you, we’ll be in Taos for the season.


To Emily Dickinson:

Thank you so much for the vase.  Just knowing its lineage makes it precious to me–Ludwig, and the Washingtons, Marvin and Ann-Louise.  But it’s beautiful, too–the shape and the way the light plays around the thin clear rim.  I shall keep it filled with apricot-colored roses, in memory of our times at the Cape.


To Clara Schumann:

Whatever can I say?  How can I possibly apologize enough?  My only excuse, which is of course inexcusable, is that I didn’t know how deeply involved you were with him.  Of course I’ll never, ever see him again, and of course I’ve burned the photograph.  I hope in time you’ll forgive me.


To John Locke:

The air this morning is like clear green tea, and the mists are draping over the hills like little lacy handkerchiefs.  Oh, I know you accuse me of being sentimental, and I suppose I am, but I keep expecting you to appear between the trees like a Knight on Horseback, or better, the King of Ireland’s Son.


To Hillary Clinton:

She had the baby, did Mother tell you?  And she still won’t say who its father is.  It’s a big child, with clear gray eyes and long fingers.  I strongly suspect the oboeist, but I may be wrong.  I wish you hadn’t left her in the station that night, but there it is.  I know quite well how difficult she can be.




To Martha Stewart:

How many cats do you think is normal?  How many times do I have to tell you that if you don’t write to me once a week, I go crazy?  Yesterday I broke a frying pan, banging it on the front walk.  I cracked the cement, too.  PLEASE WRITE!!!


To Princess Diana:

Enclosed are 3 photographs.  One was taken on Dover Beach, right before the war.  The others are obviously photos of you when you were a little child.  Funny how much you resemble yourself, even then.


To Elizabeth Barrett Browning:

I’d like to go to Paris, or Tokyo–someplace big and confusing where I can’t speak the language.  I need a navy blue sweater with white, narrow stripes and some white pants to wear.  And red shoes.  I don’t want to take my mother.


To Margaret Mead:

I must sign off so I can get this to the Post Office today.  It takes several hours to walk there, now that the bridge is out.  I carry scraps of bread and chicken bones to divert the foxes, who can be harassing this time of year.




To His Holiness the Dalai Lama:

I’m re-re-re-re-reading Little Women, of all things, and find it a great deal more moralizing than I did when I was young.   And women’s laughter–the Heretics group I’m in  (all of us over fifty) laugh a great deal when we’re together–not necessarily even about anything.  We were getting to be a bunch of boring old people sitting around telling the same stories all the time.

To St. Francis:

Well, as you said, I’m about to ramble.  I planted Swiss chard this morning, and gladiolas, and cherry tomatoes in pots.  And the Apocalypse didn’t come yesterday–were you surprised?  I hope that you are all better after your “very, very, VERY rare” experience.  The chorus I sing in is preparing the “Laudamus Te” and the “Magnificat” from the Solemn Vespers for our spring concert, and I got to thinking that maybe the whole suffering bleeding mess of the world has been worth it for that music.  It’s political, but we came at it obliquely, through Vikings and El Salvador and the Crusades and the Trojan War, for example.

To Christopher Robin and Pooh

I think it was Martin Smith who said/wrote that women’s soul work is different from men’s.  “Holy detachment.”   I want to come visit you soon.  Maybe I shall.  I miss you.  What would it be like to be in that café and see people Raptured away? And speaking of books, I now have The Penguin Rhyming Dictionary.  I have been wanting one for awhile.


Writing imaginary letters
I feel my thinking
expand into places unexplored:
fields beneath the ocean,
valleys on the mountaintops,
the woods above the treeline.

To the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture:

I much like that after fifty, women stop being “female impersonators.”   Last year they ate a nest full of baby robins just outside our living room window.   This grieving business is VERY complicated, isn’t it?  The older I get, the more certain I am that nobody can FIX anybody else.  Certainly no one has every succeeded in fixing me, and not for lack of trying!

