Wednesday, October 21, 2009

poem for baby

Preemie Nightwatch
After sleeping too hard and waking with a start
I lean low over the shadowy cradle,
blinking dry eyes to focused sight,
folding blankets back to be reassured,
to catch the shallow feathering breath,
curve a finger into a small palm
to feel the warmth of living flesh,
to know the small heart in a cage of curved ribs
still tirelessly strokes with mild wings
and lungs, bright balloons, fill and release unbidden.

When my insides ease their sudden lurching,
frantic pictures erasing, tenseness lifting like a fog,
I float away to deep sleep seas where the baby drifts,
the pilots of our minds dozing in the cabins of our dreams
while the motors and paddles and signals and lines
that keep these flimsy boats afloat
churn and turn and tug us silently
through the smooth dark water of night.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Already missing this stuff...

Picnic at the lake... exploring things with the kids... being an aunt. Summer is over and far too quickly.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Uncertainty: a random partial poem

Some things you are sure of
Like keys under the flower pot
Garbage can under the kitchen sink
Light switch four inches around the corner when you open the door
It’s such an uncertain moment
When you find that exception
And you stand there in the dark
With your hand on the doorknob, wondering what else in life
You might take for granted

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


I am home.

I kick off my flip-flops and use my feet to cover rows of small seeds in the garden.
Naomi steals my camera and takes pictures of 47 random things.
I am awake at least an hour after I go to bed. There are 9 of us girls in one room: enough said.
We take turns sitting on the couch and chairs when we watch movies.
I drive Mom's nova or the van, and realize, I have driven only my car for months on end.
Abbi plays my piano every day... several times. I am jealous and start playing again.
My dog follows me around everywhere, and when she stops for a rest her eyes track me around the room.
Emili, Elsi and Abbi are writing stories on the computer and ask for critiques.
Five-year-olds grab my hands and twiddle with my fingernails.
Five-year-olds sit on my lap and ask for a back rub/scratch/pounding.
Five-year-olds wheedle for stories at nap time.
We find a frog in the creek and play with it for 15 minutes on our gardening break.
Mom develops pictures and we spend hours going through them all.
After a day in the, we compare sunburns as we slather on the aloe vera.
Fresh milk in the fridge.
I'm not the only peanut-butter nut.
Dial-up internet. *dubious blessing*
Jeeves and Wooster and the Dick van Dyke show.
We are dessert people even if we don't want to admit it.
Silas tells us about what's happening in his novel every day or so.
Standing in line for the bathroom, or for showers.
Dad prays about everything, and family devotions can go on for over an hour. Easily.
We sing the doxology or the gloria patri before dinner every night.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter glories in a long post

Easter weekend is over. It was beauticious.

Obviously, since we had no classes Friday and none until 10:00 on Monday, we made the most of our weekend. We got home Friday mid-morning. The sun was shining, contrary to the weather forecast, and Mom, Naomi and the twins were in the yard with rakes and other tools, tidying up what was destroyed by snow and rain and lots of heavy vehicles and equipment driving on the lawn, and building materials that were stacked there. It felt like spring even though there is far less greenery at home than in Moscow. I put away my suitcase and had the just-home glass of icy cold water (well water! Woot!), said Hi to the girls, and joined them in the yard, uncovering our rock path from the house to the cellar with the tools and a broom and the hose.

Abel and Seth started climbing the rocks by the house, so I had Naomi run after my camera and we went for a walk with them. I had a tour of their castles and forts, watched Naomi climb a tree, looked at gopher trails on the logging road above the house. We climbed up a mossy rock that was still slippery from the day-before rains, and wound our way to the Trailer House Rock, they stopped at the TT Tree, and then not far from the big rock (where the Phlox flowers will be growing soon) we found a snake. Once convinced all snakes aren't poisonous, they became very interested, and we enjoyed him for about 15 minutes. That was Friday morning.

The rest of Friday and Saturday were filled with visiting, cooking, ironing, planning hairdos, taking pictures, watching movies, more walks, a bit of Aesop's fables, reading the girls' stories over their shoulders as they wrote... Luke arrived late Friday night, and Saturday he bought a new car which we had to admire.

It's pretty much tradition to go to Grandma and Grandpa Smiley's for Easter, and to their church with them. We were amused by their new pastor who introduced his sermon by saying it wouldn't be long, and who led the singing by hitting a button on a remote that turned CCM on on the sterio (since their pianist, Heather, is now in Moscow). The words were projected onto the wall for us, and we were able to find the tune after listening a bit. :) We were about 1/2 of the congregation, and they loved it. They are all very sweet and delighted by visitors.

The saddest part of the service was communion. Music played softly on the sterio, and the pastor knelt praying to the side of the podium. The bread (tiny wafer squares) and wine (grape juice) was on a small table at the front of the church below a great cross on the wall. And the congregants filed up the aisle to get their piece and their sip and go back to their seats. It all felt a bit awkward and unlike communion and altogether pitiful to see them go by, partake alone, and slip past the line of people waiting to their seats again. Somehow I think they missed something about the whole deal. Mom and Dad asked some of us girls if we wanted to partake or just skip it since we were visiting, and we decided to join in, following the example of Grandpa and our uncles Brian and Chris who each went up and got the sacrament for themselves and their wives. We went in a clump, bringing back for the little ones, and our rows ate and drank more or less one with another.

