2020-10-20T13:18:11-07:00December 7th, 2011|Musings on life|

I am not old

I am not old, she said,
I am rare.

I am the standing ovation
at the end of the play.

I am the retrospective
of my life
as art.

I am the hours
connected like dots
into good sense.

I am the fullness
of existing.

You think I am waiting to die
but I am waiting to be found.

I am a treasure,
I am a map,
these wrinkles are imprints
of my journey.

Ask me

2020-09-28T11:48:48-07:00September 26th, 2020|Musings on life|

A lineage of angry words

When I am angry at my children
it is not my temper
that rises
but the words themselves
like potatoes
rolling around
in a boiling pot.

Jesus Christ.
If I come up there and find it.
Hey, watch it.

I never spoke like this
before I became a mother,
but the words are familiar
because they are my mother’s words,
the harshness wrapped
in her voice.

I owe it to her to clarify
that she rarely got mad
and she made rhyming treasure hunts
and had laugh attacks with me
on the only day of the year
we ever went to church.

But when she was mad,
those were her words,
and though I didn’t know him,
I suspect they were
her father’s words
before that.

So it is that I learned
that words can wait,
like a dormant gene
for cataracts
or a saggy bum,
they can lay quietly
until they surprise even us
when they pounce.

2020-04-11T17:07:32-07:00April 13th, 2020|Relationships|

A relationship is like an iceberg

When you are first dating you are on the tip
and the entire thing feels sparkly and straightforward
with the exhilarating promise of depth

and then you move in together
which is exciting because you merge your dreams
as you submerge together into big conversations
below the surface
like money and dishes and sex

perhaps you marry then
or you cut straight to kids
and suddenly you are so deep
it can be hard to see the light
but don’t panic
because you have everything you need
if you remember to breathe

your eyes will adjust to new colours down there
you will stop wishing for the old ones and if you are lucky
you will be one of the rare ones who hold hands
all the way to the bottom where your iceberg began

and you will tell your children’s children
how the quiet down there
is the deepest and most beautiful love
they could ever hope to know.

2020-02-08T00:02:38-08:00February 8th, 2020|Parenthood|

This assembly machine version of life

I’m trying to rush you out the door
to fit the visit with your grandpa
into the pocket of time
between commitments

while part of me wonders
how we got here
to this assembly machine version of life
pushing you along and filling you up
until it starts all over again
in the morning

but we really do need to go
and you are still sitting on
the dining room table
with your head in the vase of tulips

I can hear myself whining
which I forbid you to do
so I drop my bags
and climb onto the table beside you

I’m waiting for one of them
to tell me they’re the one
I should bring to Granny Daphne

and so we wait together
a rare and quiet pause
and I am almost disappointed
when one of the tulips
makes herself known.

2014-01-31T23:26:32-08:00January 31st, 2014|Parenthood|

My why muscle

I remember parents saying
all the whys
will drive you mad

but it’s not the frequency
of the demand
or the upturned pitch

it’s the humility
of how rarely
I have the answer
and the absence
of my wonder at all

like today
when you asked me
why you can’t smile
in a passport photo
I was struck by the fatigue
of my own obedience
my why muscle all dusty and limp

so while we waited for your turn
to have your passport photo taken
and I looked over to see you
grinning defiantly
not understanding
that you’re allowed to smile
in the camera store
just not when the photo is taken

I should have whispered
a reminder about the serious face
we had practiced in the car
but I didn’t say anything
out of a gust of respect
for the way you stood in line
a happy warrior
still full of spirit
for protest.

2013-11-27T16:17:36-08:00November 27th, 2013|Parenthood|

London Bridges

I am alone with my limbs
and my mind is my own
to leash to anything

like what kinds of rituals I want
and what kinds of shoes
and how to start that letter
I’ve wanted to write to her
for so long

but in this rare moment
of adult quiet
I sit in the café with nothing
but London Bridges Falling Down
playing in my head
like a lunatic

there are more verses
than I ever knew
which my son sings in his sleep
he is that obsessed
making versions of the bridge all day
out of books and forks and post-it notes

and here I am
infected with the melody
unable to take advantage
of this loop of time
to plunge into the crispness of thought

so I sit staring
at the bridge across the water
cars strung up high as birds
and if you think about it
it’s really quite a feat
which suddenly makes me shiver
like my son does
whenever we cross one
as he asks
like he always does
if this will be the time
it falls down.

2013-06-24T15:58:08-07:00June 24th, 2013|Musings on life|

Maybe it’s not presence but absence that we need

Traffic was light
and I arrive at the yoga studio
earlier than expected

the island of time
lands on my chest
like a child that wants to play

making it hard
for me to breathe

it exists
and erodes

my mind twitches
with the urgency to relax
and savour this rare wedge
of unmarked day

I am aware of the irony
but my synapses continue
to clamor over each other
vying for the right answer

should I daydream
or meditate
write lists
or a letter
to my unborn child

I look up at the clock and slump with the understanding
that I have lost this moment
to the tornado of indecision

that motherhood has made me
a maven of crisis
but my gift for opportunity
has gone flaccid

I file into the yoga class
I am hollow
of anything but breath
waxy cheerless breath
which I climb inside
only later realizing
how sweet it was to unmoor from myself for an hour
not with presence
but with abandon
to some absent foggy place.

2013-06-15T21:20:28-07:00June 15th, 2013|Parenthood|


I have forgotten what it feels like
to be so sure

like how you tell me
that zebras like figs
but only for breakfast

and how you will be
one of these zebras
when you grow up

or how one stick can be your granny
but when I pick another stick
and suggest it could be your aunt
you look at me
with pity

these days I am always
asking you questions
just to watch your face
as you sort the possibilities
and announce the winner

but when the ambulance drove past us
and I did my quick ritual
that I always do
to ward off grief

you dropped a rare question
into the air

mama, why do the sirens
take them away

and I thought later how easy
it should have been to answer
if not for my shadow of fear.

2012-06-24T00:00:01-07:00June 24th, 2012|Musings on life|

A conversation with my housecoat

One day I should take you to work
you have no idea
that I have high heels
and employees

you see me only in the morning
and as I write my poem
before bed

and those first few weeks after I gave birth
after the midwife parted your old pink fleece and said to me
you can push now
do you remember
his little body
you stretched around us both

I never told you this
I bought a new one
planned to get rid of you
it’s been over ten years
and you’re pilly
and so

the truth is
the new one was sexier
but not as warm
and I missed the way I played
with your floppy collar
as I read
and ate my cereal
all of it
nothing much
and at the same time
such a rare
perfect thing.

2012-03-19T00:01:09-07:00March 19th, 2012|Creativity|

Charles Dickens would have been a smashing blogger

I’m with Henry James
who called Charles Dickens
although it’s worth noting
that Henry
never married.

As for Dickens
it’s his productivity
I admire.

Not inclined to revise
he pushed his pen fast
and released the need
to be perfect.

He loved his audience
more than his ideas
he was all in favour
of quantity.

My son sits next to me on the stairs
and we share a few dried plums
his hand is warm
on my leg.

The stillness is so rare
with a toddler
I ache for the tenderness to last
but it is me who disrupts it
without even moving
an irrepressible urge
to go back upstairs
call someone
write something
conquer the world.

I want to know
were you kind to your ten children
Mr. Dickens
or did you give it all
to us.

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