Showing posts from 2013

Light Years

Bright snow, bright moon Mornings of bright breath beside mine Such aching, such light

Though I've shown up here less this last year, Landing on Cloudy Water is still a special place for me, as are all of you. Thanks for your continued community and support. Here's to a spectacular, gentle, and joy-filled 2014!  Merry Christmas!

All Ignorance Toboggans Into Know

all ignorance toboggans into know
and trudges up to ignorance again:
but winter's not forever,even snow
melts;and if spring should spoil the game,what then?

all history's a winter sport or three:
but were it five,i'd still insist that all
history is too small for even me;
for me and you,exceedingly too small.

Swoop(shrill collective myth)into thy grave
merely to toil the scale to shrillerness
per every madge and mabel dick and dave
--tomorrow is our permanent address

and there they'll scarcely find us(if they do,
we'll move away still further:into now 

-- by e. e. cummings

Wild Animals: One Mom on Holding On and Letting Go

Dinner on a weekday means this: something basic, something hearty yet fast, like soup with a slice of unbuttered bread, because the moment I am up and at the kitchen counter--my face four feet from his face, my hands not tickling the length of his wiggly body--my almost-nine-month-old son is at my legs, standing and pulling and leaning against them, his faultless countenance a half bowl of instinct and need. He wants to be held. It is both beautiful and heart-wrenching, the way he grips after me.

"Elliot," I say to him, reaching under the nests of his arms, lifting him like a bird before settling him on my hip, pecking his nose, calming him instantly. "Baby, you're fine. Haven't I told you before? In this northern savanna, there are no cheetahs."

Of course, he thinks I'm hilarious. Which is one of the thousand reasons why I keep lifting him up, holding him close, stirring the soup with one hand, not buttering the bread.

About a month ago, though, t…

What I've Been Into -- Fall 2013

Hi everybody,

Hope you've been enjoying these cooler days, what ever that means to you in degrees. Autumn is my favorite season, and October my favorite month, which is lucky because it's when I was born, and hiking at St. Johns University with family on my birthday suited me quite well. Hello, blue blanket skies! Hello, quilt of leaves! I'm grateful for all the reasons this season gives to pull those I love closer.

Things have been quiet on the blog these last few months, which I both expected and didn't, if that makes any sense. I've been a working mom for over two months now. Definitely a transition. We've found some semblance of "flow" to our days, though, which feels good, but it has come as a result of simplifying, doing less of some things, and giving in more to unplanned present moments. I still find myself longing to write, missing the particular energy and time that I need to create something fresh and weighted with these lovely little thing…

How To Find Who You Are

For me it is always about color, about wind, about movement, about sun, rain, storm, stars, soil,  smells and sounds and yes.

Words I Whisper

Hush. The light is fading.
Hush. The ducks are flying.
Hush. The smoke is sifting.

Hush. The moon is rising.
Hush. The owl is hunting.
Hush. The trees are creaking.

Hush. The fall is coming.
Hush. The fish are sleeping.
Hush. The sky is stretching.

Hush. The light is fading.
Hush. The light is falling.
Hush. The light is lightness.

Ways to Say Summer

in Danish: sommer in Swedish: sommar in Old English: sumor in Dutch: zomer in Czech:éto in Greek: καλοκαίρι in Quechua: chakisqa pacha in Arabic: صيف in Lakota: blokétu  in Chechen: akhke in Chinese: 夏天 in French: été  in Japanese: 夏 in Latin:aestas in Fijian: vulaikatakata in Russian: лето in Somali: xagaa in Spanish: verano in Thai: หน้าร้อน
Or, in Me: lazy mornings barn swallows playground swings small stones in clear streams festivals farmers markets aluminum canoes pontoons bonfires back porches berries flower gardens

What I've Been Into - Summer 2013

I've decided to try something new here. I was talking the other day to a friend about our summers, and I realized two things:
I loved hearing about what she'd been doing, what she'd read and seen, where she visited, what she'd been mulling over.Although I had read/seen/visited/thought over actual adultish things myself, I could hardly remember any of them.  I am blaming this on my dear sweet little boy and the scientific FACT called "Baby Brain." And I am using it as a reason to put together a post now and then--maybe once a month? once a season?--to remember what I've been into between the rocking and feeding and human-jungle-gyming exploits that soak through so many of my waking hours. A good number of other bloggers do this same thing, and despite the fact that there's nothing overtly lovely or inspiring about a list of television titles, I look forward to these posts. They open the door to that writer's humanness, I think, and they establish a…

Six Months, or The Bewilderment of Mother Love

I have been a mother for six months. Half a year. Winter to summer. Brown to green. Snow to heat lightning. Egg to flight. 184 rotations of the earth, and so many moments with my cheek placed along the skin of my son.