To Persephone:

I have finished reading Writing a Woman’s Life and liked it very much.  The Ethics Question about the letters:  there is one, and I’ve been thinking about it.  I’ll put some old fleece out for the squirrel to use–as if we need to encourage the squirrels around here.  I’m learning a five-minute bit of Mendelssohn’s 2nd:  “The night is departing,” a lovely bombastic thing.

To Mary Wollestonecraft:

The creation, as you say, is full of Wild Cards.    I love your fox story.   Among my favorite bits is “Exceptional women are the chief imprisoners of nonexceptional women.”  There is a red squirrel trying to remove from an odd wooden person who stands in our front yard a scarf that I made from some old flannel.  It’s funny to see her tugging away.

To Elizabeth Bishop:

I do like the obituaries you send:  so many interesting lives, so many different ways of composing them.   But most of all, I want to thank you for naming how badly I need a daughter!  Interestingly, mother seems to want to talk a great deal about that period of her life, which is so good, since we know nothing about it.


This was an exercise.  I wrote a fairy-tale sort of line for each pattern of colored paper I used, then cut the paper into squares and arranged them in a pleasing way.  Then I went back and made stanzas, matching the lines with the patches.  Then I tweaked the grammar.   I left it for a few months, and went back and tweaked again.  By that time, I’d tossed the original “quilt” so I made a new one, with colored pencil.  That appears at the bottom of the piece.  Strange, but fun.

First Row

Early one morning, through the open window, we heard a rustle of wings.
We three stood silent, in welcome.
A single feather fell at our feet.
The yellow door opened into a garden.
Mist was rising silver on distant mountains
as the door opened and opened
to the sound of rustling wings.
We joined hands and danced through the door,
while from the tower one bird sang one clear note.

The door opened to memory and hope.
Through the silence, our strong hearts beat.
Beyond memory and hope
one candle burned to keep the fear away.
Have we courage enough, and love, to tend that flame?
A freshening wind, wet as birth, swept every broken thing away
but memory and hope remained
in the strong beat of silence
behind that open door.

The gray cat licked my closed eyes with his gritty tongue.
I felt joy like the first prickle of starlight.
Dogs danced and capered around my feet
and love like deep green water cooled my heart.
Last year’s leaf littered the warm soil underfoot
and joy prickled like starlight.
A silent red doe tripped down to the sea
as silver mist settled on the mountains
and the gray cat licked my eyelids.

Dragon fire colored the night
while I stood still as a cornstalk in the rain,
safe in the fire’s heart.  In the center of the storm
I picked three ripe pears from the golden tree.
The Crone gave me a candle, and a sword.
Moving quick as water through the meadow grass,
the fire, the dragon breath burning,
I brought her the golden pears.
One candleflame kept the fear away.

Second Row

In a womb-dark, blood-dark, tomb-dark cave
I slept in dream through the moon-blue night.
Sorrow shone like moonlight
until the Maiden woke me and begged for a song.
In the cave of darkness, among hidden jewels
we laughed and wept, all night long we sang
our sorrow like blue moonlight between black branches.
I slept again, dreaming the moon
growing cold and blue outside my tomb-dark cave.

I sat alone by the open window, listening
to bird song sharp as sun from the wild green wood.
Alone by the open window, listening,
I saw a flutter of feathers,
pink-tipped pines and first light, shadows stretching far,
a red bird against the sky.
I sat by the window, listening
as the bird sang sharp as the sun
clearing the mist away.

A wind wet as birth, swept every broken thing away
across the path above the turquoise sea.
Outside the door no memory remained,
just fire and water, earth and sky.
One bird sang,
its music like a green river over stones.
No memory, or hope–
nothing but fire and water, the falling rain,
one candleflame.

A white owl, silent as stone, flew above the path.
A red fox trotted, black against the sky.
What creature guards the threshold and how can I open the door?
A silent doe eats roses, trips down the street to the sea.
A girl tugs at my skirt, whining for a song
and dogs tangle and grumble around my feet.
Who guards the cask of treasure?
The red fox remains, black against the sky.
The owl is gone.

