Friday, July 23, 2010


Hello! I've been away for a few weeks teaching summer school with a sprained ankle and trying to enjoy the gorgeous Spokane summer as much as I can.

This week's prompt at Big Tent Poetry asked us to incorporate something from our favorite poet into our own poetry. Thinking about this caused me to return to and revise a poem I have worked on for a few years. The poem is about giving birth, the most overwhelmingly holy experience I have ever had. At the end of the poem, I use the "Ah! Bright Wings!" phrase from Gerard Manley Hopkins' "God's Grandeur." I have always thought the sound of the language and the image in the last two lines of that poem are among the most beautiful in English.

This prompt has also inspired me to think of the many, many lines from Emily Dickinson that I love, particulalry, "Rowing in Eden--/Ah, the sea!". I'm working on something inspired by that, but am not there yet. In the mean time...

In pain shall you bring forth children, but
Rejoice, O highly favored daughter!
That you should bear such a curse!
And I cry out—
Laying waste to mountains and hills
As a mighty wind sweeps over the waters
For these moments I contain the Genesis of all things—
My own urgent offering—
This is my body, given up for you
I cannot let this cup pass—
The source contracts and pushes
For in the midst of blood and water poured out,
Body broken, torn in two,
Creation continues, Salvation is,
I roll the stone away from the tomb!
I would not wish for numbness now,
For how else could I hear
The flapping of Ah! Bright Wings!
And a chorus of Aves in my ear.

Friday, July 2, 2010


My sixteen-year-old boy arrived at the hospital at 6:30
that Saturday morning to sit with me.
He sat between the window and my bed, long fingers
curled around my own IV-taped hand.
And he was beautiful,
his lanky body, bent over my bed, partially
shadowed by the window-framed sun.

He had gotten up so early so he could just sit there
before his track and field meeting at school,
but I couldn’t move my morphine-heavy
eyes and lips to talk to him.
It seemed like I should say so much,
but I could only manage a few I-love-yous and
you-don’t-have-to-stays. But he did.

I kept drifting out and tripping up in my own
bad dreams and staples and tubes. I couldn’t
quite hold myself there with him. I kept wandering,
two nights back, to my mumbling pre-surgery prayers.
And I realized I could have done better.
Instead of my weak now-and-at-the-hour-of-our-deaths
and acts of contritions, I should have just said,

Look Lord, Here Lord, I made this boy.
And that would have been enough.
This week's prompt from Big Tent Poetry asked us to create a conversation poem. I kept thinking of a conversation I couldn't have, and came up with this.