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It’s been sad month, so I thought I’d share a few poems from my unpublished collection: The Grieving Dreams. I made these poems after my brother died nearly 28 years ago.



Death is like slipping under a horse

so huge, one shoe weighs like an anvil.

A fly settles on her skin.

Muscles twitch. A shoulder flicks.

Back hooves slap her belly.

She rattles her nostrils

just over your face.

Her blaze blinds you.

Your ribs feel like straw

beneath a monument:

her head’s a living statue

gazing with dark, alien eyes,

her legs Doric columns, her barrel

blocks of marble that shift and shuffle.

You are as much at the mercy

of the flies as the horse.

The mare walks away.

You go to sleep in her meadow.



This terror before my husband is the terror

in a thunderstorm when there is nothing

protecting me and my house but the luck

of the lightning stroke. I taste it.

My horses in the barn would have no chance

against straw in flame and locked fear.


I sit the farthest inside my house. The windows

are silver with rain so hard I can’t see

the cedars, willow, lilac a few yards off.

I sit with a Bible open to First John

where it says God is love and perfect love

casts off fear. But God is so raw in the sudden thunder,

I must sit in terror until the storm moves east.


With my husband I freeze as the child I was

and kiss with fear scuddling along my teeth.

God is raw when we come to love a man

who could die quick as lightning. But sun

does break up the storm, horses still stand

in the barn, waiting for pasture. One apple

tree down that my parents left to be an arbor

for bittersweet I picked for centerpieces.






Every time I curled up in my toes and legs,

fingers and arms, an exercise my mother

used to ease pain when giving birth,

I fell out of my skin as if I leaned on a curtain

I thought was solid wall. I wanted to settle

my spirit against muscle, bone, and blood

but I could not find them. I wanted my husband’s

backside, a warm fence to keep me inside

my flesh, so I could warm up and sleep

gathered like cattle chewing cud, sunning

in warm mud by the farm pond.

I wondered if this was what my brother felt

when he got yanked out of comforting flesh.

Was he in danger like cattle wandering

onto a highway, semis doing sixty?

Without his body, how could he keep

from flying apart like the wide circle

from a flashlight bright on close ground

but dimming against the trees and stars?

Did he miss his body yet, or was he glad

at last to be free of being short, too strong,

always proving himself because he had to be tall.


My brother used to say that light gathered

at the river, that the stars we flashed light at

started shining before the earth began.

Maybe he was swinging out toward that river

letting go the rope and curling into a ball

to splash into water like crystal, to swim

under trees with leaves for healing the nations.