December 31, 2009

new year's eve

Goodbye, 2009...
You were the hardest year of my life so far -- and that's
saying something.

falling in love at a coffee shop

Cissa plugged in the headphones and put them on, just for fun. I played some music for her on the computer and she stood next to my chair, leaning against me like she does, and hummed along to songs she didn't really know. "Here," she said suddenly, "I need to go talk to mom for a second. You can listen while I'm gone. You will like the music. It is kind of soft... and warm..."

Here is the song.
She is really good at describing things.

December 30, 2009

the paper people

C was so excited about Oona Patterson's art yesterday that he decided to try for himself...

Here is the inspiration:

And here is his work (in progress):

December 29, 2009


Oh my gosh!!

tiny gorgeous bookscapes by Oona Patterson (You must go and look at more. I insist.) discovered via mackinink, who seems to hand me something lovely every time I turn around.

December 28, 2009

it finally came

You must imagine that I am saying this in a raspy, barely audible, tear-stained voice:
Thank you, Pammy. You saved my life.


They didn't love me.
They didn't ever love me, not even a little bit.
Love doesn't act that way.

My tears are so hot they hurt.
They burn my cheeks like battery acid.


Sometimes it's like a passage in a book. You're reading along and you can feel it coming, some nameless thing, too awful to look at directly. You hope it won't be what you think it is, what you know that it is. You want to close your eyes, or skip ahead, but you know that if you do you will miss something crucial to the story. Something enormous and small. It's always stuck there, isn't it? The heart of everything, caught like a bunny on barbed wire, wide-eyed and bleeding.

December 27, 2009


I sat in bed all morning, watching lines and vees and zigzags of birds as they flew -- inexplicably -- northeast, toward the Decembered hills that slope unevenly across my view and up into Canada, heedless of customs agents or the international borders neatly drawn on human maps. Slate grey gulls and umber geese, starlings so black they're almost blue, and ash-white swans.

The shades were drawn all the way up; I don't often do that. But the light... the light was special, today. I watched it move and change the shapes of things, sometimes with my eyes open, and sometimes with them closed. I sat and listened to music and did nothing, for once, with my hands. They lay folded in my lap, inert, quiet and compliant and deceptively still.


I had a horrible dream this morning. I dreamed I was at the house where I grew up, and my dad walked in, so I immediately attacked him. He grabbed me and I was going to bite his hand, but then I had the stomach-turning thought that he might actually like that, so I didn't. I hit his stupid face, and kicked him and beat at his chest as hard as I could and screamed. And all the while he just held me off at arm's length, and looked pitying, and said infuriating things like "There, there," and "I know," as if he could soothe me. As if he were a good parent and I was a child throwing a silly tantrum, and when my temper was spent he would forgive me for my tiresome behavior and we would all go on as usual. And no matter how I kept screaming and hitting, and getting more angry instead of less, his face never changed and he never understood that I wanted him dead, dead, dead, and things would never be the same again.

I woke up thrashing and crying and mad. I hate him so much - but it hurts me, instead of him. It's so unfair.


The fences and the rooftops and the green of the grass were all pale with frost, and the new morning light that glowed along the frayed edges of the foothills was winter-pale too. The colors were all crystalized, frozen in place. The air was thin and clean and cold, and pricked at your lungs, needle-like, on its way in and out.

December 26, 2009


I'm all out of faith, this is how I feel
I'm cold and I am shamed, lying naked on the floor
Illusion never changed into something real
I'm wide awake and I can see the perfect sky is torn
You're a little late, I'm already torn

from Torn, by Natalie Imbruglia


I have that icky feeling, the one I used to get all the time as a teenager. Like I did something wrong, but I'm not sure what it could be. And now I'm in trouble, and someone is coming; coming to punish me. I feel sick and unsettled and a little bit scared. I'd hoped that reading for awhile would help. But it didn't.

I miss Pam. I wish my package would get here.
I could just cry for wanting it so much.

December 25, 2009


People observe the colors of a day only at its beginnings and ends, but to me it's quite clear that a day merges through a multitude of shades and intonations, with each passing moment. A single hour can consist of thousands of different colors. Waxy yellows, cloud-splat blues. Murky darknesses. In my line of work, I make it a point to notice them.

Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

(I got this book for a Christmas present, and I am already loving it immensely.)

December 24, 2009

noel noel

Merry Christmas, my doves...
I love you and I'll never stop telling you so.

