Tag Archives: life


Expectations dashed,
morning arises just the same.

We skirt the space from last night
and busy ourselves
in living —

I understand
the rain should taper off today.

There are difficult moments in much of what I write, but I have been reluctant to post something that doesn’t somehow tie up neatly. Not all moments do.


Shiny Rocks

I’ve gained nothing
from the practice,
instead losing some
of what I used to have.

What I looked for isn’t here.

Still fearful,
bitter at separation —

but, too,
softened against the day
and quicker to tears.

My daughter’s pockets
are filled with shiny rocks,
just like mine.

Antique Doors

I salvaged a set of antique doors
that were piled in a yard
close by the ocean
with other detritus
from a torn-down house.

Hoping the owner would let me take them,
I talked with him
and listened to his stories
about who had passed through them,
what rooms they had separated.

It isn’t easy to find ones just so,
with the hardware still intact.

Perhaps if I hold on to them,
I thought,
and shape them here or there,
they’ll fill up gaps —
shut out the draft from the
old ice-box pantry,
dampen the kitchen noise that drifts
so easily up the stairs
when our children are sleeping.

But I wonder
if I will have time to use them,
or if someday
someone will come
and collect them from me.

Big Trucks

My daughter went to see the nurse at school yesterday, not feeling well, and she came home early. I wish I could have been there for her. Not because she needed me – her mother was there for her – but because it was a moment that I missed. I would have loved that hug.

Even though my wife teases me that I wouldn’t be able to manage all the day-to-day muck work that she does – and I think she’s right – I’m jealous of what she gets to witness. I would love to be there for the game of crazy eights with our five year old after his older siblings have gone off to school, for the trip to the library after school to see all three of them pore over books, for the trips to the pediatrician to watch them have their reflexes tested.

Monday morning, a holiday, I took the boys to Home Depot to buy concrete for a basement project. I bought new filter masks for them so they could help without filling their lungs with fine portland cement, and we came home and poured concrete. They poured the water and acrylic fortifier, talking eagerly about which one they liked best. Look at the concrete dust, they said, fully aware, fully present. Meanwhile, not wanting the concrete to set, I spoke too quickly to them as I moved in the tight spaces.

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Copper Pots

For a few years in my early twenties, my father gave me a piece of copper cookware every once in a while. Cooking was one of the ways we managed to connect, and the pieces were beautiful. And they were substantial. Weighty. As long as I took good care of them, they would last forever. I imagined I was building a permanent collection. I was building my life.

Over time, copper develops spots, and if you scrub it with regular soap and a sponge, it scratches quite easily. Instead, you have to use special cleaners and stay diligent about keeping up with them. My wife and I have occasionally fallen behind in this task, especially when we run out of the cleaner, which never rises quickly back to the top of the shopping list. After only a use or two, the pots begin to turn a mottled, and then even dingy, brown and stop reflecting the light of the room.

Eventually, though, some space opens in the time we have after a meal, and we get back on the bandwagon and clean the pots. But lately I’ve begun to wonder why we do it. Yes, they’re beautiful. And they might just last forever, or least for hundreds of years. But I’m not going to.

I do keep washing. There is something quite pleasing about the task itself, in the possibility of absorption in the water, the shine of the metal, the repetitive circular motion. Each time, though, what I hold in my hands feels a bit more like just a pot.

Zoe & A Boy

I can remember my body shaking the same way when I was a boy. My lungs trying to pull air back in, but the convulsions from my crying making each breath stutter. I remember, too, a feeling that I shouldn’t be this way, that I should stop as soon as I could.

I saw it happening to my son as we stood in the rain of Hurricane Sandy. I searched for ways he could help me as I dug the final resting place for Zoe, our cat euthanized the night before. Between the rocks in our New England soil and the roots from the Hemlock tree above, the digging was slow – and too much for seven year old arms. But he had asked to help. And he stood there, steadfast, arms at his side, as my crow bar and shovel made slow work.

He doesn’t often stand so still. He’s much more likely than his older sister or his younger brother to be a blur, one with volume pegged high, childhood silliness taken one-half step too far. The kind of exuberance that some people label as “a boy being a boy” – the kind that looks like he’s moving way too fast to possibly stop and think, to stop and feel.

But he stood there. Not completely still, because he shook, just as he’d done the night before when, after the vet had come to the house and gone, he had asked to read a story. Sure, I said. Maybe a Pooh story, he asked, meaning one out of our vintage A.A. Milne hardcover that has long since lost its monetary value, its binding loosened by overhead reading, cover marked in crayon. It wasn’t his usual choice, at least not since he willed himself to be enough of a reader to catch up to his older sister in reading Harry Potter. I read, and he laughed with sincerity, as any child will do if you read them a Pooh story with all of your own. As he got into bed, though, the gaiety of those stories fell to the pain of his first loss. His bravado, which compels him to be faster, stronger, or funnier than all comers, which would have him best his four year-old brother by any means, his bravado fell too. He didn’t stop shaking for a long time.

I told him then that this is what makes him special. I told him his sadness, the way he lets himself feel it, is what make him a good son, a good brother, and why Zoe loved him so much. It’s more than okay for you to feel this way, I told him. It’s what makes you who you are. It’s your gift.

We had gone in to get the rest of the family after the hole was finished, and he almost didn’t come back outside. But he was so desperate to help, to feel the connection that he needed, as much as it hurt. He took the cardboard box from the barn as we walked toward the back of the yard. It hardly weighed anything at all, but looked so heavy in his arms. The effort was in his heart and in his lungs drawing in air.

We filled the grave and his brother and sister walked back toward the house. He simply stood, still and soaking. Can we mark it, Dad? What will we use? I’ll get a flat rock, I replied, I’ve got a few on the stone wall. It has to be at least three feet tall, he said. Three feet, I asked, why three feet? Well, he said, the snow can be up to that deep.