2021: Hour Twenty-Four – Three Spaces

Three spaces where I have carved out little altars to me
dedicated to taking care of myself, nurturing my creativity
and making space for my writing
small touches that invoke meaning
a plant, gifted from a friend I admire
tools and materials at the ready
allowing me to jump into next creative flurry without hesitation
stones and symbols of things I love
a bicycle shaped key chain, image of an owl etched in a clay piece
beautiful things touched by the hands of creatives I admire
With each moment spent in these spaces
to honor myself, my creativity and my writing
I have made a place where I feel at home

At my desk, In my garden, In my yoga nook

2021: Hour Twenty-Three – VOILA FROMAGE

Making cheese sounds more like a science experiment
that might end in a medicine or a vaccine.

The steps sound like things you do to milk
to keep anyone from drinking it.

Acidify or sour it
curdle it,
cut the curd,
drain the whey,
age it,
none sound appetizing.

Basically these steps amount to introducing some milk
to specific bacteria,
manipulating the amount of solid and liquid and then, depending on the type of cheese,
letting it sit around for an amount of time I find disconcerting.

This all sounds like a path to illness or a method to poison your enemies
not a way to make a delicious, addictive food.
One that is widely beloved for slicing, shredding or melting onto or into almost anything.

In summary,
5000 years ago,
someone let milk go bad, took a chance on tasting it,
didn’t die or get terribly sick
and liked it enough to want to do it again.

Voila, a culinary favorite was born.

2021: Hour Twenty-Two – Rise & Shine

A brisk walk through the park
as the day starts for the animals

crows squawking
mocking birds scolding
smaller birds flitting about
squirrels pouncing on fence posts & tree trunks

Trash cans over flowing from Saturday’s picnics and barbecues
Bare minimum of effort to dispose of trash & recycling
grocery bags, paper plates, 
ziplock bags litter the trail

Could it have been neatly inside each container, and it was the animals
who plucked out the bits of food and food stained wrappers, in the low light of pre-dawn?
Or were people so careless?

The squirrels and crows fight over the bounty of wasted food
Can’t fault the animals, their instincts are strong, they need their calories

Perhaps another system of disposal would keep this clean up crew
from learning to survive off take out and packaged foods

Whether or not the picnickers know it, they’ve left a feast for the fancy-tailed rodents and corvids

loud and active, they’ll finish this round before the new day’s visitors leaves their deposit

the light gains traction, no longer under cover of darkness
the day begins with a cacophony of bird song

2021: Hour Twenty-One -Ode to the South River

Wrapped in colors of sunrise, cloaked in morning mist, elegant mistress with your siren call — irresistible, and engaged without regrets.
Never do I wish I hadn’t stepped on your shores. Slipped in to your embrace.

Whether cold, dark, warm, or bright — no matter. Sure, I lingered at water’s edge a little longer at daybreak in October. When I finally put my face in the water, my breath whisked away,
forehead wrinkled with the pain of sinus and brain frozen, temporarily.

This is only testimony to my adoration.
There are plenty of days without frigid temperatures to be had.
It’s just that if entry is possible, I will not resist.

Every visit brings revelations and glorious experiences with nature, with friends, with self. I glide through the surface waters — some days are still glass and some bring the motion of hills crossing over you. The salt waxes and wanes.

The group close enough to be together but with space to thrive.The bright colored buoys bob across the water and mark each friend, each one dedicated
to sport or love of water.

Conditions ever-changing. Life greets us with osprey diving for meals, gulls circling and gliding nearby, and the one touchy, feely type that connects with burning irritation.
Not welcome, but tolerated, as the cost we pay to be in her presence.

Even with the jellies’ sting, I always am glad to swim in the South River.
The container, the medium, the place
for my communion with the water and the swimmers.

2021: Hour Twenty – Research at Night

enthusiasm does not extinguish fear
deep in the cloud forest of costa rica
i once was a young scientific researcher
studying an insect that exhibited maternal instincts
unusual for insect behavior
days spent searching the forests
to find a few populations of treehoppers to study

I found a great site not too far from our home base
curiosity got my mind going
wondering what behaviors I would see at night
not one other student wanted to see the brood
of bugs I was studying in the dark of night
with my headlamp and bright blue rubber boots
I was ready to explore

the first section was through open field
the lights of the property kept visibility up
but then I had to turn down the dirt road
thick with forest on either side

all was going smoothly
feeling pretty good about myself
confidence colored my stride
and then something bright and huge and moving
with eyes

I swiveled 180 degrees and started to run back the way I’d came
a voice in my head said, “wait:

is that something cool?

It was – a tall, white owl perched on a branch over the trail
it’s eyes fixed on me
a few breaths and I was in appreciation mode

once out of it’s sight, without it’s bright appearance
the darkness wrapped around me again
only the small beam of my headlamp lighting the way

I made it to the plant where the brood of treehoppers lived
Quickest notes I had ever taken
I rushed back, slowing to a speed walking pace not running
so I didn’t miss anything cool

2021: Hour Nineteen-Evidence-based characteristics of this poet

1- Collector of notebooks and writing implements
Exhibit A: There is a photograph of me on top of a mountain and gripped in my squishy 3-year old hands a pencil & a notepad.

