Saturday, December 31, 2016


My beloved grew up on Long Island. I spent summers in Northern Minnesota. Loons are different creatures to both of us.

Every summer
We listened to loons
Eerie calls
Watched them dive,
Carry babies
On their backs
Until it was time
To return to the ocean.
They were silent there.
Their feathers changed
So my beloved
Never knew
It was the same bird
I knew
When I grew up.
No eerie calls
No black and white
But dull brown.

Friday, December 30, 2016


Winter light is dark.

It’s dark.
So dark.
Even though everyone says
Even though
Calendars say
It’s getting lighter.
I somewhat
Believe all of them.
But only

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Not a children's story

It is known that on Christmas Eve all the animals speak. This is for Richard Adams, aged 96, who died on Christmas Eve, R.I.P. Watership Down is not a children's book. There's something there for all of us, rather like The Velveteen Rabbit. Rabbits, rabbits, everywhere.

He died the night
All animals speak
The dogs
The cats
The armadillos
The rabbits
Especially the rabbits.
Perhaps they called him
To the Other Side
He is there now
Speaking in a place
Where everything
And every one
Has Voice.
Each one listens
To the other.
It is as it should be.
This is not
A children’s story.

Tick tock

With the disappearing snow, I have disappeared the braces which do not allow me to exercise my feet and ankles. I do not like the walker either, but imagine that will be with me for awhile longer.

The snow
Has disappeared.
I abandon
My braces
For the moment.
I walk around the house
With my walker
Up and down
The stairs
With the railing.
When I sit
I exercise
My feet
Tick tock
Tick tock
Tick tock.
The right ankle
Has it pretty much
The left
Needs a lot more
Tick tock
Tick tock
Tick tock.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Great grandfather Roberts

We all have relatives who leave questions behind.

He sat in bird blinds
He built
Up in trees.
My mother
Always described him
As so large
He needed a driver
Because he did not fit
Behind the wheel.
How he sat in bird blinds,
Much less built them,
I have no idea.
How he sat in trees,
Shot birds,
Prepared bird skins,
I have no idea
Perhaps he hired
A driver.
Perhaps not.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Ruth, 100

For Ruth Hammersmith, a lady of grace and gumption

She has reached
Outlived two sisters.
I remember our visits.
I loved
Our visits.
My favorite part
Of parish ministry.
Each sister belonged
To a different parish.
She holds the house
To herself.
The college has waited
For the house
For more years
Than they ever expected,
With some grace
For Ruth
Now 100.
I loved
Our visits.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Dangerous reindeer

The tweed reindeer has been found. It is difficult keeping him upright, particularly when the cats are attracted to use him for a scratching post, and he falls on them. This is an exciting season.

I arrived home
To the reindeer
It has fallen
On the cats
They are now
In another room.
The reindeer is asleep
On its side.
We still won’t decorate
Until Christmas Eve.
Everyone will then
Be upright
Even the reindeer.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Particular things

Each Christmas tree ornament has its own particular story.

Are not the same
As particular things,
One at a time.
It’s almost Christmas.
The tree goes up
On Christmas Eve
With particular decorations,
Each one
With its own story.
Are not the same
As particular things.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Tweed reindeer

Waiting to decorate on Christmas Eve.

We still haven’t found
The tweed reindeer
Though I’m sure
He will appear
By Christmas.
He stuck around
For two months
After Christmas
Last year.
The tree
Will take a new spot
In the corner
Of the family room.
Who knows how long
It will stay
Before Lent.
It often depends
Upon feline behavior
Our energy.
We may store the reindeer,
With the tree
So we can find him
Next year.

Sunday, December 18, 2016


Sometimes I order things I promptly forget about. I am proud of any person who would have thought of this. And to think it came in time for Christmas!

It arrived in the mail.
I forgot
What I had ordered.
Here it is
Just in time
For Christmas.
I can’t say
What it is
It has two wings,
Two feet.
It can live
Both inside,
And outside 
in the garden.
I remember
When I ordered it
I have absolutely no idea
How to wrap it.

Saturday, December 17, 2016


I am a three-winged creature. I never would have known if I didn't take the Enneagram.

I have managed
To avoid
The Enneagram
For the whole
Of my professional life.
Now I find
I am a five
With wings
Of four, seven, and eight;
Three wings.
No creature
Has three wings.
I do.
I just finished
My application
To the Pension Fund.
It’s a good thing to do
Before they find out
I have three wings.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016


And now here I am, writing and listening. Voice comes in many forms.

