It’s May. And I’m Writing. Whoopee!

She said, “I want to write every day in May. Not just in my journal. I won’t do that “kind” of writing, writing meant for my eyes only. I want to continue to write what is true for me but couched in a way, hopefully, that others will understand it.”

She challenged me and many others to do the same. To see what might happen. Just to see.

And something inside of me said, yes. Yes, I will do this. Despite the fact I’ve not written anything for years. That is, nothing I’d even want to show you.

Quite honestly, other than scribbling nonsense in my journal, it hasn’t been possible for me to write. Not like I used to. Not in the giddy, fluttery flow of irrepressible words. Not with any urgent impulse to express. Three years ago, I used to sit for hours at Rough Draft and words upon words would pour onto pages and pages in my spiral notebook. Words about Having. Beauty. Love. Lack. Desire. Daily amazements.

It was a rush, a delight, to write in this way. I loved words and they loved me, and we would play for hours together.

But in June of 2020, all of that came to a screeching halt. For no other reason than my mind refused to let words come. I would sit at my table with my notebook, twirling my pen in my right hand, and wait. For something, anything to move through my mind and onto the page. But it was as if my mind had turned to vapor, completely empty of thought or idea or word.

I still showed up to the page, just in case. Sometimes I would try to reach and wrangle words from some flat and barren desert of myself, desperate to somehow wring water from sand. It didn’t work. I would write words but they were as substantial as dust.

Recently, say, since the end of March, I’ve felt the old flow returning. Not in full force. Not in the same way. It’s slower and quieter and less caffeinated. But, it’s there. Along with my desire to write, which never left me. Not for a split second. My desire to write has burned like an eternal flame these past three years. I just couldn’t do it. I was unable to. And that combo of fierce desire and inability broke my heart.

Now, there’s this challenge, this opportunity, this invitation to write and just see where it goes. I’m saying yes. I promise nothing. Only my faithful attempt to be honest, show up consistently, and make myself available to what wants to come through… and write it.




I know how to take the hand of God and hold it in my own.

I know how to nestle in the sweetness of Her stillness,
Doze in the lullaby of Her breath,
Steal shy kisses from Her mouth.

Curled in Her lap, I am distilled into light
By Her bleached white heat.
Every ancient story peels away like sunburned skin.
The forever horizon is but a crimson thread
Dangling from the hem of my skirt,
The earth, a marble-blue button atop my sweater,
The Universe a tiny tangle in my hair.

She is my constant but I am not Hers.
For given the chance, I would without hesitation jump
From Her heavenly lap to fall hard into your arms.

I would toss away every prayer and incantation,
Ignore every invitation and revelation
To dissolve in the mystery of your eyes,
Hear the resonance of your voice,
Taste the salt of your sweat,
And soften under the long, sure stroke of your hands.

For God is but a consolation prize.
A sloppy second.
A courtship I commit to, in lieu of you.

I would gladly surrender every hard-won step of my ascension
To stumble over the shoes you leave in the hallway,
To curse the coffee cup you forget to put in the sink,
To cringe at your bad jokes and eye-rolling puns.

Let me be thrown from the temple in shame,
Let the seraphim shake their heads in disgust,
For what good is the Love of the Divine
When every cell of my being burns for you?

Why drink from the waterfall of God’s grace only to walk
This desert, parched and shriveled by the absence of you.

You, who have yet to show your face.
You, who have yet to make an entrance.
You, who feel so far yet as certain as the sun.

August 15, 2017

They say, “Remember a time when…”
But I don’t want to.
They say, “Tell us about a memory you have of…”
And I say, No.

For what is memory but moldy meat,
The cold and crusted soup in an unwashed pot,
The greening scum in a dirty cup?

It’s the flowered wallpaper behind five coats of paint.

And yet…

The summer night in mid-August
When we left the theatre and walked down 46th,
The air warm and gentle,
The jostling crowd indifferent and thick.
You took my hand and held it
For the first and last time.

We glided onto a sidewalk choked with tourists
Into a din of drunken shrieks and high-pitched laughter.
We swam against the current of the multitudes,
As they swept past us like fat fishes,
The epileptic pulse of billboard lights
Pummeling us from above,
Like a thousand fluorescent suns.

You slowed and then stopped,
My hand still in yours.
I turned around to see
Your face covered in a moving mosaic of colors.
You asked, Can I kiss you?
And before I could answer, you did.

Your kiss hungry and open,
Your mouth as soft as buttercream,
I whispered a startled “oh,”
As you started to pull away
And then you kissed me again.

