To see the announcement for my poetry book, Sparrow, selected by poet Dorianne Laux for the Kenneth and Geraldine Gell Poetry Prize at Writers & Books, go to

You can find a review by Kathleen Kirk at EIL:

Monday, March 29, 2010

Robert Frost

One of my favorite poems -- I find myself reciting it every morning this time of year as I drive to work.


Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf,
So Eden sank to grief.
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

The picture is of Indian Plum (also known as Osoberry, and in my family, Sarvis) one of my favorite shrubs and the first shrub that blooms in the northwest woodlands (this year, in February!). Image from Every year I mean to take pictures of it, and every year it comes and goes so fast I miss it.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

One daughter left for NY this morning with her choir (at 4 a.m.). Her twin sister (and I) spent the weekend in the hospital -- emergency appendectomy. It's my spring break between quarters and I have an ever-constant shadow (my poor sickly girl) saying, "What are you doing now?" "Can I go with you?" I go back to teaching full-time on Monday -- three classes beginning at 9 a.m. each morning. What will happen to my morning writing? When will I have time and space to write again? With 80 students writing papers, when will I have time to do anything else?

I open a book, Soul-Kissed by Ann Tremaine Linthorst, and I find this litany I've sometimes heard in church:

All will be well
all will be well
and all manner of things
will be well.

Friday, March 19, 2010

A very rough attempt -- but I think it might become something.

The heart is the size of a pear
and about the same shape. Suddenly

it's 341 A.D. and St. Augustine, as yet
unsainted, is a boy

stealing pears. It is 1962
and I am eight, climbing the pear tree

in our backyard and ripping my dress.
It is 2010 and a boy in Kazakstan

runs down a lane of wild pears.
His heart is beating hard.

The pears glow like gold,
like hearts. "It was foul,"

St. Augustine would later write.
"And I loved it. I loved my own undoing."

Monday, March 15, 2010


"If we discern a plot to our lives, we are more likely to take ourselves and our lives seriously. If nothing is connected, then nothing matters." --Daniel Taylor

"It's a mistake to believe that everything is not connected." --Albert Einstein

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Eudora Welty on Punctuation

"Punctuation for me is very important, even more important than names. It accounts for the rhythm of a story. A comma left out can mean an entirely different feeling, and one put in can mean disaster, if it doesn't belong there." Eudora Welty

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Writing Exercise this Morning

The writing exercise this morning is to list five people
who I see often but don't really know.

My daughter comes to me, all tears. She wants to stay home from school,
though why, she can't say and I don't know.

I call my mother. How are you? she says.
How are you? I answer. Why we're so polite, I don't know.

My husband is in the garage working on his latest project.
Who is that man? Did I ever know?

Who is this writer, asking me to know
what I can't possibly know?

I look in the mirror, and who is that woman
looking back at me? Bethany? Have I ever known?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


My cramped office, knee-high
in papers and books. I pick up
a pitchfork and start mucking.
The sun bakes the pile down--
fertilizer for some other crop.
The world drops out of focus.
Now it's just me and the page,
this pen. Outside the stable door,
my horse paws the ground.