{28 January 2018}

Before the beach, my migraine digs a hole into the folds of my brain.
It sits like a storm cloud in front of my eyes.
It twists the muscles of my back and neck into tightly bound rope.
Words fall out of my mouth like splintered wood into people’s palms.


Now, the cloud has disappeared.
The ropes have loosened.
Do these words feel like sand papered birds to you, too?


The cold sea water I walk in barely covers the veins of my feet.
I hold in my hands small tokens of the ocean’s generosity:
a rock, reddish brown with one almost perfectly formed right corner,
a shard of a blue shell with rough edges and small holes.
I clutch them in my fist;
they feel a little like the absent minded grip of a friend’s hand.


What would it be like to live in the assurance of our brokenness?
I mean:
What would it be like if we didn’t look for our missing pieces?
What if we made a home of this cracked vessel?

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{“A Terrifying Kindness”}

1
I’ve been waiting for the words all week.
Snow ― after four years!
Food!
Stars.
Such joys.

2
There’s something about family history.
Something about the feeling of the past,
resting on the shoulders of someone’s memory,
someone’s God-given ability to tell a story.
The candles start to listen, I swear.
And the laughs ― those never die.

3
My eyes start to go a little blurry and
my body shakes with coughs of too-cold air.
But my head doesn’t hurt, not now.

4
I walk in the dark after dinner.

5
There’s something about family history.
I miss my family, but God,
I am thankful.

6
“The Lord’s terrifying kindness has come to me.”

7
“Good night, Reid.”

8
The stars are many, I know you know this.
I remember on a school trip years ago,
on the backside of Mount Kenya,
my teacher told us why the stars flicker.

9
The stars.
Such joys.
Such kindness.

Things I’ve Learned in the Past Few Months

1. Wildfires are big and scary and fast moving.

2. Clean air is not something to be taken granted.

3. There is a lot of joy to be found in this world. The sun keeps shining and you’re still breathing. Keep searching, my friend.

4. Generosity is not something we take or give. We share it, between us. “Let me make you this tasty drink for free because you are fighting day and night to put out a fire. See now how we both feel better?”

5. The ocean is always moving, and it’s so beautiful, and unforgiving.

6. There is a big castle on a hill in the Central Coast of California whose joy is still emanating from the walls. You can feel the architect, a revolutionary woman, smiling through the tapestries of the old walls. You can still hear a bit of an echo of the owner, laughing.

7. Distance can make the heart grow fonder, but also, less sympathetic.

8. An iced americano with just a touch of vanilla syrup can be life changing, some mornings.

9. I’m living a blessed life. I’m trying everyday to not forget.

{Biking at Night}

Biking at night is a lonely activity.
I do not recommend it for
wary hearts or quaky fingers.

The street lights every so often
will follow your quick-moving form
down the bike path,
your shadow popping up then
receding just slow enough to see.

Cars’ red blinking tail lights
practically mock you as you
huff and puff up the hill,
sweating even in the night air.

I haven’t even mentioned the homes,
the homes!
This heart – I’m speaking of mine –
almost can’t take
the unknowing, the question of
events behind curtains.
I won’t start now.

All I’m saying is last night on my bike,
my ears cold and the streetlights sputtering,
pedaling towards babysitting,
I didn’t want to babysit
and I didn’t want to be alone in my skull.

I know there’s no solution.
People tell me this is a lifelong problem.
I wish you would come bike with me.

{9 November 2017}

This is a magic rock.
You might not believe me, but let me tell you about it.

Two little girls, one with long blonde hair and the other with dark shiny hair,
found a pack of crayons in the geocache under the tree in the foothills,
and they set to work to create magic rocks to sell to us in exchange
for weeds or my snack or a bigger rock or, really,
anything else that they determined to have value.

They gave me this rock, a pink heart painted onto it like an embodiment
of the day’s shiny joy,
and they said to me,

“You have the power of the moon, Reid.”
I said, “Why, thank you!”

In other words, a woman at church asked me if I believed in miracles,
and I said, “Yes, ma’am, I do.”

Two little girls gave me the power of the moon in a rock smaller than my palm
and, you may not believe me, but I believe in miracles,
and the moon has never shone like it did that night.

{26 October 2017}

At the beach today, we bury two animals.

One, a sea slug, we think, or a kind of sea cucumber.
We gather arounds its body resting in a wet sand grave.
We marvel at its anatomy, turning it over and prodding it
Gently with a piece of driftwood.
As we cover it with sand, seaweed, and small rocks,
We sing a song of blessing:

I behold you beautiful one,
I behold you child of the earth and sun,
Let our love wash over you,
Let our love wash over you.

Two, along the bottom of the cliffs facing the ocean, a small possum.
Nestled in the cracks of the soft sandstone,
He looks like he died in the middle of a dream,
His long, thin snout in the air, still smelling the salty air,
I imagine, — when do the cells stop processing information?
We cover him in stones, and I sing the
Song silently over his body.

I behold you beautiful one,
I behold you child of the earth and sun,
Let my love wash over you,
Let my love wash over you.

Later, we gather shells and seaweed and rocks and sea glass
And crab legs and drift wood
Along the edge of the water,
Ocean gifts running here and there in the tide.
We display them on the sand,
A ‘touch-see-and-feel’ museum.

Seaweed dries in tangled piles on the beach.
As we approach, small flies burst into the air,
Our presence disrupting their feeding attention.
They live off the dying, drying seaweed.
We carry bunches in our hands back to the driftwood fort,
Decorating the entrance.

We play with the sea like a long-lost sister.
Jumping and crashing our bodies into the waves,
The water carries us out and back in.
The gifts, shells and driftwood,
Who knows how long she has carried them.

The sun is shining today.
What more could we wish for?

{9 October 2017}

Today, two men in the coffee shop shared a poem
written in big enough font so they could both read it.

Today, a bird saw me coming on the bike lane,
hopped out of the way, and chirped at me as I passed,
a greeting, I think.

Today, a little girl smiled at me across the counter
with a smile almost as wide as her face.

Today, a piece of metal from my bike
reflected a small rainbow on the path.

Today, I ate food born of the earth’s
dark, ancient soil.

Today, I spoke to someone across the Atlantic and
their face was clear as crystal as they told me about their life far away.

Today, the blue windy sky danced on my skin,
and by ‘danced’ I mean ‘opened my eyes.’

Today, a woman in the store told me she loved
to hear us laugh.

Today, two little boys laughed loud at all my dumb jokes
and all their own silly noises.

Tell me about your day.
Was it a miracle like mine?