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Lullaby for a Grown Daughter



Sleep my girl,

place your strawberry-blonde

hair on a pillow.

Dream the sweetest

of dreams, finer

than any sweet gift,

ribboned in pink—

color of the blanket

you were once wrapped in.

I sang to you then

as I sing to you now

over the desert land.

                                                        Published: Liturature Today, Vol. 8,                                                             2018  





I was wearing an orange maternity dress

that summer morning, standing at the airport

that would take you to Vietnam.

I wasn’t yet twenty-one.

Our parents never said how foolish we’d been

to marry, having done so themselves

in a time of war. I watched you

go up the steps of the plane,

put on your sunglasses

and turn to wave.

Should I have thought

I might never see you again?

The armor of youth.

I barely remember driving home,

only the comfort of the bed,

the antique dresser with mirrors

across the room. Somewhere someone

was mowing. I knew I should get up

at some point, the baby’s foot

a knot in my stomach.

Outside were lilacs, hollyhocks,

hydrangeas. I could make a bouquet.

But I didn’t.

Night came with its cool air,

air you were flying through.

A small lamp on, a moth at the screen

in its camouflage.    


                                                     Publisheld: Haunted Waters Press, 2018




Water Lilies, 1907 (unfinished)


                                                                                after Monet


To have your subject

     to return to again and again.

Why this one




when you destroyed many.

     This was before the pond flooded,

plants ripped loose.


     Those willows draping


their reflection over water

     purple and blue—they

are not here,


     not one blossom, nothing


yet in bloom, but something

     worth saving so that we

might see stirrings of


     desire in the barest season. 


                                                            Iodine, 2011







Postcard of Provence


                                                                                after van Gogh, 1888


The farmhouse and the fields are the same shade

of wheat, yet the door and windows of the house

are blue.  Red flowers grow along a brick wall


that curves away from the stark white pathway,

and to the left a lone figure with his back to us.

My friend who’s lost her husband sent this card,


and wrote in handwriting smaller than van Gogh’s,

How sad I am.  We cannot know this man’s life,

what he’s walking toward or away from, his occupation,


only that a ghostly sky meets a field of lavender,

that one tree has bloomed purple behind haystacks. 

He could be a widower, carrying his loneliness


with every step, no one to hear I’m home, vases empty,

and work still to be done—threshing of wheat,

shaking the olive trees until they let go their bitter fruit.


                                                            Nimrod, forthcoming

                                                            (semi-finalsit for the

                                                            Pablo Neruda Prize)         

Weeping Willow


                                                                                after Monet, 1918-1919


Whatever your sorrow is

     is yours alone.

          Tall lithe figure   


swaying darkness, what

     have the years

          brought except     


silver among green leaves   

     trailing the bank.

          You can’t turn away.


You stand rooted

     in faith that rain      

          will come, wash


away debris, that the sun

      will glint through

          what wind hasn’t


severed.  Part of me

     longs to enter

          your canopy,


lie beneath your shade,

     but the ground

          is damp and grass


won’t grow there.    

     View from my window—

           my black-shuttered house.


                                                            Iodine, 2011


Still Life with Bottles

                                  for my husband


                                                                                after Monet, 1859



Come sit, share the bread with me, spread it with butter, there on the pewter dish.  Pour the wine—we won’t need the carafe of water, but maybe later the apricot brandy the sun is hitting now, spreading its shadow across the table.  Bring cheese, and there are apples in the kitchen in a basket.  Red wine is your favorite, earthy tannins that preserve.  I want to tell you of the new sadness, how the heart can fold like a flower at sunset.  You, who’ve lived with me so long, having studied my face, desired good things for me—lift the bottle and pour, then my lips will taste like yours.  Don’t worry about the white cloth if anything spills, it will wash.  This knife isn’t sharp, just tear the baguette—bread made to last only a day.  Now I can tell you, while all is quiet, the walls surrounding us, making us  close in this small space. 


                                                            Yemassee, 2011