Sunday, February 20, 2011

Springing to Life

Unrest in the Middle East. Unrest in the Midwest. And even some unrest on the family front that reminds me of what poet Robert Bly said several years ago at a reading in Brockport, "All families are dysfunctional." I sigh deeply.

Yet I'm buoyed by signs of spring.

Days are getting perceptibly longer. This morning twilight arrived at 6:15 a.m., easily a half-hour earlier than in January.

Everywhere the bald cypress trees, a deciduous conifer, are beginning to sport a fringe of fine green needles.

In the Everglades, where Roger and I camped for a couple days last week, anhinga chicks were preparing to fledge (above).

But to me the most dramatic sign of spring was one I'd never witnessed before. I was sitting on the shores of the small lake that flanks Long Pine Key campground in Everglades National Park. I had just settled in for a spell of writing when a swarm of barn swallows shadowed my page as they swept over the lake to feed. The birds swirled in the pellucid afternoon air in ever-shifting fractals of hungry birds numbering in the thousands. Then it dawned on me: The swallows were strategically joining ranks -- safety in numbers -- to begin their migration north into their breeding grounds where I will see them in late April or early May, albeit in far fewer numbers, nesting beneath Ontario Parkway bridges near our home in Western New York. I watched the great swarm in wonder at the spectacle: One species among so many are answering the spring call of Nature.

As has happened to me so often in the past when in the Everglades, my favorite place on the planet, my Holy Land, I became one with the Universe. And it is a Universe of Hope.


Happenstance: The Swallowing

On the day of the Everglades dew,
which is every day,
I awake to realize I’ve been
swallowed alive.
The Universe, having chased down
half-moon shadows,
consumes me whole
like a python swallows his prey:
This is the same Universe,
the Everywhere, which my husband
reminds me – this day
of dew swallowed by crows –

is expanding. We swallow hard.
Then a minion of alligators,
a court of vultures in their black
robes, featherless gray wigs,
cloud swallow,
sun bitterns,
gallinules of the dew
swallow the sky.
And the Universe as it is
in the Everglades bedewed
swallows me with the morning stars.
I am the turtle taken by surprise,
plastron, carapace, soul and all.

for Roger


Another uplifting note: The Urn, my chapbook chronicling the power of love to conquer cancer, is arriving in mailboxes as I write. I'm thrilled, as is Roger to whom the book is dedicated and whose photograph graces the book's cover. I congratulate Finishing Line Press for the fine production; it's also a joy to behold and to hold.

For those of you interested in ordering a copy (or a second copy), it's now available either from me directly (just write or through

If you've read the book and would like to comment, please post a review on Amazon! I'd really, really appreciate it!

Thank you again to all who have purchased a copy. May you find hope in its pages.

Happiest of springs!