December 23, 2009

merry & bright

photo via

little tree
little silent Christmas tree
you are so little
you are more like a flower

who found you in the green forest
and were you very sorry to come away?
see i will comfort you
because you smell so sweetly

i will kiss your cool bark
and hug you safe and tight
just as your mother would,
only don't be afraid

look the spangles
that sleep all the year in a dark box
dreaming of being taken out and allowed to shine,
the balls the chains red and gold the fluffy threads,

put up your little arms
and i'll give them all to you to hold
every finger shall have its ring
and there won't be a single place dark or unhappy

from little tree, by e.e. cummings

December 22, 2009

a heart, a home

When I told you the single most loving thing you could do for me, you laughed.

It was like I had handed you the key to my heart, and you looked at it -- such a little thing! -- and scoffed, and tossed it into the bushes.

But you still wanted in.

So you broke windows, and kicked at the door till it splintered, and then in a temper threw mud at the walls to make them look dirty and ruined, just as you'd done all along. (You could have walked right in, if you'd only kept the key.) But it's too late; now you've lit a match, and set the whole place ablaze.

When the fire burns out, I'll sift the ashes for the last hot coal, crushed into diamond, clear and beautiful. I'll grow a new heart from that. But this time, I won't tell you where it is.

December 21, 2009

one for you, one for me

I went Christmas shopping on Saturday, mostly for myself. I wanted to find some perfect gifts that I knew I would just love, to make up for all those gifts I received over the years that only served to show how little I was really known.

I chose the coolest little world map puzzle, for when I was seven, and a pretty turquoise sweater for when I was sixteen. I chose some cute fair-isle gloves and a fashion magazine for when I was nineteen, and a lavender scented neck pillow for when I was twenty-two. And for this year, twenty-five, I chose a teeny, tiny, orange and white striped onesie with a football on it.

It's what I would have put on him, to bring him home that day.

December 20, 2009

love, no strings attached

I cannot for the life of me remember where I got this.
But it is very sweet.

December 18, 2009


It's like my mum is walking away from me, like she's been walking away from me at a steady pace my entire life. All I've ever seen is her back. And I've been running, running and running, trying to catch up, but I can never get there on my little-girl legs. Not even close.

Sometimes I can hear her voice, and I realize she is talking to me, talking like I am right there by her side; but I'm not. I'm still behind her. Miles behind. And she doesn't seem to notice that I'm not actually there. She even has her hand out, as if she's holding mine.

I shout. I shout again and again, and I jump up and down and wave my arms. But it doesn't matter. I think the fantasy is more real to her than I am. She never even turns her head. And now... Now, I'm not running anymore. And she just keeps walking. And she is almost out of sight.

December 17, 2009

make me smile

I needed some cheering up.
So I listened to this. And this. And also this.

And it helped. For now.

December 16, 2009


I'm recovering from a surgery, so I feel tired and yucky and the ugly weather isn't helping any. I wish I could sleep and sleep like the bears do, all through the cold dark winter, till things are warm and pretty again.

lovely artwork by Amy Borrell, via cake with giants

December 15, 2009

life sneaks up on you

She had looked for his coming as warriors come,
With the clash of arms and the bugle's call;
But he came instead with a stealthy tread,
Which she did not hear at all.

Love's Coming, by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
via lovelyprettycheerythings

December 14, 2009

the Nutcracker

We went to the Nutcracker last night. I was very very tired, but it was still beautiful. I thought I would share some of the loveliness with you.

On our way home it started to snow, our first snow of the season.

Only the first two photos are mine. I wish the pictures of the dancers were mine too, but they're not...
All cast photography by Angela Sterling, via the PNB website.

December 8, 2009


I have been reading more than writing these days. Feeling weak, and needing to escape from my own thoughts into books, into other people's words and lovely other worlds, where things come right (or at least closer to right) in the end.

everything important about being alive

On their last few drives she'd spoken little and answered his questions tersely, trying to act more like an employee than a companion, but he'd sensed nothing. Oblivious, like all the antiques: her mother, Eudora's parents, Mr. Baum who sold her fabric and buttons, the fat geese who ran the village with their swollen middles and scrawny necks. All of them sure they knew how the world worked, unaware that their advice was useless and that they had nothing to say to her. What did they know about what she felt, what she needed, how the world was shimmering beyond these mountains, waiting for her to grasp it? They'd forgotten everything important about being alive.

