Rabbithole ripples…

By jennifer | September 9, 2010 |
bunnyI need to believe at least six
impossible things before breakfast
…..to keep on believing
as if fresh buckets of stars
poured out and melting
through heaven’s floor
poke peepholes into possibility.Closing my eyes, I let my mind
drift back to that long ago time
when I parked my bike
and stumbled through the heavy
doors of Hickory Farms,
like Alice falling down the rabbithole into Wonderland.

My pockets were empty; We’d been hunting for used glass bottles to exchange for dimes,
dimes to purchase candy at the neighborhood drugstore.
Pickings had been slim and my pockets were quiet
…none of the hopeful jangling that made me feel like the proud bearer of choices.
My childhood friend and I hoped we might find two spare bottles in their trash,
and so went in to investigate.

Once inside, I went breathless with wonder.
It was a visual symphony,
rows and stacks of treasures in brightly colored tins,
boxes and baskets tied with rich velvety bows and crinkly paper in every shade of plenty.

It was spectacular
….plates of creamy cheeses,
wafer-thin slices of spicy sausages,
salty nuts,
crackers shaped like snowflakes and diamonds,
crisp ginger cookies
and even pretty plates of strawberry candies wrapped in shiny red foil.

The magic was, they were “samples”.
I was SUPPOSED to take and eat!
With toothpicks wearing festive party hats.
Just walk right up and have one.
Really…….a smiling lady offered!
Just receive.
My mind REELED!

But my favorite (yes, there was more),
likefinding my own private cave of treasure,
was the courtesy coffee table tucked away in the back of the store.
Beside the pungent smelling brew was a gorgeous crystal dish
(the work of fairies, I was certain)
full of snow white cubes made of sparkly sugar.
It’s true…..little sugary blocks.

I still remember the trembly sweetness that rushed through my system
to a creshendo and then shudder as I crunched
the first little wonder.
Like a chipmunk in the Fall I left the store,
with pockets scrunchy with a few for later.

When I swung back through those wooden doors
into the real world of dirty glass bottles and dimes
I was changed.

I still believed in hard work and honest wages.
But there was something more
….a new groove carved into my thinking.
And now I need to remember.
even when you can’t possibly earn it,
when your own hands aren’t enough,
grace is given.
Inexplicably and unexpectedly, provision can come,
wrapped in more
than you can ask or imagine.
In a twinkle in time, it can happen.
Nothing is impossible.


Sunken Treasures….

By jennifer | September 5, 2010 |
all in flower I left most of my summer photos
in the New River
My camera slipped from my hands
in early July
and plopped down
into swift currents
where it helplessly
bumbled along the rocky bottom,
flopping like a gasping fish.Time of death: 12:14 p.m.
I drowned the only camera
I’ve ever really loved.
And with it,
all the images I’d collected
like seashells and stones
since May.

As I bobbed along in my inner-tube cradling it’s lifeless form in my lap
it became hard to really see the river and sky.
Looking again came slowly.
I couldn’t replace the camera for several months
so I recorded scenes and memories
by writing them down instead of clicking.

(I’m a lot less fond of my new camera;
we’re taking to each other slowly.)

Here are a few of my favorite “shots” from summer
as I say fairfarren to the season:

~My sister’s face inside a cloudburst of seafoam confetti, nose squeezed into a
sunburned crinkle and smile lines bursting like the fourth of July
from behind her sunglasses
as we zoomed alongside one another on boogie boards,
rocketing toward the beach.
(first AWESOME ride of the day and we caught it. Together.)

~giant sidewalk chalk birthday card all pink and yellowy with love.

~Libby and Lucy (the wonderdogs) bounding into the surf
(rain had sent other beach-goers scurrying for cover)
and running like wild horses up and down the beach.
My heart joined them step for step.

~the aliveness shining on my son’s face after jumping off a waterfall
that had intimidated him….and the four year old in his voice as this manly guy
described his joy as he plunged from the ridge and dropped into the roar.

~A piece of sky near my neighborhood. I’ve had a crush on it for seven years this month.
It’s just the tallest sky.

~The sound of wonder in the low voices of my youngest son and his cousin
as their bodies leaned intently over the side of their canoe,
paddling hard to discover what mysterious pond creature had slapped the water. Hard.
Scaring them deliciously curious.

~the rowdy ruckus that has been my home as the boys of summer live out their colorful
lives like spatterpaint….raw, messy and beautiful.

~the stillness of a cornfield on my favorite backroad, N.C. Highway 49…driving alongside
with my windows down, I could almost hear the kernels turning sweet on the cobs.

~The quivery yet brave smile in her wide, sparkling eyes as my daughter
chose to follow the spot on center of her heart again and again.

~The sudden rush of unexpected splatter as my husband veered into range
of the night sprinklers in the park as we were driving home sweaty,
laughing in the spray.


