Life Cycles

We stayed in Seattle for 2 months when my husband had his stem-cell transplant. Our building was owned and operated by the cancer center for that purpose. We could walk to the clinic and to grocery stores. The building was across the street from a transitional housing building, which often had some lively goings-on at night. One afternoon, after the day’s medical appointments, a peregrine falcon landed on the roof directly across from our apartment. It had its dinner in its claws, a nice, fat pigeon. It landed on a square metal plate, a tidy place to devour its prey. It felt very companionable to be there, at the window, watching it expertly dismantle its meal.

sidewalk swales
built by the city
rainwater before
it enters the bay


Svalbard is
losing its glaciers
what about
the Global Seed Vault’s
future crops?

Little Gray House

A friend from elementary school through high school and beyond calls me.
She’s back in our home town, showing her adult children our old neighborhood. Do I remember my old house number?
A short time later I’m looking at a minutes-old digital photo of the house I grew up in. It looks very much the same.
A slightly darker shade of gray.
A low chain-link fence and a hedge next to the sidewalk. That is the only major change, and it neither improves or detracts from the way it looks in old photos.
I’ve written poems about this house.
I’ve dreamed about it. Wondered about some of my memories, with no one left to ask for corroboration.
It’s so small!
The house hasn’t been “improved,” added to, changed much at all. Yet I get a sense that it is well-cared for, and loved.
This thrills me, more than I ever would have imagined.

On the Cusp

I have always loved my birthday, June 21, the summer solstice, the longest period of daylight of the year. I have since met people who dislike it, because it marks the beginning of the waning of the light. Sheesh. It’s not as if the amount of light changes dramatically the next day. I once asked my mother how she managed to give her children such cool birthdays. My brother’s birthday is the same as our father’s. She said, “You know how I hate to wait around for things?” No, I never knew that about her. “Well, I asked to be induced.” Huh. I don’t know about her being impatient, but this does give me a quick glimpse of her as an expectant mother, doing all that she can to insure happy lives for her children.

sudden giddiness
spiralling up
with the thrush’s song


I’ve become obsessed with what went wrong
with our big brains, our pride and joy

how we lost more than we gained
when we learned how to dig up coal
and forgot all we had once revered

the plants, the bugs, the birds, the fish
the sun, the moon, the stars, the wish

everything going on its timeless course
was now just fodder for our mills

and ancient wisdom plowed under, too
I’ve become obsessed with what went wrong

the plants, the bugs, the good black earth
paved where forests had been felled
and waterways forced underground

let’s fix our eyes on our design flaws
and rediscover Mother Nature’s laws

Pandemic Rage: A Comedy

The Toyota dealer offered valet service for maintenance appointments. We took advantage of that because my husband is immunocompromised. The car was returned at the end of the day. The next day, we drove down to a nursery in the next county, where we were taking advantage of their curbside pick-up service. I wondered why my husband looked rather odd driving the car. His arms seemed more awkwardly stretched out than usual. After we got home, I was preparing to go to the library for curbside pick-up and found that my feet no longer reached the pedals. The car mechanics had done what they always did, moved the seat way back and neglected to return it to how they’d found it. This time, we couldn’t move the seat forward. I became incensed. All the frustrations of this new, restrictive way of life came to a head in that moment. Paul, who is much slower to get angry than I am, said he’d try again to move the seat. He worked on it for a while, and proclaimed it fixed. The culprit, apparently, had been a squished foil-wrapped chocolate lodged under the seat’s sliding mechanism. It had probably been under the seat for years, before moving into this mischievous position. I pictured the scene if the mechanics had been summoned to ‘fix the seat.’ Now, I was grateful, instead of furious. I laugh whenever I remember my absolute fury, whose ultimate cause was a piece of candy.

Avian Antics

magpies outsmart
the scientists —
their mates
remove those pesky
radio transmitters

electric lights
turn on and off
as Siri responds
to an African gray parrot —
what makes us human

the cockatoo
raises his sulfur crest
while harassing
an unflappable kookaburra
until he finally flies

At the Private Museum

I had begun to fade in the unseasonal heat and asked the tour guide if we could not spend too much time viewing the outdoor sculpture installation under her watchful eye. My brother erupted in anger and embarrassment, hissing “oh, jeez” at me under his breath. Somehow, my innocuous request had catapulted him into his adolescent embarrassment about our family. As for me, tears sprang to my eyes. I filed the incident away for future contemplation.

the long walk
back to the bus stop —
dry grass rustles

Restoration Blues

Maybe it wasn’t such a hot idea to bury free-flowing streams in culverts. Let’s restore them, one by one, above ground. We’ll plant their banks with certified riparian plant material. Low growers to line and stabilize their banks. Shrubbery behind the sedges and reeds, and trees behind them. Fast-growing trees will provide cooling shade for the salmon who will be sure to return, natal waters still flowing through their stream-lined bodies. Another glitch: there’s a mass die-off of cedars in our area. Probably due to long-term drought. Better consider species inexorably moving north to take their place. Lodgepole pines? Whatever. We changed the face of the earth because we could, and understood too little. We still do. Change too much and understand too little.

climbing the steep
learning curve
time immemorial

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