I have lived delight.

And exhaustion.

And a breaking away of time. Those 184 rotations happened, surely, but sometimes I glance out the window and it is startling to see the clover, so lush and purple-budded, instead of white. Perhaps it is because Elliot came to us in this northern land when everything was insular and tucked away and, for the most part, still. What I do know is that despite my denial, he has grown as quickly as the clover, observant and beautiful and steadfast, and I love him more than all the other studied and cultivated sections of my wild-garden life.

I might have anticipated this, but I could not have anticipated him, this person.

It's bewildering, really: what it means to be a mother, to be his mother, to still be me.

On the night of the solsti…


I look at you, and blink. Wind, and the world shifts. New shadows, new light.


Tonight I am not in London or Grindelwald or Strasbourg or Basel or the Alsace or Lahr. I am not in New York or LA. I am not in Costa Rica or Spain or over the rocky edges of Iceland. I am not in Chicago, or Montpelier, or even Minneapolis. I am not on the Chesapeake Bay.
Tonight I am here. My back pressed into pillows, a laptop under my fingers, the windows open open to the night that was yellow then orange then pink and now blue. There are clouds that look like hills, a sky that looks like ocean. There are lights in the distance from the ball park. There are shadows of birds flying toward nests. In the field, each individual blade of grass holds itself up, watching the last of the day slip west. 
I hold myself up. I watch this day, just as I've watched the others, sometimes from places very far away.  I think and I think and I feel and I remember and I imagine. The windows are open open. One star. Another. Fireflies. The moon. Breeze. Breathing. Baby noises. Husband's hand.…


Took a walk yesterday eve just as the sun was sinking. Baby was asleep. Husband had his feet up. The birds were winging as if it were their last hour on earth. I walked out and joined them, spirit right up there beside their bodies in the air, the air warm, the breeze blue, the clouds perfect, the light the same light that I've loved as I've loved all I've loved my whole life. The world is kind.

"In Spite of Everything, The Stars"

Like a stunned piano, like a bucket
of fresh milk flung into the air
or a dozen fists of confetti
thrown hard at a bride
stepping down from the altar,
the stars surprise the sky.
Think of dazed stones
floating overhead, or an ocean
of starfish hung up to dry. Yes,
like a conductor's expectant arm
about to lift toward the chorus,
or a juggler's plates defying gravity,
or a hundred fastballs fired at once
and freezing in midair, the stars
startle the sky over the city.

And that's why drunks leaning up
against abandoned buildings, women
hurrying home on deserted side streets,
policemen turning blind corners, and
even thieves stepping from alleys
all stare up at once. Why else do
sleepwalkers move toward the windows,
or old men drag flimsy lawn chairs
onto fire escapes, or hardened criminals
press sad foreheads to steel bars?
Because the night is alive with lamps!
That's why in dark houses all over the city
dreams stir in the pillows, a million
plumes of breath rise into the sky.

-- by Edward Hirsch,  …

Serendipity and The Secret Garden

Friends, tomorrow is June. June! Which means the students I didn't teach these past months are celebrating their freedom, the crab apple blossoms I blinked and missed this year are ripening into fruit, the thunderstorms I love—the big and juicy ones—are crackling on the horizon, and I must sneak in one more post before spring turns to summer, if only to share a few green-season quotes with you from Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden. Quite by chance, it was the first book I read after Elliot was born, and I can't imagine I'll ever forget that serendipitous match. I read this story of Mary and Colin and Dickon when I was a young girl, of course, but I had forgotten how much truth swirls off every page. There were grand intentions of writing an essay about it, or at least a poem, and sharing that with you all, but instead I have become a master at the art of clipping small fingernails and mining out ticklish spots between the delicious rolls of my son's squi…

Fields of Gold

I'm not sure what I thought would happen exactly after I did this thing called giving birth. I knew I would be called mother. I knew I would have a son or a daughter. I knew my husband and I would be parents. But as concrete as these words are, from the other side of now-knowing, I can say they feel like shells, shells full of light, but empty of the true weight that fills them when a baby that was hidden is brought into the visible world and placed in one's arms. I look at my son, and daily I think, pregnancy was work, birth was labor, but it was easy, so easy, far too easy for the fact of him, that he is real and really here.

What had I heard would happen exactly? Loss of sleep, a lot of diapers, warmth, deciphering cries, learning to soothe, learning to dress and bathe and feed someone small, and love--letting a new kind of love in. And each of these things has occurred, over and over. Yet they are not what has happened, not really.

