He wrote her a love letter
exactly three and one half pages long
handwriting slanted sideways, the pen rarely picked up
in the furious rush.

She decided that a certain percentage of these
expressions of undying love
are inherently selfish.

Words are said to relieve the burden
of these things rattling around in the head.
Every combination of terribly beautiful things
has been stated, analyzed, and…

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The Storyteller

she said “it is so easy for you”
and I just shook my head but didn’t argue.
I’m the storyteller through poems
but can’t say the words out loud
I’m the dream-maker through glances
but can’t make a sound.

I am tracing outlines faster and faster
the pieces of conversations and glances
throw me to the ground.
there is the distant crashing sound
of the beginning of the most beguiling music
the curves of my hands and arms in the air
and now you know I will look over my shoulder
in the way we do when it is time to begin.

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Writing the future before the present.

I can’t watch this happen again, when our feet have only just touched the clouds. Each book I write is a novel about the might never be, and one day in the future I wrote a book about every moment we had together. It was called “The Life That Always Was” and there was laughter on every third page. The chapters all started with major milestones in life, such as the time we met, the moments in the kitchen and taking walks on autumn afternoons, and the time that you stood beside me as we watched the world end around us (in a good way).

Each song that we danced to had a story, and some of the stories were painful, some joyful. All were worth telling, as the stories of families are always worth telling…even if only to ourselves.

So as the light of the stars came from the past, and we dreamed of the future…

I whispered “please come home” and there you were.

Who knew it was so simple?

(Currently listening to this song.)

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The paths that words take.

She held her breath far longer than she meant to. There was order and a certain sense of peace, but the ground was shaky under her feet. Reaching out did no good…the branches tore at her dress and snagged her hair. In this case, a blue sky was no comfort, sunlight was harsh and glaring. The only thing to make it right was the cool evening wind, the kind to be lost in.

She learned to translate movement and expression into thought, broke through the noise of words…but lost the frantic tumble of syllables and sound that slide down ravines and tumble into your waiting hands.

Some words stay thick and others fall in rapid movements. There are ways to keep up. Words can hold our hands, walk right into our souls and set up shop.

Glances catch details, the little spoken or understood moments. Hems of long dresses touch a polished marble floor, stirring dust motes in the afternoon sun. A hand grips a telephone pole and twists around to gain balance, tightening. A plate shatters but only one piece does a graceful double-back flip. Only one snail ever crossed that path in that place, he is a snail celebrity in the snail world.

Her words are as powerful as the silence could be, if it was patient and waited for Sunday afternoons with tea and books by the fire. She has waited so long for those afternoons.

Hands grasp, give up, let go. They hold on again…

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I have discovered that my heart holds too much love, my mind holds too many memories, and my feet have not traveled enough roads. Too many of my secrets are no longer mine. There have been years of letting life happen, and moments of joy in between.

There are a few things I know to be true: my bare feet on marble and carpet, the scent of roses and jasmine, old stones and white-washed walls, the smiles of long-lost new friends, the pen in my hand, a child in my arms, serving tea in glass cups, sunlight, hands through hair, soft words of prayer, a purple sky with white clouds, honesty with you, and my sometimes healed, sometimes broken heart. I have invisible bruises and visible scars, and yet my words have become patience, detachment, and balance.

I always thought that the most peaceful moment would be to dance barefoot on deep green grass in a long summer dress. I could look up to the sky in any moment of doubt, and the universe would anchor me. There are too many stars out there, and too much beauty here, for God not to exist.

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secrets and contrast

I am in the shadows of trees.
infinite, against sun-streaked skies.
the shadows are peace, forgiveness…

When we whispered our secrets to the quiet spaces under the trees, beyond the hills that we slept under for one hundred years…

the silence echoed.

When we whispered our secrets, they were coated with the fog and rain, made heavy with the weight of water and time. Our secrets became the leaves, a million colors and fallen.

Now our secrets are whispered between us, the trees only listen, and we are laughing.

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to be written and lived

(i never said i wouldn’t write, only that i might not
but this requires hidden words
to record the moments, and i am not the type that forgets.)

the most perfect times
are when the rain is pouring down in the middle of the night
and we are smiling
or the sunlight falling in on our faces
in the middle of an absolutely beautiful day

I looked up at the light gray
as the sky came falling down on me
in delicious little pieces
to be able to laugh and laugh
and there comes my sideways smile

a storefront with small windows:
crammed with a million little joys
hats and umbrellas and wooden boxes
and an old book with the corners bent

there will be bright flashes of color
taking over the green of trees
and the smell of the sea
there are endless roads.

