Visitors — A Poem, in want of Music

An open gate, an invitation —

sleek bodies gleam

in pale moonlight;

Beneath the arch

and past the vines,

they slip over the lawns.

I drift, I sleep,Garden Gate #2

a silver mist upon

my eyes —

I miss their call

Softly, they tread

on slender limbs

light steps chime like distant bells;

Their heads are crowned

in bones and velvet

starlight gilds their movements.

I drift, I sleep,

a silver mist upon

my eyes —

I miss their call

Gentle the heart,

quiet the tongue,

observe the drifters as they pass;

Extend the bough,

bestow the bloom, and

spread a cloth in welcome

Alert me, wake me

to their swift darkling arrival —

and together, we shall dream…


The Far Side — A dream

This ancient city is thick with people tonight. They move through its narrow streets and hairs’ breadth alleys slowly, like a flood tide. The throng’s collective voices, lapping one over another, are a steady drone of sound. Not a word is decipherable. Old buildings lean against one another, crowding up against the streets’ edges to observe in silence as the human river inches by.

We are not surprised by the crowd, as this is a night of singular celebration. But my senses are overwhelmed. The constant hum of noise is a vibration so palpable, I feel it in my skin. Everywhere I look, the people are clothed in subtle shades of shifting red, and they move ceaselessly in the darkness; their bodies press so close, I can scarcely tell myself from any other. My mother and I are squeezed to the margins, pushed backward away from the mass until we find ourselves forced across a low stone bridge that stretches over a canal. The dark water moves slowly, slips easily between its banks and on its way.

At the far side of the canal, there is a calm silence. The grass is thick and damp and empty of people. Here, in this quiet space, my mother and I are able to spread our mats. We lie down on our backs and look up at a vast, dark sky illuminated with countless bright stars.Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 3.29.04 PM

Duck Dog — A Dream

The forest here is peculiar — the slim trees arranged evenly in rows by some grand design so that one might move easily between them in all directions. They have no branches until about 20 feet up. And in spite of the late hour and moonless sky, their smooth trunks reflect dim light from some unknown source. They cast long, straight shadows in a measured grid over the flat, dark earth.Duck Dog Dream

Half a dozen or so men line this odd forest’s edge. They are extraordinarily tall, reaching seven feet in height. Great black, mantled trench coats swath them from shoulders to feet. The men’s faces in deep shadow that the trees’ dim glow cannot penetrate. With slow, sweeping gestures, the dark men indicate a path through the trees. Silently, they entreat us to come, to see the ‘duck dog’.

Some of those gathered with me beyond the perimeters of both men and trees begin to wander off in the direction of this promised creature, but they so do in a dispirited fashion, as if compelled. Their steps drag, their shoulders are hunched and their heads are bowed. The line of dark men parts to admit these poor folk who trudge forward through the softly gleaming trees.

Soon, I am alone, crouching at the edge of this scene. It seems only I am alert and attentive enough to notice the dark men’s oddly-shaped hands –a flat rectangular object is adhered to each of their great palms, and from each palm protrudes five slim lengths that mimic fingers but simply cannot be such digits. Continuing my surveillance, I realize, with a shock, that each shadowy man holds a sheath of throwing knives. The ‘duck dog’ is a trap. The men are luring us into the woods for slaughter.

I raise an alarm. I call and shout to warn the others to no avail — my subjugated companions continue dragging their steps forward, sloping off between the rank of dark men into the trees. My appeals, however, have drawn the unwanted attention of the dark men themselves. Their heads swivel toward me in unison — I have been marked as a target for elimination. Suddenly, the air is alive with noise and motion as the men hurl their flashing knives. I hear the sleek weapons hiss pass my head to bury themselves into earth and tree trunks alike. Diving to ground, I duck the paths of these deadly projectiles. As I lay upon the cool earth in the leaf litter, I suspect that the ‘duck dog’ was not a creature, but a warning.

Lilac Memory — A Poem

The scent of lilac


drifts like distant bird song;

and I breathe in,Screen Shot 2015-05-08 at 5.21.09 PM

step in —

barefooted and perfumed —

on another place and time

as easily as dream,

or memory.

A visitor, now, to that Spring night

when we turned our hands

and faces upward


the full-flower Moon.

Rabbits and Heart’s Land — A Truth

In the sixth grade, when my peers were preoccupied with dating, dances, and first kisses, I was busy modifying the Eraser Bunnycardboard pencil box stowed in my desk to create a rabbit warren. This was, you must understand, the next obvious step after having made the rabbits — they would need a place to live, after all. I had made the rabbits by twisting the pink, cylindrical erasers off the tops of two pencils. Their fronts bore little smiling ink faces; their backs tiny tails; and I had cut small, precise ellipses of paper and taped these in place to serve as ears. Naturally, their names were Peter and Benjamin. They had very full lives, complete with rabbit-centric adventures, which led to their ultimate discovery. My teacher eventually noticed my distraction, my hands animatedly occupied within the shadowed, rectangular recess of my desk. I was a good student and generally quiet, so I merely received a raised eyebrow as reprimand. (This was enough.)

Rabbits often figured into my solitary play. I spent many hours during the Summer as a rabbit. As such, I made my home beneath the arching branches of a Spiraea in my family’s back yard. The soft, green oval leaves of bush honeysuckles provided the mainstay of my make-believe rabbit diet, supplemented by both the roots and flowers of Queen Ann’s Lace, and the ‘bird berries’ (also from the bush honeysuckle) which my parents had warned against ingesting, having explained their poisonous nature. While scampering through Summer in this guise, I called myself Cottontail.

Certainly, you’ve noticed the common thread between these two activities, and you’d be right to conclude that the works of Beatrix Potter greatly influenced the imaginative diversions of my youth. Beatrix Potter was a remarkable woman well ahead of her time — author, illustrator, patent-holder, natural scientist, and conservationist. Naturally, during our recent travels through England, my husband and I included Ms. Potter’s home in Near Sawrey, Lancashire, on our itinerary of Literary Figures’ Homes to See.

Visiting Hill Top Farm was like walking through the pages of Beatrix Potter’s many little books — along the winding slate path Created with Nokia Smart Camthat would, as Spring advanced, soften with wildflower beds and hum with bees and butterflies. Created with Nokia Smart CamPast ivory ewes and new lambs that lay contentedly beneath a twisting tree in a neatly fenced grassy sward. Pausing at the scrolled, moss-green iron gate to see the garden — filled with rhubarb and geraniums and the weathered tin watering can that must certainly have been the site of Peter Rabbit’s trials. And within her home, the entrance hall with its large kitchen range; the crimson-carpeted stairs and Grandfather clock ticking on the landing; in a small, spare bedroom, the dollhouse of her childhood that served as the home of Two Bad Mice.

Beatrix Potter’s passions and talents echo throughout her home, and her surroundings are reflected in her stories. Experiencing Hill Top first hand, this positive feedback loop between location and artist is beautifully obvious. Equally so was my response — the immediate announcement that I should like to move in. There are places that call to us, places that beckon and sing within our veins like heartbreak when we find them.  My heart sang with recognition on Beatrix Potter’s doorstep.

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