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Category Archives: Poetry

For Unto Us A Child Is Born


But there are carols
That carry phrases
Of the haunting music
Of the other world
A music wild and dangerous
As a prophet’s message

Or the fresh truth of children
Who though they come to us
From our own bodies
Are altogether new
With their small limbs
And birdlike voices

They look at us
With their clear eyes
And ask the piercing questions
God alone can answer.

–from Noel by Anne Porter

End of September Joys

As I try to give myself more margin, I’m noticing much small joy around me.

Is any joy small?

* Cedar’s love of frilly pink things and My Little Ponies.

* Sharing poetry and Shakespeare with Norah.

* Playing iPod shuffle “name that tune” with Scott. I’m really weak at Yacht Rock.

* Silly texting with Noelle even though international texting isn’t free. We’ve always silly texted so even though Skype is free, we continue the practice.

* Learning about the Faroe Islands because they regularly show up in my blog visitor stats and I don’t know about this lovely place. Now I want to visit. Or live there. Hello to my reader(s) in the Faroe Islands!

* Receiving texts about intimate birthy things in the middle of dinner parties. It is like the sweetest slumber party secret.

* Cedar sleeping with 24 My Little Ponies and hearing them fall out of her bed. One at a time. All night long.

* Watching Norah draw.

* The mothercords I wear on my ankles and the families they represent.

* Cedar putting on her “work boots” to help my dad work. I have almost this same picture from when I was a kid.

* Discovering that Keen makes boots. Discovering this tidbit because my sweetest of all husbands ordered a pair for me.

* The last warm days of summer.

* Norah asking me to help her memorize “Be Thou My Vision.”

May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright heav’ns Son.

I hope you’re also finding joy in these fleeting, wispy moments.

To be astonished

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Let me keep my mind on what matters,

which is my work,

which is mostly standing still

and learning to be astonished.

–Mary Oliver

Portrait of this stay-at-home-mom

6:45:  Wake to sounds of husband in the shower

Cedar crawls in bed with me.  I feel mauled by a grizzly bear by the time she’s finished wallowing on me.

Make coffee.  Kiss husband.  Wave good-bye from the window with naked 2-year old by my side.  Norah wanders in.  Grumpy.  Much like me in the mornings, this one.

Cancel my 10am playdate.  Bummed about it but I have some sniffles starting and I don’t want to spread them.  We were supposed to make homemade hair conditioner.

Breakfasts consumed by two small children over the next three hours (4 boiled eggs, two blueberry pancakes, 1 orange, 2 peaches, 4 spoons of peanut butter, 1 piece of toast, 1 chunk of cheese, 1 yogurt).  Yes, really.

3 cups of coffee and a secret cupcake consumed by me.

Sounds of Elizabeth Mitchell on Pandora.

Save Cedar from a puppy attack.  Clean up puppy mess.  Find a library book shredded by puppy.  Put puppy in crate.

Shower.  It is a good day.  And I have new soap.

While in shower, Cedar brings me her diaper.  She has removed it.  It contains poop.  I try to lure her to the shower so I can clean her butt.

Learning with Norah:  She reads to me.  I read to her.  We read about amazing heroines of the American War.  Turns out that while Paul Revere rode 16 miles, a sixteen year old girl rode 40 miles at night.  In the rain.  Where is her poem?  Ahem.  (Oh wait!  I found one!)

Back to learning.  I drink coffee while she does addition with coffee beans.  She reviews her timeline cards and we giggle over pronunciation of “Hammurabi,” “Amenhotep” and “Tutankhamun.”

We break so Norah can play with My Little Ponies.

I clean up potty messes made by both Cedar and puppy.  Answer work emails.  A friend wants to know about natural birth of twins.  A woman tries to decide between VBAC at the hospital or at home.  A lactation question.  A contract confirmed.  A private class arranged.

Norah and I worked on memorizing “The Bones Song.”  It is so much fun to sing.  Our motivation is to sing it for Aunt Noelle in December.  The skeleton Dr. Stafford loaned us has been a fantastic visual aid.

Lunch.  A triumph and a fail.  Triumph:  I finally convinced one of my children to eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  Thank you Cedar for branching out.  Fail:  Norah wanted a lettuce and plain wheat bread sandwich.  Which she didn’t eat.  She ended up with celery and peanut butter.

Cedar napped.  Norah worked/played on her computer.  I ate lunch and read a book.  (I will be happy to finish this book 5 from Game of Thrones.  Madness.  Should have never started the hefty series.  But I must finish.  How many thousands of pages have I read?)

Phone call from a client with maternity leave ending.  Daycare looming Monday.  Anxieties.  I push the girls on the backyard swings so I can talk without fighting in the background.

The 5 year old yells “stupid phone call.  I hate your phone.”  Um, it was the only phone call all day.  Time for physical play!  With much dread, I dress them in old underwear and we walk to the neighbors’ backyard renovation project.  I unleash them with cookie cutters and buckets in a giant mudbath.  My neighbor and I (and baby Elisha) talk about slings and wool diapers while my children make mud angels.


 ****Pictures deleted because creepy people keep searching “children playing in the mud naked.”  Um, gross!****

Hose children.  Bathe children.  Fill and empty tub three times to get rid of mud.  The girls use all my new soap.

Pack children and drive to my parent’s house.  Time it perfectly for uninvited dinner.  While eating, Cedar has an allergic reaction to either red pepper or tilapia.  Swollen lips, red bumpy cheek (“it hurts, mama!”), sneezing, coughing.  For a couple of hours.  Norah entertains with a magic show involving a hat and the requirement that we all close our eyes each time she needs to make something disappear.

