sugar mill

we went to the sugar mill
with cameras instead of raincoats
to take pictures of the evening storm
a rare occurrence in Colorado harvest season;
trusting that the tomato and tomatillo plants she had untangled earlier in the day
could fend for themselves
while we played like frogs in the rain
and took pictures of our favorite landmark,
a mystery we’d only ever seen from the outside,
a three dimensional experience
that neither camera nor poem can every capture

slow down, mother earth, slow down

once upon a time
in the land that we know
the world slowed down its spinning

instead of a day
to completely revolve
a month was needed to rotate from end to beginning

the dark of the night
now lasted two weeks
without a new sunrise or sunset

but stargazing time
was most popular now
with constellations you couldn’t forget

new quick growing seeds
somehow developed
that could grow with just two weeks of light

bedtimes for the children
just got too confusing
but we had just one time zone and that sounds just right

two gardens

the cucumbers in the garden have a lot of room
to roam, to run
but instead they try to climb the tomatillo plant
or the sunflowers
no matter how many times we tell them, “no”

the teenagers in the house have a lot of time
to roam, to run
but instead they try to stretch the boundaries of curfews
or chores
no matter how many times we tell them, “no”

we pick the cucumbers and bring them in the house
to pickle
or eat in sandwiches

we watch the teenagers grow up and leave
to blossom
and eventually bloom

swallow-tailed jig

the midwife’s brow frowned,
the labor was not going well
the first time mother
was holding back instead of pushing through

the midwife called for the father in the next room
beckoning his violin too
wooing him to play his cherished jig;
like the swallow-tailed birds must sing each day into being
so too this father would sing his daughter into this world

the man with cooing melody and adept fingers
looked into the eyes of his beloved
beginning with a calming cadence of string
that lulled her back into the rhythm of her body
rolling waves not of pain but of covenant

a quicker step, a crescendo
husband and wife in unison now
a dance similar to the night this child was begotten
and mother and father were first revealed

the midwife hummed,
background music in a scene already filled with song
tapping toes
to the echos of a hollow violin body
until the echos of a hollow room
are filled with the newest song
of a girl child
who sings a jig and taps a lyric never known before
with barely a wingbeat;
this day is beginning

blue

I was born before the color blue,
she hadn’t been missed yet,
have you?

I grew up
under a sky
that held light and dark
like others hold or release their breath

I swam in an ocean
and fished in its depths
and stood on its beaches
as it kissed my toes

I grew up to become a poet
shaping what I saw with words
spoken into the moon
and that’s when I noticed
blue
shared her with you
a sapphire gem of cerulean proportions
who wouldn’t be contained in just one poem
or just one sky
or just one ocean
or just one word,
would you?

spider

I first noticed her web
in the apple tree
after the rain,
holding droplets
and waving like a flag in the breeze after the storm,
a misleading wave
like surrender
when it is all really a trap
and it isn’t sunlight captured in those droplets
but death and darkness
in a flirtatious curl
tempting others
unsuspecting
or poorly educated
to venture across these webby strands
a shortcut,
oh yes, a short cut,
a life to be cut
short,
a baffled cootie now destined to be
the next meal

how more civilized as I
walk across the yard
and pluck
an apple from the tree
take a bite
after the spider and I pray together,
“bless us, oh Lord, and these thy gifts”

Psalm 23

my kid’s kid is a goat, the
yogurt eating, head butting, Lord
of the pasture; is
gently teaching my
child to be a shepherd;
I
observe my child shall
put another’s needs before her own generously, and not
leave the other to desire or want

inside out

the labyrinth had been painted on the concrete
in the park,
wide enough for a wheelchair

a crack emerged in the concrete
in the very center of the labyrinth
and a dandelion emerged in the crack
whispering
life and yellow belong here

the boy child found the dandelion there
past yellow, now puffed up with wishes;
he picked the dandelion in the center of the labyrinth
blowing the wispy seeds into flight
beyond this place
passing over labyrinth boundaries
soaring away to find new cracks in the earth
as the boy child wished
his wispy wishes
that this wheelchair could somehow have wings

one dandelion seed landed
on the boy child’s shirt
and together they wandered the labyrinth path
emerging from the inside out
to a world full of cracks
and yellow

Madre

my son calls me Madre
not because I speak Spanish
or he speaks Spanish
but to distinguish himself from his sisters
and make our relationship unique
with a word
a name:
Madre

to name is sacred
holy
gives substance and connection
to the one who names
the one who first breathes life
into another, through naming
creating a tether, a ground tie
longer than an umbilical cord
with roots and wings

I never named another
who did not first find my body to be home
but I named a son
who is bold enough
to name me
to name us
not because he’s a Momma’s boy
but because
he knows Madre when he sees her
a forever home
with roots and wings

bounty

on the 4th of July
after the parade
all of the children
gathered in the field on the north side of the fairgrounds
together

this ground was safe,
for children to run and reach and scramble
chosen for its safety
surrounded by a fence
keeping all the children inside
together

a bulls eye for one
this field of children
looking up
anticipating
together

a perimeter of parents
cameras
beer in plastic cups
waiting and watching
these children
together

the distant hum
of a small plane
a crop duster
swinging low
with a cargo of 1000 ping pong balls
dropped over the field
together

falling like feathers
that bounce
or are caught in small hands
children like mother hens sheltering eggs
fill their make shift t-shirt basket nests
together

treasures,
not only ping pong balls
but ping pong balls stamped with fair prizes
a hot dog
a slushy
or perhaps a five-dollar bill
and all the children leave the field with bounty
on cloud nine
together