Hope and Cottonwood

It’s a curious hope that comes in the spring, in the time of warmer days and ready soil. I plant annuals in their pots, knowing they will only last the season, knowing I will be digging their dead roots out of the planters when the air turns cold. I plant perennials and watch in expectation for their return each year. Is one hope different from the other? Both are rooted in equal amounts of expectation and uncertainty.

There are puffs of cottonwood covering the grass, the deck, the street outside. It rises, falls, rises again and last week I found myself quenched from creative drought suddenly writing a poem about it. I’ve learned not to wait for the muse, but have I trained myself not to answer when it does call? Continue reading Hope and Cottonwood



I won a silver necklace at a party once. It is a tiny silver plaque on a delicate chain. I could choose what I wanted engraved on the plaque. What a nightmare. Hey, Word Lady who loves all the words– pick ONE! You will wear the word and the word will be seen and asked about and explained. You have one day. Oh, and the word can only have five letters.

I sat down and did what I always do when I need words. I pulled out my super serious grown-up writer’s tools (blank paper, fat magic markers) and got to work. I first wrote the words I knew I could not abide (dream, live, love…puke.) I started noticing all words that have five letters or less. (“Words?” No. Not that either.)

I landed on SPARK. Spark is good.

Spark meant a lot at once and I couldn’t quite explain it, but I sent in my request anyway.

Continue reading spark

The Elephant in the Room

I am not sure how to credit this photo.  All clicks led to dead ends. But I think it is perfect.
I am not sure how to credit this photo. All clicks led to dead ends. But I think it is perfect.

Ah, April. Does it mean spring to you? In my neck of the woods it means a weekly you-should-expect-this-by-now sloppy snowstorm. Just last night it was falling fat and fast and even though my heart sunk a little when it started, once I put on my music and started writing I found myself smiling each time I looked out the window.

April is National Poetry Month. I don’t write poetry as often as I once did, but I like to try in April to add some to my writing time.

Billy Collins writes in the poem “Monday” of poets, standing at their windows

“because it is their job for which

they get paid nothing each Friday afternoon.”

I stood at my window plenty last night. I may as well post a poem and get paid nothing for it today. This is a poem about distraction, how I tend to look right through a moment to something else that’s on my mind, and how, really, I don’t mind it one bit. Continue reading The Elephant in the Room

Won’t Back Down

I am writing in one of my favorite spots. It is a large, bright room, lined in books and tall windows. The ceiling is a high, white arch, the furniture is covered and re-covered antique. There is a piano, a fireplace, couches facing each other, and a single table pushed up right next to one of the soaring windows.
The table is big enough for two, but courtesy seems to dictate that the space should only be used by one. It is my privilege to sit here today, and I am looking past the peeling paint around the windows at the rain sliding down.

It is spring, and it seems today that the earth is shivering in anticipation.

There are weeks coming that will warm, but this week has been one of days that chill despite the temperature, days that have cracked open wounds I would have sworn had healed over. No eiderdown can fight this cold, the one that comes from right inside me and passes like a whisper over my skin.

To open my mouth and confess it feels something like adopting the fear, giving it a name, a bed, a dish to call its own.

I don’t want to give it a dish. I don’t want to feed it, afraid it might come back.

Continue reading Won’t Back Down

Compensation Beyond All Price

How deep do the words of others sink under your skin? How far do you carry them after you have shut the book, set it down, and walked away?
Have you ever found yourself reading a line over, not because your mind had started to drift, but because you thought,

“Yes, this. This is exactly right.”

It’s as if the writer had risen from the page and placed a hand heavy on your heart, scooped just enough right from you, and found the words, oh, the words, to make that mess into a miracle.

Some see a book marked with pencil, pages dog-eared and worn, as a sign of disrespect for the author. I disagree. Words set right send me scrambling for a pencil for underlining, or, if I must, a pen. (A pencil seems more of a quiet nod of acknowledgment, with hope that future readings won’t be affected by the current quickening of my pulse. I am torn between wanting to remember and wanting to forever be experiencing things for the first time.)

The breadth and depth of some books beg for the time with them to be approached with a certain solemnity. I have picked up books like this with the house abuzz and had to set them back down.

This is a conversation that needs to happen in private.

In the dark, after all the creatures in the house have stilled, with a single lamp lit I may pick it up again. I’ll take a moment to look over the cover, lingering with the author’s picture if there is one.
“Sit,” they seem to say, and I do. Then reaching out as if to put my hand on theirs, I open the book.

This collecting of words and phrases has led me to create a small gallery of quotes to share with you. It will be to the right side if you are on your computer, or at the bottom of the page if you visit from your phone. Clicking on an image will open the gallery so you may scroll through. All of the quotes are here in this post, too. They are all designed to be shared, so please feel free! If you hover on any one of the images, a “Pin” button will appear, allowing you to pin them to Pinterest.

What about you? Do you mark notes in books you read? What was the last thing you marked? Would you be willing to share it here in the comments?







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