NO, NO: SEATTLE TO LONDON                                         (response to prompt 15)

Wherever else would we be asked

to sleep within two inches – maybe less –

of someone we’d just met? These flights aren’t


called long haul for nothing.  They try

the patience, even pre-Covid.

Trying to hide beneath a thin blanket,


praying I sleep, praying I won’t

because I don’t know you, and you’re seated

touching me, head tilted, as if you’re my partner.


Don’t make me sit in the middle.


Seattle to London, over the pole – the

shortest route possible.  Ten long hours

with your arm resting closely,


limply by mine, as if I knew you.

I brought my own blanket onto this plane,

headphones, ear plugs, even a neck pillow.


Call me cranky, call me crazy privilege girl

but we’ve never met, and I’m sure I don’t

want to sleep crushed close to you.


Don’t make me sit in the middle.


LAKES, RIVERS, SEA                                                  (rsponse to prompt 12)

“I am haunted by waters.” Olivia Laing, To The River


I have never trekked the Ouse, never

visited the riverside, Sussex home

of Virginia and Leonard, never felt

river and sea merging at Newhaven.


But I, too, have been haunted

by waters.  Six weeks old, I was

packed up and stashed in a woven

basket; carried to Burt Lake.


The lake where I learned to fish –

perch, sunfish. Where I learned

to respect the power of water

(storms, shipwrecks, lost sailors),


learned to catch, skin, and fillet

fresh catch for supper.  And to fear

the sturgeon swimming in deep waters

under our small aluminum boat


with its 5hp outboard motor.

Have spent years skating on frozen

rivers, startled by its deep cracking

like gunshot, and fish embedded


in ten-foot thick ice.  Skated for miles

and hours, whisper singing, I wish

I had a river I could skate away on,

and almost succeeded, but the sharp cold


always brought me home,

I have moved inland and thirsted –

no sea, few lakes.  But mountains

kept me company, their streams


babbling and gurgling

in tune with blood.


Book: To The River, Olivia Laing

First line: “I am haunted by waters.”

Last line:  “We crossed the river then and pulled away, and in the empty fields the lark still spilled its praise.”


YES, PLEASE (letter to Berthe Morisot)

  The Garden at Bougival (Berthe Morison, 1884)

YES, PLEASE                                    

Dear Berthe,

Many thanks for the invitation. Yes, I’d love to visit you in Bougival.  Not so much because I want to see your house, though I expect it’s splendid! I can’t imagine an artist obsessed with light and the ecstasy of color living anywhere dim and dull.  No, I confess, I want to lounge in your vast gardens –  abundant, dappled blooms – roses, hydrangeas, hollyhocks.  To devour all their tones and shades.  To see the Seine flow slowly and calmly, day by day.

Want to kick off my shoes, like your daughter Julie, and wade in the thick lawn; to spend hours in that lush enclosure.  Want to see where you thrived in the Seine’s river light.  Enough to make the heart sing!

Victorian by birth you may have been, but you weren’t invisibly demure like so many women.  For that I thank you.  Expect me shortly.




Notes:  Berthe Morisot lived and worked in Bougival, France, not far from Paris, at 4 rue de la Princesse where she rented a house and spent every summer between 1881 and 1884, making at least 40 paintings — The Fable (1883), The Quay at Bougival (1883), On the Veranda (1884), Garden at Bougival (1884), Eugène Manet and his daughter in the garden (1883),  Roses trémières (Hollyhocks) (1884),  and more.


LETHARGY                              (response to hour 9 prompt)


A strange lethargy overcomes me.

Welcome to the world of Zoom teaching.


The heat is making the treeline shimmer.

I can barely see the distant cottage on my laptop’s screen.


A blue surgical mask is in my back pocket.

I’ll put it on whenever I leave the office/house.


I can barely see the distant cottage on my laptop’s screen.

Welcome to the exhausting world of Zoom teaching.


We’re fireflies in expensive webcam bottles.

A blue surgical mask is in my back pocket.


A strange lethargy overcomes me.



THE JONESES                     (A very loose emoji translation — spin off; my apologies)


Go there, ok?  But don’t be a sheep, elevator up, after the Jones –that whole damn family.

I’m not amused but whatever. . . it’s ok; I’m just suspicious.

Don’t mean to pour water on your sheepish dull ideas.

But add dullness to dullness, and you might follow anything, even sheep.


Just saying.




The geraniums are bold.

They are going for a walk.

Where to?  Who knows –

I’ll have to follow.


Unlike Andrew Cotter’s dogs

they don’t Zoom.  At least

not with me.  Do they Zoom

with you?


If so, could you give them a

message?  The downstairs neighbors

say they are heavy-footed – too red.

Could they tone it down


the next time they go out?

Much appreciated.



And then there were giggles, and girls giggling until their faces fevered and their hearts beat shiver fast and the whole extravagant blooming world shimmered and blurred,  and they were up, up – legs pumping, heads thrown back, chins tilted skyward like some sort of cloud pointers, hands gripping the sturdy thick chains.  And they needn’t come back to earth.  At least for one long minute – the swings granting them grace.  The small city park a hot summer’s refuge.


  photo credit: jeymonde, London 2019

PHYSICS FOR CATS BOP                              A late hour 6 poem


The world is topsy-turvy, unhinged.

And what if I no longer have a furry black cat

to caress & cuddle in this groundless time

of staying at home, small social bubbles

ear-looped cloth masks, and now, perhaps

safely six-feet socializing under the trees.


The cat’s on a trolley and can’t get off.


An upheaved time of strife and inequities.

What if I live alone and my social bubble

is exactly one in three? – me, myself, and I – and

everyone I know and love on Zoom

or FaceTime.  And why would cats

need physics?  Cats can solve problems.

They’re already masters of space — leaping

from the window sill, to the floor and back.


Yes, perhaps I need to adopt a cat –

a fond-of-leaping Abyssinian; a curious

tabby; a loud-mouthed Siamese, or

a muscular Ragdoll that loves to go limp.

Maybe then I can learn physics and solve

what needs fixing – right now!


The cat’s on a trolley and can’t get off.





They didn’t say that lake was too dangerous,

the currents too strong, the winds

too unpredictable for a solo rowboat.


They didn’t see the darkened sky —

how the stars mesmerized, the milky way

a vast river where mind could disappear.


They didn’t say, Don’t go just yet.

We’re not ready.


I said I own that boat,

my oars strong and sturdy.


I said I saw that river of stars;

that feverish twinkling,


I will cross that lake,

follow that river.


I am rowing now..


Dear Berthe,

I wish you could have seen the new show. Yours!  The first of note since the 1940s.  At least four long rooms – a connected suite.  One side of a vast floor of the Musée d’Orsay. You know, the railway station turned into museum (you would appreciate that they left the station’s big old ironwork clock)..

All the galleries were crowded even though Thursday was a perfect July day. And gloriously sunny.  The trains and Metro were running again, so you could have easily ridden into town from your summer place in Bougival.  (I bet you would have applauded the striking workers last week.)  Even the signage was brilliant.  Not pretentious. Not patronizing. And translated into English for those who don’t know French.  (Though, of course, we both know something is always lost in translation.)  They even remembered how Degas called you the most experimental of your friends.

I wish you could have seen everyone craning, lingering. And not just adults, but children like yours.

I wish you could have joined me.

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