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This collection are poems of mourning and grieving – when I became a widow. Many years I said I wouldn’t ever marry. My Grizzley changed my mind – and 18 years later, I lost him … or rather let him go. Wehad our good times, we had our bad times; the worst times was when he ended.



Voice Mail

He croons Sixties songs,
adapting them with my name,
on his messages.

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There Should be More Poems

Only extremes get documented
dissected, Obsessed over.
the day-to-day realities
get experienced unrecorded,
yet they are a part of me too.

Waking up next to my love mate
and lying next to him at the end of the day.
The small compromises I make at work
as I search for a place I belong.
Sitting and joking with my young son in the evenings
as our heads rests against each other.
The weekly waiting of a phone call
from our oldest son already on his own.
Weekend lunches with family and friends
that extend into dinner and games.

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I Wait For Saturday

I wait for Saturdays
when I can wake by your side
and not race away at morning light.
Time may not slow but we can;
taking time to savor the other,
making each other
the reason to exist.
Watch the sunlight pour over our bodies
feel our uncovered skin,
murmur to each other love and thoughts;
fantasize when
each day can be Saturday morning.

Hold each other, Love each other
separate and joining;
giving to each other until we merge
in so many countless ways,
dependant only upon our whim.
And these intimate moments can hold so much
passion & pleasure, stillness & ecstasy.
satisfying each other, ignoring the world,
for just Saturday morning.

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In the Hills Above Stayton

Illuminated by the salmon clouds,
bright stars around the distant mountains,
we followed Parrish Gap Drive
around to Summit Loop Road …

We danced in the moonlight

Tiny blue spruce trees fold into a
scoop of the valley.
My van waits on the swell of the road
window down, radio up
and we two – dancing – claim the blacktop
shuffling to the beat of “Leroy Brown”.
My swinging hips lead you in a slow circle
as you deliberately cup my swells.
I turn on my heels & the music changes, slows,
crescendos and fills with a love-soaked ballad.

Did the DJ ever notice that night
he emceed that private interlude,
our intimae ball under shadowed mountain ridges
resting in deeper shadows

in the hills above Stayton.

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Waiting Room I

his family
will come soon

the nurse
will come soon

the list
will reassure soon

other people
shell shocked wait

the others
watch the clock

the clock
will release soon

the moments
will start again

holds her
mind in stasis

stops her
fear and worry

will start again
after she

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Could not let you go.
Please forgive me, as you lay,
me begging you “Wake!”

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Happened on Fifth Floor

i’ve been dropping everything
spilling everything
since admittance
so frustrated even my fingers won’t work
feet refuse to cooperate.
doesn’t matter how stern my will or thought –
“don’t do that” results in my “doing that”

i saw it happening before it happened
my dinner brought to me like a precious gift
mongolian stirfry, a mish-mash of meat, broccoli, carrots
slippery noodles
sesame oil
thin styrofoam box holding the reserve
on top i sat a small plate,
this night’s portion i had heated,
i saw it happening, the small box slowly slipping
away & down out of my hand,
reached up for the soccer-mom-save
and then my foot
drugged the carpet, echoed the pull of gravity on the box
pitching me forward (slow mo for the viewing
pleasure of those waiting) the small plate
flipping over and landing on top of
the warm noodles, elegantly flipping open the box
like a skydiver’s parachute so it landed empty
the stirfry now surrounded me
and i, hungry and surrendered, could only look
at the food i must now throw away,
i saw it happening, watched the stain
of sesame oil leak onto the carpet,
saw that nothing was salvageable.

i picked up the traitorous box
used my fingers as a rake and scooped up
the man‘age of meat, too embarrassed to lift
my head – a wife who could not be trusted with food –
even children made less mess. i saw it happening
before it happened. my hands, no longer
needing to be active in the joke
perfunctedly performed their chore as i knelt
with lowered head. this was the first food for many hours –
too afraid to miss the doctors’ evaluation before.
i saw it happening before it happened
and failed to stop it. and now
i would go hungry, an unforeseen
punishment. accepted it even
as my mind railed “unfair!”
straightened myself up
with my staining burden

to find a daughter,
her hand holding a few dollars
“here”, she said, “i heard.
let me buy you dinner”
how did that happen?

