{My Flowers}

I picked a bouquet of joy
and placed it in a vase
on my bedside table.
It never spoiled and
the smell was always sweet.


{The Dentist}

As the dentist checks my teeth, his voice loud in my ears and close to my face,
he tells me about his son taking a year off from school.

“He went traveling. Backpacking and hiking and walking and exploring.
I only heard from him when he ran out of money, or needed something.
He’d call me up from the mountains, to check in and ask for the bank password.”

As he brings a whirring machine close,
I close my eyes halfway, and the shadow of his hand turns into a mountain pass.
The ridges and crests of his hand blend into snow-capped peaks.

The son is trekking through the desolate landscape,
a map in hand as he follows a long-forgotten path.
The men of the mountains, ragged and at home,
see him from their hideouts, mistake his sounds for a wild animal
until his boots come into view.
The boy wanders still further, searching for something,
his father left behind.

{The Beach}

DeBordieu Colony, Georgetown, South Carolina
1-4 September 2017

My cousin and I walk on the beach,
water whooshing over our feet and up our ankles.
I can feel the sand rushing between my toes
and I can feel the power of the water.

We search for shells, my cousin’s eye tuned
to the big ones with no holes, shiny and whole.
When he sees a huge Florida Fighting conch nestled in the sand,
he runs to it, eager for the perfection of the hard curves.

When he picks it up, and it looks like a monster
has bitten a bite out of the side, the curling center
like a unicorn horn, he throws it aside,
knowing I will now rush to it, before the waves
once again take the treasure away.

I grasp the shell, pulling it from the prying fingers
of the rough South Carolina sand,
it’s craggy edges softened by
time and movement and water.

I will put this shell in my pocket,
along with the other pieces and parts of shells that
catch my eye as we wander the shore:
angel wing,
calico scallop,
shark’s eye,
giant atlanta cockle,
boring turret,
and the list goes on.

They jangle in my pocket,
like coins, but better.

When I come home, two airplanes and two cars later,
I pour my bag onto the table,
relishing the sight of the little ordinary treasures.

I write this poem and I long to be like my collection of shells:
broken and beautiful, collected by somebody’s careful eye
as they walk on the shores of their own broken life,
longing, as I am, for just a little bit of grace.

{18 August 2017: The Life of a Tractor Seat}

A rusted metal tractor seat is wedged between the cracks of the huge rocks.
We have built a small fire into it, roasting too-big marshmallows
Over our meager and perfect flame.

We joke about the life of a tractor seat.
I don’t know whether to laugh or cry or simply
Wallow in the mystery.

The boys’ hands maneuver wood, resting the logs in the curves and holes
Of the old piece of equipment.
Our fire flames bigger, casting its orange light on our faces,
And suddenly: new purpose: a new life.

Like the butterflies pinned to a glass frame
Hanging on the wall of the cabin,
Death of something brings purpose to another.

My fingers float in the warm air above the fire and I can
Almost see the butterflies fly away.