Tuesday, March 31, 2009

After the Annunciation

I meant to post this on March 25, which is the feast of the Annunciation. I was inspired to write this after looking at many paintings of the Annunciation and after reading Thomas Merton's poem "Hagia Sophia."

Here's an excerpt from Merton's poem:

All the perfections of created things are also in God;

and therefore He is at once Father and Mother. As

Father He stands in solitary might surrounded by

darkness. As Mother His shining is diffused, embracing

all His creatures with merciful tenderness and light.

The Diffuse Shining of God is Hagia Sophia.

We call her His "glory." In Sophia His power is

experienced only as mercy and as love.

Here's my poem:

After the Annunciation

I have to believe that after
The Messenger
Descended from on high
On a glowing cloud

After the folding
Of his great feathered wings
His laying of lilies
At the virgin’s frightened feet

After the piercing light
Penetrated her chambers
And she shook at the sight
Of the angel’s sweeping bow

After the scroll of Aves
Was unfurled and proclaimed
And Mary answered back
Her strong and shaking
Be it done unto me…

I have to believe that after
Such a sudden ceremony
The sweetest silence filled the air
And then, and then

The soothing breeze of Holy Breath
Cooling her flushed face
The touch of Wisdom
Caressing her cheek

Gentle fingers in her hair
A conspiratorial giggle
A welcoming whisper
In her willing ear

I have to believe that Sophia said
Come, daughter, come, sister
Creation is calling
Let’s make Word from your flesh

For no greater love
Can one woman have
Than to bear in her body
The bright hope of her people

And no sweeter secret
Can be revealed
Than the quickening of life
Everlasting in your womb

And when the Source
Springs forth from your waters
You shall feel and see the
Opening of all things

I have to believe that after
Gabriel was gone
She was not left alone
But a Mother remained
And helped her to hold
All things in her heart

The Trail

Walk now before the
grass wakes up to greet your feet,
disguises your trail

Walk now while you can
still see your footprints pressed to
the soft, pliant ground

Walk now before the
sun dries up all the tears on
your sad freckled face

Walk now while you can
still hear clouds pass above and
cry for bare branches

Monday, March 30, 2009

Metal Sculpture Blog

As many of you know, I manage a blog for my husband, who is a metal sculptor. The art is supplied by him, and the writing is supplied by me. I've got a link to that blog on the lower right side of this blog, but I thought I would formally introduce it to you! If you're interested in seeing some of Rick's work (and some small verses by me), please check it out!

Saturday, March 28, 2009


Cradled the frozen bulb in her mouth
Swaddled it in the velvet of her tongue
Awakened it with the warmth of her breath
Braced herself for the birth
Thrust the shoot through the gap in her teeth
And watched the bloom part her rounded lips
For readwritepoem's spring prompt.
art: "Tulip" by Georgia O'Keefe

Thursday, March 26, 2009

25 Random Things About Me

So, Lydia at writerquake (http://www.writerquake.blogspot.com/) has tagged me to do a "25 Random Things About Me" List. OK--Here you go!

1. If I could bestow any talent upon myself, it would be the gift of singing ability. I can’t sing, but I so wish I could.

2. I am drawn to left-handed people. I’m married to one, my best friend is one, and two of my sons are. I think I have some right-brained tendencies, but I’m a righty myself.

3. I have been in love with my husband since I was 16 years old.

4. I have never felt closer to God than the three times when I gave birth. Whenever I start to doubt, or feel far from Her, I remember my birth experiences.

5. I started a blog to help me be brave enough to share my writing with more than just a few family members.

6. I am a sister to two brothers and mother to three sons, but throughout my life I have been surrounded by women. I have aunts and cousins who are as close to me as any sisters could be. And my brothers have been nice enough to marry women I am proud to call my sisters.

7. I am a quiet person living in a loud household.

8. I absolutely love my job. I can’t imagine having any kind of career that doesn’t involve teaching.

9. This week, my students made me smile. Often!

10. I am allergic to the sun. Too much sun exposure, and my face swells up. It’s not convenient being allergic to the planet’s source of light and heat. It’s one of the reasons we moved north.

11. No one makes me laugh harder than my son, Jack.

12. My oldest son Seamus is graduating from high school in June, and I get teary eyed sometimes just thinking about it. My first born is a young man now. I am proud and wistful all at once.

13. My son Brendan still likes to hug and kiss me. I don’t know how long this will last, but I am loving every minute of it.