And then Grandma's house. What with Maria, Luke and I, the 12 at home and Mom and Dad, Vicki with Ben, Natalie (2 1/2) and Hailey (10 mos), Matt with Maylene and Daniel (2), then Mom's little sister Kelley with Chris and baby Chloe (5 mos), her brother Brian with Sue and the twins Madalynn and Meredith (20 months), it was a fantastic houseful! So many chairs and paper punch cups and dessert plates, cameras and diaper bags and sippy cups and bottles, flouffy dresses and neckties some of which were discarded for easier clothes, baby dolls and strollers, the kiddie piano, two play telephones, a stairway, a magazine rack for a horse, chocolate eggs on the table, and Brian's dog Lady for the kids to play with. It was raining outside and so good inside we skipped our hike (except for some of the guys who went out to the junk pile for a car part and got soaked). Conversation and eating and a cartoon, spit-up and baby naps and spankings, punctuated by moments of cleanup and photography binges.

I noticed while sharing Grandpa's huge leather chair with Seth, while Kelley looked for a Little Rascals show, that this moment was one instance of home: Grandma and Mom loving on the babies, mothers taking things away from toddlers and sending them off to toys again, small faces peeking through the rails of the stairway, Grandpa and Dad and the big guys' voices curling around the corners from the living room, ice cream and 8 different kinds of pies on the table, and the boys stomping in with wet boots still laughing over something someone's uncle or brother said. The small persons are new, and the young mothers were not long ago girls talking about school and horses and dreams, but this is us. I love family holidays.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Siegel horse poem

Amazing. I love this guy (Robert Siegel) and hopefully will get some more of his books!
This poem is about a plow horse, sharp and strong imagery going on. One thing I didn't figure out is why he breaks some of his lines, and more often his stanzas, where he does... What does this shape do for this poem? I like to think something, but haven't discovered the plot yet.

From The Waters Under the Earth.

Versus... came to mean the turning of the plough, hence, furrow, and ultimately row or line. -Robt Wallace

We hear his heavy kick against the stall.
"No rest for the wicked," the farmer smiles,

shoving back the door. The dark inside
teases the nose with chaff. It takes them both,

father and son, to back him out, resisting
bit and blinkers, showing the white of his eye.

Harness and plow attached, he stamps,
sweeping away the retinue of flies,

nods and strains forward at the farmer's grunt -
head sideways, feet rising and falling like pistons.

The harness jingles, the plowman arches back,
rising the stilts as the coulter slices sod,

casting it in bright heaps. The plowhorse blows
flies from his lip, small stones click on steel,

black sod turns over. His neck muscles coil,
slide, and draw his head in tight

to a flared nostril, marble eye,
jaw wrenched and foaming. Meanwhile the son

dwindles behind the massive haunches,
jerking from side to side down the shining furrow,

until, tiny in the distance, the blade flashes
as he turns and starts a new row coming back.

Later that night at my desk, I still
breathe the rich humus on the damp air,

see that furrow stretch before me, moist ditch
rank with promise, crooked line

starting here, returning here, forever.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Justin Morgan/Isaac Watts hymn

To see the words is not enough. One must hear it sung. And one must (at least try to) sing it; the melody is in the tenor and all the parts are somewhat challenging to follow.

Through Every Age, Eternal God

Through every age, eternal God/ Thou art our rest, our safe abode;
High was Thy throne, e'er heav'n was made/ or earth Thy hymble footstool laid.

Long hadst Thou reigned ere time began/ or dust was fashioned into man;
And long Thy kingdom shall endure/ when earth and time shall be no more.

But man, weak man, is born to die/ made up of guilt and vanity:
Thy dreadful sentence, Lord, was just-/ "return, ye sinners, to your dust."

Death, like an overwflowing stream/ sweeps us away; our life's a dream-
An empty tale- a morning flow'r/ cut down and wither'd in an hour.

Teach us, O Lord, how frail is man/ and kindly lengthn out the span,
Till, cleansed by grace, we all may be/ prepared to die, and dwell with Thee.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

March madness

While home for a lovely weekend where no school but the morning monastic routine was done, I took some pictures of the twins in their new room. They weren't too thrilled about the prospect of taking a nap, and I provided a little distraction for a few minutes with my camera. As you can tell by their eyes and a few expressions, they were actually pretty sleepy.

The family came to Moscow a couple Sundays ago and we had a yummy lunch together, played some games and visited before they went home again. Here, Becki, Abbi and I.

Day of the Masquerade Ball. I'm afraid my hair didn't look quite the same after the first dance (the grand march)- thirty minutes of a lot of fast stuff in a very crowded room! Why don't we dance more??