Lifted by a heavenly danger,
We walked on without words,
Like two bandits, running in slow motion
Across a forbidden Eden,
Blind to the crumbling cliff edge ahead.

You are the past I long to let go of,
The memory I’d pay to forget.
The beast I buried in an unmarked grave,
The dirt packed down hard.

And yet…

Even now
There is only your face
Covered in rainbows,
Your eyes inside of mine,
And the ever-present, unfortunate truth;

We were made but not meant
to kiss each other,
And to kiss each other again.

Baby Maple

Last night, a murder took place in my back yard.

Someone, I believe it was Robert, murdered my baby Japanese Maple tree. He crept into my yard and cut its throat in a clean diagonal line and left its leafy head where it hit the ground. When I went out onto my back deck to feed the squirrels this morning, it was the first thing I saw. The feathery tangle of maroon leaves no longer held high but in the dirt. I ran over to it, saying, “Oh, no. Oh, no,” hoping the tree was merely bent, that the squirrels had been overly playful and it had caught on something.

But no. It had been cut, purposefully killed.

I fell to the ground, my butt on the scraggly crabgrass, my legs on either side of what remained of the trunk, and held the bushy head of the tree in my arms as I sobbed and said, “No, no, no,” over and over again. My mind scurried to make sense of it, to find a reason, to blame it on an animal, something with razor-sharp teeth that could, with one guillotine of a bite, sever this tiny tree in two.

So young, so fragile, with its delicate, spidery leaves edged in deep maroon, its branches nothing more than tendrils really. No thicker than thread.

I planted this baby tree when it was nothing but a stick stuck a golf ball-sized bag of dirt. For for the past 4 years I’ve been protecting it as it earnestly tried to grow up to be a big tree. To outgrow its need for the chicken-wire cylinder I wrap around it in winter so the weight of the snow won’t snap it in two.

I cradled the top of my baby tree in my arms and carried it into the house, my mind stunned in disbelief, my body shaky and in shock. How can this be? How is it possible to have this tree, that was just yesterday dancing next to the sycamores, in my arms? As light as nothing, its starfish leaves still so alive and perky.

I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to save it or at least soothe it, to do something to make this less horrific as it felt. I took a wine bottle out of the recycling, filled it with filtered water, put my fatally injured tree into the bottle, and placed it on the table in the sunroom. Isn’t this what we do with things we cut down? With flowers and branches and other live things we bring in from outside? We put them in water, right? And display them somewhere so their beauty even in death might make us cheery and bright.

I sat down in my oversized chair and stared at my baby tree stuck in a bottle.

It was Robert. It had to have been Robert, a well-meaning but mentally disturbed boy-man with dark, crazy eyes who has for the past 6 years come by my house to bang hard on my front door and ask me if I want my lawn weed-wacked. “For $10,” he’ll say. “I think that’s a fair price, don’t you.”

I always say yes, even though he does a horrible job. I say yes because I know he needs the $10 and I need my poor-excuse-of-a-lawn cut back. (It’s not lawn, really. It’s just wild weedy growth that shoots up out of the ground in tufts. It’s only resemblance to lawn is the fact it’s green.) I’m always careful to show Robert the plants he needs to avoid and not accidentally whack to death. Like the young lilacs and of course, my baby Japanese Maple. I need to remind him every time because Robert never remembers, and even when I point out the maple tree and the lilacs, he doesn’t really see them.

The last time he was here, which was 4-5 weeks ago, we put a big red brick in front of the baby maple so he’d be sure to see it and not shred it to pieces with one careless backswing of his weed wacker.

Robert, I have always felt, is harmless. Despite his paranoid tendencies, fits of temper and rock-solid belief that we’re all being poisoned by aliens who are using cell towers to control our minds, ruin our water and take over the earth. Short, big-bellied, and always a bit stooped over, Robert will stomp about my yard, complaining loudly about his boss “that bitch” at the Broadway Diner or shake his head and say “What’s wrong with people” if he sees a car parked too far from the curb.

He can get angry, for sure. But he’s never taken his anger out on me.

Until now.

I know Robert killed my tree. He didn’t kill it with a weed wacker but with one swift cut of his pocket knife. He killed it because he was mad at me.

He killed it because of Rosco.

Rosco is a tall weed of a fellow who helps me clean up my front and back yard every spring and every fall. Only 39-years old, Rosco can, at times, actually most of the time, have the grumpy disposition of an 89-year old man plagued by gout and a lifetime of disappointment. He shows up at my house with his Eeyore expression, complaining and grimacing, his resistance to doing any kind of work dripping off of him like rain in a summer storm. Yet once he starts in, pulling weeds from the flower beds, trimming back the sycamores, raking up a winter’s worth of peanut shells left by the squirrels I feed every morning, he’s as diligent and happy as a bee in a sunflower.