What has happened is I wake in the deep o…


This is just to say that the days are getting longer and our windows all are open, and the house feels thicker, full-lunged, porous, bare-kneed.

This is just to say that we skipped spring here, went straight to summer, sweaty t-shirts and pink brows, bicycles and bicycles and bicycles.

Mostly, though, this is to say that on the first hot day of this new season, I walked with my son to the lake where I'd told him it was time to arrive, and when we came home, for the first time in his life,

he laughed.

"Black Oaks"

Okay, not one can write a symphony, or a dictionary,
   or even a letter to an old friend, full of remembrance
   and comfort.

Not one can manage a single sound though the blue jays
   carp and whistle all day in the branches, without 
   the push of the wind. 
But to tell the truth after a while I'm pale with longing     for their thick bodies ruckled with lichen 
and you can't keep me from the woods, from the tonnage     of their shoulders, and their shining green hair. 
Today is a day like any other: twenty-four hours, a     little sunshine, a little rain. 
Listen, says ambition, nervously shifting her weight from     one boot to another -- why don't you get going? 
For there I am, in the mossy shadows, under the trees. 
And to tell the truth I don't want to let go of the wrists     of idleness, I don't want to sell my life for money,     I don't even want to come in out of the rain.
-- by Mary Oliver ~~~What a gorgeous poem, yes? For those of us who get a littl…

God, Does It Feel Good To Get Outside

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Events, Snow and Otherwise

A snow "event" is tapering off outside my window, dropping perhaps ten inches of new white, and where half the state's population is elated and the other half depressed (a friend reminded me it was 80' right around this time last year here), my mind has never been more inside, less focused on coats and boots, more in tune with another body's breath. I have decided that late winter is the perfect time to welcome an infant into the world. All there is to do is cuddle.

Elliot is wonderful, friends, and I hope each of you know how much I've appreciated your support and positive thoughts throughout his journey here. Right now he is beside me, asleep. This means I should start dinner. This means I should fold some clothes. This means I should call the insurance company. This means I should actually unload the dishwasher, which was a task I began this morning and got as far as, oh, opening its door. I'm learning that there are a lot of things that should but don…

Baby Boy

Right now the side of his face rests against my belly, skin to skin, his warmth magnified by mine. It is a wonder, an absolute awe-filled thing, that just days ago he was on the other side of me, tucked away and unseeable, a secret.

Elliot. Elliot with the head full of hair. Elliot with the fifty-eight eyelashes. Elliot with the rounded nose that dips into rounded cheeks that slope to the tiny chin that quivers when he cries, lifts when he smiles in his sleep. A landscape. Elliot. Tiny boy so like and unlike all the other boys who have been born before. So like and unlike whatever small person I imagined my own son to be. Perfection is a rare if not impossible thing, but how could he not be, right now, so young, so soft, exactly as he is here, breathing in and out, making the sounds that all mothers and fathers know as first-speak.

Secrets. He is revealing them to me, unspooling them by the minute, by the number of his sighs, and they tangle around my legs and body until I am warm and…

For You

When I think back to these final days before your birth, I will remember several things: the cayenne pepper I mixed generously into every soup and onto every entree I made; the yoga ball I bounced on while your father put the groceries or laundry or Chunky Monkey away; the quiet powdery snow that came several cold nights in a row, perfect and smooth, leaving one or two new inches for us to discover at dawn; how I stopped dreaming of you, and instead talked with you during the day, the hours coated with my pep-talks, my explanations, all my hopes I knew you were hearing. In the dark hours I would lay on my left side, a pillow between my knees and under your weight, your father wrapped around us both, and he and I would close our eyes, so warm, as the world outside went on and on and on and we waited to enter it with you in our arms, too.

There were also daily walks where I tried my best to coax you, rock you into trusting the air. On a 12’ afternoon I bundled us up and trekked across th…

Ways to Say Winter

in Dutch:    winter in German:    winter in Danish:    vinter in Icelandic:    vetur in French:    hiver in Finnish:    talvi in Catalan:    hivern in Italian:    inverno in Spanish:    invierno in Latin:    hiems in Greek:    χειμώνας in Persian:    زمستان in Thai:    ฤดูหนาว in Chinese:    冬天 in Japanese:    冬 in Russian:    зима in Maori:    takurua in Figian:vulaililiwa in Somali:    jiilaal in Zulu:    ubisika in Turkish:   kış
Or, in Me: warm kisses
cold noses old music echoes clasped hands beards, thick with icicles