When I went to seminary
The only thing
That scared the pants
Off me
Was preaching.
My voice got stuck
Long about
Age 4 or 5
So I chose
A profession
Or a profession chose me
To unstick it.
An odd thing
This vocation.
Or maybe a blessed thing
This vocation.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Claiming an hour

There are all kinds of ways to claim an hour.

When a client
Doesn’t show,
I claim the hour
For myself,
Listen to the organist
I have no idea
What he is playing
I assume it’s good
Even though I don’t particularly
Enjoy organ music
Never have
This is an hour
In my office.
When a client doesn’t show
The hour
Is mine.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Spirit animal

Rosemary is my companion, not my spirit animal.

I often carry
My stuffed sloth
In the pocket
Of my walker.
Her name
Is Rosemary.
She keeps me company.
The last time
In the hospital
A woman asked
If she
Was my spirit animal.
I said
She is my company,
My spirit animal
Is a black panther.
The woman nodded
As if this was

Sunday, December 11, 2016


One last step
To apply
For the pension
I think
Yes Tuesday
As the crows fly
As the mallards eat the corn
The lady in red
Has thrown
On her back lawn
I watch them
Fly in
As they do
Every year
As she does
Every year.
There is comfort
In sameness
Even when so much else
Is not
The same.

Friday, December 9, 2016

The chef

I do wonder what happened to certain people and the stories they carry with them.

Years ago now
I had parishioners leave
The parish
Because the wise men
Were played
By Native American dancers.
One parishioner left
Took all his chef
Pots and pans,
His chef utensils
With him.
This meant our parish meals
Were potluck.
I do wonder what happened
To the chef.
In the pageant
I always
Wanted to play
The star
Who led the way.
Of course the chef
Would not have approved of that

Brown rag sweater

We all have our preferences.

I wear the sweater
The kitten loves
Cotton brown rag
She may
Just may
See the opportunity
To nestle
Later in the morning
But still
Only after
The right number
Of mitten games.
Only she
Can determine.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Polar bears

Always learning.

Polar bears
Do not hibernate.
I’m not sure
Why I thought
They did.
It is not a surprise
To my friends.
I figured bear
Means hibernation.
Now I wonder
What else hibernates.
Who else hibernates.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

So Late

I am still not used to the beginning winter light. I am also not used to people rolling their trash cans to the curb when it is still light out,

So late.
We woke up
So late.
Now I hear the neighbors
For Wednesday morning.
They roll their trash cans
To the street
While I drink
My morning coffee,
Think about late lunch,
And maybe even later dinner.
This is one more reason
To wonder
About my neighbors.
Really neighbors?
Do you need to consider
On Tuesday afternoon?

Monday, December 5, 2016


I'm not sure we completely get over the opinions of our childhood. Then again, there are always new neighbors.

My beloved grew up
On Long Island.
He has opinions
About New Jersey.
I grew up
In Minnesota
I still have opinions
About Wisconsin
And Iowa
Heavens yes,
North and South Dakota,
Even though I now live
In Illinois.
It’s always the neighbors.
It’s always
The neighbors.
It’s always
The neighbors.

Sunday, December 4, 2016


The Dakota Pipeline is now, finally, in question. I am glad. When I was in the hospital in the spring, there was a speech therapist who asked me where fish lived. I was "out of it" and do not remember that speech therapist. The family did, however. It is a family joke now. Where do fish live? Apparently she asked it over and over. Where do fish live? 

So many forms
Of water.
We’re in the season
Of ice
And snow.
It’s water.
It bears protection.
It asks to be available.
It flows.
It allows life.
It holds
The fish.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

What am I?

So what am I?
And who
Gets to decide?
I know a mother
A wife
A priest
A counselor
A writer
Of some sort
But a poet?
A reflectionist?
And what is that
Does it matter
As long as I keep writing?
Will it come clear
I understand people
With epilepsy
Are often more creative.
This sounds good.
Maybe I am a creative
Making up words
As I go along.

Thursday, December 1, 2016


My beloved says I keep looking for the positive in everything.  This is true. I am grateful for the positive. I also know my neuropathy remains. My brain has bright spots. I overdid it yesterday, so I am toning it down a little today.

