Word Winding

attempting to spin cacophony into sanity

Archive for the category “Poems”


Once I would step blindly and find myself plummeting into one abysm or another.

Now my feet root and draw nourishment from other soil entirely as my hands skim the surface of each murky pool, marveling at the way depths plead, tug at my fingertips, invite me to wallow again in emotional decadence.

This queer ache is nostalgia for sadness. My heart nearly breaks with it.

What startling joy it is to have no sorrow accompany the memory of loss, no bitterness ceaselessly strangling past injustice, no fuel to offer old fears.

Like any newly freed creature, it took a long time to uncurl enough to see the sky.


The Apple’s Dance

Buoyant green apple bobbing uncertainly

Petals flown–

Luscious scent with them

I see your glance of dread.

Ecstatic branches sing of impending summer

Offering promises you scorn in your suspicion

That little lies between you and that

Rotting, bloated lump.

In agony, you dance

Like a young mother with babe attached

Exuding a glow you do not feel

To the delight of all who pass

All the while envious of the freedom of the cat.



The year feels aged yet spry in October. An unapologetically sharp cheese, it’s been around awhile and packs a punch.

My mind always dives eagerly into leaf-piles as Halloween approaches. Childhood costumes, lovingly handmade, worn crunching through maple discards. High school shenanigans on playgrounds after dark. My first autumn of college, watching absurdly awful horror flicks far past midnight, the man who would become my husband tugging my leg as it dangled off the top bunk in an attempt to maximize the movie’s affect. Scuffing through Harvard Square with my head pounding out a complex rhythmic counterpoint to my footsteps. Counting cats with my wee little firstborn Owlet as we took our routine twilight walks.

It is strange and lovely to summon those ghosts in their exuberant youth and stretch the ribbons of their lives from there to here, where I sit, gratuitously treasuring my choice of life partner in haiku:

Love, I would know you
In a crowd of a million
From your steady heart

Your capable hands
In music and in woodcraft
Equally well versed

Your mischievous laugh
Igniting the brightest blue
Starlight of your eyes.

Thor just finished building me these surpassingly amazing benches for my teaching studio. Aren’t they lovely?

Guts and Pastels

​In honor of Mother’s Day, a message to me from the version of my mom that lives in my intuition:

Beyond the pain and mess
After the harsh words and forget-me-nots
There lingers the warmth
From which we all came.

That warmth is more important than getting it right.

Share your soul-fire with them
Let its imperfect authenticity
Envelop them
As you once did.

Nothing is more raw than motherhood.
The blood and mucus at birth are no anomaly:
Resist the urge to pull crisp linens over them.

Your time will come to fade like cut flowers.
Until then, use your roots.


Something about Mother’s Day has always slightly unsettled me. Too many pastels, not enough guts. This poem, siphoned from the incredible woman who warms my memories, steadies that wobble for me. I’m a little more ready for the onslaught of sweet chaos that will be my tomorrow.


Starlit Grief

​The moon is not visible from my window
And this is good.
Starlight is more illuminating of grief.

I hold my ceaseless craving for your warmth
Gently these days.
I take comfort now in its omnipresence.

The way the stars of this time and of this place
Are merely hints.
Would that I could see nebulas in their stead.

You and the unpolluted sky are both here
Safe in my heart.
Your absence, like your presence, lights my way home.


Countries are at once
Too large
And too small–
Too powerful
And too impotent–
Too simple
And too complex.

I long for the village.
The ancient, archetypal
Village in the wilderness.
Answerable only to itself.
Part of no larger plans.

I long for the universe.
The glacial, eternal
Universe expanding.
Answerable only to itself.
Beyond plans.

I am the country
Writhing within my skin.

I am the village
Deep at my core.

I am the universe
At the outer edges of my awareness.

The village and the universe
(In addition to their many other tasks)
Must cradle the country
As a child who has, every day
Knowingly and unknowingly
Done terrible and wonderful things.