Exhibit B: There are at least 82 writing implements within easy reach of me at this moment & at least 14 notebooks – some filled, some fresh, some partially filled

2- Rodent enthusiast
Exhibit A: I am looking at a hamster in a cage who I have interacted with at least 3 times in the last hour.

Exhibit B: I once made elaborate travel arrangements for a hamster ( life expectancy = 2 years) to move from Denmark to the US with me. No regrets — It was worth the expense and effort.

3- Introvert who needs personal space and long one-on-one conversations
Exhibit A: When many social distancing recommendations were put forth, my response, Finally!

Exhibit B: My long distance phone bills were atrocious when that was a thing. 

Special Notes:
Topics to avoid, if you don’t want to have a long conversation

  • anything about bicycles or transportation systems
  • anything about the environment or nature
  • anything related to self reflection or human nature

If you want to shorten our conversation, just ask me how my novel is coming along.

2021: Hour Eighteen – Message

Just be still, and listen
the message is there for you

from the inside
from the outside
all around you

be quiet
pay attention

lose your self awareness
let go of the incessant critical voice
let it rest

let it relax and take a bath
soak into the moment with you

nothing to judge
nothing to protect you from

just breathe and allow
the message to flow
it’s for you

anytime you are ready
just be still, and listen

2021: Hour Seventeen – Invisibility Cloak

I wanted to be left alone
The pressing and invasive attention was ever-present
As a teenage girl, my form was constantly
and loudly sexualized

I wasn’t doing anything to get their attention
something they were taught
said I was asking for it
that I wanted  his attention

I did not

And to make it worse, the world told me
nice girls are polite, smile and make others feel comfortable
even when they are doing something they shouldn’t

I just wanted to be invisible
that is the super power I would have chosen

I got my wish
Invisibility is now my superpower

it just took growing into an actual woman’s body
showing some wear and tear around the edges of my skin suit
and letting my grey hair show

I am not lonely without the attention
I am content

my wish is that my daughter doesn’t
have to wait decades to enjoy the peace
of walking down a lonely street
without a grown man testing her boundaries


“I am begging: Let me be lonely but not invisible.” – Natalie Diaz

2021: Hour Sixteen – It goes bump in the night

Darkness envelops me
No moon to light the way
I can’t see anything except darkness
I close my eyes and put my hands across my lids
to confirm that I know when they are closed and when they are open

It makes no difference, the view is the same

most of the world is asleep
no sounds of cars on the nearest roads, even the distant hum of the highway has quieted
now the sound is intermittent as a lone car passes by
new sounds reveal themselves

The creak of that floor board beneath your feet
Such a heavy walker
The sound of voices
the frustration of a sound
loud enough to keep me awake
too quiet to understand the meaning

The breath of the house as the air conditioner turns off and on
The refrigerator chugs on
occasionally spitting out new ice cubes with a ruckus that reminds me

I should turn off the ice maker at night

The sounds of the outside world slip in
the indescribable yip and howl of the foxes in the park
is someone setting off fire crackers

was that a distant siren?

I thought you went to sleep – the loud awake on purpose without curbing sounds
have diminished to a low rumble of voice
you are getting sleepy or you’re trying to be quiet

Is that a leaking faucet?
Is someone walking down the street? At this hour?

The creak of the door brings my heartbeat into my throat
It’s just you going to the bathroom again.

2021: Hour Fifteen – Missed chances in Denmark

I lived in Denmark for two years

One thing I learned and loved about the Danes is that many have a few life long friend
tight knit bonds forged from being together since kindergarten. 

They are efficient and practical and don’t bother to make new friends unnecessarily

I respect this. I like this.

I feel like I really fit in there despite the obvious paradox of being a newcomer.

There are of course Danes who like to travel and are more open to new friendships with a foreigner like me.

I found a yoga class to take with a Dane who studied in the US and Central America who advertised that his classes were taught in English.

Turned out, eventually, I was outnumbered and he switched to teaching in Danish. I had been learning Danish and enjoyed the challenge.

I learned some very yoga specific vocabulary – like blanket = tæppe, which sounds a lot like the word for loser = taber ( to my American ears anyway) 

I wondered who the loser was we were supposed to sit on.

One day after class, I was walking to the train station with the teacher and a group his friends, chatting in Danish, very proud of myself.

And nearly fitting in…

They invited me to have a drink with them.
I wanted to go. I knew the significance but I hesitated and declined.

It was my chance to break in to the group
It was my one chance, they only offered once…

Like the clerk in a Danish shop who asks you if you need help. They won’t stalk you or fall all over themselves to offer their services.

If you want it, you have to say yes right then.

I was offered a rare chance to be folded into the group…missed it.

The teacher waved and said, maybe next time…

He was just being nice. The offer was finished. I felt it. I knew it.

I walked alone to the train station. The doors of the train slid shut.

The train pushed out of the station and the chance of another offer whooshed past with the trash swirling in the wake of the train.

I wish I had said “yes”.

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