Between us.

Between being and becoming, a valley holds the wasted lives of a time when we thought we could not know what we were except by testing hot fire against some idea of what it felt to be a god, before the end of the world, and we are in this valley now, still with this longing, and what can it be but nostalgia for the days when it was possible to imagine anything but this relentless fragility with its incessant reminders, that there is no becoming beyond this? Instead of a world, see this baby, head bandaged from the last strike, another attempt by a would-be god of our own making, to make some urgent point, but there is no scorecard without a world to rule, only this child looking up, eyes glazed and the dead all around.


In conversation.

Some will deny them altogether. It’s almost easy to do this, with so many ways to stop the ears. For others, these are what sweat, cry, laugh, dance, sing;  being made of fluid form means to be forever leaking, absorbing the drips, sounds, and reverberations of an ongoing other, to become our strange strangers, waving Hello, hello! Who are you?

before an embodied response, 

like this one here, arms out,

cry spinning drops of body 

in every direction. 

Come, they are calling, it

is almost and before, it is

the never you feared and 

the someday you painted 

like sunset with your 

watercolor pulse, into

this awake.


When the poets took cover.

Hiding a generation in our bones, we sipped from the ancients, but as they swelled our rhythms against the tempo of our moment, one common side effect was dizziness. Some took to bed, but there were other ways. 

We called it consolation. We called it our time out of mind. For many, the vertigo was so intense that we called it nothing for a long time.  When we woke, our sheets would be wet with memory and before these had a chance to dry someone with an official title would come inspecting, demanding some explanation. 

Invariably, our answers confirmed their suspicions, and they would make notes certifying their opinions that we were likely dumb, possibly also deranged, which tends to be the official response to any negative capability. But when the empire of certitude began to crumble, we were stirring.

Then came a mind up from the bottom of history, and this was our moment, and in those basements between buildings we were clearing our throats, this specter among us said, Time.


Keeping watch in the dark.

Hundreds gather beneath the remains of a bridge they meant to cross. They wait, watching the river, for the next chance to move. One, looking back, says the children are scaredthey are killing them over there. When a cloud of dust settles, some are still unmoving in the road, a dog beside them barking, and even David is shrouded in black now, to mark the deaths.

At the border, a woman waits for her cousin, traveling for days with children. The men are back home fighting, but where is home now? 

We are trying to get them out, she says, to save their lives, at least. Do you see me, cousin? She jumps and waves. A child runs to her, hooded in a pink parka. There is weeping all around and weary smiles of relief. It is calmer now, she says, and they move from the wire fence of the thin border between the known world and the next.


Details culled from New York Times coverage of events on the eleventh day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. With love and prayers for all who flee war and persecution.


Between lives.

At the discovery of crows nesting nearby, some shoo them and some shrug, but one woman puts peanuts out. The crows love the peanuts and take to returning for more, sometimes cawing her awake on weekends. After some time, they begin to bring her gifts: here a marble, then a bottle cap, then an acorn. Crows are known to do this to show their appreciation. The woman keeps these gifts from the crows in a jar, shows them off to her friends, and now there is a baby bird in the nest. Look, she says. Now we’re a family.


Inspired by this article.

Hope in the Dark

Against other constants, and at random.

“Everything I ever thought to be a nightmare is nothing compared to what I am witnessing.”

Voice of Diana Berg, Mariupol Resident, in “No Water, No Electricity: Life Under Siege in Mariupol”

I wanted to tell you, when we spoke last week, about the child returned to the swing before the bombed-out building where he once lived, lifting his foot to the sky anyway, before he can know the word for resistance; and also about the the women gathered close in a kitchen, by the thin window before it broke, passing cake around on patterned plates with good silverware, saying to one another Here, here. Eat––

but the conversation followed another line, and then time was up, and now the shelling is constant and at random and I don’t think the child is swinging anymore, and I don’t know what happened to the women with the cake, if they got on a train the next day, or went underground, and I don’t want to end with this––


––did you hear about the babies born in the basement of the Metro station? Yes, there were several and you could hear the mothers’ screams below against the shelling above, but it is said they are okay now, these babies not because they are at home––and where will that be–– the shelling constant

and at random

––when this is done, 

when is this done? It is constant

but they are at their mother’s breasts and there is still milk even as the mothers are weeping, especially as the mothers are weeping, there is weeping constantly now and at random, and there are also the tiny fingers wrapped tight around a mother’s pointer finger, as if to hold her pointing in place


finger like a compass needle dotted with this row of little nails. Strong grip, people say, for some excuse to laugh, and everyone agrees, because this is here now, the grip of the newborn whose first days begin and end here, whose home is mother.


Inspired by the documentary mentioned above, featured in the New York Times, March 5, 2022 (Created by Masha Froliak, Ainara Tiefenthäler, Dmitri Khavin, and Sarah Kerr), in which Diana Berg also observes, “The shelling is constant and at random.” Also by stories like this, of births in the metro station. The title of this piece nods to Rebecca Solnit’s brilliant work, especially her Hope in The Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities.  


Our pieces.

The babies are at the window 

of the train, watching the smoke 

rise, and here’s another reminder 

that words are only shards of 

of our shattering selves, collected 

in each aftermath, in pockets, and

in the corners of silence, to be

glued into the mosaics we are 

always making with the bits, and

to give some shape to the next

cry when it comes, whenever

it comes, faces pressing this 

window of whatever that is at

the border of a full breath. 


It’s an old story.

There’s a chronicle, now familiar, which begins with the names of the dead, to announce how the land was filled with them before their children ripened and became more and mightier than those that had meant to harvest them year after year for profit.

The king got wise, orchestrated erasure of the boys first. But the midwives saved them and among these was one from the tarred basket in the river who once saw his brother badly beaten by a guard and was moved to kill and bury the body. Back into hiding, he was found again by a woman at the water, and because he helped her, she bore him a son, and when the king died it was time to cash a check in the name of the children.

So went the keeper of Jethro’s flock, to the mountain to witness a burning light. Take off your shoes, said a voice. Here is holy ground.

The voice continued: I’ve heard them, know their sorrows. Now you go, release them. The man asked for a name, saying they will want to know who sent me, but all that came was this reminder, I am.

He got the elders, and they took a lamb to the desert, and nothing was known at all but this command to go forth, and begin the work of ––don’t say freedom, because if salt loses its flavor what is the point? Say instead, not having to hide the babies in the river. Say instead, not having to hide the bread, or trade bodies for bread for hidden babies in the river.

Again, the voice: Take the serpent by the tail. Show them a sign with your hands. If they won’t see it, offer another. Teach your mouth, too, and leave me to the ears. 


With prayers for the safety and protection of all who flee persecution and war.