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Merciful, Moociful

As I look out my office window, the sun breaks the boundaries of today’s clouds. Immediately, the snowfields glow, almost blinding on their sweep down to the inky blue expanse of Lake Champlain, whose western shoreline is anchored by the snow strewn Adirondacks. This view never gets old. Beauty never does.

To live in this pandemic, natural beauty has become a necessary balm, a daily tonic. As for most of us, with varying iterations, the shape of my life has been reduced to a small triangle: home, office, grocery store. When the triangle breaks for takeout or a rare errand…


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a different season

Of all the seasons of a life, COVID-19 has been one of the most challenging. Certainly, it’s been the most unusual. Today the virus moved a bit closer to our immediate family, as a fellow employee of a family member is symptomatic and awaiting test results. Only two days after our nation crossed the threshold of 500,000 deaths, we wait to know: positive or negative?

500,000 deaths. For someone able to remember the daily death counts reported on TV during the Vietnam War (also called the American War in Vietnam; perspective is everything), it’s stunning to think about. Surreal. We…


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cradling the last light

At the Threshold

A gentle shower
washes my mother’s death
away-
the lingering sensation
of her hand held in mine,
remnants of words
on my lips
whispered against her ear
“I love you.”
“You’re safe.”
“It’s okay to let go.”

I learn in a circle,
death is its own cleansing.
Where we are
how we are
the distances any two souls
travel together
meet at a threshold
of grace and forgiveness,
to honor
love’s ferocious resilience
compassion’s brimming reach-
each wrapped in the quietest,
gentlest light
at the borders of breath
as we say goodbye.

January 19th, 7th anniversary of my mother’s death.


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Hero Lessons

I.
He is coming. The popping-crackle sound of tires on gravel, the soft whir of car engine announces him. It is likely Friday, though in the earlier years it could have been any day, the unpredictability key. I am 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, or almost 17-years old. My stomach drops, fear mingling with dread. The car door slams and a man with a suitcase in one hand walks forcefully across slate patio steps, leather soles smacking: here, here, here.

He is my mother’s partner, a WWII Marine Veteran, a traveling salesman…


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It’s July 25th. Some Americans are shaking their heads with disbelief. Other Americans are shaking their heads with conviction. Simultaneously, 1,000 Americans are suffocating to death at a peak, daily rate. Again.

Most of the rest of the world is shaking their heads, too. They are confused as to why America, a former world leader, (including in previous pandemic responses), under its current administration, refuses to implement a comprehensive, national plan. The medical science is clear and there are models of other countries that have effectively addressed the virus. The necessary components are evident: hand washing/hygiene practices, consistent mask wearing…


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childhood trauma

Beasts

She fed us to him. One after the other, she fed us to him. To save her own flesh. Anything to appease the Beast.

His appetite was varied and unpredictable. It struck in broad daylight. It raged in the middle of the night, untethered and fueled by alcohol. The smell of bourbon on his breath became familiar to his prey, a scented warning of impending terror. Years later, the slightest whiff would spontaneously yank open the hidden drawers of memory.

Over time, the surprise of attack still shocked us, but was no longer a stranger. Scanning the environment for…


Chalk Story

400 years to today. Individual or nation, repair and healing cannot occur unless one unflinchingly bears witness to the truth. Then acts.

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When The World Cracked Open

upon waking
in the sheets of dawn,
my right shoulder aches
frozen from sleeping on one side
night after night
turning away to prevent
breath meeting breath
our backs tiny fortresses
against the sharing of droplets,
if not the spilling of fear,
the invisible twin threats spreading,
knocking Atlas to both knees
so that the world tilted, fell
cracked open

now we are defenseless, breathless 100,000+ already suffocated to death as the Naked Emperor denies, denies, denies spits his empty lies unmasks his magical thinking no match for the host seeker, filling refrigerator trucks as…


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the firewalk

The Reporter: The Whole Story

I had just finished reading my poem, We Are Everywhere,* about survivors of sexual violence to the House Judicial Committee, at the statehouse in Montpelier, Vermont, when I was introduced to the reporter. The committee had been charged with determining whether to recommend legislative funding for a five-year, statewide sexual violence prevention plan and I had been asked by the sponsoring stakeholders to bring a human element to their deliberations. The reporter was writing a story about sex offender treatment and wanted to talk to “a survivor” of sexual assault. I agreed to an interview…


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the invitation

Trump Meets COVID-19 and America is “A Loser”

“Because we can choose.” This is Bill McKibben’s inscription in my signed copy of Falter, his most recent book on climate change. It was his tentative message of hope that I gleaned from his book talk in May of 2019 at Shelburne Farms in Shelburne, Vermont, a year, and seemingly a lifetime ago. Yesterday, I remembered his words as I saw these messages: Be Safe, Be Kind, Be Hopeful on our local, shuttered theater, the Flynn Center. These are other invitations “we can choose” to act on in the midst of a…

Lyndon

Essays ~ Memoir ~ Poetry ~ Photos ~ Repeat

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