We look at constellations using an iPad app.

On the way back home, we listen to the unabridged Anne of Green Gables on CD.  Norah asks “what is the depths of despair?”  Oh child.  My mind races to events that will take her there someday.  I hold back tears as we continue to listen to Marilla Cuthbert and Anne Shirley with an “e” talk of what tomorrow might hold.

I feed bedtime snacks of yogurt.  I risk giving Cedar some Benadryl.  She’s still reacting to the pesky food.  Benadryl usually causes her to go hyper-wild.  Do I risk it?  She seems pretty tired.  I risk it.  Put Cedar to bed.  Norah to bed.  Craving salt, I sit down with bean sprouts and tamari sauce.  Bam!  Cedar fell out of bed.  Put child back in bed.

Talk briefly with my husband before he puts a kayak into the ocean at night.  Turn on his Pandora station, “GruzFrahBah”.

Search for the perfect poem for a friend’s blessingway tomorrow.  Settle on this one.

Play on Pinterest.

I fret over my poor neglected blog and decide to blog something.  But what?

It is 1am as I finish this post.  And I gasp as I remember that Norah still has red mud in her scalp and we have to leave at 8:30 in the morning for her science lab.  Shoot.

Run my mind over all the events and expectations of tomorrow.  It is going to be a doozy.

How does my garden grow?

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Awful, stunted tomatoes, one pepper, one okra (!), and pitiful yellow squash. 

Ah, but the zucchini.  I am eating it for breakfast (really, as we speak), lunch, dinner, and dessert. 

 Attack of the Squash People (by the incredible Marge Piercy)

              And thus the people every year
              in the valley of humid July
              did sacrifice themselves
              to the long green phallic god
              and eat and eat and eat.
              They’re coming, they’re on us,
              the long striped gourds, the silky
              babies, the hairy adolescents,
              the lumpy vast adults
              like the trunks of green elephants.
              Recite fifty zucchini recipes!
             Beg on the highway: please
             take my zucchini, I have a crippled
             mother at home with heartburn.
             Sneak out before dawn to drop
             them in other people’s gardens,
             in baby buggies at churchdoors.
             Shot, smuggling zucchini into
             mailboxes, a federal offense.
             You give and give
             too much, like summer days
             limp with heat, thunderstorms
             bursting their bags on our heads,
             as we salt and freeze and pickle
             for the too little to come.
(full text here)
My favorite way to eat them this year:  chop and cook big chunks in garlic, olive oil, salt, onion, and fresh basil.  Eat on whole wheat angel hair pasta with crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce.  Oh, how I wish my own tomatoes were thriving this year. 

Learn the Old Songs

Singing Down Baby B

I’m coming. Down out of the clouds
into the rain. I hope I’m coming straight
and clear. I hope I’m falling on holy ground,

That the people catching me are sure and loving.
I hope the people bringing me to earth
have said their evening prayers and their morning

prayers, because where I’m coming from
is made of prayers and leaves. Silk spun from mulberry is fine
but where I’m coming from is finer still.

You know those gospel singers with notes so bright
they drop, note by note, into your body?

That’s how I’m singing down into a woman
dressed in gauzy skirts next to a man whistling
to hold up. I’m the one calling down the lullabies.

I’m yours. I am your DNA gone wild with love,
I am the split second the angels take
to connect us to God, my spine the ladder
up and back.

My feet haven’t yet touched down
so learn the old songs for me
because I’ll come out dazed and start forgetting.

My eyes will gaze at you and I’ll lose
my angel sense. Sing me to ease
With an anthem from my dazzling alma mater.

Joan Logghe

For Cedar, on her first birthday

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When loneliness comes stalking, go into the fields, consider the orderliness of the world.  Notice

something you have never noticed before,

like the tambourine sound of the snow-cricket

whose pale green body is no longer than your thumb.

Stare hard at the hummingbird, in the summer rain,

shaking the water-sparks from its wings.

Let grief be your sister, she will whether or no.

Rise up from the stump of sorrow, and be green also,

like the diligent leaves.

A lifetime isn’t long enough for the beauty of this world

and the responsibilities of your life.

Scatter your flowers over the graves, and walk away.

Be good-natured and untidy in your exuberance.

In the glare of your mind, be modest.

And beholden to what is tactile, and thrilling.

Live with the beetle and the wind.

–Mary Oliver (from The Leaf and the Cloud)

You give me

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   What you give me is
   the extraordinary sun
   splashing its light
   into astonished trees
                   –Denise Levertov

Mirrors Burn

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Some mornings

in summer I step outside

and the sky opens

and pours itself into me

as if I were a saint

about to die.  But the plot

calls for me to live,

be ordinary, say nothing

to anyone.  Inside the house

the mirrors burn when I pass.

–Lisel Mueller

Fire in the middle

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Because I use this blog to also remember:

When we named her Norah Moss, I thought the name whispered of one who would know how to sculpt and shape words.  A poet.  A teller of tales.  

And indeed she is.  She tells me: 

I love you as sharp as a crab pinches with his claws.

I love you as hard as a lion bites with his teeth.

I love you deep as the fire in the middle of the earth.

And with the extraordinary intensity of her four year old self, I feel this sharp, hard, and deep love.  It asks, “Do you really love me?  Even when I mess up?”  And it tells me “I’m still a little bit angry about this new baby thing and I am not exactly happy about the changes.”  And it whispers “Even though I pick out my own clothes and fiercely protect my independence, I’m still very small and need snuggles.”

I was reminded yesterday that we are all still very small and need snuggles.