Cradle, without condemning.
Cradle, without condoning.

Cradle while seeing clearly
The universe
Far beyond this moment
The village
Deep within this moment.

Co-Sleeping Haiku

Baby in the bed
An island, cozy and warm
In sheltering cove

Each night, like clockwork
Ere I’ve fully awakened
My breath restarts yours

Lungs, sensing a gap
Sharply inhale when you pause
And yours follow suit

You lie between us
Caramel robed in chocolate
All gooey sweetness

Night begins to fade
Two older fledglings fly home
One roosts beside me

Cramped, beloved nest
Our world for a few short years
A harbor of love


I see your shoes there, discarded in the doorway, a microdune of sand beneath the right one, laces tumbling from the left. I must shrink to the size of a mouse so I can fit all the way inside.

It is dark, darker than I’d expected. And smellier. Turns out the flashy colors are only on the outside. In here it is dim, musty, with only a small circle of light near the opening.

How often am I the one shining more brightness into this space? How often am I instead casting shadows?

From the outside, a shadow upon a sneaker is an unnoticeable blip. Inside, it is an eclipse.

Why is it so hard, in the moment, to stop, shrink, and enter?

Your mere presence demands this of me.

I demand it of myself.

And yet it is only after the words have flown that I remember.

“A person’s a person, no matter how small.”

Even when I am unrested, unclean, unbalanced, unheeded.

Even when you are a tornado of irrationality.

The shape is a little different, and the size. The colors, especially the outer ones, and the smell; they are different, too. But the feeling — oh, I know it.

Like the back of my hand.

Like the sound of my mother’s voice.

Like a well-worn shoe.IMG_20160324_074305770 IMG_20160324_074216880

Tangerines (and tupperware)

Some days our friendship is a tangerine
Ripe with laughter, wittily sour

Some days our friendship is a faded rose
With its musty scent of outgrown youth

Some days our friendship is a worn cotton cloth
Soothing fevers, binding wounds

Some days our friendship is a stalled car
Aching shoulders haul through the intersection

Some days our friendship is a word sung well
Summoning soul-dancing goosebumps

Some days our friendship is a pair of pennies
Almost forgotten but for a faint chime

And truly I cherish it as a coin just as much as a song
A wrecked car just as much as a fabric scrap
A boutonnière as much as a tangerine

For each has their place
And to do otherwise would be to leave fruit molding on the shelf
While eating dusty petals.

We two, we understand this
And so our friendship is the most tenacious of wildfowers.

I say “we two” but am thinking of several people at once, folks who have hauled my sorry crumpled fender through more than I can recall and whose presence makes me happier than sushi (though the best, of course, is sharing sushi with these lovely souls). In addition to my beloved oldies-but-goodies I have been so fortunate this past year to find more and more kindred spirits, and I feel encircled now by people both local and far-flung who together form the village I once longed for, a village I am proud to call home.

A village that gifted us a bevy of meals for weeks after Cria’s birth! And a village, therefore, to whom I promise we will return jars, tupperwares, and casserole dishes one day soon… (Seriously! They are all clean and waiting for my scattered brain to remember to deliver them when next we meet.)

Here are the ones vacationing atop our fridge:


Valley Fire

Two weeks before the fires, we were there.

We drove on twisting roads through forests, past farms and vineyards and tiny towns. Homes for the humans and their animals, and for the wild ones roaming free.

Those things are gone.

The best caramel swirl ice cream I have ever experienced, in a little shop with a charming set of hand drums cobbled together somehow and attached to a single stand.

Those things are gone.

We bathed in beautiful springs sheltered by gigantic fig trees, splurged and slept in a fairy cabin like it was our honeymoon and not “just” our eighth anniversary. Yoga in a temple the spiral dance could call home. Full moon circle under rippling cloudy skies.

The springs remain. The skies remain. The native plants and fungi in their fire wisdom are still anchored deep, holding the land with healing fingers.

Everything else is gone.

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