Thursday, December 12, 2013


He was born
into the great silence -
nearly five hundred
years without a prophet,
but Simeon heard

the old voices.
Go to the temple,
they told him,
and the people laughed.
All but Anna, who
clasped her bony hand
around his wrist
when he passed by:
Today, she whispered.

Surely not them.
The road-weary carpenter
and his girlish bride,
tattered bundle clutched

tight to her chest.

His feet moved unbidden,
hands took the warm passel
of rags and flesh
from the unsuspecting mother.
Holding the Child,

he heard himself say
the words
to all the songs
the silence could hold no more.

Monday, November 4, 2013

For Logan, from your aunt on the occasion of your birth

The midwife took a photo
of your cord
where it hung,
attached at the furthest
edge by
a scant few

precious vessels.
Strands of life,
they tell your story:
a tale of enough,
a braided rope of
love, joy, and plenty

far right of reason,
and smack in the middle
of God's good grace.

Bless you, boy!

Be graced, good son,
to cast your steadfast line
to sea, and catch
all those who need a love
that won't let go,
and know:

Your mother's thread,
the Father's hand,
the Spirit's breath
will hold you still.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

to ethiopia with love

I rip the envelope
in the Walgreens parking lot,
flip through each photo
first quickly, then again
taking my time
while the van idles, until
the kids get restless
and it's time to move on.

I drive home distracted,
trying to see each image
through your eyes:
how will it feel to see
the child you lost at home
with me? He smiles.
Will you?

Tomorrow I will send them,
these frozen moments --
a birthday dinner,
his preschool portrait,
the first soccer game (he
scored three goals).
A month from now,
maybe two,
an old friend will walk
down a long red road,
greet you with three kisses,
and hand you a package.

You will see his face,
and yours, and ours.
I can't pretend to know
what you will feel;
I only pray you know
our love is for you too.

Monday, September 23, 2013

a pre-written retrospective on motherhood

She kept having children
perhaps because
they all began babies,
who lay down quietly in her lap.

Nestled skin to skin,
full satisfied by all
her body had to give,
she delighted to be
emptied into them.

And then they flew
too far to follow,
followed dreams and girls
down roads
she hadn't chosen.

Now the stairs and hallways
rattle memories,
silence louder than
their shouting ever was.

She sits by the un-smudged
window, hands in her
empty lap,
sad and satisfied
in all her fullness.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

to nurse

To tend,
or worry over,
in the case of wounds.
At a hospital,

to do a job,
a shift,
to lift and turn,
to measure, prod
and watch.

Here, in this darkened
room at dawn
it is love.
To give my
self, be emptied
and then filled

by the round
of her cheek, the
grasp of her tiny
her weight in my lap,

Friday, August 30, 2013

all downhill from there

They arrived by
the only home
they knew, a dark
without hunger,
without want,
without fear.
This very space
not only shrank but
ejected them
through a bath
of blood and water,
into a world of
harsh light,
brutal noise,
haunting hunger,
endless need.
Years later we
will fret over
a swat on the rear,
a scraped knee
the wrong soccer coach.
As if we had some
power to shield,
as if the bubble
ever stays intact,
as if the trauma
doesn't start with birth.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

stranger son

I loved a boy
with an easy smile,
an eager heart,
an aim to please.
For seven years
I knew his face,
and he knew mine -
we were the same,
or so it seemed.

I lost that boy,
I don't know where,
or how, I only
know he's gone.
He's here, but not
the boy I loved,
and now my work
is just to love


He wears the face
of the boy I loved,
the easy boy,
and I forget --

Oh, let me not forget!

To love this boy
with the grimace face,
the angry fist,
the fearful heart:
we're still the same,
beloved, still.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

a thousand winters for this

A thousand winters
for this:
white spray
against blue sound
and my babies
into the wind,
save one
warm on my chest.

If I saw the scene
in a painting --
our little boat
under sapphire skies,
ferries with fresh paint
and the mountains ringed
in cloudy crowns --

Contrived, I might say,
or sentimental.

