Noisy Neighbors


The piercing whistle snaps me awake. Full-moon ice glow floods the bedroom sapping color and setting the mood for ghosts and unsettled spirits. I hold my breath, listening.

In the space before breathing, on the razor-sharp edge between horror and peace, the air around me vibrates with potential. For just a moment Trump hasn’t refused Japanese food in favor of a well-done American burger, or defended white supremacy, or grabbed another woman’s genitalia, or lied. Fracking pauses. All of Congress dreams of doing right by people. Ski lift tickets are free. The boxes surrounding me and scattered through the house lurk in shadows—less tasks facing me than sentries guarding me from gorgons. I don’t have papers to grade. I’m not behind in my writing.

I hover.

The whistle again, and this time it’s a bugle. Breathe. I don’t understand this term to describe an elk’s call except, perhaps someone listened to someone else trying to blow through a bugle and failing in squeaky eruptions. Yet there it is, just outside my window. And, beside me, my very heart stirs in his sleep.

I stand by the unfamiliar windows and look down into another realm. Alternately dark and light, the cold-gray invites winter faeries and goat-footed fauns from their hiding places. Flat, yet alight as if the moon rises from within, the smooth snow emits its own energy. I can reach my hand through the glass and brush against this alternate universe. I feel the silky frozen air between my fingers looking down on the scene.

The elk steps directly below these windows. Below my form. Below my reaching fingers.  Regal movements lifting his knees above the snow, he is both natural perfection and Claymation or computer-generated imagery.

With one last bugle, he stalks towards the other forms, tantalizing females seductively pawing through the ice. They drift into the pines mere ghosts—spirit smoke.

In moving, you never know if you’ll have noisy neighbors.

The Shape of Things


The world softened that morning.
Words such as powder, blanket, wonderland,
Cliched through my senses while I abandoned myself
To snow.

Behind me the news blared about a gunman
Alone, in the Lonestar State,
Killing children, women, men, in a church,
Bullets rendering flesh to pulp.

I can’t see the rocks out front anymore.
Grotesque gargoyles now muted to
Turtles, bunnies, and puffs,
Crouched under dazzling purity.

The elk bugles, but only
Long after the wolf’s howl.
We pick our way past the rounded lumps,
Put on paths by the shape of things.


I’m both the prairie mouse

And passenger behind the window.

In the world, of the world

Encased away from the world.

Am I looped into the

Third Space?

A white girl temporarily

Experiencing Bhabha-land?

I know better.

I know my cultural shift

Between two same cultures

Bears no colonial oppression.

I remember a sodden Northwest Day,

My heart friends and I,

Zoka and the moment.

A realization at once familiar.

We don’t have to be “either/or,”

We can be “both/and.”

Mid-sip on a sugary coffee

There isn’t, can’t be, a clear dividing line.

This morning, coffee again,

I am at home in a glorious sunrise.

I am also in our mountain “chateau” sunrise.

I am also at a literary conference sunrise.

I am witnessing a sunrise in my heart.

Soon I will part with more

Tangible objects with emotional significance,

And rend a few more holes in my heart.

The best way to let the sunrise shine through.

Change II

The mouse carcasses surprised me even though we planned their demise.

Seeing the barn dismantled from a small, functioning stable to a rectangular building has been like my heart is being scrubbed of emotion until it’s becoming numb.

It’s a broken clean heart, and that’s a dramatic representation. Change really is hard.

Gus is in training and making amazing, fabulous progress. That’s positive! The home we’re driving up to sign the lease on today is inspirational. Vern is starting a great job. George, Vern’s youngest son, is a happy addition to our family, and I’m starting a low-residency MFA in writing. Things are really good.

We’re driving over Berthoud Pass at the feet of snow-capped majesty stunned silent by the beauty. I’m so excited to move here in two weeks. I’m filled with dread about moving here in two weeks.

Change. Change is required for every really great leap in life. And for every great loss. But we can usually have a sense of what is on the other side of the jump. This leap seems to be a panorama of plenty.

Closing my eyes to the mountains, trees, and meadows, I toe the edge and prepare to fly.