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Watching your heart on the monitor,
how it pushes the dark fluid
stretches its walls out and down
like a tidal pool among slender rib rocks.
The blood, dark & translucent fluid,
pouring, flowing into its first chamber
rolls along the top extension roof
reaches out and somersaults down
and under, seeking entry into the next.
Like smoke in the glass – swirls & eddies.

I find my heart taking on that same pattern;
Pumping. Flow, Roll under. Pumping. Flow. Roll under.
It’s comforting; a strong heartbeat, decisive push,
watch it over & over like a tide coming in.
I can almost hear its drum-thrumm,
feel it’s waves under my palm, flesh warm.
Then the image shifts – End Of Roll –
and remember. This is just a recording.
Machines around you, playing soft dings and alarms,
none watching, matching the rhythm I just watched.

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Waiting Room II

I am walking through the land of dim lights
through the sparten halls of muffled noises;
walking away from your room –
that room –
that we are both living in
the smell of body sweat and distillation
we are both living in this waiting room.

Me – wondering What? When? How
will I know?
I – not knowing if
you wonder
and if so – what?
It distills down to not knowing
as I hold your hand
waiting on the choice I think you would want
and knowing
you will have to live
or die
with it. Muffled fears kept dim
close in, holding my heart in
this waiting room, this holding pattern.
Who do I trust
when I don’t trust myself?

You held that trust
held it in your capable hands
those hands that held my baby’s
held your grandbabies.
You trusted me with this decision.

I’m feeling time leach away
draining, as I impotently move your muscles
as I impotently watch
your eyes, searching in the dim lights –
hot and feverish  or cool & quiet like now.
as I impotently wish my face will hold your eyes.
As I impotently wait for a sign
I can hold as progress
It is the added significance of December
that has me doubting
that sends me walking away

the waiting that slips time away from us
holding your hands
when I want to hold time still
repair it
repair you,
as I impotently watch you not holding,
you not waiting,
you slipping away.

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The last theater production, Arrin was involved in was ” So Snow White” and his granddaughters’ were in the play. So fairy tales were often the theme at home that year.  While he was in a coma, a DVD of the play was played often as an attempt that he could hear & that his girls’ voices would keep his spirits up.


Behind Closed Eyes

Behind closed eyes he sleeps
his arms, that climbed mountains, lax.
Victim to a modern betrayer –
himself – he failed to reach his potion in time
and I, his queen, waits – no Lovers Kiss does waken
no Lovers Kiss brings rose to his cheeks
nor breaks the spell of his sleeping.

Behind closed eyes he sleeps
he is now cast as my Sleeping Beauty,
my Prince and my Beast.
Yet there is no modern Repunz,
antibiotic can only ward off the infection
not bring him back and wake the castle.
Morphine can only dull the pain
not defeat the dragon.
And – as much as I shake him – there is no
poison apple stuck in his throat.

Behind closed eyes he sleeps
I call out his name as though through a mirror
“MyLord, wake up” varying  its tone & inflection
like some sorcerers apprentice – “MyLord,
open your eyes” Our kingdom is rapidly failing
and Fairies do not exists in your world.
Alas, I have not devised a happy ending for my Prince.
And so he lays sleeping, a machine breathing
reality into his lungs, Needles
thinner than Rumplestiltskin’s gold
conjure up food and water through his hands.
His chamber: an ice cave to battle fever’s fire.
And I, his Queen, watch impotently
unable to wake him with a Lover’s Kiss
as he slowly loses the battle
behind closed eyes.

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December 14

This isn’t a resolution,
it’s a countdown to the end.

Your death will not solve anything,
life will and does continue;
it will not know you’re not here
so the bills will keep coming,
the air will still leak from the tire,
ivy still encroach on the cherry.
Still, this is nothing I should postpone,
nothing I will be allowed to side-step.

You sleep, snoring, mouth open,
and I am here
bent over you,
my right hand cupping your eyes –
index finger disguised but resting on your pulse.
My other spread over your heart, hoarding;
I wait here.

They have moved us out to another room
out of the waiting room and into the present.

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Winter’s Horizon

We’re driving down the road
we wandered with you
simply because we wandered it
with you;
the weather no deterrent.

When the road detoured uphill
we followed, as you had,
past waterfalls, full with winters runoff
walked into forests now winnowed with snow;
we can still discern your footsteps
where you pulled over
where we held hands
where you looked into the horizon
where we talked of the coming year.