And when he’s done, I’m always stunned by how immaculate and beautifully manicured my tiny postage stamp of a back yard is, how it seems to shine with an invisible glow. The glow of something that’s been loved and well cared for.

Two days before my tree was murdered, Rosco had been here to do his annual spring clean up and, as always, did a first-class job including cutting my scraggly lawn down to a clean quarter of an inch.

This is what I believe happened.

Robert rode by my house on his fat-tired bike and saw that my grass had been cut, that I’d given his job to someone else, and he got pissed. More pissed than usual. Because Robert’s been more pissed than usual lately because of Covid and social distancing and all the mask-wearing. And because he’s losing customers. He told me so the last time he was here.

I imagine his anger got more and more amped up as the day went on until it turned to a kind of craziness that needed take revenge on the world. I imagine he rode over to my house in the middle of the night and purposefully and maliciously cut down my Japanese Maple. Because he knew how much it meant to me. He was the only one beside Rosco who knew how much the destruction of this tree would hurt me.

And Robert needed to hurt someone.

This is the only story, the only explanation I could come up with. The only story that made sense of this senselessness.

Sitting in my chair, staring at my severed tree in its wine bottle casket, its thread-thin arms and fragile leaves still so vivid and sprightly, I knew this was all so wrong. Just wrong. This tree shouldn’t be dead. And it certainly shouldn’t be inside creating a shadowy silhouette against a painted wall.

As my mind ached in its search for an explanation, for a plan of action, for a way to make it right again, my heart fell into a wide-mouthed well of grief so deep it threatened to swallow me whole.

My head arched back, my body rocked from side to side as my eyes filled with tears. I wailed and cried for the loss of my baby tree. I cried for every cruel and senseless loss I’d ever known. I cried for the loss of every animal, plant or living thing I ever cared for. I cried for the loss of too many friends, the loss of my marriage, the loss of my freedom to be with others, the loss of any sense of safety, the loss of the community, closeness and connection I felt back in California.

I cried for the loss of my country, this country which I’ve loved and believed in. A country I don’t recognize anymore. I cried for my loss of faith in humankind and my loss of love for my own species that has proven to be so stupid, self-righteous, and soulless that it mistakes pure evil as political salvation.

My face wet, red and swollen, I stood up, walked over to my baby tree, so small, really, so very small, and gently took her out of the bottle. I remembered what my friend Regina had taught me only weeks ago. That everything wild and alive should be allowed to die and decay where it once lived. This baby tree of mine had only known life in the nestle of ground cover and the direct light of the sun. Its company has always been those two sycamore trees and the gang of plants underneath. What did it know of plaster, wine bottles and tables?

I gently took her out of the wine bottle and carried her back to the scene of the crime. I laid her down in front of her tiny twig-like trunk. I placed the red brick, once her protector, as her tombstone. She would now be able to do her death dance in her own way. Her starfish leaves would dry up and sink back into the earth that had once given her a place to grow.

I sat with her there for a bit. There was no one to call. No one to tell. No one to summon to the gravesite. No song to sing except the chant pulsing in my chest, “Forgiven, Forgiven, Forgiven.”


Here it comes.
The beguiling dance of little balls cresting and falling
On the bottom of the screen
Warning me… his slingshot is pulled back.
His next best shot soon to be hurled my way.

There it is!
A funny jab, a sarcastic boast, a dreadful pun
That clears the court for me to hit back with skill and speed.
A clever parlay, a razor-sharp line, served by me, his well-matched opponent,
His sly playmate who can, with a flick and florish,
Deliver the climax to his crescendo.

But I got nothing.
I stare down at my phone,
My hands sweaty and numb,
My mind twitchy with fear,
A panic pounding in my ears.

Desperation scurries through my brain,
Like a hungry rodent, sniffing the attic floorboards,
Searching for that tiny crumble of over-ripe cheese,
Only to end up paralyzed and panting in the corner.

I’ve lost my game.
Or am I just out of practice?
We used to volley back and forth like this for hours
Late at night,
Like two pros playing for the pure pleasure of the game.
Each on our edge, each gunning to outplay the other.

His texts, short, curt, and spiked with sarcasm.
Mine, staccato and smart, served with a sharp-edged spin.
I’d toss one over and grin, knowing the point was mine,
Knowing he was done for,
Knowing his only response would be a sad emoji or LOL.

