Red fox

If, at the breakfast table,
I had not looked up just
as the red fox, burnished
coat glinting, trotted past,
white-tipped tail carried
like a flag, I would have
missed him. I would have
missed him if I’d slept late,
sneezed, or even blinked
which makes me think how
much I’ve missed because
of chance—if chance is what
it is—the life I might have
lived if I’d turned left instead
of right, responded no instead
of yes, walked through one
door, not the other. I’m not

Dear millennium,on quarantine dreams

As I wake in the morning, facing the risk
of viral air wafting in open spaces

such as the market, a gas station, or dog park,
I dare to linger at the rows of fat peaches,

in no haste to choose one with a gloved
finger, a paper mask filtering the aroma

of ripening fruit palmed in my right hand.
The daily hours slow to the rate of dough

rising in an oiled bowl, the floured wood
petitioning silently for another round

of dimpling and kneading, for sweet rolls
instead of sourdough. Praying for loved ones

To photic sneeze reflex

Each time we are called out of the car to face the sun,
after having spent time in the shade, we respond with a sound
offering—six or seven sneezes, our chorus of cacophony on a
bright day. It is, I’ve been told, a genetic confusion of signals—
these misfires making an announcement all their own. These
sneezes are mistakes, I’ve read. There are no impurities in the
nose to release and reject. The brain gets it all wrong. Maybe a
change in light intensity or over-sympathetic body parts?


Lord, I have lived
like a house that has forgotten
its windows, its door painted

black, closed. Only now
am I brave enough to claim
this feral loneliness.

I look for you in the wind-
tousled, red-tipped grasses, in the violet
concourse of the sky streaming

new stars I will never see,
but I am skin and bones and desiring
and the shapes of darkness are endlessly creative.

Still, I burn with love for this world.
Cast me into your coldest waters.
Let snow fall on my lips.


Polar bear

reflected in the eye of an angel

Are they not   the most angelic of beasts?   Bright
white   & mighty of limb   though hardly suited for flight 
One thousand pounds of hypercarnivorous bear

O fragile child   what do you think   of the cub 
seeing for the first time   their diminishing arctic icescape  
stumbling after her mother from their winter lair?

Gloria, a transition

After Maurice Duruflé’s Messe ‘Cum jubilo’

There’s a moment in the Gloria
when the Father simply leans down,
down to the shepherds, fruit pickers, gleaners,
down to the pregnant, the children, the sick, the injured, the lame,
down to believers, agnostics, artists, scientists, poets—all
abiding in the field in pens like a huge factory-farm flock

with the son now in its center
where the father leans down,
A to B,
and like the worst pain
the mighty organ halts all motion.

oh, how redundant

those poor poor
shepherds on
My Son’s
frightfully frigid
natal night

brought to Him
a gift,

their single
solitary best
begotten present

a newborn lamb, a

living sacrifice
holy, acceptable

while all I
could think of
before offering

my thanks
to their giving

was, oh, that
poor poor




Ghost owl

A cellphone’s flashlight beam selects your face
watching from a high branch skeptically—         
We’ve found you now, ghost owl, lodged cryptically
above us, grim observer. Fixed in place,         

Prayer in a cloud of ginger tea

With a prayer, I lower my face in a cloud of ginger tea,
inhaling the promise of its sinus-clearing, herbal fire.

I’m learning the names of trees in this quiet township 
past those days of girlhood greenery drifting sideways,

maple, elm, oak, cottonwood, then the nameless ones
autumnal, where the weight of all things sway together

to savor a moment of peace. In a crisis, let us be still 
in the presence of sweet revelation, of the blessed