A volcano lives inside you,
constantly burbling and hissing,
and sometimes it erupts-
a noisy announcement
of shouts goes spraying,
ignoring the walls like air.
Did you trap a bird inside you?
A tropical bird like a squawking
church hat; I hear it rustling
around and screaming for
fruit or insects or whatever
it eats. It clicks its beak.
There’s a bulldozer inside you,
scraping your tongue smooth
as you crawl on your knees
in a white tile work zone.
Tire treads comb you from
the inside; I hear them grind.
Half the world’s inside you,
and another half of who knows
what; they fill the house and
subdue it with tidal volume.
And what I want to know is:
will they drown you?
Someday past 6 you will
sit in a quiet place feeling
inside of you, sorting soul drawers.
You will find the volcano,
the bird, the bulldozer and
decide. Until then, boy, amplify.
is an artist
I ask her
to hurry when
she is composing?
I too am an
you cannot soon
eat your own
I don’t know where this wind has been, but it blows strength into me.
Maybe it’s time I considered my intangibility.
Empty seed pods in the grass say,
“Once I loved; that time is past.”
It’s difficult to bear, but even harder to believe.
Every death is a vacancy sign in the world of the alive.
On this round earth, there’s not one place where something hasn’t died.
And all the words of all the humans
keep the dead things close to you, but
Beauty waits for no man’s pen and needs no awestruck eye.
Walking through the fields under a bleeding sunset, I forget to hold my peace. Frankly, when there is extraordinary beauty flooding the top half of the world, I have to exclaim over it. I feel like that’s who I’m meant to be: a curator of the universe’s artifacts and a proclaimer of ordinary astonishments. And the sky was pink tonight. Oh, you saw it. It was out there for you. But I guess it was inside me because I spilled words and then I had to clean them up.
“It looks like horses ran through pink whipped cream.”
And you asked what I’d been reading, drinking, and smoking. Heh. I should learn to keep my mouth shut because everyone sees the sky their own way, I guess. I said I liked to give ordinary things unusual analogies, because it might make somebody look at the mundane again and see it with fresh eyes. “And you sound like a four-year-old,” you replied.
I don’t know how to be who I am around you- around any of you. I don’t fit in your world. I have been silent beneath the stars and said little in the rain. I’ve shut up about stories and I have tried to keep quiet under sunsets, but once the sun fades, the sky will never, ever look the same again. You get it once. That’s why I write, you know. Because clouds rain away and trees fall and buildings crumble and people die, but words stay alive. I write to save the sunsets and make people look twice. But you said the aim of poetry is to draw attention to the writer.
I always thought it made sense, poetry. Not the poetry itself (that can be complex), but the object of it. To shine beauty around the edges of ugly things and to give more facets to the beautiful, like cutting a rough gemstone. To grab people by the back of the head and shove them into new light saying, “Look at the world! Look at it!” But I guess it’s just some people who view art that way. Human creation ought to draw attention to an artist, yeah. But not a human one. Can I make you believe I write for the love of words and the God-written world?
The sun was fading away as we argued; above our heads cloud-scales lost their sheen like a great fish dying. Near the horizon, the sky glowed gold. And nobody was looking.
To my adopted extended family,
It’s funny, because you’re sort of my real extended family because Michael married Emily. So since he’s my brother-in-law and you’re his family, it’s like we’re family-tied. I have the hardest time trying to explain that to people. But my heart really gets it.
I guess it’s kind of weird that I’m almost 21 and yet today I was playing leapfrog with you. It’s a weird I can live with, though. Because you are some of the best things in my life. And when I say “my life” I don’t mean right now. I mean ever. Always. You are the best. I never could have imagined our current situation- you and me and Michael and Emily all living on the same property, two minutes’ drive or 6 minutes’ walk away. It’s just one example of how God takes things that scare me (moving to the country) and turns them into things I adore.
I’m so sore right now. When someone suggested we play football on our knees, I had this thought that I probably shouldn’t ruin my jeans. But I played anyway. Because I can buy new jeans and my sore knees will be back to normal tomorrow. But this? This absurd experience of scooting across a sandy field on our knees and looking laughably stunted as we tackle each other is going down in the venerated book of Good Times.
When we played Red Rover (my first time since age 8ish), I squeezed your hands tight- partially to keep our chain together, and partially because you are my favourite kids and I love feeling like your sister.
When we made hot chocolate from scratch, I sang Pompeii with you and was glad of the cold weather and warm friendship.
I’m just so thankful for you. My family and your family and the joining of us through Michael and Emily. Thanksgiving isn’t for few weeks yet, but I find myself feeling this way all the time. When you hold my sister close, Michael. When you show me how itunes works, Josh. When you break the line of scrimmage to run and keep Caleb from shutting his fingers in the car door, Andrew. When you half-hug me whenever we pass, Sam. When you quote the same phrase 3 times in a row, Noah. When you show me sandcastles, Abby. When you say “Grace! You’re home!” when I get to your house, Caleb.
