Thursday, May 26, 2016


Zero through Ten
When hollyhocks grow along the fence,
Carol and I make a dandelion chain that
goes around the whole house!
Feeling magically holy singing “Away in a Manger”
In a church lit only by candles.
Sitting lunch, dinner, then breakfast, lunch, dinner
the next day in front of a graying scoop of liverwurst.
Finally I decide to gulp it down in one big, horrific moment.
I do, throwing up all over my grandmother’s shoes.
Even kids win some of the time.

Eleven through twenty
A vast voyage all the way from
lying in my treehouse reading Nancy Drew,
to making love in the back seat of a borrowed car.
From learning fractions to studying Latin,
from paper dolls to hair curlers made from frozen orange juice cans,
from sock hops to no socks.
From believing that being grownup means I can have ice cream for
breakfast every day,
to the terrifying realization I am going to have to come up with the rent
every month for the next 50 years.
Twenty-one to Thirty
Working for a living,
going into therapy,
joining a church,
dating guys who plan to become dentists or lawyers,
while, in my mind’s ear I hear, the heavy metal doors of
suburban marriage closing behind me,
bridge and barbecue.
I want to discover the meaning of life.
I sit on the backsteps of my little house
on Christmas day splitting a can of tunafish with the cat.
I want God!

Thirty-one to Forty
Now I have a career,
senior editor at McGraw-Hill,
where I change whiches to thats and thats to whiches.
In forty years I will hobble to the front of the employees lounge
and be given a Timex watch and a piece of cake.
I take up Tarot cards and move to Florida,
as the Major Arcana advise.
There, my life is waiting for me,
my husband, my friends, theater, art,
Paynes Praire, Poe Springs,
heron and bison and poetry workshops,
love and turmoil and beauty.

Forty-one to Fifty
When I was a child older women did volunteer work
and had hobbies.
They put together care packages for missionaries in Africa,
pushed bookcarts at the hospital,
organized church bazaars and quilting bees.
I would never be so pitiful,
I thought to myself.
I will be writing books,
long and lean and much sought after by men who live in New York City.
Genetics is destiny?
 I turn into an old Vermont woman,
Stewing down home-grown tomatoes from the garden,
raising cats and,  yes,
doing volunteer work.

Fifty-one to Sixty
Is like peri-menopause,
the organs of creation in a frenzy,
blood lust,
plays written, poems published,
children off to college.
The existential void looms,
“Fill me!  Fill me!”
“The gift of time is upon you.”
What was it that I wanted?
I remember, I wanted God.
One day behind the counter of a homeless shelter,
an old vet asks for  his mail.
I look at him and he, shape-shifting,
turns into Jesus, just for a moment.
(This I keep to myself, until now.
I’m old, it’s okay to have crazy secrets,
no one cares anymore, especially me.)

Sixty-one to Seventy
Busy, busy, busy!
For 69 years and 364 days I believe that I am in
late middle age.
I ignore being tired, I ignore being stressed,
until I can’t anymore.
I turn 70.
It hits me like a meteor from outer space.
I’m old!  I’m really old!
I’m at the age people start dying.
Will I die today?
Will I die next Tuesday?
Time to find God now!
(Can’t I just go back for one day and make a dandelion chain
around the whole house?
Can’t I bike across town, wind blowing through my hair?)
I read mystical books,
I surrender, I don’t surrender, I surrender, don’t surrender, surrender,
little swarms of Godness dropping from the ceiling,
rising from the floor,
blessed decades gone,
blessed days are mine.

Saturday, May 21, 2016


ECKHART, that is, in predigested form, i.e., as interpreted by Frederick Burschmidt - that is what I have been doing this afternoon.  Eckhart believes that God cannot, successfully at least, be sought, but is to be received.  Burshmidt says, "We need to recognize that we in the West live in a culture that values achievement and doing over simply existing.  We need, at the outset, a careful self-scrutiny, examining the ways in which we seek to master the world.  And we need to act intentionally to give up that control, precisely at those places where we seek to have it the most."

I made a list of four areas where I seek to  have control:

2.  Freeman.  After 30 years this goal epitimizes the triumph of hope over experience.  Plus, thank God I can't control him - that is his weird and wonderful charm.

2.  My health.  Giving up control in this area does not mean throwing my vitamins out in the window and going on a diet of ice cream and veggie corn dogs.  It simply means taking care of myself as best I can, with what willpower I have, and not obsessing on the outcomes - just living my moments and leaving the rest up to God, the Tao, however one sees it.

3.  The way I use time.  I have examined this one before.  It is rooted in deep self-doubt, the semi-conscious belief that if I gave up the almost constant inner nagging I would morph into a couch potato who never cleans her house or does any worthwhile thing and takes a shower maybe once a week.  If anything, internal nagging blocks my flow and my creativity.  Don't do it!

4.  What Freeman thinks of me.    Another insecurity-based, delusional goal.  He knows me.  I can't fool him into thinking that I am a clean, sober, righteous, hard-working, "the person my grandmother wanted me to be" at this point. Running around trying to pretend I'm better than I an is an energy suck that keeps me from being the best I could be.

To loop back to Meister Eckhart, seeking is, or can easily become, an ego-based effort that keeps us from receiving the Godness that constantly surrounds us.  Address it by surrendering ego-controls - which I think can be a long and interesting project.