Small Stone for 12 January, 2023

“Midwinter spring” is nature, having swum underwater thus far through the cold season, briefly surfacing, checking land marks, getting a good deep breath, resubmerging and swimming on grimly and doggedly toward spring.

Small Stone for 30 June, 2022

One of the things that always fascinates me is process. How did that little gem of a poem get from its inception, the spark that caught the poet’s attention, that made her stop, bend down, scrabble through the debris of her thoughts, pick up that hunk of crystal and take it to the lapidary workshop of her mind, to study it, find the cleavage planes, fracture off what wasn’t needed, laboriously grind away at it to fix the facets, and polish them until they caught the light just right. That’s one of the things that frustrates me about poets. Like a calculus exam. It’s not enough to come up with the right answer. I want to see their work. The editing, the crossings out, the winnowing and rewording. And then I want to hear them read it aloud, to breathe their own breath into the words and make them live.

Small Stone for 17 May, 2022

Why? It’s the question they always ask. Why do you write, paint, compose music, knit, garden, do woodworking, sew? Why let some thing occupy a significant portion of your life, or take it over entirely? But that’s the wrong question. The right question is, “Why not?” If you can’t come up with a good answer for that question, then a good answer to “Why?” is “Because I want to.” The best answer, though, is “Because I can’t not.” That is the egg from which masterpieces hatch.

Small Stone for 11 May, 2022

In Memoriam.
On a 4/4 beat of feet, the furry folk arrive, 
Leaving paw prints all across our days, 
Strewing naps across our sunshine places. 
As faithful as a shadow, 
These offspring of Chaos and Delight, 
Weave themselves into the warp and weft of every day, 
Born knowing when to lead, 
When to follow, 
And when to walk beside. 
Oh, how they grace us with their presence! 
As agile as a smile, as lithe as laughter, 
They pitter-pat along the pathways of our hearts, 
And what a wounded emptiness they leave behind 
When it is time for them to go. 
Sure as spring comes after winter, 
When at last it comes our time to go, 
We will find them waiting for us 
Just inside the Gate, 
Whole ardent for the next adventure, 
For it would not be Heaven otherwise. 

Small Stone for 29 March, 2022

Water Lily

From the water’s depths
An offering to the sun
Wrapped in petals white

Small Stone for 8 August, 2021

it is necessary to stand on a hill at a small hour of the night, and, . . . long and quietly watch your stately progress through the stars.

― Thomas Hardy, Far From the Madding Crowd

“Long and quietly” what a gem of a phrase.

Yesterday was a hustle-bustle kind of a day spent among the good ole boys who didn’t so much leave the farm of 40 years ago as carry it with them in their back pockets, the under-educated over-media’ed under 30’s who talk with their thumbs, the children of people from other languages and cultures who learned their English from TV. This city is knee deep in the multicultural flotsam and jetsam of a small town that grew up into a big city when nobody was looking. I wear my waders and walk carefully.

Sometimes, I need to take a moment and remind myself that the language I hear mispronounced and misgrammared on a daily basis is only two steps away from the language of Shakespeare, the King James Bible, and the Declaration of Independence. Every time I hear the “r” left out of “throw,” a question “axed”, grammar that has been run through the sausage grinder of heedlessness and ignorance, or an innocent idiom Malaprop-ed into absurdity, I try to remind myself of Churchill’s majestic cathedrals of language, the neat-as-a-pin prose of Austen, the apt and agile Shakespearean turn of phrase, the language of the Gettysburg address that is as lean, laconic and full of pith as the man who penned it.

Pardon. I was having a Henry Higgins moment there for a minute. I’ll be better directly. But, you know what? Right this now, my idea of Heaven would be an afternoon spent with the likes of Stephen Fry, in a setting of easy chairs, beverages of choice and plates of small delectables, engaging long and quietly in conversation comme il faut without having to worry about using “big words” or “fancy words,” when I spoke. Perhaps we would be seated in a garden gazebo . . .

Small Stone for 6 August, 2021

I’m in the middle of a transformation, putting my mother into care, selling her house, her car, dismantling her life. I’m at the end of a long, very busy day of paperwork, making arrangements, finding things out, finally getting a chance to stop, sit down, be still. Then, this thought wandered into my mind: Does the butterfly remember being a caterpillar? Or does its awareness only begin the moment it bursts forth from the cocoon? This was followed by: Does the caterpillar know that it will awaken from its sleep and that when it does, it will be an utterly different creature? Another of the myriad of Life’s unanswered questions.

We gave ourselves the wrong species name, you know. We are not Homo sapiens. “Wise Man.” (One has only to look around at the state of the world around us to know the pretentiousness and inaccuracy of that epithet!) We should have named ourselves Homo quarentem. “Questioning Man.” (And, as far as that goes, if we were truly ‘sapiens’ we would have picked a genus name that doesn’t ignore half the members of the species. Very old and very tired argument. Our species has suffered from anthropomorphism for millennia. Beginning to look like a forlorn hope that the genus of “Man” will grow up and become the genus “People.”)


Small Stone for 16 June, 2021

I found this little shard of song, while wandering the shores of the Dreaming Sea.

It lay tangled in a wrack of questions, abandoned by the lisping waves among the pebbles.One day I might take it up, make polite inquiries, and see if it will answer. In the meantime, let it sit here on this metaphorical window sill to catch the light and glitter enigmatically, humming quietly to itself.

“The morning is dawning.

It’s cold but it’s fair.

There’s the scent of the heather

Adrift on the air.

There’s the softest of breezes

Blowing out of the west.

There’s the valley below

Where I stand on the crest.

T’is the last day my footsteps

Will grace this good earth,

The last day I’ll spend

In the land of my birth.

My heart should be heavy

To leave home and kin,

But my spirit, it soars

Like a lark on the wind.”

Small Stone for 13 June, 2020

I was watching a video made by a young woman who does watercolors of wild flowers and butterflies, and sells them on Etsy.

The title of her video was “Everything Will Be OK.” As I watched her wander fields of wildflowers gathering inspiration and subjects, I thought of how the works of our hands blow out into the world like the seeds of dandelions. Who knows where they will land or what will grow from them?

Small Stone for 8 July, 2020

Number games.  Western cultures are obsessed with even numbers.  But, two is not a good number.  Four is definitely not a good number, nor, because it is 2 x 4, is eight. I used to have 8 of those very large Libby “Texas tumblers,” in the Chivalry pattern. They are wonderful filled with iced tea, thrangling with ice cubes.  You can’t find them anymore. Believe me I’ve looked.  Why?  Several years after I got them, the dish washer ate one.  Took a large bite out of the rim of it .  I’ve had the other seven through three moves and almost 40 years. The same with the eight tall, blue and white Chinese pattern teacups with lids I got at Pier 1, which I’ve had through two moves and probably fifteen years.  The dishwasher took a nip out of the rim of one of them last summer.  I keep the nipped one out on the counter now filled with those little packets of  Crystal Light.

One is a good number.  So is three.  Five has a two in it and seven has a four in it.  Nine is the best, though, because it’s 3 x 3.   I know if I get an even number of something, sooner or later I’ll break one.  If its something I really like, I always try to get an odd number — one or three or five or seven or nine.  The next glass I’ll break will probably be one of those cobalt blue glass tumblers.  I have ten of them.