Received her BFA in poetry from Columbia College in Chicago and
her MFA in English from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. In 1999, Quale Press published her chapbook, Close to
Day. She was a recipient of a fellowship in poetry from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and her poems have have been nominated
for a Pushcart Prize. Currently she is a writing instructor at Smith College and writing consultant for human service organizations.
She lives in Worthington, MA, with her husband and many animals, small and large. Besides writing prose poetry and essays,
she is an avid dressage rider.
Bless This Night
It's almost like heaven out here. Ten miles of angel-pin turns, glittering blacktop,
then a pair of straight yellow lines leading to sweet soul of opossum, twin spirits of skunks.
Driving home, I think about Saint Francis, imagine him wandering through the woods,
a flock of swallows buzzing his left eardrum, a racoon or two draped over his shoulder like a favorite cardigan. A tall, awkward
man, he had hands with white palms and strong straight fingers.
Out here, under these brooding stars and stark moon, animals are just as abundant.
Cut loose from fur and body, they languish along the road: rabbits begin to hurry but stop in mid-air, a fox sniffs its blood,
surprised by its cold, exquisite beauty, while tree frogs swallow deep, vaguely tasting the last sounds in their throats.
"Keep still," Saint Francis would warn if he walked among these animals. "keep
still." One hand pressed against his lips, the other held in blessing, he would stop at each one that raised its head and
I could stop. I could stop, drop to my knees, and hold out my hands like Saint
Francis, tell these animals that they have been good, good and wild. It's time to surrender their hearts to me, their long
and mournful howls, their hunger. Bless this night, this road and all that makes it heaven.
First published in the Massachusetts Review
As Sister and Baby tumble from the window, they never thought poorly of Mother.
Mother will catch us, they lipped to one another. Mother catches everything. Surely she'll be waiting, standing tiptoe, arms
stretched wide for Sister and Baby.
Coughing, the man on the tenth floor poured straight tea and spooned his oatmeal.
Ask him and he'll swear he saw angels, wingless angels careening down, in red cartoon pajamas, even if it wasn't Christmas,
wasn't late near midnight when any slow, unfolding shape can break from the sky.
Make no mistake. Mother knew the difference between children and angels. Angels
don't scream riddles. They don't scrape their heels or pound their empty bowls. Remembering, Mother looked down and twirled
more hair against her cheek.
But the man was so certain. On the tenth floor, between the roof and courtyard
litter, he could expect falling clumps of begonias, the mute but ardent drift of season, pigeons fat and feathery as angels.
"Goddamned pigeons," the man insisted to himself again. "Goddamned angels."
Sister and Baby never opened their eyes, never saw Mother push back from the window.
They fingered the air. Lovely air, thought Sister as Baby rocked gently above her, head over feet.
First published in Key Satch (EL)
When the Babies Read the Book of the Dead
We can't stop them. We say, "Babies, don't turn the page." But they try to sound
out every word, gum each corner until it's soft and sticky. We say, "Babies, look here---Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, a monarch
butterfly wafting over a bed of red and white petunnias." The babies ignore us. They huddle together, drool across the cover.
They like the pictures best---trees, man and shaggy dog together, the long, rocky trek against time. We try to distract the
babies, tickle their cherry chins, but they're relentless. Their fingers, eyes, mouths, every bit of them so little but relentless.
Sometimes we think the babies might not be ours. We could ask them, but we're afraid. The babies don't sleep at night. We
hear them rocking upstairs beneath the crib, the book held between them like another prayer. We don't know who to tell.
First published in Tarpaulin Sky
After the Weather
Yesterday a man was sucked out of an airplane over the blue-tipped mountains of
Bolivia. He didn't cry "emergency." He didn't buzz the stewardess. He just dropped his fork, opened his mouth, and let the
wind gather him inch by inch.
The other passengers agreed. This was real life, better than the movie or chicken
salad. They leaned out of their seats, envying the man, arms and legs spread like a sheet, dicovering raw air and the breath
of migrating angels.
Below an old peasant woman beats her tortilla. She never dreamed that above her
a man was losing his heart. Perhaps she was a barren woman, and, when he landed, she'd say, "Yes, this is my son, a little
old and a little late, but still my son."
And the man, he thought of wind and flocks of severed wings, then closed his eyes
and arched himself again. He didn't understand. His head began to ache. He understood Buicks, red hair, the smell of day-old
beer. But not these clouds, this new white sunlight, or the fate of a man from Sandusky Ohio.
First published in The Prose Poem: An International Journal