Ode to Spring Peepers

peeper

A chorus of hidden voices
heralds the arrival of spring.

Sweet high-pitched tones
echo over marshy grasses
at the pine forest’s edge.

One step,
then another step,
then stop.

Spring peepers
near at hand
quiet with the intrusion.

Crouching down,
I scan the bog.
Dusk calls for a flashlight.

There
caught in the bright
circle of light
is a thimble-sized frog.

Its rapid heartbeat
pulses visibly under
smooth, glistening skin.

A full round throat
awaits the darkness
to release a song.

Beckoning other denizens
of the night —
foxes, owls, snakes, deer —
venture out
this warm spring night!

 

Handmade

Aunt Charlotte's Candies 1

Through the candy store
up the backstairs
sits a large open room,
fragrant with chocolate and spice.

The older women
sit perched on stools,
rhythmically dipping caramels
into a river of chocolate.

A hundred years
of family tradition
pours into each candy mold.

Cousin Buddy decorates
large chocolate eggs,
like his father
before him.

I find the Easter basket
meant for me.

My name appears
looped in cursive letters
on a tall white chocolate bunny,
nestled in a sea of synthetic grass.

Back down the stairs
my siblings and I tramp,
tucking memories
into our baskets
to revisit
each Easter.

Distance

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WE’RE HERE!
The text announces.

Throwing open the front door,
My bare feet dart down
the slate front walk.

There,
unfolding themselves
from the sturdy Subaru
are my tall, smiling son
and his lovely girl.

I come up short —
6 feet away.
Hands dive into my pockets,
an unfamiliar awkwardness
bridges the space between us.

How to navigate social distance
when what we remember is touch:
hands held tight,
bandaged knees,
And family embraces?

Questions tumble out,
groceries exchange hands
and just like that —
they reenter the bubble
of the waiting car.

How to explain
the pang of longing
when family stands so near?
But,
six feet
feels like miles.

With Head Bowed

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Weighted down by a crown
of heavy pink blossoms,
our neighbor’s cherry tree
bends low over the sidewalk.

Rugged bark
covers a sturdy trunk,
offering the passer by
some confidence
before she bows
to navigate below
the craggy branches.

Oh,
but what a sight
the crouching mortal finds
as taffy colored confetti
lays sprinkled on the ground.

Whether a swift spring breeze
or celestial wedding party
scattered the delicate petals,
matters not
to the lucky witness
inclined underneath our neighbor’s cherry tree.

Aerial View

sweet gum flowers

Rising before dawn,
a sudden thunderstorm
rousing the pups,
we head out into the cool morning air.

Rain drips from sodden branches
as the sidewalk soaks up the moisture
like a thirsty sponge.

Down the street, around the corner
I stop to observe
the sublime form
of a miniature spring blossom
laying on the path.

This sweet gum tree flower
seems to have escaped
from the yard of a dollhouse,
so perfectly is it constructed.

I envision tiny tweezers
in the dollhouse maker’s hand,
carefully placing each blossom
in the lilliputian yard.

Is this how we humans must seem
To birds soaring high above?

Kitchen Window

 

window

When I first stepped into the house
where I now live,
my eyes were drawn to light
streaming through the kitchen window.

Mind you, the house has larger windows —
windows designed to impress,
with white plantation shutters
and broader views.

But, the kitchen window
is the perfect size.
It nestles above a deep ceramic sink
with a ledge just right
for a small potted plant,
some candles, a few trinkets.

First thing in the morning,
I often stand,
coffee cup in hand,
to watch the sun rise just down the street.

Blazing pink and muted orange
dress the day
just outside my kitchen window.

Family Photo, Long Beach Island 1991

blowing grass

Family Photo, Long Beach Island 1991

Dune grass bends behind us
as we line up, arm in arm,
mothers, fathers, cousins and spouses.

Aunt Rita is second from the right,
the master of lobster bakes
and perfect, golden corn on the cob.

My new husband stands on the end,
still not certain where to be.
His blond hair covers one eye
in answer to a long ago breeze.

Mom beams from the middle.
Twin to Barbara, mother of three.
A gentle soul whose eyes already
reflect the battle against
illness that took her this past winter.

But…
just out of view,
over to the left,
see our younger selves
exploring the bay’s sandy bottom,
searching for clams with tender feet.

My great, great grandfather’s duck blind
hovers on stilts offshore.
The small cottage, no longer standing,
glows late into the evening,
packed with too many cousins.

And, if you listen very carefully
You can hear the heartbeats
of grandchildren to come,
traipsing up the beach,
to stand in a photo,
arm in arm.
Inspiration for this poem came from Billy Collins’ poem, “Class Picture, 1954”.

Comfort

bread

Warmth radiates from the oven

as one by one

liquids, solids,

teaspoons and half cups

blend in a worn mixing bowl.

Outside the birds begin to wake,

alerting those sleeping to

dawn breaking on the horizon.

No knowledge of the day ahead,

since uncertain times

make looking forward

seem folly.

Only the stove,

the bread,

the baker

and a bright morning dawning.

For now, it is enough.

 

 

Resilience

Image result for x ray spine image

The human body is a miraculous invention,

thousands of minuscule parts working in harmony

to move, breathe, love and reason.

The wonder of it all

is especially apparent

when one small piece collapses

or wears away —

after all the human body

is flesh, bone and blood.

But,

wrapped within the

protective wall of bone

is an even more extraordinary element, the brain.

For it is the brain that ponders

and experiments

and wakes us in the middle of the night

for a solution to the part that needs repair.

What a true wonder

the human specimen is.

 

Grateful

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For the second year, my friend Sally

arrived at school in February

with a calendar

and two sheets of orange stickers.

“Each time you blog,

place an orange sticker on the calendar.

The goal is 31 stickers for 31 days in March.”

As a sucker for checked boxes

and filled in calendars,

I reveled in the idea of “slicing”.

I had sliced before,

a few posts here and a few posts there.

No accountability and no expectations.

But, as part of a group of slicers,

I made sure I posted and commented every day.

Yes, every day for 31 days

I wrote a slice of my life.

I read slices from writers near and far.

Stepping into the kitchens, backyards

and school hallways of other slicers

opened the doors to a generous community

of honest writers.

I am forever grateful

for the community built around

writing slices of life.