But now my quick-witted well is dry.
My brain, a broken metronome,
My funny, forced and frail,
My wit so dull it couldn’t cut cream.

Perhaps I’ve grown weary of this game,
The endless bouncing, bouncing bouncing
Off of hard surfaces.
This monotony of morse code messages
That confess nothing, invite nothing,
And say even less.

Here comes another one.
I watch the cartoon balls rise and fall, then
Swoosh! He serves up a two-word slice of the sardonic.
I lunge at it, my eyes shut, my hands tight,
my synapses flailing like wind-ripped flags.
I see my words arch in the imaginary air,
And dread their destiny as they fall flat and four feet out of bounds.


Just when I thought I’d forgotten how,
when I was sure the flicker and spark had turned to a thin line of vapor,
and too much regret had emptied me of the inclination,
I spent the last 10 minutes flirting like a pro.

It wasn’t hard.
I didn’t even have to think about it.
I wasn’t even trying.
I just looked into his eyes and smiled, and
the rest rose up in me like bubbles in champagne.

So sweet. So familiar. So missed, this giddiness.
This sly delight.
This resurrection.

The Lie I Used To Tell

The Lie I Used to Tell

It occurs to me at odd times.

Like when I’m walking down the basement stairs with my bright red laundry tub resting on my right hip, my left hand clutching the rickety railing.

I think, I could fall down these stairs and hit my head on the cement floor. Or break my hip. I could be down here for days, weeks even, before anyone would notice I hadn’t been on Facebook. Or that I missed my hair appointment. Or I wasn’t answering my phone.

I could end up like Terri’s mom.

She fell down her basement stairs and broke her hip. And because she, like me, lives alone and doesn’t have a lot of friends stopping by, she was in her basement for almost a week before someone found her. Weak, dehydrated, and covered in her own urine. At 87 years old, she didn’t have enough upper body strength to pull herself up the stairs, knock a phone off its cradle and call 911.

These thoughts float through my mind as I contemplate the very real possibility that I may live the rest of my life alone. Solo. Unpartnered. Uncoupled.

What Are My Chances?

I’ve been out of love and living alone for over 6 years now. Just me and my two cats. And with each passing year, as I meet nice men I could never adore or unavailable men who drive me wild, I have to wonder. I’m 62. Single. And very, very picky.

What are my chances of finding a smart, articulate, funny man with enough self-awareness to peak my interest and enough fire to make me flush but not flinch from the heat?

Friends used to tell me, “Oh, don’t be silly! You’ll find someone.”

But they don’t say that any more.

Besides… I’m not interested in Someone. I’m only interested in The One. The Last One. The One with whom I have such an undeniable, mystical connection and mutual fascination that I’d gladly fling aside my singlehood and become an “us.”

Because the truth is… I’m good alone.

I enjoy my own company. My own silliness. And lately, the more time I have alone, the more I crave. I’ve fallen in love with my unshared, uninterrupted relationship with each single moment of my life. I love not having anyone present to question my choices or ask my opinion or doubt my sanity when I spend way too much money on giant bags of unsalted peanuts so I can feed the squirrels every morning.

I require quiet mornings of tea-making and journal-writing as I listen to the soft, lickidy-lick sound of my two cats lapping up their breakfast of shredded chicken. It’s such a sweet, happy sound. One I might not hear if there was someone lumbering around upstairs, or running the water for a shower, or asking me if I’ve seen his reading glasses.

I don’t want a man in my house. But I do want a man in my life. The right man. My soul man.

I ain’t lying no more

This is the lie I used to tell. To girlfriends, mostly.

I would lie and say it’s perfectly fine with me if I spend the rest of my life alone without ever meeting and falling in love with my last man. If my two cats continue to be my only bedfellows and if the most stimulating conversations I hear are the ones on the West Wing Weekly podcast, I’ll be happy with that.

But that’s not true. Not anymore.

I want a close, connected relationship with a man I love. I feel as if I was made to spoil someone rotten and to have someone spoil me. Every cell of my body and slice of my soul hungers to be naked and entwined with a man who can dive into a physical and emotional intimacy that leaves us both dazed, drained and breathless. I’m ready for a connection so deep, strong, and intoxicating it leaves me stunned, breathless and wide-eyed. A love that is both comforting and edgy. A love that keeps me awake and aware and questioning what I know while at the same time holding me in the sweetest certainty.

And on days like today, it feels as if he’s only a breath away. That this extraordinary love is as certain as sunrise, as inevitable as death.