Excerpt From The Exquisite Rapture of St Joan

Spread out these time creased wings

Reach for the sun beyond

The height where others fell

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The Puritan

The Puritan

Her girlhood game of spinning to fall tilted onto fresh cut grass
in snail-paced ancient wonder. This was the miracle
how gravity could hold her. A force grounded counter-
balanced. The perceived stillness of a flying planet
across the arc of time she emptied her calendar
found herself lost her mind. No plan came true
through years of shelter greed justice
crime only a world giving birth to night and day
draw death from life between her suburban church
to the shattered earth her hymnal hit the floor in ordinary time

Ophelia

Ophelia

What if time really were a river?
The Nile, maybe the Amazon and the Mississippi too
All three tied together tail to mouth
Mouth to tail around our lonesome globe
We could travel waves of cherished books
Always another page left to turn
The horizon tuned to play our favorite song
Without a final phrase

The Morning of Her Passing

Portfolio Out of Nature

I cried with a banshee wind released
to run through elder trees
stripped bare by northern songs

the brown oak leaves
down bitter breeze blown
through footprint caves in snow

the girl I was touched fire
once, to wish on ghosts of flame
this frost burns the same

covet with the wind my limbs
frozen extend to grip the pallid sky
yet the geese migrate they fly

while life is lifted I’m left behind
to watch the wild winged escape
on the breath she took to die

An Act of Creation

Triumph

I’d just come home from a wedding in Chicago when my friend, about to give birth to her eighth baby, sent me a message that she had contractions pretty regularly. If I wanted to be there to photograph the birth, I might want to come hang out.

There were a million reasons not to go. I’d already been up late at the reception the night before. We’d just rescued a one pound kitten off the highway. Leaving meant my husband and children were saddled with the responsibility of our new ward. I let the excuses swim around in my head a bit and then texted her back:

“I’m on my way.”

The truth is, my biggest reservation was fear. While I’d had my own natural childbirths, one in the water with the assistance of a midwife, they were both in the hospital where I was left alone unless emergency assistance was needed. None of that would be present at my friend’s house. Saying yes meant setting aside my own fear to give her the space she needed to bring a life into this world.

The birth took place in her back yard on a cool summer night inside a pagoda lined with delicate fairy lights and lanterns. Most of the ground inside was taken up with a large pool that her oldest daughter filled with pots of warm water. She carried these pots one by one to her mother, and I couldn’t help thinking of her as a kind of initiate in her own labor. Her husband sat beside the water and rubbed her back when she needed it. Her mother stood at the entrance, her eyes looking up at the sky. She said she’d heard the Northern Lights might be visible.

A little after two in the morning, I watched the moment of birth build to a crescendo. There was blood. The low, primal sounds from my friend as she confronted the doorway of creation with a pain that only belonged to her. She reached down into the crimson water. She threw back her head, arched her back and announced, “The baby is here.”

A mother in full control of the most definitive and fundamental act of creation.

I won’t ever deliver my own baby in the literal sense, but what I witnessed has challenged me to ask myself if I have truly taken my creative actions into my own hands.

We are all much more powerful than we think.

 

 

 

Anchor and Arrow

Beginings

I dropped anchor on other quests
that first night of lightest emptiness

Warmest skin pressed to find

repurposed breast. The smell
of newest newborn breath. A person

formed both young and old
timeless brightest growing child

Mine to hold. Yours to give

Blissful the arc of the arrow
when Fate pulled the quiver of my bow

Stained

Red Handed

her pulse turns wine into music notes
a bitter sip for a starved soul
she opens her hand to write the next line
in the novel of her calloused palm
one more time. One more loop
in the mandala

Flame

Flame

She walked through the fire
Nothing left but her soul
Open your fingers
Spread your palm
And blow

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