Martha Stewart and My Raw Chicken

I learned how to cut up a raw chicken 27 years ago by watching Martha Stewart on TV.

I spread waxed paper on the table and grabbed a kitchen knife,
The wrong kind, of course.
How was I to know the difference between a butcher knife, a paring knife, a steak knife, or any other kind of knife?

I watched Martha gracefully slice through the chicken,
Cutting easily through the bones
Without even getting any on her blouse.

I was a mess,
Sawing through the fowl thing like an untrained laborer cutting a log with a dull saw,
Chicken blood and muck spread all over me.

After the show was over and Martha declared her chicken a “good thing,”
My chicken didn’t look like her chicken.
My coffee table didn’t look like her kitchen counter.
And I didn’t look like Martha.

I cried.

Then I cooked the chicken and cleaned up my mess.
I put on clean clothes and makeup and did my hair.

When my husband came home I served him the chicken,
And he loved it.

I smiled.
I felt like Martha Stewart.

The Bering Sea

I don’t know much about the Bering Sea
Except that it’s cold
Everything I know is from television
Fishermen turned TV stars
Everyday men doing deadly work
Weather that drives it all

Everything I know is from television
Except that you’re there

At night I think of you and
I can feel the cold wind
See the white crests of waves
Washing over the deck
As young men struggle to hold on
And pull lines of fish aboard,
Their focus split between life and livelihood

I whisper you name
Say a prayer
Push away the fear
Send you my love

And wish I didn’t know anything about the Bering Sea


Wedding Band

It is
A promise
A reminder
A symbol

It is not
A collar
A leash
A chain

Companionship, not ownership
Freedom, not bondage
Love, not possession


You never said goodbye.

You just disappeared

Leaving me to wait

And wish

And hope


You erased yourself from my life.

There’s an emptiness in your place

I don’t wait anymore

Or wish

Or hope


I just miss you.


Alone in my heart

I feel you and know your love

I am not alone


You asked me to tell you my favorite flower.

Daisy, I said

I can’t look at a daisy without feeling happy.


Wanting to make me happy,

You picked a bunch of daisies and gave them to me.

I looked at them and then at where they once grew,

And I was sad.

To My Husband’s Girlfriends

You think you’ve stolen him from me, but you haven’t.

You’ve only borrowed him

Like someone borrows a library book to enjoy for a little while

And then you have to return it.

Think of me as the librarian.

He always comes back to me.

Our home is where he belongs.


A man can’t possibly belong to you until

You’ve laughed with him a million times

You’ve held him while he cries

You’ve been with him to watch dreams come true

You’ve stood by him as dreams were shattered

You’ve given birth to his children and seen him enveloped in awe and love

You’ve washed his dirty underwear

You’ve held his hand at weddings and funerals and birthday parties

You’ve prayed with him and for him

You’ve forgiven him a thousand times

You’ve asked for his forgiveness a thousand times

You’ve shared meals with him and then washed the dishes while he dried

You’ve waited, terrified, beside his hospital bed

You’ve cleaned up his vomit

You’ve waited up late with him, waiting for a teenager to come home

You’ve bought and wrapped Christmas presents for his side of the family

You’ve awakened after surgery to see his face, lined with worry, smiling at you

You’ve fought with him bitterly and made up with him lovingly

You’ve let him down terribly and and discovered he still loves you

You’ve shared with him all the things you’d never share with another

You’ve loved him unconditionally


That means “no matter what”

But even then he really doesn’t belong to us

He’ll always be his own man

No one can own him

We can only enjoy as much of him as he has chosen to share with us


You think you’ve owned a part of him because you gave him your body

Your body – younger, softer, thinner, tighter, prettier than mine

You think that sex gives you power

Sex is your currency and it buys you many things

Money, attention, maybe even a moment of self-esteem

But the very youth you offer is too young to know that

Sex can’t compete with what I offer

My currency is real love, family

Your currency lasts a moment

Mine lasts a lifetime.


It’s not that you mean nothing to him

You’ve given him something I can’t

A recaptured youth

The opportunity to be just a man to a woman,

And not a father, provider, plumber, handyman, and errand boy, too

The chance to look into a woman’s eyes knowing she doesn’t see the ugly sides of him

Hot, passionate sex that is only sex

Newness, novelty, discovery

A moment of freedom from all demands of life

A flicker of a sense of timelessness and, yes, even immortality.


And, in a very strange way, I love you for it

Because I want him to have everything

Everything he needs to feel whole and complete

I want the times he’s with me and our children to be because he chooses us,

Not because he’s been held hostage for sex.

I love him enough to forgive his weaknesses

And to accept his needs that I can’t fill.


You see, you haven’t stolen anything

You haven’t won anything

Because this life isn’t a battle or a competition

It’s about experiencing and sharing

And getting to know ourselves and others

And giving more than we get

And loving – It’s mostly about loving


I’m not angry at you

I’ve been you

In my younger years when I didn’t understand what I really wanted

And I didn’t know what real love was.

I know you.

And as much as I may try, at times, to forget you,

We’re connected, and we always will be

Because we both cared about the same man, the man I love over all others

The man I’ve known and loved for almost 30 years.

As a child of God, a woman, and a human being trying to find her way,

I am you.


I know what is expected of me.

The world says I should be bitter and angry

That I should hate you and him and myself

That I should let his choice to share a tiny part of his life with you

Negate the beauty and love of the decades he has shared with me.

I’m supposed to make his life miserable

And I’m supposed to rip my family apart and pull my children from their father

All because, for a little while, he needed and wanted you.


I won’t do it.

I choose love.

I choose love now and every day.

I choose love whether or not it feels good at the time.


And for you I pray that someday you’ll find a love

Like the one he and I have shared for so long.

Because I’ve been you I know that’s what you’ve been searching for and

What you desperately want.

Just understand that you can’t find it by borrowing someone else’s love.

That’s just a mirage.

An illusion.

You’ll have to find it by offering more than your body

And giving your love without expecting anything in return.

Then, one day you’ll realize that you’re worth having it all

And not just minutes of another woman’s husband.


I want you to choose that for yourself.

Choose love.






For My Mother

Roses are red

Violets are blue

Daisies are white

And birds of paradise are orange, purple, and green


I’ll always love you

Who cares if the poem doesn’t rhyme?

To My 20-Year-Old Self

Don’t worry so much.

You’re smart and you’re beautiful.

You are.


Don’t work so much.

You’ll have enough to live.

You will.


Don’t eat so much.

It won’t fill that emptiness you feel.

It won’t.


Trust your instincts.

That quiet, still voice inside you will guide you.

It will.


Listen to your elders and those who love you,

Even if it seems like they don’t understand or care.

They do.


Read and pray more.

Ideas and faith will fill your soul with everything you need.

They will.


Love with abandon.

It’s all that really matters.

It is.

Making Love on the Bank of the Eel River

Even as he entered me I thought

What a great story this will be

Naked, exposed, in love

Surrounded by the giant, ancient redwoods

The fresh smell of the forest

The intoxicating sounds of the river

The relaxing heat of the afternoon sun

The gentle bite of the cold wind rushing over us

Completely connected

To him

To nature


That’s the story I tell


At the same time I felt the

Uncomfortable penetration of nature

Trapped, prodded, I barely know this guy

Almost smothered by the weight of his body on top of me

The pungent odor of his sweat

The gritty pain of a million tiny rocks digging into my back and climbing up my ass with each thrust

The salty taste of huge drops of perspiration that fell onto my face and into my mouth

The jarring shudders of freezing wind alternating with the blistering rays of sun

Completely frustrated

With him

With nature


That’s the story I try to forget