My sister loaded the wheelchair into the trunk,
just in case. My daughter walked her slowly to the car,
helped her lower herself into the front seat, passed her the
floral cane she loves. She wanted to see the tulips in full bloom.
At seventeen, she was on the very first Tulip Court
Dark-haired beauty with a radiant smile. Now, every year
she’s invited back and fussed over – the last
of the original beauty queens, a living legend.
This year, the seventy-fourth anniversary of the tradition
honoring the city’s Dutch heritage, no invitation comes.
Times change. So we go to the tulips, make a wish,
ask them to bless this life that we have left.
“This is a story about magical thinking. About coincidence and manifestation.”
Maggie Smith, You Could Make This Place Beautiful
This is the story of the poem
I wrote for my Aunt Anne
after I noticed a new painting
in her renovated kitchen
Romaine Lettuce, the painting’s called
though I didn’t know it
at the time, still life
of a summer harvest
You can imagine
soft white curtains
moving gently, morning light
through an open window
It’s a Tantillo, she said –
I love that painting, although it’s just
a page torn from a magazine
set in an expensive frame
I wrote the poem for her
before she knew she was dying,
before I knew. Wrote it because
she was a poet in search of answers
I wrote a poem for her
about a painting
That poem doesn’t matter now
What matters is what happened next
This is a story about magical thinking. About coincidence and manifestation.
Her kids held an estate sale when she died
when it was over, they gave me a key
so I could walk through the house
one more time, one last time
The house was nearly empty
except for her spirit. Could I feel her there?
Reader, I could. In the corner, propped on a table
lone painting, familiar in its silver frame, waiting just for me
Of the son
Coddled by greed
Hears a rallying cry
From the right –
Kid shoulders his gun
Just like he’s been taught
God’s only begotten son
Wants him to
Arms himself against
Migrants, the poor, and the lame
Arms himself against love –
Shuns the light
He’s only a kid,
Too young to know how
His fate has been sealed
With a kiss and a curse
His soul sold for glory & gold –
Forged under a white-hot sun
Alphapoetica: A Poetry Primer for the Everyday Poet is part memoir, part poetry collection, plus writing guide. I can’t wait to share it with you! TO ORDER GO TO: finishinglinepress.com/product/alphap… RESERVE YOUR COPY TODAY #poetry #primer #flp
2022 means new projects of the heart are ready to launch! My latest novel for children and a new poetry collection are both available now for preorder from their respective publishers: https://bit.ly/3eLltti and https://bit.ly/3mPDgEl. I’m so happy to share my words with you. Thank you for helping to spread poetry, kindness and a bit of magic.
I am over the moon that Elinormal is featured on the Children’s Book Council’s Hot off the Press list!
This book began years ago as a few scribbled lines across a newspaper page as I sat in the lobby of a ballet studio, watching and waiting. A seed of a story that nestled in my writer’s brain, and continued to grow.
And now here it is, fully formed, making its debut next month.
The sequel, New Girl: The Further Adventures of Elinormal will follow in April.
I sent my aunt a Mary Oliver poem that spoke to me
about the futility of worry. It ends with the lines
Finally, I saw that worrying had come to nothing.
And gave it up. And took my old body
and went out into the morning,
She responded in kind, a line worthy of a poet.
I try to sing but end up crying. Maybe that's my song?
My aunt is eighty-seven.
She raised ten children.
Sent them out into the world, one at a time
to bloom and grow like flowers.
I want to tell her, if she must cry,
let tears fall like gentle rain, nurturing
the garden that she’s grown.
Her life is still in full bloom, and
she surrounds herself with beauty.
A wall of paintings.
Still life and cityscape.
Seaside and countryside.
Antique treasures. Everywhere,
inside and out, flowers bloom, despite the season
a cascade of color, to wake to each morning
There are flowers yet to bloom,
There are stanzas yet to write.
Her song is a garden.
Her life is a poem.
I grab a cup of coffee early,
new steam rich and thickly rising
as daylight rises over distant hills
entering the quiet garden,
fully awake now in the flowering –
I wait among those that are
just what they are
and those yearning to be something more
overnight – blooms yield to transformation
yellow squash, lemons, bright and bitter
tomatoes & strawberries red as love
linger in each morning’s ripeness
before the squirrels and birds arrive
to strip the branches bare
to claim what they want and will
while I sit idly by.