intrusion poem

my too-wide shoulders

brush the hoarfrost coral from the black spruce

my too loud mind

shakes the ringing silence of the woods loose

my lamp – too bright

my breath – too damp

cloud the frozen fretwork of the stars tonight







Revisiting Winslow Homer

Yesterday, Sean and I went to the MFA in Boston. I love art museums, (though I can distinctly remember being bored to tears by them as a kid) and I could have spent much, much longer exploring the maze of galleries and exhibitions.


Sean in 8’x12′, an awesome piece about personal space and sprawl and scale in Mumbai

I loved the Megacities Asia exhibition and the gallery of Chinese furniture and the model ships and the very peaceful Buddha in the temple.

We also took a tour of the Americas wing and there paid a visit to some of the paintings of Winslow Homer.  It was impossible, today, not to think of his paintings as we brought Islander down the Penobscot from Winterport in a drenching rain and pea soup fog.


“Look anonymous and heroic, Mom, I’m taking a Winslow Homer picture”


The Fog Warning, 1885

As we ran out with the tide, sliding through water still but for the constant bulletholing of raindrops, soaking slowly in the heavy, warm rain, Dad described the grey landscape of fog and water and sky almost the way I have been known to describe the snow and sky and mountains: it’s a thousand shades of gray, dissolving sound and land and the boundaries between this world, the next, the sky and the sea.

DSC04892DSC04887DSC04894It’s beautiful out there, even on days when the horizon breaks down and water soaks into the sky.

A counterpoem from last week: Sleeping Inside

Tonight I slept
on the couch under the front window
and the rain blew in

I had taken my hammock in
Not wanting it to shred in the forecast winds
Not wanting to sleep light in dark rain

I woke up in the lightning night
With the rain soft and cool on my face, so glad
that the sky came to find me

Blaze Orange Hat

DSC03996A year ago, November
I bought a blaze orange hat for backpacking in the Ozarks.
It was opening weekend: Deer season in Arkansas.
I thought better safe than sorry.

My friends slept through sunrise
While I started a fire, made a cup of tea, walked to the ridge to touch the morning.
The sky, rose and pearly, broke against the trees and I felt the weight of the world
Spinning me into the sun

I looked over my shoulder
at all the lidded eyes and quiet faces asleep in the grass, then turned back
to the mad, pink panic of sunrise and felt like I’d stepped for a moment out of a box
Where I was living safe and sorry.

I thought, I never want to be sorry.

A year ago, November
I emptied my backpack and started a fire. I quit my job and burned
the broken parts of my romance. I packed warm clothes: long underwear
wool socks, my blaze orange hat

This morning, in Alaska
I packed my things in a hurry. I put on my long underwear and wool socks,
But couldn’t find my hat. My friend, no stranger to a sunrise, lent me one to wear.
It’s cold, Alaska, in October.

What a wonder.
I lost my blaze orange hat in an eight-by-eight tent in a field of white. Strange.
how that white smells of smoke in a pearly, frozen country the size of the sky.
My skin, too, smells of smoke.

I know I will never be sorry.

Books, Boxing, and Boot Liners

My kids finished their first novels of the year recently. For some kids, these were their first chapter books. One boy in particular announced to me that he’d never read a chapter book before and that it felt good. Since finishing that one, he’s read two others. Instead of poking the other kids when he finishes his work early, he quietly picks up his book and goes to a private corner of the room to read. I keep pinching myself to see if it’s real.

The first group read The Mighty Miss Malone. They were inspired by the account of the 1936 Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling fight and created puppets and a boxing-themed puppet show based on their reading and their research. They were a huge hit with the younger kids, who couldn’t stop talking about it for days after the big kids came to their classes and put on a show.

Yesterday, a group that read Homecoming finished their project, a picture book based on the story. They did a beautiful job: The illustrations were superb, and the main plot points of the story were all there in terms that little people could understand. I went with them to the K-2 class for their reading. Terri projected the book and had my kids read it aloud for the little guys. When they were done, she encouraged the little kids to thank the big kids with hugs, and “ask them nicely to write another book. You’d like an alphabet book, wouldn’t you?” My big tough boy hid behind a table when the little people came charging around to give hugs. One little girl looked directly at him and said “Wiw you wite us a book about faiwies?” and his face nearly melted. She was soooooooooo cute.

I talked on the phone with a friend in another village last night. He says he’ll take me camping this winter, which is awesome. Just going for walks here opens up the world and makes my heart smile. He’s talking with me about snowmachines and extra boot liners and wall tents, and I can’t wait to find out what the world might look like from that kind of adventure-place. I’ve also been emailing all week with a teacher from another district who’s taking me hiking when I go to town in November. He had all my students when they were in elementary, and seems to have an endless supply of super cute pictures of my kids when they were small. I often feel pretty isolated out here, but this week I haven’t. I’ve felt downright social.

Sometimes I think
everyone around me talks too much
I think
I don’t talk unless I have something to say

Sometimes I wonder
if I have nothing to say, or if
just wears the words out of me

Either way.

Lately, I think
friends are the people you are quiet with
I think
I can hear our skis swishing in the snow

Lately I find
i have some friends here
who hear the silent mountains too.

They say “Let’s go outside and play”
And we do.