But here now,
I would live
a thousand winters
for this summer.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

baby days

These are the days
of nakedness
with no shame,
no guilt, no blame,
no broken rules.
It's always OK
to cry,
and you can't
make any mistakes.
No wonder the Teacher
tells us to be
like you.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

pure and wise

Wisdom too often
comes at the
cost of innocence,
but You say both:
doves and serpents,
holy and shrewd,
fly and slither,
the heel,
but bring back
the olive branch.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

some women

Some carried dirty water
too far in leaky buckets,
Some bent low to pick
hard crops in the hot sun.
Some kissed fevered foreheads
in ice-cold ICU wards,
Some made their choices
with no choice at all.
And me? I pushed
a stroller, saw a butterfly,
suffered the little children
come to me.
I'll never know why, but
God said it was

Saturday, June 1, 2013

painting grief

They put her ashes
in the ground today,
my grandmother,
and I didn't cry.
The eulogies were stirring
but my eyes dry,
no tremble in my voice
when I stood with
my sister and sang.

Hours later now
I sit by myself
in the art museum
around the corner
from the church.
Where the words and
music of the
morning failed,
the lines and light
of the artist

Undone, I cry
grace for the sinner
whose tears are too late.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

dusk run

I run tonight
at the rabbit hour
after the rain,
mist rising off the
damp pavement
but it isn't cold
and the moon shines
yellow through
leftover clouds.
A short loop,
then an out-and-back,
my longest run
since the baby and
it feels good
even when it hurts.
The stretch beyond
the turnaround
grades just so,
a faint incline that
feels harder than a hill
because the eye says it flat
but the body disagrees,
and I think that crazy
may be as simple as that:
A fight between
the eyes and limbs
of a man who doesn't
know he's almost home.

Monday, May 20, 2013

I love a baby

I love a baby
for all she doesn't know:
for sweet ignorance,
for the fresh start,
for a thousand mistakes
I haven't made
I love a baby
for all she doesn't do:
feet that don't run,
arms that don't fold,
lips that don't speak a word
I love a baby
for all she doesn't need:
no hard decisions
and no discipline,
no tests or therapies,
no parent-teacher conferences
Oh! how I love a baby.

three sons

Dandelion flower
an hour before dawn,
balled up small,
I wait
for the slow
grow of chill gray
into lighter day,
aching for
sun, son, and Son.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

his mother's son

How his eyes crinkle
when he smiles,
the way he gets lost
in a book,
his tender heart,
his hair:
the me in him
I love to see.

If only we gave
only the good.

How the ghosts of
imaginary expectations
haunt him,
the way correction
makes him squirm,
his tender heart,
his fear:
the me in him
I cannot take away.

God help us both.

Friday, April 19, 2013

flower girls

The camellias early bloom
in a rush of pink,
immodest and brash beauties,
all rouge and no blush.

The magnolia holds
her buds like velvet tears
suspended in a slow tableau,
their hour not yet come.

Brazen camellia
browns quick as she pinked,
drops in a heap.

Sweet magnolia
opens clean and snow white
face to the light.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

little sparrow

Let me not grow weary
of doing it all wrong,
of needing
grace upon grace
upon grace.

Let my path be dark
and let me stumble,
let my strength fail
and my flesh give way.

Let me be the little sparrow
sold for five pennies,
let me fall and be known
in Your care.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

no one naps now

We walk, us four
in the weary
early afternoon,
in the pregnant minutes
before the rain
We smell the clouds
the cherry blossoms
ready for a drink:
I wouldn't turn
one down either.

Monday, March 11, 2013

matthew 6:28

Baby flower on my lap
See how you grow:
You neither labor
Nor spin, yet
No royal robes can rival
Your fresh beauty,
God-clothed --
My little lily of the field.

ode to pluto

Your whole life they told you
you were special,
you were part
of a bigger system,
worthy of styrofoam
ball status in the
school science project.
You had a name!
and then one day
you found out
all this time
you were really just
asteroid no. 134340.