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the dreams that hold onto me

I dreamed we were all standing on the shore
staring across the bay
and our feet felt the rocks beneath our shoes.
There were clouds above and below
in between our silent stares.
We all gathered in an empty stone house
elbows touching, feet shuffling
and our spirits were lifted by a Hand.

I dreamed that your eyes stabbed into mine
made me realize that in some ways
it is better that I am gone.

I dreamed that my suitcases
were being packed one last time
(for the fourth time)
and I know I haven’t left yet.

I dreamed that you were so happy
dressed in white.
and so confused.

I dreamed that we were in a forest,
and you came to me smiling
there were never words said
and I am left wondering.

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either way

the waves of the salty blue-green sea lifted me
in my turmoil and tears
you joined me and I can’t forget that.
I needed laughter
there was too much heartache
you whispered
and there was peace in the stars.

There is too much to say.
I wish I had more to say.
You always read these words better than anyone else.

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From Kansas, with love.

There are so many faces
In each room, I turn and my heart fills
with a million histories
(I remember it all)
There are two ways that I see:
I see your smile
and I feel your soul
there is that.

I felt myself laughing and I could not restrain myself from jumping up and down. In the darkness I saw at least 25 faces that I love, 25 souls that I could not believe I missed so much.

Joy, joy!

They are, dears, they are. They are laughing and crying and I can’t explain why my lips quiver and my heart aches and it is all because I am surrounded by such beautiful everyones.

(I make the English language mine.)

Write a few moments of every day on clean paper, or on the back of your hand. Make notes in the margins, and scratch out anything that makes you sad. Sadness has its place but you all have my heart.

I love you, I love you.

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incomplete: evening thoughts

It makes me less lonely when my friends are writers: I feel their souls next to me when I read their words.

There are a few things that make me smile, no matter what. At the moment all I can remember is that babies are at the top of that list, but also somewhere in there are the moments in between our words when we can smile in silence.

Speaking of which, silence is only good to me when it is in comfort. At most other times, words or music fill the spaces, and that makes me happy. I love the quickness of words between friends, the back and forth movements, like watching a tennis match between two or four or ten people. The chaos is beautiful.

When the chocolate chip cookies were in the oven tonight, I wanted to keep baking, to hold onto the memories of 11 year old me in the kitchen, and the additional countless past and future times I have been or will be in the kitchen, washing the butter from my hands and waiting impatiently for the end.

Going to the beach makes me revert to a child-like state. I will run into a flock of seagulls, play in the water, and act in a rather frivolous manner. Pray that this never changes.

I have grown quiet in the sense that my words are struggling to fit the things I know and see, the little pieces of the world around me and the things that we cannot see with our physical eyes. Sensing the small changes and the shards of glass and the bottle caps and perfectly cut grass and the sirens and the sun coming in through the window to light up your hair and a giant bowl of ice cream and

wait for it

shaking my head (I’ve lost it).

But there is time for endless lists. Emotions are stored in neat little labeled boxes on a rickety shelf somewhere in the back of my head. The most fiery one is the sense of justice, the most meek the feeling of accomplishment. Somewhere in between and all expansive is love.

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and there is just silence

I am feeling the sweet things, the moments where soft voices merge
and we’re whispering in the dark, with lilies and the sound of old trees
sighing against the wind.

In the in-between time, the familiar pieces of myself jangling jarringly against the other pieces of me.
I have no peace with myself.
We’re wearing sweaters with holes in too many places but I’m okay with the lack of patches:
it lets the sunlight in.
Stand outside with the breeze blowing south and drawing me towards the promise of something. Reflections strike our eyes.
I’ve fallen into the solid forgiveness of knowing without a reason.

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I wish I could see your eyes
sweet whisper
there were colors that danced
and faded into the words

Make sure the ghosts don’t follow me
if the past was gone away
make the dreams pass silently
only in your arms

I wish I knew you
in your silent possibilities
of every hope I had
lost in the growing up of a child

pictures, scraps of fabric, little wooden boxes
dried rose petals
pieces of paper
a library card, a necklace, two notebooks
three postcards
a dress older than me
and my baby blanket in a Japanese box


and the future is waiting impatiently
please tell me because I am lost without
some sort of light
too tired to hope
oh I tried and was left behind
and now I smile as I catch roses
waiting for you.

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and so now the rain that refused to fall from the sky
is falling down in memories of the never will be
and I am slowly waking toward healing.

in silence I stumble
in these reflections, humbled
in moments I finally see

I am the eternal traveler
staying close to home
I will make tea for you
bare feet will touch wooden floors
whenever the rain comes down
from the vicious gray skies

we are sheltered.

