> jumping into life.


Today is the memorial.

She said Thank you,
but I think it should be
family only.

So instead of standing
in my black dress, today
we are moving to the farm.

(where access to the internets will be scarce)


It was the year that I first fell in love.
We were fifteen. It is too young, but Death
has no care for convention. She is too young now,
and that was ten years ago, almost.

It isn't my story; I have been always on the fringes
of her grief. A witness to the tragedies
- some smaller and some great -
that enfolded the daily movements of her life.

It isn't my story; I have often fought
the urge to tell it, the urge to claim it,
have fought the guilt that comes of standing beside a body
while those around me are shoved to their knees

in mourning. We were fifteen. She was fifteen
when first Death came to her. Two days after Thanksgiving,
and I was away. The answering machine caught her distant voice.
She said My mother is dead.

She said My mother is dead.

After the funeral, my mother sent me back to school
for a geometry exam. I wore my black dress,
did not cry, got an A.
I learned to keep pity out of my gaze.

I learned that Death has no care
for equity. Life either. We were fifteen
when Death first came to her.
It was the year that I first fell in love.


and then Death sat down beside her,
on the long flight across the sea.
and Death met her at the door,
brought her to the darkened room, saying

She's almost ready. We've just been waiting
for you. Death stood politely in the hallway,
until all the words had been said,
then stepped in, saying I'm sorry, honey

it's time.


When the wind blows the sugarsnow is lifted off the branches and it


shining down through the clear winter sun all sparklebright and it

slowly onto
the fat roadside
piles and the hushed
creek still whispering
its watersong into the quiet of this winterworn world where we are all


for the quickening to come to lift us to reach those soft hands into our

bodies. Those perfect, aching hands.


Death is pacing her,
again. She's run hard,
these long years

but Death hasn't broken a sweat.
Death is circling her, again,
nuzzling against her palm.

She's run far, and well;
she lives in the middle
of Death's country, and

she does Death's job.
Her words come from far away.
She says Cancer.

She says Not again.
She says I am not
strong, don't you dare tell me

how strong I am.


Lord, I love this earth.
I am as the roots
lifted gasping into air
when the wind wins
over tenacity. Not quite at home,
but not divorced from my true purpose,

still. I would crawl back
into that damp and good-smelling place
if I could. I would like to lose myself
in the soil.

I do not belong in this world. I do not
belong indoors. In cars. I do not belong
to this race of misery and glut. Will not.

I love this earth. I am
a nestling fallen from my nest,
beset by brightness and sharp cold.
I belong to the sky.

I do not belong in these hearthless houses,
with senseless light that hides the stars.

My body is built of dirt and death
and meat. I belong to the soil. I belong
outside, with a sheen of sweat upon me,
bugbitten and sunburned and

I belong beside the fire
with a useful task and last summer's harvest
content in the cellar and

I am fierce in love
with this earth. I am built of nothing
but this earth. I am as a root torn
for a moment
from its grasp, and thinking
that I have lost my way.


For weeks now
we have watched the sad puddle
of mercury at the bottom of its tube,
never rising,
and we have covered our heads
against the cold.

The snapping of ice-heavy branches
woke us at night. The slick roads
taught me how to pray.
His father mistook a step
between plow and hearth,
and broke a limb of his own.

Today, just after the ides
of February, just after
the chocolate has all been eaten,
still a month shy of solstice,

the precious line of mercury climbed.

River ice creaked, and
the road was cloaked in fog.
We left our mittens
hats scarves jackets
long underwear
doubled socks
and ear muffs
at home.

The fog rose in sheets
from the snowbanks, bathed us
in warm anonymity, thick with the promise
and the rich smell of growth.



I hope that the cardinal family we watched for so long found a new feeder after we moved out. I miss them.


Love, love, love!


I've forgotten what I was looking for. The pile of plow-pushed snow goes over my head, and then some. The sky is white against the white hills; I've lost the horizon. I cannot go back out there. I cannot lift again that shovel, or rev the whirring ugly ravenous snowblower which I hate. The snow changes to ice, to sleet, to rain, to ice.

We leave the house before breakfast to plow and shovel and salt and we come in and eat at noon and then go back out. At three we salt again and wait for the ice to soften.

It is lucky we have nowhere to go, these days.

The sky is descending into night, now, at almost five. He's gone back out again to scrape the driveway. The world is pen and ink, all color gone. Some sepia seeps in the edges, maybe, where the redwood railings rise just above the lip of the snowbank. Where my hands have torn from ice and salt and gasoline.

It is a beautiful world, stripped down to its silhouettes and skeletons.

I cannot go back out there.


I have been struggling to do one thing at a time lately. Here, on the internet, seems to be the hardest of all. If I deem that being here, on the internet, is an activity worthy of my time, then I should do it as completely as anything else. Right? If you're eating, eat; if you're reading, read. If you're blogsurfing, well then blogsurf. Right? None of this reading with one eye and trying to carry on a conversation with the rest of me. Never works. Not with books, not with email.

And none of this having seven tabs and windows open at a time, constantly flipping back and forth between them, filling every two-second page-loading pause with another paragraph from somewhere else. If this is worthy of my time, I have the time to wait. To read the whole thing.

We've been watching TV lately. We're staying with family, and the TV here is on all the time, all the time. It makes my head hurt and it makes my pulse flicker and it makes me skittish and self-loathing. But I watch it.

The television is not worthy of my time.

We'll be starting work on a farm in March. Sugaring first, and seedstarting, all the way through harvest in September. I'm yearning for it, for the feel of good hard work, dirt under my fingernails, clean air in my lungs. I'm tired of being in-between. I'm tired of back-lit screens and flashing pictures, loud noises and sexdeathsex. Tired of people.

But the snow here is beautiful, and deep. And bread is in the oven.


The snow grows deep outside. I want to know about snowflakes. I want to know where runs the salt of a thousand driveways, a hundred city roads. Where runs the salt when there is no sea. I want to know if the deer drink it. If the fish breathe it, held tightly in their winter sleep. I want to know how it has not poisoned all the lakes. Or I want to know how it has.

We run the plow up the long driveway and back, warm in the truck. Coffee steams the windows. A month ago there were still cows lowing in the field outside; now the slick-iced hill shines like steel in the sun. They will be back in spring to stand at the fence and beg for apples, rubbing their horns against the trees. There are rabbit tracks beyond the deck. The creek slides still under its frozen sheath.

I scrape at ice on the patio with a heavy-handled tool, resisting the call of easy salt. Sweat will do.