Tag Archives: weekend-wordsmith



Mt. Longonot, 1987

Pebbles, clattering
into the crater.
We, laughing, sliding,
generating avalanches
beyond our ken,
beyond our influence.

We had climbed all morning,
now were running ahead,
our friends taking the more leisurely
way around
watching the clouds from above.

Not for us, this introspection.
We dashed on
leaving the rockslides
to do what they would.

(For the weekend wordsmith.)


Very belated, for the Weekend Wordsmith

April 8, 2010

I imagined that one day,
when I was one of the big kids,
I would get to sing the descant
in the Christmas service.

The titchies would sing the easy bits,
then the elevated Older Children
would burst out with the canticle of the angels,
towering above our mortal efforts.

And then, we were far away from home,
where nobody sang descants,
there weren’t any student Christmas services,
and Africa was an epithet
used to deride our lack of culture,
our ignorance of the things that
really mattered.

And all these years later,
at the last lingering notes
of every Christmas melody or Easter hymn,
my heart lifts on the wings of an ibis,
cries out the eucalyptus-scented descant
and longs to return home.



February 12, 2010

I would never choose
a pastime that involves ice.
Hard, unforgiving stuff,
and, what’s more, cold.

She dances out there,
a swan among ravens,
flowing gracefully over ice
not quite as smooth as the glass
she imagines.

She imagines being Sasha Cohen,
even as girls in my generation
imagined being Michelle Kwan
beaming from the Kiss-and-Cry
as the judges unveil
their perfect sixes.

For the Weekend Wordsmith – Skates



February 12, 2010

Did you know
that a whale’s aorta is so big that a baby
can crawl through it?
And did you know that a diplodocus
weighed 17 tons, but had a brain
the size of a small lemon?
And did you know that Star Wars
was filmed in Tunisia,
and the Jawas spoke Swahili and Zulu?
And did you know, Daddy, Daddy,
did you know? Did you know
that I love you, and that the tallest building
in the whole world is in Dubai?
Did you know?

For the Weekend Wordsmith – Whale.


This week, I had to give my kids hard news. And then, just as they were reeling from that blow, I had to give my daughter more hard news.

Kids are inscrutable to me. I can’t tell what’s going on in behind their stoic expressions, or even behind their tears. When they say that everything’s fine, does it mean that everything’s fine, or that they don’t have words for their feelings – feelings that, even at 37, I don’t have words for. What can I offer but a safe place for them to feel what they feel? I have no answers to the hard questions they ask, and what few answers I might have, I can’t always give.

We have handed our kids a hard life, and so every new thing that they encounter that hurts them makes us all the more aware of what a hard life we’ve handed them.

A few weeks ago, I took a photo of my son’s torn pants, and it was the prompt on Weekend Wordsmith last week. It came together in the rambling words below. It’s not great poetry. It’s barely poetry at all – just prose with line breaks. But it’s how I process thought and emotion.

March 3, 3009

I wish, like a million before me,
that I could mend for you
what I have ripped, stitch up
the frayed edges, put back together
the loose ends I have untied,
and those around me
that I had no part in tearing.

My needle is dulled,
my thread snapped,
my hands occupied in mending
my own tattered rags.

If I could put them aside
and repair this one rent
you know I would.

I see in your eyes that you know
I would.

Maybe that’s enough.

It has to be.

Still, I look for that skein
with which we might patch
this wound.