A Singular Tone

We are one note, he says.

It began in the Alaskan tundra,

strolling together under the midnight sun.


For our anniversaries, vacations, and weekends,

we’ve hiked up to spectacular views,

followed trails in the rain forest,

backpacked in western mountain ranges,

and explored Utah’s canyons.


Every evening in the spring and summer

we circle around the mile block,

up the hill to see the Canadian mountains,

and back home together.


The singular tone reverberates,

the simple movement ties us together,

beyond any ring,

more than any vow.

Buried Letters

Hidden in my uncle’s house

A time capsule of a hundred letters, cards, postcards.

I wrote them all to Grandma.


Each one began with an apology:

I’m sorry I haven’t written.

Walking, Baking, Talking: A Prose Poem

I spend much of my time walking in large circles, lollipop shapes, back and forth—on streets, on trails, on old logging roads, through the woods, past gardens, up to views, and back again. Though I move, I accomplish nothing.

At home I bake—bread, muffins, cakes, apple crisps, cinnamon rolls. My projects come daily or weekly. I love the moment my creation comes out of the oven, the aroma, the joy and gratitude from my beloved. But everything soon disappears.

And then I talk, often hours a day, on the phone, in person, or on a walk. Sometimes the others need a listening ear more than anything. Others we joke, discuss ideas, commiserate about fears, check in about health and happiness.

In these two years since retirement, it seems I’ve done little, created no legacy, moved to no second or third act. I have only miles walked and forgotten, bread crumbs dusting the counters, and thousands of words vanishing into the past.

I am not alone.

As Zadie Smith says, “Watching this manic desire to make or grow or do ‘something,’ that now seems to be consuming everybody, I do feel comforted to discover I’m not the only person on this earth who has no idea what life is for, nor what is to be done with all this time aside from filling it.”*


*From “Something to Do”  in Intimations by Zadie Smith. Penguin Books. 2020.


Neither Here Nor There

Neither Here Nor There

If it’s neither here nor there,

then where?


Can it exist,

when it’s neither here,

nor there?


If it doesn’t belong here,

and it can’t find a place there,

is it everywhere, anywhere, nowhere?

A Walk Past Dawn

At 7:00, it’s already hot, two hours past solstice dawn.

The paths are full, as if it’s noon.

Dog walkers, mountain bikers, runners all seek to avoid the dire prediction.

Heat Apocalypse.

Record-breaking 100 degree temperatures expected for days.


Few air conditioners in the Pacific Northwest,

Where we used to call June “Junuary” and complain about the summer rain.

Ah, for those days.


And yet, the birds sing, accompanying me as I walk.

Do they know?

Rebecca: To Tie Firmly, To Bind

She wanted me to call her Rebecca.

I complied.

But not at the end.


Twenty-three years ago today,

My brother called.

She’d died of a stroke in the night.


“Mom’s dead?” “Mom’s dead?”

My then six-year-old son reported my reaction.

I have no memory of my words.


Only incredulity

Only dismay

Only shattering


How I remember her final words:

“You, your brother, and your sister are my

Greatest gift to the world.”


Mom’s final gift to me

A blessing without end

Rebecca’s memory a blessing.