Hello September

By jennifer | September 1, 2010 |


Hello September
with your mellowing light,
apples turning ripe on the hills,
warm sunshine and turquoise skies
coaxing the last bit of summer
from the vines.

I’m soaking it in
…tucking away memories
along the backroads of my mind
for the raw, gray wintry days
to come.

I can almost feel the planet
picking up speed
…the year dipping toward the horizon
like a brilliant sunset.

Silly me…..

By jennifer | August 26, 2010 |
I’m going to pay a visit tomorrow
to the henpecked garden
of a perpetually distressed lady
who flits about anxiously
as I coax her pretty posies
back into tight rows.I’ll put things right:
scuffles mussed by renegade squirrels,
errant sprigs that grew unscheduled,
leaves tossed from inconsiderate
trees into her beds
and evict those cheeky weeds.

I’ll return the scene to still life perfection
and remove all evidence of unsolicited life.

And once restored to neat and formal
she’ll heave with relief for one perfect moment
and then begin to fluster over how quickly it’ll all come unglued
and what a shame about that.

And I’ll be silly,
and grin up into the trees
sharing little jokes and laughing with myself,
~laugh a lot,
not at her…..but with joy.

Because I’m from her village
….I get that she feels deeply the need to be proper
and how frighteningly inappropriate untidy feels
and how heavy the burden of concern about appearances.
I understand her compulsion to troubleshoot
and the fatigue that sours the features
on her agitated face.

Because it’s a graceless village we’re from.
There is a mark you’ll need to hit in order to qualify
for love
or help
or mercy.
Only the deserving earn this; it takes measured control.
You can easily mess it up.
There is no safety apart from your hyper-vigilance
because nobody’s got your back.
And it’s a very heavy thing to be so full of care.

That was my village; this was my culture.
But I’ve followed living breezes past those borders
and slowly stepped out onto wide open fields of grace
where “be wise” is replaced by “be free”.

And I’m okay with messy
…edgy and flowy and imperfect,
a bit “off”,
the colors swooping outside the lines.

And now laughing and lightening up feels
like warfare
against the heaviness and control
that strong-armed my own heart for years.

And so I grab hold of silliness like a bright red balloon
and lifted on whimsical winds
scatter carefree laughter like seeds and prayers
and hope they’ll push past disapproving eyes and shaming stares
to grow up strong and free
in this garden, too.

Wade in the water…..

By jennifer | August 22, 2010 |

purple passion

Trouble is smashing against the hull
of my little boat
and washing over the deck
like storm breakers at high tide.
The bobbles in this ride
have become a rollercoaster ruckus
and my stomach is queasy
with commotion.

I want to bail out,
to hurl myself onto a bridge
over these troubled waters
and head for shore and shelter
to hide my soul from the pounding.

And yet….

What if this water is stirred to trouble my chains
where I’m enslaved
by worn out beliefs and stale fears
that shush me into polite paralysis.
What if it’s churning with longing
to break me loose from my moorings
and set my heart out to sea…..wild, weightless and free

From within the shrieking winds comes a low humming
that offends and defies my survival instincts.
“Wade in the water
God’s gonna trouble the water.”

My head tilts.
And yet…..it’s there
like a soft warm breath in a hurricane.

And so I wade on into the waters
And “crack!” goes the heart,
trouble chipping away at the hardness,
scouring the rough edges smooth
and polishing the bits like sea glass.

(Wouldn’t it be cool if I could finish this piece with a beautiful bit about some lovely mosaic being crafted from all the polished pieces of me. Can’t. I’m still undone. All I know is that I’m all in….I choose this process and, like me, it’s unfinished.)


Into the wildwoods….

By jennifer | August 19, 2010 |

Next to the tool shed dries a
growing stack of fragrant wood
full of stories just waiting for
cooler nights and bonfires.

For years the logs and limbs
saved aside from our tree work
told stories of my own white knuckles
tightly squeezing the pull ropes
while chain saws screamed
through the last cut and tall trees began to crack and barrel toward the earth and the people I love.

Always I was there,
hands on the ropes.
I felt better that way.
Helpful. Hovery.
Closer to the pencil…..quick to tweak the story.

This year’s pile is a wonder to me.
I don’t know this wood.
It tells their stories…..the wild adventures of sons become men.

I still love the loud crack and splinter as fibers yield to gravity and the tug of the ropes.
And the thundering thud that shakes the ground and erupts with smells of Christmastime
and crisp moonlit nights.

And I’ll still toast my toes by dancing flames as the fire pops and flickers
and smile at the aliveness as their stories flow like ale from their mugs
overflowing with the stuff of life in the wildwoods.

But now I’ll lean back and slowly savor the tang of my own story silently singing
from fresh stretch marks on my heart
of fewer fingerprints,
and ropes released
as I let go
and get out of the way
….trusting them into hands that are bigger and stronger than mine.