14. I live in a place where we see moose several times a year. I find moose sightings to be almost mystical experiences.

15. I love the Little Spokane River.

16. I am enjoying cooking more now than at any other time in my life.

17. If left to my own devices, I have a tendency to withdraw and become sedentary. One of the things I love about my husband is that he likes to move and do. I need that!

18. I firmly believe that heaven will be filled with cheesecake.

19. I love Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. I’m pretty crazy about Steve Carrell, too.

20. My husband has an enormous capacity for unconditional love. I am a truly lucky woman.

21. My idea of the perfect vacation is reading a good book while surrounded by beautiful scenery.

22. My other idea of a perfect vacation is visiting my nephew, Liam and my niece, Molly.

23. I am going to give yoga another try in April. I am a truly remedial yoga student.
24. When I was in tenth grade, my English teacher played us a recording of Dylan Thomas reading "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night." It changed my life.

25. My favorite flower is the tulip. I am so grateful to live somewhere where tulips grow. They are so perfectly curved, smooth, and bright, they almost make me cry.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Dylan Thomas Wordle

Here's one of my favorite poems, "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night" as a wordle. I don't know why, but I love the way this looks. Click to view a larger image!

Wordle: Dylan Thomashttp://www.wordle.net/gallery/wrdl/685995/Dylan_Thomas

Seasonal Affective Disorder

In like a lion?
Out like a lamb? I think not!
March is neither in

Nor out he’s just a
Miserable old bastard
Who won’t go away

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Lapis Lazuli

I’m very certain she shined like lapis lazuli
Every movement like a stroke of Vermeer
Every gaze like a Madonna of daVinci
Pouring water from pitcher to bowl
Cradling a holy babe in her arms

She seemed to shimmer with lovely eternity
And radiate royalty from her fingers
And yet she came to me, a mere infant
In the clouds of my morning dreams
At the well of my youngest longings

I’m very certain she shined her blue pigment
Over my crib when I cried in confusion
Over my eyes red and weary from the journey
A bridge from the warm light that made me
To the life that awaited me here
--For rwp's first line prompt. Thanks to Derek for line #1!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Brigid of Kildare

She took a weapon
Encrusted with riches
Heavy with the power
To kill and to maim

An instrument of violence
Decorated with decadence
That haunted her dreams
And sliced through her conscience

Took it from her father’s house
Hid the heft of it in her skirt
Forswore her allegiance
To patriarchy and power

Then knelt tenderly in the mud
At the feet of a beggar
Beat the sword into plowshare
And death became bread

A Tidings of Magpies: The Heavenly Banquet

A Tidings of Magpies: The Heavenly Banquet

Check out this Irish poem published on A Tidings of Magpies blog. Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Monday, March 16, 2009

In My Face

Once I sailed peacefully across
The smooth surface of my face

Even my freckles floated with me
No ripples or craters to trap us

And still when I bring my hands up
All is smooth to the touch

But in the mirror are sunken pools
Beneath my eyes and

Crevices and cracks across the vast
White beach of my forehead

Maybe one day I will look
At the changing topography

And find rest, seek relief from
My worries and respite from stress

Maybe I’ll find cool in my sunken pools
Trace my fingers along the fissures

Then ease my soul into the cracks
And lines, find shelter when

There is no place to go
One day, one day, I hope this is so

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Thaw

I posted this poem last year, but I'm posting it again, because it still speaks to me during this slow onslaught of spring.

The Thaw

It is not in the bleak midwinter
That I feel the cold
For when the darkness of the dimmest days swaddles me
I sleep.

The indirect angles of the sun’s rays
Soften the sharpness
Of each bare branch and brittle bough
And lull me
Into slumber.

It is not the dry, soft secretness of the snow
That breaks me
For it cushions all my senses
And sweeps me
Into numbness.

But the dreadful dripping of the icicles,
The slow softening
Of the once firm and frosty ground
Shakes me from slumber
And I awake.

It is the unraveling of so many layers,
The near-warmness,
The threatening thaw of winter’s end,
That finally chills me
Into a deep shiver.

The shards of sharp sunlight
Glare on the gray spots,
Expose the cracked skin, the crumbling ground,
The dead things long denied,
And I see.

It is when all is laid bare and brown,
That I am exposed,
Facing the unfrozen, the long untended,
I shudder unguarded
Against the certainty of spring.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Who is really pro-life, anyway?