I love you. I don’t always tell you stuff like this because I guess I’m afraid you’ll think I’m sentimental. And I am. But I don’t care. I look at your dirty faces and I see your patchwork hearts and I love you with everything God has made me and all the ample love with which he has deluged my soul. I don’t know what time will do to us, but I hope to keep you close. You are my family now. You and your parents and the new baby who has yet to make an appearance. The Lord has done great things for us and I hope you notice even the tiny ones- the brightness of the day-moon in the afternoon sky and the sprinkling of leftover cocoa powder on the counter and the way people laugh when they feel secure. I notice them and I remember them and I keep them locked up inside me so that whatever happens, wherever we go, whatever we become, I will always have a piece of you with me.
Good times indeed.
there I was lying on the carpet,
raised on my elbows, making bookmarks
precision knife poised like a tiny javelin
red squeeze marks on my knuckles
the promise to come downstairs electrified solitude
and as my bedroom reverberated with strains of his symphony
Tchaikovsky cradled loneliness with reverence
there were the Proms in their last week
and I leaving for a two-week vacation,
voices and orchestras made me fade
blowing wide their memory
the anticipation of leaving intensified festivity
and as the walls reverberated with strains of applause
Petroc Trelawney described the Albert Hall with reverence
there you went leaping over garden rows
spiking the volleyball, sipping your milkshakes
fresh haircuts, tan and taut legs
stretching my heart
and the thought of me ever going from you- or you from me- energised camaraderie
and as the Honda reverberated with strains of your mirth
no one listened to your laughing with as much reverence
almost-healed blisters from chopping down trees with Andrew
walking barefoot in short-clipped grass and red garden soil
Anna browsing Pinterest
boys throwing pebbles at my window
dirty cowboy hats in the garage
all hands on deck in the garden with rakes
Dad “forcing” people to put their banana peels etc. in plastic compost containers
sudden spring and sneezing in hay
everyone sprawled out on the Lathams’ couches watching Phineas and Ferb
Sam owning everyone at video games
the bounce board
Mom wheeling Caroline around in the stroller in the afternoon
Alan poring over library books and lining them up across the living room floor
Noah helping me play Lego Batman
Josh going back to old subjects when everyone else has moved on to another topic of conversation
“Guys don’t really like a ton of people. Girls are like, “I love everyone!!”” -Sam
lots of yelling. all the time.
borrowing Emily’s camera
random power outages
spotty cell phone service
bumpy dirt roads and radio turned up loud
throwing the frisbee
spontaneous dinner parties
Emily’s homemade bread
Caleb dancing to Gangnam Style
cuddling and tickling on the couch with Noah and Abby and Caleb
sunset light filtering over the hill behind Michael and Emily’s house
“I can’t wait until you make your pickles again, Grace.” -Anna
Alan eating too much peanut butter every morning
Caroline and Sam tickling each other with grass
the way Alan screams with his tongue out when he’s hurt himself
Andrew wearing The One Ring on a chain under his shirt
Abby’s glass collection at the fort by the free-running course
that one piano app on Michael’s phone
“There are these magnetic mushrooms… but they go to sleep during the day so you have to give them a coffee bean..” -Michael
Josh and Andrew’s garden-dirty hipster shoes
medieval philosophy lectures and silhouette bookmarks
getting poked in the ribs
broccoli and cauliflower plants between the blackberry rows
crowding around Michael’s television watching the extended Lord of the Rings
everyone annoying everyone else
everyone loving everyone else anyway
hugs and head-kisses
driving the tractor, pulling fence posts, hauling cedar, making dinner.
sometimes life takes strange paths. I never imagined this.
I’m a country girl……….. with patent leather heels, an extreme sensitivity to the beauty of melancholy music and poetry, an affinity for fairy tales and Europe, and a scholarly mind.
but here I am plunging through brush to yank a fence post out of the ground with my gloved hands, using the steps I learned on the dance floor to avoid tangling my feet in barbed wire, kneeling on thorns as I work rusted nails out of wood (and thinking of new analogies), and holding my 4-year old brother on my lap as I drive the tractor along the fence line.
and the funny thing is… I like it. The high heels can wait. I’ll wear them on Sundays. I’ll write poetry and read aloud to my sister in the evenings. I’ll cherish my shelf and memory full of fairy tales and tell myself stories as I lie awake in bed. I’ll save up to go to Europe someday, and I’ll study history and theology and literature when I can.
but watch for me running across the grazing field with pliers in my pocket, stretching electric fence wire from here to kingdom come, buying new leather gloves and work boots, and being able to do more pushups than most girls. (…not necessarily that last one. =P)
it wouldn’t have been my choice, but life isn’t a “Choose-Your-Own-Adventure” book. It’s a fairy tale, full of unexpected tasks, surprising romances, and… mostly just miracles. And the funny thing about miracles? we can’t choose them. They choose us.