First Storm


The first winter storm rolled in yesterday. It rained all evening, and into the night. Storms like this warm the air a bit, and I slept with my window open, listening to the rain all night long. My high desert mountain life takes me, every day, away from the wet lake life I lived in Michigan. I have chosen dry over moist. I leave my window open and remember.

I spoke with my sister yesterday, for her 58th birthday. The distance between us is larger than the 2000 miles that separates us geographically. Close in age, almost Irish twins, but as different as the stretch of prairie pictured above and the expanse of a Michigan lake. It’s good to make contact.

We get caught up in moments. Conversations. Looks. And suddenly the lifeline of an entire relationship or history  can be on the line. If you let it.


Richard and I cut wood out in Hart’s Prairie. He sawed, I hauled, thick logs of aspen from trees that looked like they had fallen a few weeks before, in anticipation of our arrival.

Definitely one of his favorite tools: the chain saw. Not mine. I steer clear. He dives in with the roar and blades and gasoline and whir like I do with my Kitchen Aid or wok.

When other folks, also seeking firewood, drove to our spot and heard the zip of that saw as they pulled out into the expanse, they quickly turned around. Everyone was seeking another load of wood before the storm.

We talked about abortion, of all things, on the drive out FS151. He has a logical viewpoint, and me an emotional one. I lean so far left I almost bump into him as we talk and drive through the cloud-covered forest. He stays centered, keeps us safely on the pot-holed dusty road. Those holes are deep puddles now. They’ll be mud by tomorrow.

I rely on Richard for that. Centered-ness. I grow emotional, and loud. He begs for my quiet.

img_20161120_151303083_hdrWe were all-task as we sawed and hauled. Sawed and hauled. When the truck was full, and the drizzle moistened our red cheeks, we headed back. The mountain disappeared before we made our exit. We had only spoken to the task, and then the mountain. It rained as we drove back to town. Sometimes it is so wonderful to just be quiet. Together.

Later I apologized for my loud approach to our conversation. I can work with you I said. He explained, but he didn’t need to do so, after the deaths of his son, step son, wife, he had grown quite excellent in suppression. He doesn’t like to witness fiery emotional outbursts. I know, I said, and you’ve fallen in love with an Irish hot-headed gal. But I can be more calm, I promised. He says he will listen as absolutely long as he can, but then he said, “I shut down.”  And I get hoarse, I thought. We’re good for each other.

The Poet and the Pilot
     a sonnet for Richard V

I cannot talk myself out of loving you,
no matter how hard I try, and I do.

You say, between kisses and games of cribbage,
“an unlikely pairing;” I think “kismet.”

You argue straight-faced with my poetry.
I fact check your sources diligently.

We love words, conversation, oh, to be right,
to listen to Barber’s adagio at night.

You negotiate clouds, quote Schofield or pleadings.
I steer images, bake pastries, give readings.

Reluctant, we navigate smoothly-etched sorrow;
leave vulnerable tight, tucked into bravado.

We revel this comfort, about-face the past,
Pirouette with grace this improbable match.

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