Roots of something real……

By jennifer | August 16, 2010 |

12 treat

Celebrating 27 years
of high hopes,
baby steps,
messing up,
getting a clue,
yes to the help,
taking tumbles,
heaps of humility,
accepting the mercy
(and, slowly, each other),
dropping the judgment,
letting down defenses,
losing the criticism,
learning to trust,
loving imperfectly,
loads of laughter,
masses of forgiveness,
getting over ourselves,
and wallowing in grace
Still together.
And more in love than ever.

sweet bj

Singing summer home….

By jennifer | August 11, 2010 |

happy skies

August is humming
~the sound of summer as it
starts to soften and mellow,
pushing back from the table,
full and drowsy.

The drone of bumble bees,
the crackle and swish
of daylilies and grasses
drying like wheat
in the field
join the cicadas and katydids
until it seems the whole earth
is singing summer home.

I feel the season exhale
while the sun still browns the days

like cheese bubbling under a broiler
until just crispy,
then bathes them in golden light.I’m humming along now
tipping back the cup,
sipping till it’s dry
~chin dripping with grateful wonder.


Hummingbird hope…..

By jennifer | August 7, 2010 |


I was sitting with my friend
and her beautiful broken heart
in a memorial garden
we’d recently built for her.
Together in the willowy morning light, we passed the smooth pebbles of loss back and forth between us,
quietly sharing their weight.
We spoke little; simply enjoying the stillness and each other.

From behind her house, where dappled light flickered through thick woods, flew a hummingbird.
His tiny wings carried him quickly
toward us, as if on a mission. He stopped and hovered directly in front of us, eye level and unwavering. We watched for longer than we could hold our breaths, transfixed.
I felt suspended, my own soul fluttery with lift, as if hummingbird wings sliced right through the cords that keep my feet earthbound. Then came a tugging on the cork of my soul… like a thorn pulled from tissue grown thick
with “I’m fine-ness”.
Slowly….slowly…..the notion that my small life was escaping Love’s healing notice seemed eased
from my mind. Gently yanked out. With a slight and muffled “pop” a thick, dewy fragrance swooshed into the space that had been occupied by my good-little-trooper stoicism.
Not the manic “I think I can, I thinkI can” kind.
But restful.
The “I can relax because I’m already loved and can’t mess this up”
kind of deep down settledness.
I joined the cherry tree in releasing my sadness.

The hummingbird stayed
while heaven tattooed his outline on my heart.
Time has filled in the lines, adding bold strokes of color.
I play with the idea of letting it spill out onto my shoulder this winter
…..a real tattoo.
My first.
To match the one in my heart
of hummingbird hope.

Buried breaths and baby steps…

By Michele | August 3, 2010 |
i want you
She’s been on my mind for thirty three years
but I’ve never seen her face
in full bloom.
I remember only the weight of her
presence on my tummy and soul.Her head was bruised
from the forceps that pulled her
from me.

My heart was bruised
as I signed papers with grown-up words like “unfit” and “relinquish.”

I was sixteen; her eyes never met mine.
She was quickly shuffled away into deserving arms.
I remember how tightly her slender fingers clutched mine before they took her.

Today I sit down to write another of many letters
I’ve been allowed to send her these past three and a half years
(words, until recently, confined to my heart and journals).
It’s a dream-come-true that they reach her at last.
A miracle, really. And I’m grateful.

I’ve written her earliest stories…all of my whys and ways taken,
shared everything I imagine she may want to know about her birth mother
…carefully ladling generous portions of my heart into her bowl.
It’s like choosing Christmas cookies to place in a too-small mailing box,
each one stuffed full of love and hope that she smiles and feels it.
I wrestle over which ones to include and which to leave out.

The package I gently wrap in respect for the person she is and the life that is hers,
for the woman who is her mother and the legacy that is hers,
and for the choice that is my birth daughter’s: to respond…..or wait…..or do nothing at all.
I’ve released her; my love will not wobble with her choosing.

And I ride the brakes of my own heart until it’s burning and smoking and reeking
with the smell of ancient ache and the muzzled voice of my younger self
as all of the loss and longing and love come screaming from shut down places.

As I pick up my pen and begin to push it,
slicing off another serving of the tender portions of me,
I bleed out words to Dear Amanda,
and arrange them with hands that shake from holding back the surge
of my long ago voice,
silenced and buried alive,
that erupts with such fury
my heart rips a bit with each pulse.

And as my swallowed words tumble onto paper,
un-forbidden and staring back with fiery rebellion,
I let them be
…..let them say themselves.

And I feel them…..feel them all the way down to my broken places
until I’m spent with their leaving.

Then I wad up that paper and start with a clean one
that will be filled with grown up words…….sturdy ones that lift and carry my voice
grown bold and strong.

I’m grateful for this grown up voice
and use it now to give wings to the words I couldn’t say before:
I wanted you.
I want you still.

On behalf of the child I used to be, I hurl those words into the universe
and with pain soaked in joy
I begin to write….