A Fox Named Boo Radley

I wait for you in the hour of gold

when the breath in the cottonwoods will carry me your way,

and I hope you don’t mind my trail.

My skin, my face, my hair are fair like yours;

your earthen home, in fact, could be mine too

but for my lack of language.

Can you show me?

Fear not, though

I am your champion

moving through the grass to try and understand

a foxhole and a friendless kit.

The others have flown away

into the prairie, into the foothills, into the mountains

with wings you will never have

save human intervention.

There is a little something I left for you there

in the nook of uneven bark,

and I’d lke to think that the feathers I see,

and the rabbit leg bent like finger in the mire

might mean that you’ll be okay.

But for now, Boo Radley,

please poke your head out

so that you can look into my eyes…

The Splendor of a Sapling

I hope they look at the trees first.

One hundred years from now,

I hope they languish among the extant timber of the yard

and then move through the house in a hurry

keen on returning to the wildwood sea of needles.

Maybe they will look at the first-planted Spruce  

and exclaim that one hundred owls could burrow there;

one hundred owls among the sprouting quills of blue-green

and their two hundred eyes like ornaments. 

How I would love to listen for all of them 

from Heaven’s open window at night.

The trees will be tall then.

Too tall for even the bravest and longest-limbed child to climb.

Hand over hand over branch, leg bent to the ear in a stretch

I would hope that the child still tries.

But they will not be so tall that the top is unseen.

Oh to gaze upon their peaks like praying hands, 

joined together on some, forming arches like guards;

keepers of trust in water and sun.

All the same I am here now,

holding the hose to the roots, and then along the reach of arms.

There is a song on repeat for each bud of spring, 

I sing it when the clinging diamonds of water move slightly in the warm wind 

and think that

whoso cannot connect to the splendor of a sapling

will not see the kingdom that grows.  

Lighting the Pilot

It is quiet before the school bus brings them home.

My husband and I

are examining the boiler.

Our long-reach lighter relaxes unfound

somewhere in the garage; inside an unopened box

packed a lifetime ago it seems.

There within no doubt,

it makes company with my favorite woolen sweater–

the absence of its fibers more acute on a day like today.

Cold rain hits the basement windows where a peek of mustard leaves

flares on the trees outside.

We tape a match to the end of a screwdriver’s replacement arm

twisting and contorting to make it reach

before the match burns out,

then listen for the understated puff of success that will heat the house.

Soon, up and down,

through and in-between the walls

water starts to gurgle and hiss;

baseboards click and warm,

coppery pipes push heat through the bulwarks

of our weathered quarters

so new to us.

We sit as the kettle on the stove whistles

and the room warms,

thinking how much like marriage it is

to ignite the pilot.


I do know,

that I fall for the things that 

present themselves whimsically

only to land in love

with the prosaic touches of everyday.

Like how I don’t mind the Wyoming wind,

or the roughness of cowboys

who show me their scars 

three months out of the year.

(And then when winter comes, 

and I am gone somewhere else


and upturned-collars cleaner,

I long for the wind and the scars again.)

I know this is why I do love the silence

on the weary path—

the forgotten light, subject to the slivered moon

and the job of eyes to fix uncertain edges.

This is why I do love the old horse who will match my footsteps 

along the fence,

and how the mice who have built a tunnel from the barn to the coop, 

scurry in layer-feed dust away from the remains of fall. 

It is not my wonted chore,

so I breathe the suburbs’ passive fade into unbroken sounds,

and I delight in the footsteps that find the magic of an equine’s simplicity and desire:

the crunch of alfalfa between his teeth twice a day.

Bringing the Kitten Outside (and What It’s Like to Let Go)

What do you think

of this unwalled world?

Of a horizon that’s hidden; 

the earth and sky pearled?

Do you see the fleck of dog

cutting through the snow,

carving a solid line

no care with where to go?

And what do you think

of your blush-nose in the breeze?

So hush-ed now,

and just a tease.

And do you like the way

the snowflakes fall

on your mink-like fur,

their mid-winter drawl?

Do you know like I do

that your existence is white 

the clear and the soft, 

the fabric of right?

Do you feel like I feel,

were I to set you down,

that your feet might flutter big

and you’ll fly to Never-found?

Confronting the Cold

There is a gap in the door of the chicken coop.

I will have to fix it before the first snow,


Even so,

when I open the door,

pastoral red and rigid,

the warmth from four feathered forms

meets the front of my face

and touches the top of my nose as radiant heat will,

and I like this warmth.

There is a bale of hay,

twined in orange and resting atop its kin

waiting to be cut as the nickering horse extends his neck

over the stall, towards me.

His breath is a revelation in the beam of light,

and it reaches my face like an arm

with fingers extended, wanting to touch.

Another winter is upon us,

and I like this warmth, too.

And more tonight:

I break a thin layer of ice in the trough;

the water underneath holds its tepid viscosity,

and it is not so bad to penetrate the frozen

and dip my hands into water, still.

And you must know, I do like this warmth.

Even more, when the chores are done,

and when the right side of the bed is upturned and magnetic;

I’ve captured the feathered warmth,

and the horse’s thick breath,

and I’ve carried the unfrozen water with me

to fill the mirrored reflection on the left

where the covers are not folded back into a dog-eared page

worth reading again.

Grooming the Dog

At the sight of the box with the clippers,

his tail folds between his legs 

yet he reluctantly follows

until I am positioned under a tree away from the glare of sun.

There is a tender breeze, in fact, and he sits for me,

given to, as the tool buzzes across the side of his torso

then through the mat of hair at his chin 

and around his ears. 

A squirrel baits him from across the yard

and I will lose him soon

but for the fact that he is good.

Even so, before long I have taken too long, and he lies down softly in the soft grass; tufts of his dark fur lifting into the September dry;

it floats momentarily and then lands somewhere on or between us.

It is a gentle protest

when he rolls completely onto his back, paws bent, eyes deep and clear as he watches mine 

searching for a hint of my satisfaction with his improved appearance.

As if a haircut could influence the affect of a perfect dog.

Staying Late

There is the grass like velvet, 

and the net like a web

catching the dreams of almost-thirteen year old boys,

and sometimes the ball–

most of the time the ball, (he would want me to say).

A light rain sprinkles the summer-dusted windshield when he approaches and asks to stay

in the dusk, with his coach on the bench lifting his nose to the cooled air 

and towards the sudden emptiness of green as the cars move through the asphalt eyebrow.

Parents rub their eyes, thinking about dinner; they will mention homework, too. Headlights brighten.

But here I sit and there he goes.

He’s hard to spot at the far end of the field as the trees pick up wind and sway above his quickening form.

He moves faster,

and then he is fire.

His face stills and his leg springs out from behind 

the other one bent and stable

and then forward, connecting his blaze to the ball:

a moment

between father and son

as the neon-pink ball expands the flesh of nylon.

A smile forms and he turns away to skip down to the far end of the field, again. 


what do I do

when the mirror light stops flickering

stops watching me during the half-removal of clothes

as I spread them about the bathroom floor 

trying to decipher what could be Morse code from beyond.

what do I do

when  the noisy neighbors in the ash tree outside my bedroom window

cease their sunrise chatter and gamboling

and stop waking me at an ungodly hour to announce the presence of a worm or a cricket

hanging from a dark, wreathed beak

ignorant of sand in the eyes and twisted, sleepless sheets

damp with dreams and mourning.

what do I do

when the sun stops rising

and the seasons stop changing

and my heart stops beating

for all of this