Third Row

I follow the golden bee, her legs thick with apple dust;
down from my turret I follow, singing one song.
The orb weaver waits in her dew-laced web.
I lift my arms to the sky.
In the silence, the sound of my breath.
Warm soil underfoot, the litter of last year’s leaf.
The silent doe crosses the street to the sea
while from the turret one bird sings.
I follow the bee.

In the blood-dark cave
I light my candle
to keep away the fear
like a rope around my throat.
I kindle a fire of paper.
It burns in a hot red strand,
like dragon fire.
All night long I will weep
with this one small flame to keep away the fear.

Early in the morning, a rustle of wings.
I sit silent, listening.
I try to remember the Maiden’s song
that flowed like water through meadow grass,
like deep green water cooling the heart.
I build up my fire of paper and cones;
I dance, a slow circle around the flame,
sing through the smoke
a bird song sharp as the wild green wood.

The white-pebbled path winds above the sea.
A green door opens low down in the tree.
I will warm the earth with fire.
Inside, hidden jewels
of womb, of blood, of tomb.
Outside, the memory
of fire, earth, cold rain.
I will open the door in the tree.
I will walk the path above the sea.

Fourth Row

I am one woman in black,
as still as a cornstalk in the rain.
I carry a candle and a sword.
I’ve moved quick as water through meadow grass
while the orb weaver spun her dew-sparked web.
I’ve sung through mist and smoke–
the Maiden’s song.
I kindled a fire
and danced around the flame.

First light:  rose-tipped pines, blue shadows,
a doe eating roses,
green river, white flowers floating,
a golden bee.
A door will open
and dogs will dance around my feet
as shadows stretch.
The spider sits in her silver web;
white blossoms float in a river of green glass.

Terror at noon, an orange flame–
dragon fire–
–terror, an orange flame.
The golden crown is mine, I claim the ring
through fire and water, earth and air.
Let the thin ghosts whisper among the trees!
I defy the terror in the center,
summon a freshening wind to sweep it all away.
Now, at the center, the fire is mine.

I picked three pears from the golden tree
as the white owl flew silent as stone.
I slept deep through the blue moon light.
In early morning I opened the window
and lifted my hands to the sky.
A lone bird called
flying quick as water above the grass–
one clear note.
One by one, I ate the silver fruit.

Fifth Row

Does sorrow make shadows like moonlight?
Where will you seek for comfort
in your moonlit sadness
where the white owl flies?
I will give you a candle,
and a white owl.
The moon will shine blue for you.
You will know the way,
a silver mist on mountains.

Make a fire of paper and cones,
a dragon fire to brighten all the night.
Sit by the open window, listening
to the rain.
The white owl flies for you
through fire, water, earth and sky,
calls to you through the mist.
You are safe in the center of the storm.
Dream deep beneath the moon.

Hear the bird song sharp as the sun.
Raise your arms to the sky
and see the green door open.
Blow out the candle, bury the sword.
Let the gray cat open your eyes.
You have a story to tell:
The green door in the tree opened wide
and we laughed and wept, we sang
like birds in a dark green wood.

A red fox sheltered with us from the storm,
freed from the fear.
A gray cat licked our eyelids with her gritty tongue.
We loved like deep green water.
with dirt underfoot, and soft leaves,
joy like starlight.
Dogs capered around our feet.
Softly, like mist on mountains
the red doe tripped down to the sea.



The questions in this “catechism” are from the old Prayer Book of the Episcopal Church.  The answers, modified slightly to fit the grammar, were taken from little bits and pieces in notebooks and from lines of failed poems.



What is your Name?

Dead branches, feathers, bones, brown grasses gone to seed, bits of blue glass and broken shell, the clean white skull of a porcupine.


Who gave you this Name?

A brain with legs.  Heads on wheels.  Gonads with hands.  Brains with arms.  Books with mouths.


What did these Sponsors then for you?

Made a terrible dream of whales and overturned ships, shifting broken stairways, dinosaurs and demon children that no one else can see,  and runaway horses and trains.


Dost thou not think that thou art bound to believe, and to do, as they have promised for thee?

