{24 May 2018}

I’m washing the dishes with Gilmore Girls playing on my laptop
which is sitting on an overturned pan on top of the microwave.
The rain outside is the kind of rain that is constant, more than
a drizzle but less than a pour.
My hands are a little cold from the water and the suds and
I’m thinking about how lucky I am and, staring out the window
to the rain falling on the green fields,
I can see my life stretched before me like a ribbon.
I’m waving at my future self

who is also standing with her hands in a sink in front of
a window as she washes dishes.
Rain falls on her garden and she remembers
how this moment felt, when she
saw that everything was glowing,
that the shimmer of joy gleaming on the edge of the dripping dishes
was a gift she did nothing to deserve.

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{5 May 2018}

I’m thinking that today I don’t have a poem to write but the sun flashes
across the train tracks on the other side of my eyelids and
the words of a book pour into my ears and

I think about my friends and
their hearts and
they keep saying to me we are here with their smiles and
piano-playing fingers and

my face feels warm with a sunburn that will bloom tomorrow and
food offered to me in kindness is still on my tongue and
the sky is as blue as I imagine it to be and
the sun will go down late tonight after I’ve had a cup of rooibos tea with honey and
the spiders outside have begun spinning their new home and

I will climb into bed and
I will rise and
begin again and
I am still pretending that I don’t have a poem to write.

{17 April 2018}

I muck actual bull shit into a four meter deep pit
Below the stables that are home to 55 dairy cows
On a small island in a lake in the middle of Holland.

If you didn’t know the dignity of the land,
You might not even call it an island, just
A collection of fields and small canals.

I’m wearing a pink tank top my mom’s best friend and
My namesake gave my mom.
The shirt feels tight with meaning and the
Sawdust covering the front is suddenly bothersome.

Through the huge barn door, I can see various songbirds and
The eurasian magpie, which my friend says is the only
Beautiful bird in his country.

I’m thinking about the first line of my memoir.

I’m thinking:
This is merely what happened when the problem began
to look like a life-sized problem.

Later, after the cows have been fed,
Their heads draped over the edge of the stalls,
Their tongues, long like giraffes’, eating the hay urgently,
I sit outside on a concrete slab in the middle of the grass,
Writing on the back of my Wendell Berry book, and
I wonder how these words push their way out of me,
Onto a page of paper torn out of a notebook, and
Into this world.

The cows are eating as if it were
The most important thing,
Which, I guess, it is, right then.

Learning from example, urgently, I take in this moment,
This life-sized moment:
The cold concrete under me, the wet grass against my boots,
The pen in my fingers, the words in my throat,
The cows in the barn, the magpies gliding,
The blue sky slowly darkening,
The new day coming.

{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?

{“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.