“Our very life depends on continuous acts of beginning. But these beginnings are out of our hands; they decide themselves.
Beginning precedes us, creates us. There is nothing to fear in the act of beginning.
More often than not it knows the journey ahead better than we ever could."
John O’Donohue

29 July 2014


My grandmother’s God was repetition
and abundance.
We could mark time by the retelling of stories: 
The one where hurricane winds bent
Gulf Coast palms so they kissed the beach.
The time my father
planned to join the circus and used my aunt
for knife-throwing practice—
Thump...giggle...thump...giggle, it went,   
and then, Praise the Lord he had bad aim.

And the one less often told
because it cut a cold chasm
through the sweet evening air--
the one about carnage and election:
four teenage bodies broken
on gravel, in ditch, 
two hours before morning.
She was the survivor.

So she set to 30 years of ceaseless praise for the gracious earth and its fickle God, filling three deep freezers and five pantries with the gifts of the garden, enough pickles and soups and preserves to feed the children of the living and the dead for a generation.

Lying in the bed of unrestrainable mint,
I would tell my brother my vision:
There is a river running under this house.
I know you can’t hear it,
but I can.
No river I had ever seen,
not like the lazy, silty Chattahoochee,
but a diamond-clear liquid highway
brimming with salmon,
lusty and muscular with intent.
In the first flashes of fireflies at twilight,
I could feel it rush
under the sweet gum tree,
whispering deliverance.

She worried about me.  
Too many cryptic paper scraps,
too many boys tapping at the screen door,
my heart given away
too easily to the musty encyclopedias
bought the year I was born—
meant to be a decorative flourish
in an otherwise bookless realm.

I’m a poet, I would say to her,
intending to make light.
Honestly, how much trouble
can I get into?