Little Gifts

Does anyone else
Have an envelope labeled
“Magic Beans”
On their table?
My boys.
The forsythia was late
This year
And then I was late to
Bundle a bouquet
But now the table also holds
This lively staccato of yellow.
These and more
Wonderful poems
Like a meal laid out
On this table
Simply but sumptuously.
We warmed by the fire
With books and
Matt’s warm voice reading aloud
With funny interludes of observation
Cat photos from the internet
A dove on our porch railing
And one video of rescued ducks
Swimming in water
For the first time.
It’s spring and
It’s the weekend and
On this day
We thrill our souls
And each other
With little gifts.


Spring tests itself
With a litmus of green
Small flushes
Small waves from outside
Minute coursings from within
Hinting and slightly softening
The thin skin between the two
Almost imperceptibly green
A light touch, easy to see
Also easy to miss
And then suddenly
It’s lovely, it’s here.

Search and Rescue

I can spend hours reading
And it feels like a search
And rescue mission
Looking for myself
Trying to find the self
I want to be
She must be out there
Already formed
And so I read
And like the color plates
In old books
That weren’t quite registered properly
A ghost appears
Or a halo of cyan, magenta
And that place where the overlap happens
Solidly, yes, the part that is centered:
That is where I will be.


A force to be reckoned with…
And you get lost in your
Your reckonings
A force
Your recognition
And it’s this memory
This force
That continues to appear
A force
To be reckoned
And a trick to recognize
At first and
The first time.


My favorite spoon
Is the mismatched one
That’s tarnished and has
Old fashioned roses
Etched on its
Scratched steel.
It’s not quite my style
But I love that
It stands alone and
It almost seems
In its uniqueness.
I don’t use it
More than the others
But I’m always glad
For the occasion
When it finds its way
Into my hand
To stir the honey
Into my tea.

(Some of my favorite people
Are like this spoon)


I study
An old black and white photo
Of you and Dad.
So many shades of gray.
Memories seem crisp and
Matter of fact
Flattened fields with sharp edges
Only if we ignore the subtleties
And contradictions, continuous tones
Nuanced and still filled with mystery.
This photo is a question
Not an answer
And I promise I will
Tone down the contrast I will
Let memories swirl and be gentle
Continue to flow their stories
Into the present moment
Not a snapshot
But a continuum.

For my mom, Judith L. Arkin, 2/21/1929 – 10/19/2010, I will always love you and your subtleties, your poetry and your lovely poise.

You Know

Someone is telling you
Be this!
Feel that!
Like it’s so easy
And you believe you’re failing
(Even at the easy thing?)
But really
You have no idea
What they mean.
You think you know what they mean
(We always think we know)
But imagine:
You have never
Tasted chocolate.
Someone describes its
Sweetness, its
Shades of dark, its
Solidity until consumed
And you nod.
(Oh yes, I see,
I know exactly what chocolate
Must taste like
Thank you)
But that is
Only a feeling of words.
Until you actually eat some

And then you know.
(You feel the knowing)


So many stones:
The stones the boys found
Stacked by strangers to show they’d also been
In the woods
At the beach
The new stacks they made, knocked down, made again
The stones they put in
Your pockets, my pockets
Their own jacket pockets
All the same, all going to the same place
At the end of the day
And the ones they leave
To show we’ve been there, too.
The beautiful stone you left
When we first met
That is still being tumbled and shined.
The heavy stone in my belly when we argue.
Where is that stone from?
Not the hike last weekend
That was lovely
But maybe our vacation last month.
So many pockets to carry them in.
One of my young sons
Who never met his grandpa, my father
Wants to visit his grave and leave stones
Maybe he’ll stack them
Maybe he’ll leave just one
And another on grandma’s stone
To show he’s been there
But more
That he loves where he comes from.
I think that’s it.
And my other little boy
Searches for ancient truths
In every rock
And finds imprints of ancestors
Right under our feet
Stones marking that they were here
And the reason that we are here now.
And here is the stone in my heart
No, stones
With their weight so heavy
So serious and sincere
Towers marking
Visitors and inhabitants.
All the pretty glittery stones
On the path in front of my feet
Remind me of pretty glittery hopes
Some are light, but some sink
To the bottom
I thought they were all supposed to float
or skip across the surface in perpetuity
Defying logic and physics
But now I just don’t know
No certainty, here, but hopefulness.
Is that everyone’s experience?
So many ways to carry these stones
Markers to show
We are here.


I haven’t always enjoyed good dreams
But after you died
You visited me
While everyone took a trip
In the car
To leave stones
On your stone
I dreamed you
And we visited the roof
Under a canopy of brilliant night
Alive with a very specific geometry of stars
That you showed me
And I could feel
That the math and magic there
Was where you were
And will always be
And I felt happy.

(For my Dad, who died 11 years ago today, and who I love very much
Joseph Arkin 5/25/1923 – 8/5/2002)