Friday, May 25, 2012

Dear Vermont

A few months ago I was invited to contribute to NPR's State of The Re:Union episode about my home state. I'm now pleased to announce the show (and my contribution) will be premiered on Vermont Public Radio on Memorial Day (May 28th), at 7 PM.

For those of you beyond these green mountains, it will be aired nationwide and streamable on State of The Re:Union's website on June 2nd. Oh, and it also features music by Red Heart the Ticker and the ever-talented Tyler Gibbons. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Margaret Jean

Six years ago today my grandmother died in the northeast corner of her farmhouse up the road from where I live. I was in the room with her, as were many of her beloveds. We sang her songs, opened the windows to let in the lilac-scented air and watched as she taught us all how to let go with irreproachable grace and ease. This morning Avah and I picked some of Margaret's favorite flowers and walked a few hundred feet through the woods to the oak grove where her ashes are buried. Bleeding hearts, Johnny jump ups, anemones, ferns. As Avah said, “Now if she gets tired of being down there, she can just pop up and see her favorite flowers and feel our love, too!” Yes, my Avahbelle. Exactly. Exactly and so true.

Monday, May 21, 2012


Rise at 4:30 this morning, unable (again) to sleep: racket of peepers, robins, thrushes through the trees. Slip downstairs (quietly, past sleeping girl’s open door), thinking of last night’s solar eclipse, visible over the Pacific Ocean, of barefoot women in such places, of bonfires and jars of wine and the view from behind parted leaves.
Make oatmeal and tea. Dip the honey with the silver baby spoon found in a box in the far corner of the barn. Pour milk from the half-gallon Mason jar leaving moon-shaped drips across the floor. Think about sleep, and what you wouldn’t give for a full night of it. Think about the lilacs and their heady splendor.  Listen for footsteps upstairs. Sip that tea: leaves grown by women on shambas halfway across the world. Think of a girl you once knew on a shamba halfway across the world—Grace—and how much she reminds you of your own. Want your baby to come. Want this present, quiet, time of waiting to never end. Think of your husband, upstairs sleeping, half-covered by the white sheet. Smell the lilacs’ heady splendor. Smell the grass—fresh mown. Smell the tea—leaves grown by women on shambas halfway across the world. Remember those melodious, bird-filled Kenyan mornings. Pour more tea. Dip more honey. Drip more milk across the floor. Feel your breasts leak in harmony: yolk-yellow colostrum. Hear a body turning, a body waking, the wood thrush through the pines. And then your favorite birdsong: Mama, is it morning? 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

by Alicia Suskin Ostriker all day.

Saturday, May 19, 2012


I grew up along the Whetstone Brook, named for the flat stones traditionally used to sharpen knives and blades that line its banks. Today I walked down through the woods below our house to the section of mossy, dappled, verdant, and stone-flecked bank where I spent many hours of my childhood and later, adolescence. I poked and prodded, sat and listened, and felt the intoxication of my adolescent hormonal cocktail return; all the vividness, tenderness, presence, sensitivity, and flair for drama that those years contain has come back to me in this liminal, pre-birth state of being. Here's to savoring every minute of it.


1 of or relating to a transitional or initial stage of a process.
2 occupying a position at, or on both sides of, a boundary or threshold.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

francesca woodman

If I were in New York City I would go see the photos of Francesca Woodman at the Guggenheim...


My friend Liane Tyrrel of enhabiten posted some shots of our house and an interview with yours truly at her blog. While there, make sure you check out her beautiful hand-dyed textiles, like this one:

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

When? A hymnal I sing. A poem I walk. Today? and Today? and Or will it be tomorrow? Meanwhile the lilacs have opened. Barefoot, I stick my nose into their heady splendor. Wet nose. Wet feet. Mama, from the screen door. What are you doing?  And, Mama, wait, I want to come with you.  
Of course! Of course you can come with me, daughter of mine! Everywhere. Everything. Except tomorrow, or will it be today? When that burrowing happens, that twice-in-a-lifetime journey into some dark, wildflower ether, the only route through which new life can come. That solo-journ, which takes no partners. Not even you, splendor-child. Not even you, melon-faced heart of mine. But I’ll be singing you songs. The whole way. I’ll be the harp-zither and the flute and the drum. The fife and the bird and the crimson horn. And I’ll be making my way back up that river to you. Because of you. Towards you. And when I return? I’ll have broken, split, fledged, and be carrying a radical, soft-beating gift in arms.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Things to do while waiting for child: Read poetry. Do laundry. Cut toenails. Drink tea. Go for walk. Pluck wildflowers. Stare at said wildflowers. Look up said wildflowers in wildflower book and wonder, will you remember the names of those very wildflowers tomorrow? Scrub counters. Pick up books and set them down. Make tea. Sit on stone step in sunshine and try to identify birdsongs. Identify very few. Wonder when you will ever learn birdsongs, and how. Think about your downy limbed daughter and smile with wonder. Pick at dry skin on ankles and toes. Wonder if you will ever, in your life, get a pedicure. Walk to your mother’s fields to pull witch grass and weeds. Feel your fingernails pulse with dirt. Grow tired and pitch yourself back in the sun. Remember you need water. Walk home for water. Feast on cheese and condiments. Think about cleaning the refrigerator. If the baby comes today, will someone else clean it for you? Pick up that book again. Fall asleep on the couch. Wake to the ring of the telephone in confluence with the buzz of the refrigerator. Don’t pick up the phone. Listen to your daughter’s robust voice singing the message. Smile with wonder. Wonder who’s inside you. Go back outside to the stone step. Watch a jay chase a crow through the hemlocks downhill. Stare at the near-budding lilacs, the ripe tip of the not-yet-opened tulip. Smell your husband on you. Talk to yourself. Or is it to your baby? Think about that pint of ice cream in the freezer.  Pine for weeds to pull closer to home. Wish you had a farm so you could be distracted: you’d like to be on hands and knees in the garden when your water breaks, like farmwomen of the forties. Remember the laundry. Hang it on the line. Sit in a chair in the sunshine and watch it blow. Wonder: today, or two weeks from now? Put your hand where your child is kicking. Say, hi there. And, who are you? Look at the clock. Be grateful it’s almost time to pick your daughter up from school. Think how much you miss her. Take last sip of cold tea. Put unread book inside. Wonder what you’ll cook for dinner. Stare at your feet. Stare for a good while at the slow-billowing clouds before you climb into the car and get on with your day.

    4 am. open windows. rain. veery. and through the mist: mama, is it morning?

Saturday, May 12, 2012

today's menu


When Women Were Birds, by Terry Tempest Williams

I devoured this lyrical and unabashedly personal meditation on, amongst many other things, the loss of a loved one and finding one's voice.

 Ecology of a Cracker Childhood, by Janisse Ray

Having grown up in a junkyard along U.S. Highway 1, Ray tells how a childhood spent in rural isolation and steeped in religious fundamentalism grew into a passion to save the almost-vanished longleaf pine ecosystem that once covered the South.

 Selected Poems, by Mary Ruefle

One of the most intriguing and original and strangely wonderful minds out there.

 Rough Likeness: Essays, by Lia Purpura

I haven't yet begun this collection of essays by the poet with lovely name, but can't wait to.

Drinking: tea, water, water, tea

Thinking: what's piled up on your bedside table?

today's menu

star flower

wild oats

wood anemone

foam flower (false miterwort)

musings of a creekdipper