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The New Yorker


Poems APRIL 9, 2012 ISSUE

The Yawn



My visiting tall son
is sleepy. His sweet gape
brings back his father’s yawn.
Seeing our lost husband and lost father
suddenly conjured up, I laugh. My son
frowns. Does he think
it’s at him I’m laughing?
The cat opens her mouth to mew.
The orphaned piano: it yawns, too.



Poems JANUARY 4, 2010 ISSUE

Only So Much



I bend to the open notebook; distracted, turn my head.
Tiny brown ants are climbing up a stalk of goldenrod.

It isn’t clear what goal they hope to reach.
I pick up a sharpened pencil, start to sketch.


A passing cloud; the sky goes dull. I shut
the notebook and open it from the back, to write.


There is only so much we can notice all at once.
Now this morning’s dream makes an appearance:


packed lecture hall where students overflow
to aisles and floor. What do they want to know?


I have the sense they’re gathered here to learn
some kind of surgery. The brain donation


card, wallet-size, arrived in this morning’s mail.
I close the notebook. The patient ants still crawl.


A sudden breeze: the grasses toss their tops.
Wild strawberry runners are clambering over this rock,


where, if I sat here long enough, eventually
the tough, lithe tendrils would also crisscross me.


I could climb down from my temporary tower,
go to the house and fill a glass with water,


get out my watercolors, dip my brush,
memorialize this moment with a wash


of color; sketch the runners, trace a border,
as if imitation equalled order.


Or I could take a walk down to the brook
or stretch out in the hammock with a book


or let my thoughts’ red runners trace a line
to the null magnet of my husband’s brain,


the hospital where he’s “undergoing observation,”
the arid wide plateau of the condition—


a battleground to which I will return.
But there is room for only so much attention.

Poems APRIL 21, 2008 ISSUE

New Year



Blue January light, cold, scoured, clear.
From the Sandia foothills looking down
and back to where I came from, and the town
spread out below, then back to the past year,

or three or more years carrying this load,
how do I feel unburdened: free and light?
Unanchored, dizzy, my precarious tight-
rope lowered to a mere terrestrial road?

The blank new month requires divination.
Sword, wand, ship, sandal: at the Flying Star
(we talk our way along; improvisation),
the cards laid out spell struggle, choice, and pain;
also a white horse champing in a green
meadow; a maiden moving down a long dark stair.


Poems JULY 23, 2007 ISSUE

The Cold Hill Side



As months and years accumulate,
I miss you more and more.
Forgetting where I put the key,
I sometimes find a door

and other times feel stunned and lost,
though living in my own
body and life, presumably,
bewildered and alone

as the knight, kidnapped and released
to a dim world, who said
And I awoke and found me here
on the cold hill side.

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