We didn’t know then
the window was closing;.
Who could have shut out
the chill of death?

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Last Day of Year

I am “widowed”
as if that is something you did to me,
left me
as if that was intended,
you doing the acting instead of being acted upon.
As if I was the one affected most.

I am “widowed”;
you are dead;
isn’t that a quicker thing to say –
You died.
You didn’t intend to leave.
You didn’t plan this.
You had so many things planned –
but not this.
Your clothes left empty,
your chair left unoccupied,
your arms are no longer here
to fill with grandchildren.

You are dead –
I am left behind.

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Who Will Not Be Home

Published in The Widow’s Handbook.

I can’t wake from the nightmare you are dead.
I dream of you
smelling the forest on your skin,
have conversations we never had,
like last night’s conversation on the history of our valley;
who owned the land before,
what they farmed,
your Washingtonian twang posing questions
as you do when your country mind ponders and dreams,
holding my hand as you drove
your thumb brushing against my palm.
It was Halloween, the smell of fallen leaves and wood smoke
combined in the car with your immediate scent,
strong like it has been every year.
We talked about who will stay and who will not be home,
who will open the door.
You pulled into our driveway in the afternoon light
and then asked our son to park the car.
Now it morning and I wake still to winter’s chill,
an empty bed,
fall still eight months away;
your absence from my dream a sharp pressure,
my lungs emptied of you.
I throw my arm over my eyes
trying to will myself back into the dream
but I already know the futility of it;
there is no more conversations with you
You now exist only in pictures, in poems
and dreams.
And I must live within this nightmare.

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How I Carry You

Published in The Widow’s Handbook.

At grief support, they gave me
a piece of petrified stone,
polished, to comfort me;
I wrote “adventure” on it, for that is how
I want to remember you –
or so I said.

But that stone speaks so much more to me;
when we would creek-walk
you would pick up stones, wet so they looked polished,
all their colors revealed,
mused as to their stories and how it ended up there.
wood, rock. water.
A palm size fragment
shaped by nature.

This stone tells your story
though it never cradled in your hand;
it started as wood, malleable,
the sapling grew, a child of the earth
lived in forests – as you did when you ran
breathing scents of douglas fir.
It was a companion of deer, of elk, of bear.
And when pressure came to bear down on it,
it became more stable, more solid
changing its substance but not its body
Its grain is still there
but it will not give way.
Then polished, all it’s color, its grain revealed
as if just picked up from the water.
Wood. Stone. Water:
transient into something almost eternal
that would endure.
I imagine that it is a fragment of you
nestled in my palm;
That is how I remember you.

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Prayer Shawl

Published in The Widow’s Handbook.

Worn carpet, smelling of
body sweat & animals,
bright red shawl – soft soft yarn –
draped over bowed head;
this is a ritual since December
Feet on carpet. Knees on raised stair.
Low tune from the heater as warm
current brushes thigh, back;
keeps cold from distracting.
Forehead resting on mattress,
palms clasp.
I do not pray for my sins;
that would be dishonest.
I do not pray for your sins;
that would be arrogant.
I pray for the courage of another day
and the company of angels.

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The Day Your Cat Died

Tomorrow another September begins
the leaves will begin to flame,
but there will never
be another like this.
I’ve been sifting
through the ashes,
forgetting I still burn,
still char,
still disintegrate;
my heart blackened on the edges
but the center burns white.

The days begin to shorten and
the nights turn chill;
what can I say
about September
that hasn’t been said

But this time will
be the first September;
not fresh
but accepting,
not new but a
different shade
a different temperature –
a flame you could hold
your hand above.

We began
the countdown in August.
Three weeks ago
I packed your jackets.
Two weeks
your shirts.
One – your pants pulled
off the hanger and folded.

Now I send you your cat, she’s missed you.
She’s turned cold.

My August
is a strange amalgam;
part only me,
part still “us”.
When I’m alone
I toss & turn in the ashes
‘til I fade with dawn’s ember;
during the days, I scatter myself,
at times remembering
I scattered you in June.

This was supposed to be a love poem.

Tomorrow September begins;
my year burning towards this

December comes.

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Plum in April

Plum –
mourning –
deep plum mourns –
plum covers our bed;
I am draped in plum, my husband,
some think me bold plum, saucy plum, inappropriate;
you would have seen lilac darken
plum as they age, drop,
dying plum.
I plum.

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