of Dante, duds and dread….

Fifteen chock-full-of-change years ago
I traveled with my mister to a tiny town  far from home
to sniff out space and possibility
while he interviewed for a job in wildlife management.

Several creeped-out hours later,
aghast at the hope in his shining eyes,
I swallowed my willies instead of dinner
and shook silently in my boots as we slid back in time to the nearest town
and it’s deserted main street theatre
still sticky with soda from the seventies
and wondered if we were breaking some villiage curfew
as a weary woman took our tickets
then trudged upstairs to start the projector.

Dante’s Peak.
I gnawed on milk duds and shoved air from my chest
past a swelling sense of foreboding.

As the volcano rumbled through the mildewy darkness
and rattled ancient worn seats
a deep disquiet rattled me.
I was afraid of this oppressive place
where milk duds stuck together in dusty boxes
and the quiet clanged like piercing sirens
down the dark streets of my soul.

I was surprised by the size and power
of my fear.
(I found my voice;
we didn’t move.)

Many miles later,
mostly falling forward,
my spirit has some muscle where I once shoveled duds,
teeth clenched like jaws of life
on things that disappeared.
Slowly, awkwardly, imperfectly
I learned to go into the quiet
and God was there
and I listened for the light.

Now in this season
Dante dread is stirred and stalking
~here comes that fear again
(not the helpful warning when I’m leaning into stupid
but the tormenting stuff that lurks behind lies
and smoke and mirrors).

Do it again,  my soul.
Scoop and bail like stormwater,
Sling… hurl… dance it out.
Peel it off like leeches from stagnant water
and stuff it into  song,
light  up
and fire off into the night sky
to explode into it’s true colors
and watch the wisps float down like ash
and blow away the bits like dandelion fluff
~heavy doors blown off hinges
by a gentle, easy puff.

Because I was never meant to slink
or trudge
or bumble
or crawl.
I was born with wings
and even when they tremble
they’re beautiful
and mine.

a whispered “yes” to life and grace and flight
opens to the light
and it’s enough
oh yes….it is enough.


  1. Julia Of Petals and Wool on September 4, 2011 at 11:08 am

    What a great metaphor for learning to recognize that you are beautiful and that you were meant to be all that you can be. It takes time to come to that realization just like it takes time for the cocoon to morph into a gorgeous butterfly that bedazzle us. Happy journey Jennifer… JB

  2. lisleman on September 4, 2011 at 11:36 am

    I took an interesting trip with your words. Very nice.

  3. S. Etole on September 4, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    Oh, those trembling wings … beautiful in flight as well as in repose.

  4. Connie Smiley on September 4, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    Jennifer, you spin such gorgeous detail into your poetry, and it’s down to earth; I feel like I’ve been on such a journey. Good to know Who holds our hand.

  5. Marcie on September 4, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    WOW..this is beautiful!! Such a brave testament to believing in ourselves and growing into all we were meant to be. Take flight..and fly!!!

  6. Kel on September 4, 2011 at 4:52 pm

    your photo of the grasshopper is superbly sharp
    your story of village curfews in towns time forgot resonates deeply with my this morning

  7. beth on September 4, 2011 at 9:02 pm

    that grasshopper….that butterfly…..oh my lord, how great !

  8. MIchelle Meeker on September 4, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    I love how you made me slow down and really inhale your post. I have the feeling that I’m wandering through your experience and greeting nature along the way. wonderful.

  9. Lynn on September 5, 2011 at 8:11 am


  10. JBR on September 5, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    That butterfly picture is awesome.I continue to love how you are able to express yourself so beautifully. A gift. Blessings.

  11. Briana on September 5, 2011 at 9:24 pm

    HI Jennifer,
    This poem is magnificent. I also really like the art you are making, as well as your photos. Keep up the great work!
    Thank you also for being such a frequent commenter on my blog. I always look forward to your poetic words.

  12. Lee Ann G. on September 5, 2011 at 10:59 pm

    Fly Jen, fly! Your beautiful wings are showing such grace.

    Isn’t it great how we can look back and get courage today from what we learned about ourselves in the past? Recently in my little nature talks with God, he has been reminding me how much he loves me through the example of birdies! ( not a surprise huh? with all my birdie paintings lately) How they fly high and then swoop down to the ground and up high again. Not afraid of anything, because they know the creator made them with wings to do just this. HE keeps reminding me through them that this is exactly how he created me to trust and fly and ENJOY without sabotaging myself with doubts that I was made to do this. (Just recently I figured out that I am good at sabotaging my own dreams with thinking I’m not worthy of it)

    Jen, thank you for being so real and sharing your heart in verse and wonderful word pictures. You really are a beautiful butterfly in this world.

    ♥Lee Ann

  13. Amanda - Persistent Green on September 5, 2011 at 11:52 pm

    Jennifer, this is beyond beautiful and real and true . . . just like you. I trust that the same One who led you out of milk-duds and dread will guide you today, will spread protective wing over you when you need guarding, and a net under you when you’re ready to soar.

  14. rachel awes on September 6, 2011 at 5:15 am

    i am blown away by your photos & paintings & words & wings.
    you indeed sing your heart wide open, & i am so glad to be
    in the field to hear you. xoxox

  15. Bren on September 6, 2011 at 6:13 am

    You always manage to capture the essence of the emotional turmoil we go through when life serves us up the unexpected, the painful the intriguing challenges. Powerful stuff. Love the new art pieces, textured and beautiful. In many ways you’ve captured the feel of the times we are living in, we all seem to be holding our breath wondering what other challenges are coming our way. A voice for the times..

  16. Maggie Mallard on September 6, 2011 at 11:32 am

    Absolutely wonderful post! I am so happy I came by this morning to see such beautiful photo’s and your writing moves me every time I am here.

  17. Anita on September 6, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    Just beautiful, Jennifer! I so enjoy taking these journeys with you. xoxo

  18. kathryn on September 6, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    i love that grasshopper photo!! Such empowering words to go with your photos!!

  19. Sandra L. on September 6, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    Dear brave Jennifer–Smoke and mirrors…you are right…many of our fears are just that.
    As always, your paintings are just gorgeous! I especially like the hummingbird one! I like anything with birds!


  20. Mary on September 6, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    That, my friend, was lovely.

  21. ELK on September 6, 2011 at 10:15 pm

    such a poetic way to write of fear and voice ..you touch my soul with your words and images and my own trembling wings flutter away as I land here in this special space ~thank you Jennifer

  22. Barbara on September 7, 2011 at 4:31 pm

    Your writing is so beautiful and descriptive. Glad you found your voice and wings!

  23. missing moments on September 7, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    Beautiful expressive words … and yes, enough!

  24. jeanie on September 8, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    Your collages are so beautiful — as is your spirit and story! Fly! Yes, flying you are!

  25. John on September 8, 2011 at 10:31 pm

    I am not one to read poetry, but that was very, very good and every line made me want to read the next.

  26. Liz on September 9, 2011 at 11:01 pm

    how many more ways can I find to thank you for your always timely words my friend….so often i find here that nick-of-time guidance I’m asking for…….

    ……the lovely punctuation of it all, is that I just came from a fireworks show, and here, in your post, the allusion to that beautiful metaphor…….

    …..I am at the doorway of a new beginning and needed this “little” push tonight my friend…..how often you truly are the “wind beneath my wings”…

    so grateful for you,

  27. Relyn on September 10, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    I don’t have the words even to respond here All I can say is, “Amen, sister.” I love you.

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