My husband calls me the “energizer bunny,” says my hummingbird metabolism matches my bird-brittle frame, says what I call my low-energy days are more animated than his at top speed, even though when we met, our youth behind us, I’d slowed down to a mellower pace, and we’re yin and yang now, we balance each other, but thirty years ago we’d have been oil and water—“You shoulda seen me then,” I say and tell him about my younger self, a scrawny kid, my worried parents thought me frail and undernourished in spite of my voracious appetite and boundless energy, so my mother would pack two overstuffed sandwiches in my lunch with chips, fruit and cookies, and after school she’d make milkshakes with eggs and banana plus a PBJ or two to fatten me up, but I would eat and eat and not gain an ounce, and that was still true at thirty when a boyfriend told me I’d be sexier, more attractive if I put on a few pounds; he found no fault at first, but soon started carping about one thing or another, like—it should have been a warning—when I said I wasn’t a good dancer but he sweet-talked me onto the floor and I waited for praise, however false—come on, flatter me—but “You’re a terrible dancer,” he said, “stiff as a board, lighten up,” and I slithered away humiliated, but when he said, “You should wear more makeup,” I did—pathetic, huh?—and his reproach followed me into the bedroom until finally I’d had enough of his verbal battering, but at least I never tried to gain weight for him, and in fact the stress of the weeks and months as the relationship ground down caused me to lose weight, “ha, that’ll show him,” I thought, and after we split, the taut strings of my psyche loosened and I relaxed and gained a few pounds, and when I ran into him months later he noticed and said something grudgingly complimentary, and I smirked, I said yes, it’s amazing what being happy can do for a girl’s figure, and while I’m older and happier now I still move quickly and stay trim though I work at it now, stop eating before I’m full, because I can still put it away. Like a hummingbird.
Did you know that hummingbirds consume more than their weight in nectar each day but are always mere hours away from starving to death since they store just enough energy to survive overnight, so they visit hundreds of flowers daily and remember all the flowers, all the feeders in their territory, eating for short spells seven times an hour yet spending only fifteen percent of their time feeding and the rest of it digesting and maybe, like me, planning and thinking about and tracking down the next meal, the next sip of fuchsia or slice of pizza.
A pot of tea steeping
on the marble sill, its steam
clouding the window.
Sunrise on the counter
like the yolk of a broken egg,
oh happy disaster of morning.
All is settled then, the man
still asleep, the woman
keeping this time for herself
beside the sink, thinking of every
beginning and ending she's known
before filling her cup.
Oil on canvas, 30" x 30"
Oil on birch panel, 36" x 48"
fingers a volcanic outcrop
roofed mostly in duplex lichen,
one of the tenacious earthmakingmen
helming a weathering like and unlike
and sun and rain – thick-skinned
operatives saturated with clarity
at times breezy, bright and merry,
their many modes furthering the world's
jambment – recomposing log nurses ten
alders, elfin firs to sprout in their future
shadows, nothing microminor
about a percolated spring's rambles to an icy
once-in-many-decades flood wreaking
pick-up-stick behemoth-log dams'
trout rests and paper-packed poets'
into bosomed ash-heaps
in the tree-tower boughs sifting the given
This poem was written while the author was a writing resident of the Spring Creek Project (Oregon State University) at the HJ Andrews Experimental Forest.
Each hue is defined by wave length
or frequency. How often or far apart.
The inconvenience of closeness, or
the memory of longing for
harmonic intervals of light
filtered through the human eye
and, sometimes, the mechanical eye,
yet how we discriminate these wave lengths
is not well understood (in light
of other things we know) and apart
from corresponding frequencies for
each prismatic color or
manifestation of color or
what resides harmoniously in the eye,
there is an equivalent harmony for
the musical ear, which collects length
and time, and, in turn, plays a part
in the generation of light
but cannot identify single tones of light,
like notes fingered on a piano or
a cello plucked as part
of an orchestra performed at the center of the eye.
To take red, any length
of red, and mistake it for
the afterimage of green, for
the deposit of complementary light,
is to speak of harmony to some length
and the joining of two or
more colors behind the eye,
pretending like vision is not a part
of what makes the body a part
of a machine for
forgetting. What makes the eye
not a tool for collecting, but for losing light.
To suggest that the human eye is satisfied, or
in equilibrium, is to deny the comfort of length,
the redemption of length,
the restlessness of length, or
the longing for memory of light.
grew from my mother’s fingers, sprouting
in the dirt under her nails and sending
their shoots through her veins.
Her lungs were filled with bitter earth.
Her feet became clay and crumbled under
the weight of trees. Hyacinths took root
in her liver and lilacs
perfumed the air too sweet.
Roses sprung from her womb.
We picked their berries
for our tea.
Etching, woodcut, and monotype
20" x 8"
Woodcut, monotype, and silkscreen
19" x 8.5"
There has been a small fire, burnt
tar-paper in a wastebasket, an accident
of no consequence, really—a thimbleful
of water tamed the blaze—but somewhere
buildings are burning, and I feel it is my
fault, like I have called the flames from
the cold sky with my witchcraft of longing.
I watch a calf being birthed in a pasture
surrounded by high red cliffs. I boil fresh
eggs still warm from soft underbellies
of chickens. These things are pleasant, yet
undeserved. At night, I sit with my books.
Somewhere, a fish is being angled for
off-shore. The hook in its mouth makes me
seasick, metal taste rising in my throat
like an anonymous threat. I keep changing
my address, shift from hotel to rooming
house, just to avoid the hook, the reeling in.
Oil on panel, 17" x 17"
As a child
to what was
to the chasm
the spoken words
that floated out
in the air
like morning mist
to the soft sighs
the soft syllables
to the breaths
the Oh… yes
and the Maybe… so