The Possibility of Shelter

In the days of wind.

Who among us could assume security? The answer sat before us like a lump of cold flesh to be paid when the collectors came. Naturally, we learned to speak around it. We shared our alarm about the weather instead. By its whims we could admit something. It had to do with extremity. ––Of certain conditions and of a common need. But what for? Maybe some chance at grace.

Over time, something loosened the ties we had to some familiar arrangements of words while cementing others. Come here, we said to one another. In the makeshift camp where we had surrendered what little we could carry to some common fate, still to be determined. Tarp walls blew in the winds and we listened. 

Sometimes we heard one another step outside to address something else. We all did this. One at a time, without ceremony, and alone. We were not ready to discuss these things. Not yet. But when the winds left, I could hear the others say to something just beyond the camp, Come here.


A recollection.

And then came the memory of someone who so loved the world that they could not stop highlighting her face, who at every turn of the gaze would find her silhouette made flesh and lean into its pliant give. Whose ear, tuned to eavesdrop on dream music, would lift a lucid pen and point it toward transcription of the tattered ends of her beloved robes. 

Who kept flying home, crying home, and singing her back, the jazz ache of her grief’s webbed movements and polyphonic breaths keeping time with the ancients at the drums, past the trembling where words won’t go, these nested rolls yoked to something just beyond the reach of the given ear, where the pattern of beats becomes so dense that–––

 it collapses, 

absorbing our cries 


to some original 



Late winter notebooks.

I could go for a break from these elegies, but these fractures in the sky will not quit, whole constellations of them and dust on all the noise, and every breath is short, and these wings against the window. A theory of flowers after rain, but no bloom. The contours of a coming day, but no traction toward beginning. Tissue without bone, and I wanted to remember what the poet said when I had no pen, about the quanta dissolving but how did it go? Into light, I think.

Forest and the Trees

Detail work and scope.

How often one of us says––of some work or other, whether as protector or caretaker; builder, custodian, healer, organizer, artist––we didn’t know the half of what was coming our way when we started. If we had known, we could not have begun. We wouldn’t have been up for it, yet.

My mom says this about the new puppy. She loves the new puppy. The laundry is endless. Lovers say this sometimes, and parents. People who go all in for the old home, even though it “needs a little TLC.”

On a related note, I am now remembering that the thing I think I am working on is almost never the main work, and that the main project is always some other, still hidden thing I’ve started, or taken up with, or allowed to start me.  I wonder what I am doing now, and I have a strong suspicion that I lack the perspective I would need to see it.


Humming it close.

There was a river in the hymns that the grandmas kept under their breath. It wound across the landscape and in and out of alleyways and dark rooms, poised to wash a crossing body of its fears. Dip a hand in as often as you like, one told us, it will be a new river every time. They hummed it over dishes, over laundry, in the car, when looking past the window, unable to speak.


And the rest of us.

There is no resolution, is there? So much is lost in the archive, and what isn’t––of memory, and the rest of us––isn’t mild. Our warped genesis, we tried to keep it in the basement and when the floods started coming, we watched our photos. How they bounced in the underground lake, above the sediments of our boxed secrets, those dreams of all we might yet be. 

Here is our foundation: sacrifice, or accident? The awe of it.

Mama. How are you breathing now? Someone said of your lungs, that it doesn’t look––still, I think of your waves. How we would throw ourselves into you to feel the rush of you tossing us back. Sometimes you would hold us in place for the space of the next breath we expected to take, so that we might know something. I’m still trying to know it. It has to do with fragility and strength, play and death, love, and the depths of some wounds. As if you are saying, feel this: all of me shifting with each pulse and the only one holding is you.

The floods keep coming. Still, we collect. A song starts and catches in the back of the throat. Wade in––

And, Then

Light in broken glass.

During the crisis, we rehearsed everything we knew, sending ambiguous signs and vague symbols––an ongoing SOS maybe, to some beyond––and watched the play of light, how it obscured the boundaries between surface and space. Which were we, anyway?

It rained and the bombing continued and so did the ads for flawless skin in seconds and the promise of a good night’s sleep, an end to mildew, air fryers. The campaigns were one-note, not unlike the bombs; some spoke of distraction, but who had the time? The babies were needing. The list was endless. It was never done. There were only so many of us, to hold them. 

Horizons blurred, then sharpened. We looked and gave up looking. The crisis would splash across our faces. We stopped sometimes to wash them, turning away from it, sometimes into each another, and everyone had a story of a sighting, the something they would never forget. Bodies looked for somewhere to rest. Where? we asked each other. When?

Which is to say, I cannot remember where the bits went in the last blast, or what they were. I don’t remember what or if I was holding at the time, only that I felt it fly from me, scattering in every direction. 

It wasn’t a sign or a symbol. I retrace my steps, rehearse everything. But it won’t take. Someone calls, help me. I almost recognize the voice.

What are the Chances

Of seeing any.

Chance is a lot more patient than most people think. Take this one, for example. She waits by his bed where he complains he is often awake, worrying she’ll never come again. But every time she shows up, there he is, snoring. He wakes on occasion, to cry about his misfortune. She waits, listening. She’s not one to speak right away, and by the time she does, he’s unconscious again. He sleeps and she turns out the light before leaving. In the morning he’ll decide it’s too bad that he missed those chances from another time, crying about how they never visit anymore.