My feet and ankles
Are numb.
My brain shows
Bright spots
Which need to be watched.
For the first time ever
Is normal
I tell you
I rejoice in normal.
One thing

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Loose clothes

Waiting for the lady in red, My beloved says he saw her last week, out back, waiting for the ducks.

The trees
Have finally loosed
Their clothes
To the ground.
Not to anthropomorphize
But still
Their naked branches
More life
To be detected
More birds identified
More squirrels
Of course
The lady in red
Out back
Waiting to feed the ducks
When the snow
Finally comes.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Travel mug

Maybe next time I'll remember

Every travel coffee mug
Has a different device
To make it
I learn
Every single one
By spilling it
Down my front.
Oh yes
I say
It’s that one.
Maybe next time
I’ll remember.
Next time.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Thanksgiving 2016

When your mom is a priest it's rather shocking when she forgets to pray at Thanksgiving.

I hate to admit it
On Thanksgiving
We forgot to pray.
The presence of our son
Seemed prayer enough.
He was the one
Who noted the absence
Of prayer.
Don’t you pray
He asked.
We do.
We do.
We do.
So we prayed
Over turkey
Over cranberry sauce
Over mashed potatoes
Over sweet potatoes
Over salad with pomegranate
And grapefruit
And two kinds
Of dessert
With two kinds
Of whipped cream.
We prayed
For our daughter
Creating Thanksgiving
In Scotland.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Turkey soup

While the ginkgoes have gotten the idea, and dropped all their leaves, so many of the other trees around here have not gotten the idea.  Maybe the turkey soup will do it.

In two days
Another year begins.
I make turkey soup
In celebration
From Thanksgiving leftovers,
Figure out
Where we stored
The Advent wreath
Last year.
The trees have yet
To figure out
A new year is coming.
They may not be on
The church calendar.
I will open the doors
So the trees smell
Turkey soup.
Turkey soup is the aroma
Of a new year.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Ginkgo central

This was the week...just in time for Thanksgiving.

The road we take to church
Is filled with gold
Every spring,
Every fall.
It’s forsythia.
It’s ginkgo.
Almost as if
Everyone on Main Street
Got together
What to plant
Years and years and years
Ginkgoes drop
All their leaves
At once.
Ginkgoes everywhere.
My beloved says
There’s a ginkgo central
In the air
It says Now
Do it now.
Gold leaves dropped
All at once.
No more gold
On Main Street
Until forsythia
In the spring.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Smart phone

More and more things are finding their voices these days

My cellphone
Spoke with no prompting
This morning.
Serves me right
For skipping church.
Voices have to come
From somewhere.
In truth
It wanted me
To speak
So it could recognize
My voice.
I’m not sure
I want to start a conversation
With a phone
No matter how smart
It is.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Some nights

Possibility of joy.

Weeping may spend the night
And some nights
Are really really long.
Dawn is mentioned
As a possibility,
A glimmer
Of joy.
We look
And look
And look
For the sun
To rise
So our vision
May return
So joy
Is once again
A possibility.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

how many times

Sitting in my blue chair reflecting on a whole series of things, in the Church, in the world, in our country. Seventy times seven, Catharine, seventy times seven. More fatted calves.

I want to understand
Any number of things
I want to understand
How many times
After someone has left
And returned
Left and returned
That the welcome home
Means killing
One more fatted calf.
How many times
Settles in
And enough
Is enough.
I know the right answer
Is seventy times seven
But still
How many fatted calves
Are too many?

Monday, November 14, 2016


This was the year we had an Ethiopian guest. We aimed to show her an American Thanksgiving. She brought a side dish made with teff. The turkey, well, the turkey, was not a hit; The teff, on the other hand, was fine.

One year
The turkey collapsed
In the oven.
I have never seen
A turkey collapse.
We picked pieces
Off of it
To tell the truth
We had started eating
Everything else
Then remembered
The turkey.
Poor thing.
Poor us.
The only recourse
Was soup.

Sunday, November 13, 2016


Wow. Tremors there, everywhere

The side effect
Of the newest medication
Helps me realize
Has a tremor
Even me.
We think
We’re immune
To such things.
Side effects.
Most times
We don’t notice.
Even the earth
Sometimes so minute
We miss them.
Still they’re
Side effects
Even the earth
Even me.