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.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Bird family

When we're out watching the cranes fly south, the woman across the street comes out and asks us What are those? We tell her, excitedly, those are sand hill cranes!, Oh, she says, and then goes inside. Hers is not a bird family.

Our house is filled
With birds.
We are
A bird family.
We watch the starlings
Lined up
On the telephone wire.
We listen to the sand hills
South to New Mexico.
We are a bird family
Birds inside
And out.
We even have birds
In the bathroom
So we don’t forget
We are
A bird family.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Safety pins

I aim to be part of the "Safety Pin Movement" to show I aim to be a safe person to sit and talk with for those feeling fearful in these times. I realize I talked in my own therapy about just this subject. I am working to figure out what's next for me. I think it involves safety pins.

Sitting here
With my walker
And ankle braces
Cogitating whether Walgreens
Carries safety pins,
Maybe the hardware store
Which is a few steps
I measure things
By steps
These days.
One pack
Of one hundred
Safety pins.
Maybe they deliver.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Comfort food

What's your version of comfort food?

Every family
Has its own version
Of comfort food.
Ours is macaroni and cheese
Passed down at least
From my mother,
Now to my children.
It is time now
For macaroni and cheese,
Made just right
With a smidge
Of Worcestershire sauce.
Comfort food
In Chicago
In St. Paul
In Santa Fe
In Scotland.
Comfort food
Travels the world
With each one
Of us.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016


Ah, dreams.

I dreamed
I moved to Thailand.
Not that I know much
About Thailand
Except a friend,
His wife and twins.
They live there now.
They counsel missionaries
From all over Asia.
I dreamed
I moved to Thailand.
Everyone played
With paper balloons,
Red and orange and yellow.
Are interesting things.
They change reality
To make it

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Nasty woman


In honor of Election Day
I name myself
A nasty woman
A girl from the streets
South Minneapolis
Still trying to figure out
Who I will be
When I grow up
In honor
Of Election Day
I claim Nasty Woman
In the best possible sense
Of the term.

Monday, November 7, 2016


I will not stand on my head or skip.

I figure out new things,
New ways to do
New things.
When I had
Seizure number one
I stood on my head
To see if it was possible
To bring on
Seizure number two.
It wasn’t.
Now I have braces
And a walker.
I wonder if it is possible
To skip
With a walker.
This time
I will not try.
They’re not called walkers
For nothing.
I will also not try
To stand
On my head.

Saturday, November 5, 2016


Waiting long enough to hear.

Every day
We decide
Who and what
We will welcome
Into our hearts,
What and who we will allow
Sometimes it takes
Longer than a day.
It takes one particular word
We could never
Have predicted,
A word we won’t know
Until it is said
Out loud,
And we stay in one place
Long enough
To hear it.
Every day we decide
And then
We decide again.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Lavender mist

I understand smell is the only unmediated sense we have. It goes directly to the brain. This morning I woke up with lavender and thoughts of my daughter in Scotland. Maybe I should be smelling heather, but I do not know if heather has a smell. Instead I smell lavender and go to find the lavender spray.

I lie in bed,
My eyes shut,
The covers pulled tight.
I smell lavender
Even though
There is no logical place
The smell comes from.
I remember my daughter
Now in Scotland.
She sprays lavender mist
When she is here.
I smell lavender.
I go in search
Of the bottle of lavender spray
So I can continue

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Video EEG

Nothing like being videotaped for one week straight. Oh yes, I did get a couple showers, but then the wires were reattached. I am glad to be home.

I spent a week
On camera.
I imagine
They have taped over it
By now
With pictures
Of the next patient.
This Minnesota girl
Wondered what exactly
They saw
At the nurses' station,
What squiggly lines
Matched which pictures
Of me in the bed,
And asleep.
I am glad
The video has moved on
To the next patient
And I am home.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

First mouse

Accomplishments must be named where we find them.

First mouse.
We celebrate
With her.
The grandfather cat
Left his first mouse
On top of the dryer
She wanted us to see it
Alive and moving.
The mouse
Scooted out the door.
Oh she was disappointed,
Has been looking for it
Ever since.
We think a second mouse
May be
In the offing.