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More Than

more than
my molten eyes and sudden smile
there are years behind what you see
I am
more than your assumption of me
I am
images across a screen
I am
scraped knees and willow trees
I am
dirt paths and lace dresses

whispered secrets with my mother & father & sisters
shouted secrets with my friends

I am more than
the visual

I am
the sum of thousands of years of history
and the stories of my family

I am oceans and sand and soft green grass and finding arrowheads in piles of stone
journeys under endless skies and the sky was left behind under the pink city glow
I am…

And we shout so desperately that we are! We are human and we live/think/exist! Let me prove to you that I exist with one simple formula! The universe must know…we must know…I must know…

I am waiting here for you to find.
I am
more than
what you thought you knew.

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The messenger

I am sensing silence from you
maybe I am too sensitive
maybe you are too far gone.

I dreamed of you last night
there was no music playing behind us
underneath campfire skies.

I was told that you wanted to see me
and my instantly forgiving heart
opened my arms to you.

I think that mostly these dreams
are me, speaking to me
and you are just the messenger.

I wish that maybe someday
there won’t be a need for words
and you will tell me what you were thinking.

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month 18

The eyes of strangers touch, leap across crowded spaces, and safe smiles reach the lips, are traded, and fade.  The touching of eyes crosses space, marble floors, dirt paths, and place settings with coffee stains and the remnants of sugar packets.

Eyelashes are beautiful things, wet with the tears that never fall from my eyes, or shining to frame your (their) face(s) as we (they) talk earnestly, in a thousand places and combinations.

I will hear my alarm in four hours.  In the darkness we fumble for our keys, and I will circle the stone paths in whispers for the first and last time.   Dawn prayers.

It all becomes more real, and in one month my world shifts again.

I was holding a brown child in my arms last night (in my dreams).  He had soft, curly hair and he was not necessarily my child, but I was caring for him.  I carried him through ballrooms, as technical crews set up the rooms and we wandered the back hallways.

We looked at each other, looked in each other’s eyes, and laughed, inches away from each others faces.  He grew up, in an instant, and asked why I carried him…he was old enough now.  So we walked past the zoo, and he talked to the animals, and we walked down the shore of Lake Michigan.

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the written word

your words came to me
at exactly the right moment.
I hovered in silence, in pain and confusion,
all earthly attachments.

your words…I had no response.
we are none of us innocent
and yet, and yet…

we are souls, our spirits crave connection
to see the God in each other
to see the prayers realized
is unusual and precious in its rarity.

thank you.

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Writing blind

I am tasting colors, writing blind
my fingertips touch and stretch
we’re running so fast
maybe I’ll tie me to you…

If only we could see through these eyes
faint little heaps of shredded tires
and left-over green grass
from the yesterday of the past.

We’ll never leave we will stay here
and I am writing beside you
with my ink-less stained hands…

I am right beside you.

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There are moments.

She stood precariously, one foot on the rocks and one in the sea, bare feet with tips of red, gripping earth and sand.  She could only wait for so long, could only stand between worlds for as long as a flower took to fully bloom, or maybe as long as it takes for a child to learn the nature of laughter. 

Those insistent pieces of her heart, scattered and pulling, tickling at her skin when she tried to forget, trying so hard to be complete again…there was a moment between worlds, and she hesitated.  Or…no…perhaps it was he who hesitated, and her shattered, completely whole spirit fell between moments.

The point of falling is to be caught before hitting the ground, to be released before being trapped, and to be chased in order to fall again.  That is the supposed order of things.

Clear words are binding, but she learned this after she was taught clarity.  So…all of these little strings tied to bigger strings, and the bigger strings disappeared into the distance behind her, and the beginning was lost.

She turned around, took out a pair of scissors, and with calm and in complete silence, cut every single string.  The broken ends trailed after in delightful disarray, and she smiled in that moment.

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To help me…

I remember I listened to this song when he died,
about a car flipping on the turn,
and about God and death and birth.

and I remember I listened to live music through a CD,
cleaning my house to the cheering crowds
of music everyone loves.

and I remember the song with slow sadness
in the heat of summer
with sun-baked skin and sun-bright smiles.

I remember the powerful taste of the violins
as voices cut through phone lines
and history was remade.

and I remember how the music drifted in
at the beginning of spring
as we looked and never spoke.

and I remember the color of eyes
as the softness of “the past and pending”
floated through the hall.

Last night I dreamed

the wind nearly knocked us off of our feet
as the world ended…
my dress swirled in disturbed waves
and arms wrapped around me.

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3 months left

I stood on a tower with darkness and lights below
and in our eyes I saw the doorways to the world

To dwell on memories is the fastest way to go
but our hearts will linger here, and in time I’ll let you know

The light will shine down on us in soundless moments
forever to remember the timeless silence.

The rain that refused to fall from the sky
came from my eyes instead
to wash away the dust that our tired feet raised.