Yes, verily.  Everything that can possibly be done to an eye.  A message in a bottle without a cork.  A cabbage and a Boston fern.


Rehearse the Articles of thy Belief.

Something we thought up when we were in High School and sat in Kathy’s basement with a candle flickering and Dylan in the background.


What dost thou chiefly learn in these Articles of thy Belief?

Something that worked quite well before the verdict, before the plague, before the terror of the Inquisition.


You said that your Sponsors did promise for you, that you should keep God’s Commandments.  Tell me how many there are.

As many as the cheerful, responsible eldest children who cry in the bathroom alone at midnight while running the shower so no one will hear.


Which are they?

Jump off a bridge.  Stay up all night walking through the dangerous part of town.  Pick a handful of random mushrooms and eat them raw to see what will happen.


What dost thou chiefly learn by these Commandments?

There is a Green Man living outside my window, pulling me away from the smoky dark building where ponderous music blares and people claim to understand.


What is thy duty towards God?

To tell endless tales of bravado.  To catch an edge.  Throw the reserve chute.  Get stuck in the commode.


What is thy duty towards thy Neighbour?

To provide a place for the soul to land above the reservoir of tears, where light from the rising sun slides down until it illuminates the grass.


My good Child, know this;  that thou art not able to do these things of thyself, nor to walk in the Commandments of God, and to serve him, without his special grace; which thou must learn at all times to call for by diligent prayer.  Let me hear, therefore, if thou canst say the Lord’s Prayer.

I canst.  It is the cord on which I string the fish I caught in the brown brook under the willow tree on a long summer afternoon.


What desirest thou of God in this Prayer?

The ghosts of farmers milking the ghosts of jersey cows.  The weight of snow that took the barn roof.


How many Sacraments hath Christ ordained in his Church?

So many.  Layers accumulated like leaves or laughs or petticoats, or kingdoms and difficult wives.


What meanest thou by this word “Sacrament”?

Cooked chicken and birdseed.  A bag of orange, artifically-banana-flavored marshmallow “Circus Peanuts.”   One of those red satin, heart-shaped boxes of cheap chocolates.


How many parts are there in a Sacrament?

Three:  poems about when you were a tree, and I was a bird, and we were rain.


What is the outward visible sign or form in Baptism?

Dogfood kept in cans on the lowest shelf of the dangerous pantry at the top of the stairs.


What is the inward and spiritual  grace?

There is more than one:  There are books for cats, swans carved from bars of soap, mittens made from milkweed fluff, seven letters written to a stranger about different subjects, mailed in separate envelopes all on the same day.


What is required of persons to be baptized?

To grow into an old woman who wanted to act, sing, write, but took a job she didn’t want and did for forty years.  To dither, filled with pain and the burden of her heavy love.


Why then are Infants baptized, when by reason of their tender age they cannot perform them?

Because raindrops cling to evergreen needles after a slow rain before the birds land and knock them off in tiny showers, echoes of the storm.


Why was the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper  ordained?

Because the neutered male cat, too dumb to be mean, wants to play with the other male and the Queen who watches him with disdain as he gallops up and down the hallways, skidding the little rugs across the polished floors.


What is the outward part of sign of the Lord’s Supper?

A small coffiin carried into a church and filled with water.  A baby is dropped in, the priest pulls her out and says “You’ve died and now you’re alive!”  and everybody rings bells.


What is the inward part, or thing signified?

Apollo, by another name, vague and vacuous, one of those rich blond guys who gets everything he wants just by smiling.


What are the benefits whereof we are partakers thereby?

A day that stretches ahead like a rubber band that’s been reused and reused to hold together bundles of letters, bills, or an ancient cookbook.  Three Hairy Woodpeckers chasing one another around the trunk of an ash tree.  A jar of Kimchee in the back of the refrigerator.


What is required of those who come to the Lord’s Supper?

A pain in your hips that awakens you at 4 A.M. and you can’t find a comfortable position and while you’re twisting there, wakeful, all the cats come and lick your face and knead whatever part of you is trying to be still.