On A New Beginning

[This poem was prompted by reading John O’Donohue’s poem A New Beginning]

At my age to have a new beginning quietly forming
Seems more than miraculous
But I have trouble believing that I will hear it
My hearing not being what it once was
And if my new beginning is unheard
What am I left with
What of the old will replace the new that never got born
An aborted new beginning
An empty womb
Where once the promise of new life was forming
Attached to me
Growing with me
Helping me grow
Now ripped away
To die as I die

Ah, God, this, I fear, is all that is left
Until the new beginning in a different life
Or maybe just a new ending in this one
The shroud, I suppose, is not just enveloping
But soft

I write and try and try
To not try, as Alan Watts once advised
Before that wet bath tile
Brought him to an unexpected end
And perhaps a new beginning
Did he meet Thomas Merton, do you think
Another man much enamored of new beginnings
And, apparently, of one young nurse
Ah, so many bright new beginnings
Wander down into so-called sin
Much like Adam and Eve
In Eden’s Garden

That prototypical new beginning
That did not end very well
Shame and eventually a sibling murder
And through it all
Did Eve stand by her man
Naked or clothed

What was her sin, really
To listen to a snake
Or to reach for a forbidden fruit
Forbidden by Adam’s God

Who was Eve’s goddess
Would she have forbidden Eve
To reach for a new beginning
To reach for that fresh fruit
To stretch high
To stand on tiptoe
To shake the branch
Pluck the fruit
Feel it
Smell it
Lick it
Like two year old Milo smells and licks just about everything
His world beginning to be discovered
By touch and smell and taste

Did Eve boldly bite
Or gingerly lick
Did she wonder at the juice of it
Was she afraid
Or was she excited?

This we know:
She wanted to share that new beginning
“Adam, you have to try this”
Was God jealous?
His new beginnings all done
Creation finished
But here were his creatures
Enjoying something new
Something the woman dared to reach for
Touch, smell, taste, share

That is the new beginning I want
Just something ordinary
To greet with wonder
And share with my partner
My partner in new beginnings
After loss
After widowed
After grown children
Into each other’s houses
To our new beginning
Life together
Until death do us make yet another
New beginning

Reflections on a Spider

The nights are long
The days are slow

The big spider
       really big spider
       with brindle body and bristle limbs
hangs out
       at the top of the green bedroom curtains
       with meaningless threat
intending only to find warmth
       a safe place to nest

But when I look up
      pillowed in my warm safe bed
I sense danger

I would like to only wonder
Simply celebrate another life
Wish her well
Welcome her to share my world

But I imagine her breeding
I imagine being cast from my own room
       by hundreds of her tiny immigrants
       who do not belong here

So I turn my face
       and let my husband kill her

Arms Length

Yahweh answered Moses, “Is MY arm too short?” Numbers 11:23

How often, so often
have I complained
My arm is too short

To reach
What I want

To finish
What I start

To keep
What I need

To succeed
When I plead

Too short
to hold my dreams

Too short
to stifle my screams

How often, so often
have I forgotten
God’s arm is not.

Morning Not Yet Risen

The white noise of the dehumidifier
squatting in the corner
The mock sun of the over-achieving lamp
lording over the bedside table
The slept-in warmth of the disheveled bed
expanding across the room
The filled wonder of the tall bookshelves
standing guard across one wall
The cluttered top of the chipped dresser
resting comfortably beneath the fake window
The latticed doors of three closets
marching across the opposite wall
The closed door

Here I dream of life
rich and full
busy and boisterous

Yet here I linger
notebook open
pen poised
quiet if not quite content
but safe

Here I pray
to a God of my own making
in a room of my own making
easy if not quite satisfying

In a moment
I will click my pen point
close my notebook
crawl out of my covers
ignore my books
open drawers and closets
get dressed
open the door

Can I find God Herself
in a world of Her own making?
Will it be
Satisfying if not quite easy?

Where Does She Go?

Where does God go when I forget about Her?
Does She sit in a dark corner and sulk?
Or go shopping for a pink polka dot umbrella?

Perhaps She gets down on Her knees
and prays that I will remember Her?
Or does She pray I won’t?

Does She like the freedom from my worries?

Can She fly higher on Her golden wings
without the weight of my expectations
without the burden of my sins?

Must I free God from me?
Or is She OK with a forever fickle child?


Blackbird returns
time and again
to the dark red blood
spilled long ago
seeped into the earth’s ages

Blackbird carries a
wriggling worm of grief
soft in its mouth
to feed fledgling sorrows

Blackbird returns
in summer’s bright blooms
in winter’s frightful frosts
to its hidden nest
high in this olding oak

No dove with ah bright wings
nor raven croaking nevermore
unthreatening haint
merely sad
always sad

My blackbird returns
doesn’t stay
comes and goes
now and again
giving body and voice
to living with my dead

Sunday Morning at January’s End

The skeletal remnants of a dried leaf lies half-buried in the rattan carpet.
The old green and black Hoover lurks still in the corner, awaiting a new belt.
The dog’s blanket, once long ago a carefully crafted tufted quilt, now indifferently folded, drapes over one section of the loveseat, until the warm heaviness of the black faced cur.
The square tiles of the hall floor look smudged, need mopping.
The black net clothing hamper has tipped over, spilling one arm of the well-worn red knit sweater across the floor.
The washing machine whirs on, working hard to clean the whites from dull to, if not bright, at least brighter.
Unwashed breakfast dishes – grits pot, coffee cup, chipped bowl, small spoon – await their baptism in the stainless steel sink.
(Stainless steel shows every fingerprint, but does not rust.)
From Mom’s TV, upstairs, comes the familiar prayers and the wandering key hymns of Sunday morning Mass.
Old cobwebs skew across the basement window, abandoned long ago by spiders who escaped the double glazed trap.
That ground level window is smudged with toddler finger and nose prints.
Beyond that window
Freed from the ordinary
Oh, snow!

Memories Heard

I figured it out.

Why my poetry is often
short lines
with more implied
than said.

My husband likes big equipment.

When I came in from grocery shopping
with his milk
and Mom’s prescription
he was watching a YouTube video:
men working
with diggers and
earth movers.

I didn’t watch
but I heard.

Beyond the machinery noise,
rumbling and grunting
in the background,
came the voice
of the man behind the camera:

“Yeah, he said leave it.”

“I ain’t no worried ‘bout it.”

“I figgah, somethin’ go wrong, it’s on him.”

“Yeah, let’s go.”

The rhythm of my childhood.