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The usual pattern

you let silence take us
you, with your wildly inaccurate dreams, me alone in a busy room…
out we went, our years between somehow left on a dusty shelf in your old apartment
the one that was never, ever clean.
I was your muse and sometimes you were mine, but mostly we were.

We are now.
for the first time in what was forever, I left and you left, in different ways.
I am. Always will be, have never changed, and was honest about that.
You will continue to be one of the most creative people I know.
But I no longer know you.

Gone we are down paths I said we would take, over and over,
“this is where you will go, and this is where I will go.”
and you just shook your head.
(remember, I said “I am always right.”)

Somehow, it just keeps happening.

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Looking at home

everything changed and is the same
we left behind our shattered selves and started fresh
but the stains and stars are trailing after.

we can’t remember everyone that we know
and I’ll come back to the same place where everything is new,
you’ll be there and gone and here and leaving
and scattering to begin again and again.

it is no longer mine or ours or anything we knew
I’ve written words and you stepped in new places
and over the silence our whispers were heard.

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a letter to the future

sometimes I wish you could see me
my subtle moments, my tired eyes, my smiles and my gestures.
my million ways of laughing and the way I wash dishes,
the way I stare up at the stars and off into the distance,
or how I get totally immersed in a book or chopping vegetables.
you don’t know how I act when I am taking charge of a room,
how my tone of voice changes when I call home,
how my mother and I spent evenings in front of the fireplace
with chocolate and tea and laughter.
do you know that I love cobblestone streets, grand old homes,
and perfect climbing trees?
or that my little sister means everything to me,
and my Faith encompasses my life?

sometimes I wish you could see me dancing, I am joyful,
the whole room disappears and I am complete.
my fascination with little details and museums,
my love of road trips and forests and conversations over coffee.
I still love to play dress-up…just a more grown-up version…
did you know that my kitchen is my sanctuary?

sometimes I wish that you could know me, that you continue trying,
and that the things that I want you to know about me…
someday I will know about you.

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we felt the silence, in the way a child knows to be quiet when the room hushes suddenly.
it wasn’t heavy…it lifted the heart, and around we went
our shoes in varied sounds and rhythms.
the city moved on, in the usual way, and in our one way we spent forever
following the thousands before.

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Sweet little lady, bare feet in the summer grass. Her eyes closed, face up to the sky, there is forever stretched around her.

Perfect, perfect, and her heart just stops just one moment as she breathes in the universe…as the years followed behind her, never quite catching up. She smiled at those who least expected it. It wasn’t really anyone’s fault (although it could be someone’s fault), there was no one to blame, but those poor pretty hearts were left in the dust by the side of country roads.

Fierce little lady, with dark bright eyes and sorrow slightly tinged, her bare feet shift as she slowly pulls one piece of grass, then two, and makes a bridge for insects to cross.

Memories have a tendency to pile up, to push the stories out of the way, to allow us to forget more than we remember, to only remember the strangest things. Her stories never had the right audience, her hands weaving in the air, but she only had one or three really good stories. The trick was to stay quiet, to stretch ears beyond the confines of the room, and while she had forgotten to do this for a few years, it came back to her eventually.

Would it actually work to roll down the hill? It was soft and green, but the end of the hills disappoint exponentially as our expectations are raised. God knew that our eyes wanted blue skies, green grass, pieces of paper covered in squiggly lines, hands grasped in hands, pots of stew simmering, bird feathers, rows of trees, and bare feet in hot sand.

Quiet little lady, she gathers up her garlands of wilted flowers and pieces of stories, and walks down the hill toward home.

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Every Day

Every day.

Crossing a street to sanctuary.
Counting worn pebbles through thin soles of shoes.
Trying not to step on snails (I have a horror of that crunch).
Smiling in a general way, and then specifically.
Spending nights staring at stars through the ceiling.
Pouring coffee through filters.


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Last night

there were little pieces of the remnants of my heart on the sidewalk
last night
mixed in with the fallen leaves and snails
and we walked over unknowingly
with laughter and slight sighs
the closer to feeling, the more we talk to ourselves to fill silence…
I wonder what you would do if you knew.the sun is always in our eyes when we smile.

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Falling down the hill

the door was open,
and with the reflections of clouds I could see down the dark paths
a fleeting glimpse of light from the sky and the rolling roar crashes to push my feet stumbling
away from…
toward home, the comforting figures lit and framed in windows four levels above.
with gasping breath in heavy, humid air I am running,
steps two at a time, cool marble that on another day I could sit and stare at the stars.
there is silence and there is something about 11:00 pm, the night, all of the sounds stolen,
even through thunder and pebbles clattering under shoes.

please let it rain all night.

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