And this week... It's week seven. What can I say? Finishing assigned readings, writing papers, preparing a history timeline, studying vocab, looking over notebooks of class notes. Part of you knows this is the most important part of the term, preparing for finals where all you have done shows up... the rest of you is tired and counting down days to spring break, and diverted by the windows pulling you outdoors.
It is March, and the days are amazing. We never know what weather to expect but the warmth of the season is sneaking in and there are flowers in the yard here in Moscow!! But it snows every few days, a skiff, and the wind can be cold, and rain keeps showing up like a stray dog you forget about in between times. Evenings are longer and mornings are brighter earlier. I start thinking about sandals and garden seeds and the buds and seed pods on the maple tree and the year's first bonfire on Dad's birthday.
I love spring.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

anglo-saxon history

Mr. Schlect read a selection from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle this morning. The year is 938 AD, the moment the battle of Brananburh under king Ethelstan which pushed the vikings northward after their invasion, the words strong and well-placed.

"The sons of Edward their board-walls clove, and hewed their banners, with the wrecks of their hammers. So were they taught by kindred zeal, that they at camp oft'gainst any robber their land should defend, their hoards and homes. Pursuing fell the Scottish clans; the men of the fleet in numbers fell; 'midst the din of the field the warrior swate. Since the sun was up in morning-tide, gigantic light! glad over grounds, God's candle bright, eternal Lord! 'till the noble creature sat in the western main: there lay many of the Northern heroes under a shower of arrows, shot over shields; and Scotland's boast, a Scythian race, the mighty seed of Mars!With chosen troops, throughout the day, the West-Saxons fierce press'd on the loathed bands; hew'd down the fugitives, and scatter'd the rear, with strong mill-sharpen'd blades, The Mercians too the hard hand-play spared not to anyof those that with Anlaf over the briny deep in the ship's bosom sought this land for the hardy fight. Five kings lay on the field of battle, in bloom of youth, pierced with swords."

Would I could post the entire entry. More phrases like The king of the fleetwith his slender craftescaped with his lifeon the felon flood and The northmen sail'd in their nailed ships, a dreary remnant, on the roaring sea; over deep water Dublin they sought, and Ireland's shores, in great disgrace. The hearty, hammering words full of life and thrust (bringing to mind Hopkins' poetry), and names like Eric Bloodaxe, Ethelwulf, Bagsac, and Swein Forkbeard, make me hungry for more history of these people.

(See for the work I quoted from.)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

poem written in Mr. Jones' class

August 5, 2006

I come dripping up from the lake
into air heavy and sweet
with propane fumes and smoke
and settling twilight.

With an old blue towel
rough around my shoulders
I take the long-handled fork
you offer me,

serve the thick black steaks,
cris-crossed with imperfect diamonds
and sprinkled with salt and herbs,
and sit beside you.

Our plates are smeared with charcoal and fat
and a little blood from center of the beef
as we saw with plastic knives
that will break so easily.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

morning monastics pt 2

Remember the monastic routine we're doing for our history class?
I usually remember it.
I did forget one day until after 10 am, and another day I messed up and copied down the wrong Bible verse... in pen of course. Nastiness. I've got to get better about this. It's going to be pure humiliation to hand in my finished copy if I make any more mistakes.
Mr. Schlect encouraged us to do this in groups. I never have. I think it's probably a good idea, but most days of the week I stay here until about 11... and I have made a habit of doing the reciting, reading and writing the same time & place every day (after breakfast in the study). Yes, that is one suggestion I have taken.
Another suggestion was adding one small bit. I poked a little 5-or-8-minute Latin Bible reading into it. Usually I only read a few verses, but I flatter myself I may keep the language partially green and alive in doing so.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Winter pics

Winter in Moscow after lots of snow has melted and drifted. I love the patterns of the snow curving over the hills.

This is the driveway at home. I couldn't get up with studded tires, and even my boots and Manda's feet slid every step or so. We talked abotu runner sleds but I think that would have been suicidal.

A 3-foot pile of snow on... bike seats?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

St. Benedict and monastic routine

Perhaps I should feel like a monk right now, but I really don't. Maybe it takes some time.

In history, we're studying the medieval growth of Christianity, and as part of that we have a little book called St. Benedict's Rule for Monastaries. We read portions of this every morning, along with reciting (reading, if we don't know it) a psalm and a Christian creed, and copying down scripture passages. At the end of the term, our small historigraphical paper will be due on reenactment or routine, discussing the difference in reenacting the past rather than just reading about it.

For a taste of Benedict, here's one snippet about starting his monastary.

And so we are going to establish a school for the service of the Lord. In founding it we hope to introduce nothing harsh or burdensome. But if a certain strictness results from the dictates of equity for the amendment of vices or the preservation of charity, do not be at once dismayed and fly from the way of salvation, whose entrance cannot be but narrow. For as we advance in the religious life and in faith, our hearts expand and we run in the way of God's commandments with unspeakable sweetness of love. Thus, never departing from His school, but preserving in the monastary according to His teaching until death, we may by patience share in the sufferings of Christ and deserve to have a share also in His kingdom.