Thursday, March 7, 2013


I feel the weight of you
on my chest
even when you are
not in my arms.
You watch me now,
eyes just learning
to follow an object
across your field of vision;
you will keep watching
all the way
through girlhood and
into the years
when your every move
is a question:
Who am I?
and later:
What does it mean
to be a woman?
and I hope:
What does it mean to be
a woman of God?
These things are coming
and even now
I feel their weight,
the weight of my part
in what your answers
(and questions)
might be.
And in this way
you make me a better me,
a better woman,
a better woman of God:
thank you.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

taken, blessed, broken, given

Henri Nouwen uses four words to describe what he calls the "life of the beloved": taken, blessed, broken,given. Nouwen finds these words embodied by Jesus at the Last Supper as He takes the cup, breaks the bread, blesses the elements, and gives them to his friends. I find them to be a resonant expression of pregnancy, birth, and life with a newborn. This was written when Sadie was 2 weeks old.

Taken [early pregnancy]
or rather taken over, occupied, lived in, forcibly moved to another state of being.

Blessed [late pregnancy]
wished-well, given gift after gift, lavished upon, receiving benedictions from strangers and friends.

Broken [birth]
brought low, bent over, rent open, flung wide to usher out.

Given [life with a newborn]
or rather given over in love, offered up, poured out, spent to the last sweet drop for this beautiful gift.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

evening prayer

I'm writing a few basic prayers to say with my children throughout the day. Here is the evening prayer, based on Psalm 4:

Lord tonight we call to you
You are right in all you do
Hear our prayer, forgive our sin,
Bring us close to you again
Keep us quiet in our beds
With happy hearts and peaceful heads
Stay close by us through the night
Safe and sound till morning light

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

midday prayer

I'm writing a few basic prayers to say with my children throughout the day. Here is the midday prayer, based on Psalm 121:

Lord we turn our eyes to you
We need your help in all we do
You made the world so you know
The best way for us to go
Watching over one and all
You won't let us slip or fall
Inside, outside, everywhere
We are always in your care

Monday, February 4, 2013

morning prayer

I'm writing a few basic prayers to say with my children throughout the day. Here is the morning prayer, based on Psalm 5:

Jesus hear us as we pray
We come to you to start this day
Because you love us we are saved
Please make us holy, strong, and brave
Protect and bless us all day long
And fill us with your joyful song
Give us favor that we might
Shine into this world your light.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

this morning, or it's ok to get it wrong the first time

Hear a tattle
Heave a sigh
Smack a hand
Say a swear... {very quietly.}
Boil water
Fake a smile
Pour the milk
Check the baby... {still quiet.}
Stick a bandaid
Sweep the crumbs
Smooth the covers
Feed the baby... {so quietly.}
Light a candle
Read a psalm
Say a prayer
Try again... {to be quiet.}

Monday, January 21, 2013

first communion

To be, in my body,
the answer
to her cry,
the satisfaction
of her need,
the provision
for her hunger,
to mother her:
my best trade.
"Take and eat --
this is my body,
given for you."

Saturday, January 12, 2013

a blessing for my daughter

May your baby days be filled with milk and kisses;
May you learn to sleep through ruckus, nurse at t-ball games, survive your brothers' less-than-gentle love.

May your toddler time be baby dolls and monster trucks, wrestling and tutus, mud pies and sparkly tights;
May your tea parties outnumber your time outs.

May your girlhood be long and innocent;
May your eyes open only slowly to the wider world, that you may greet it with compassion, strength, and wonder, and not be crushed by its cold weight.

May you meet your Savior long before your first love;
May your heart be his before you know how to give it to anyone else.

May his love cover over all the holes that your father and I will surely leave, may it heal the wounds we'll never see, may it bind up the parts we won't know are broken;
May your place in his family supersede your place in ours, even as we try to hold you in.

May you go;
May you come back.

May you come to name your mama among your dearest friends.

May you never doubt my love for you, my dove, my daughter.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


Late for her
is right on time,
she is in no hurry.
Safe, protected,
warm and fed,
what has she
to worry?
Awaited child you
have your way,
we'll be ready and
The One who made you
knows your days,
and He is ever faithful.