The archbishop says no communion for Kathleen Sebelius. Will he also withhold Jesus from politicians who voted for the war in Iraq, causing thousands upon thousands of deaths? From those who are pro-death penalty? From those who would cut welfare benefits for mothers who did not have abortions? From those who think healthcare for God's children should remain a for-profit enterprise? Should those who would shut down the tent cities of poor and homeless citizens remain in full communion? Does a "pro-life" position give one a free pass on all other life issues? Come to think of it, can we truly call such politicians pro-life at all? I'm just asking. Let's keep asking.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


I've been making a concerted effort to eat healthy, which means making some big changes regarding my relationship with food. I've been told by others who have walked this path before me that soon, my taste buds will change and that I will no longer crave the sweet foods that I love. Well, I'm not sure if that's ever going to happen to me. I find myself dreaming about donuts. Seriously. I have eaten maple bars in my dreams for the last three nights. And don't even get me started on my cheesecake dreams. During the day, I may long for forbidden foods, but at night, they haunt my dreams. So, in an effort to get them out of my system and in response to readwritepoem's topic of the week, here is my ode to maple bars:

Donut Dreams

I like to see them
lined up like toy
soldiers or a band
on parade day:
rows and rows,
columns and columns
of processed pleasure.
Then my eyes pace
back and forth as
I inspect the troops.
I skip over the sloppy,
careless quadrilaterals
with spotty frosting
and choose only the
responsible bars
dressed in thick,
evenly applied
maple uniforms,
tops gleaming,
ready for duty--
to be chewed
alive and to die
somewhere on
my stomach
or my thighs.

Check out readwritepoem by clicking the button on the upper right of your screen.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Drunk winter gives spring the middle finger

(from KHQ.com)

When snow comes in March,
Drunk winter belches, knows it’s
Almost closing time

There’s nothing worse than
The guest who stumbles, gets sick
All over his shoes

Saturday, March 7, 2009

My boy

(Mother and Child by Mary Cassat)

The other night, my ten-year-old son was in distress and needed to sit in my lap. I say needed because lap-sitting is not something that ten-year-old boys typically want to do. He was overwhelmed with fourth grade stress. “I can’t take it anymore,” he sobbed. I looked at his watery face and invited him on to my lap. To my surprise, he climbed on up and curled up into a ball, which is no easy task—he is nearly five feet tall, all arms and legs.

As he poured out his worries, I found myself stroking his hair and cheek, both of which felt almost as soft and smooth as they did when he was a baby. I watched with wonder as my motherly ministrations slowly began to soothe him. I held his hand, caressed his face, buried my nose in his hair, and told him that together, we would figure things out. After a while, he began to breathe more slowly and he relaxed the scrunched up muscles around his eyes and jaw.

I was overwhelmed with tenderness, as most mothers are when they see their children of any age crying. And that old feeling of wanting to fix everything for him came charging up inside of me. He is like me in so many ways. He holds high expectations for himself and fears disappointing people. He worries himself into knots, and hates being compared to others for fear of not measuring up.

It is so easy for my 40-year-old self to forget how stressful and overwhelming life could be when I was 10. My baby boy and I are not happy-go-lucky people. We sometimes need help putting things into perspective and managing our worries. So, I know that some of the tenderness I felt that night came from the realization that I was looking in a mirror.

But I was feeling another overwhelming emotion as well: gratitude. It has been a long, long time since I have held my crying child close to my body. A long time since my lap has been a place of healing and refuge. I experienced once again the most primitive of motherly instincts. My baby was hurting, and he needed my body to help him heal. And for a few moments, I was all he needed. I felt alive with mother-love and with the fierce, primal instinct to protect my child.

Is it wrong to enjoy such a moment as this? Is it perverse?

Of course, I wasn’t the answer to all of my son’s problems. I haven’t been since he was an infant. He had to go back into the fourth grade jungle the next day. I can’t follow him around and gather him into my arms whenever he starts to feel stressed. He doesn’t want that, and neither do I. But for a while last Wednesday, I was all he needed. He pressed his body close to mine so he could stop the universe for a while and just breathe.
And it was wonderful.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


You have shown me hard things but
It has been so hard for so long
I used to be strong, I think
But I am too tired now

I hurt all the way from my temples
To the tops of my shoulders
My eyes are frozen open
The sky presses down
On my head

Oh, please
I am so cold
Where is the fire
The burning bush
Even a single tongue to
Singe my hair and lick my crown

Didn’t you
Cup my face once
And kiss it with sparks of sun
I can hold the memory for but a breath
Till the ice returns to sting my lungs and
Now all I want is to rest and be warm and put down
The mirror you gave me I can’t look
Any longer I am done I just
Want you to save me
Again with your
Warm right