Andrea Barrett, The Air We Breathe

December 7, 2009


I feel like I'm missing pieces of myself. Like I was shot in the chest as a child, and walked through life with a big hole blown through me, and nobody noticed. Nobody noticed! How could no one ever notice? I guess all they saw were the bows in my hair.

December 6, 2009

wish wish wish

If wishes were fishes we'd none of us ever be hungry again.

Hope and Bravery

Bravely bravely they told her. Life won’t destroy you. But after years of standing tall beneath the heavy sky, she began to stoop like a sunflower burdened with its fruition. At any moment she was going to snap in two and fall to the soft earth in pieces where she would be picked apart by hungry animals. And it seemed that everyone was hungry to pick her apart – to devour her out of existence. Sinking in the deep dark grass that hadn’t been cut all summer, she gave up. Her resignation letter was written carelessly on her soul, folding over against the weight of her words and placed warily under a star shaped thought blowing from the empty halls of her heart where hope used to be.

via Natalia, on paperface...
Sometimes I feel like she knows me.

December 3, 2009


The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts.

Bertrand Russell

December 2, 2009


The moon showed up tonight all huge and round and shiny-bright as a polished gold coin. I wanted to take it down and put it in my pocket for later. Then I could pull it out when I went to bed, and fall aseep with it clutched to my chest, warm with stored sunshine and still faintly aglow.

photo from here

November 30, 2009

going west

Not only is this intricate and beautiful, I so appreciate all of the effort that went into its creation. It gives me shivers. Delicious!

November 28, 2009

it is all in the story

"So," said Pellegrina. She coughed. "And so. The story begins
with a princess."
"A beautiful princess?" Abilene asked.
"A very beautiful princess."
"How beautiful?"
"You must listen," said Pellegrina. "It is all in the story."

from The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane,
by Kate DiCamillo

November 26, 2009


Today I choose to pick my battles, and count my blessings.
Today I am thankful for Ailis and Noah, for Laura and Jenn and Emily and Pam, for Aaron and Peter and Kamron, for Jill and Jeff, Pinky Pie, Cissa, and Ca-bob.

Today I am thankful for the people who really seem to care whether I am alive or not, even on the days when I don't.

November 16, 2009

Instructions (Neil Gaiman)

Touch the wooden gate in the wall you never
saw before.
Say "please" before you open the latch,
go through,
walk down the path.
A red metal imp hangs from the green-painted
front door,
as a knocker,
do not touch it; it will bite your fingers.

Walk through the house. Take nothing. Eat
However, if any creature tells you that it hungers,
feed it.
If it tells you that it is dirty,
clean it.
If it cries to you that it hurts,
if you can,
ease its pain.

From the back garden you will be able to see the
wild wood.
The deep well you walk past leads to Winter's
there is another land at the bottom of it.
If you turn around here,
you can walk back, safely;
you will lose no face. I will think no less of you.

Once through the garden you will be in the
The trees are old. Eyes peer from the under-
Beneath a twisted oak sits an old woman. She
may ask for something;
give it to her. She
will point the way to the castle.
Inside it are three princesses.
Do not trust the youngest. Walk on.
In the clearing beyond the castle the twelve
months sit about a fire,
warming their feet, exchanging tales.
They may do favors for you, if you are polite.
You may pick strawberries in December's frost.

Trust the wolves, but do not tell them where
you are going.
The river can be crossed by the ferry. The ferry-
man will take you.
(The answer to his question is this:
If he hands the oar to his passenger, he will be free to
leave the boat.

Only tell him this from a safe distance.)

If an eagle gives you a feather, keep it safe.
Remember: that giants sleep too soundly; that
witches are often betrayed by their appetites;
dragons have one soft spot, somewhere, always;
hearts can be well-hidden,
and you betray them with your tongue.

Do not be jealous of your sister.
Know that diamonds and roses
are as uncomfortable when they tumble from
one's lips as toads and frogs:
colder, too, and sharper, and they cut.

Remember your name.
Do not lose hope — what you seek will be found.
Trust ghosts. Trust those that you have helped
to help you in their turn.
Trust dreams.
Trust your heart, and trust your story.
When you come back, return the way you came.
Favors will be returned, debts will be repaid.
Do not forget your manners.
Do not look back.
Ride the wise eagle (you shall not fall).
Ride the silver fish (you will not drown).
Ride the grey wolf (hold tightly to his fur).

There is a worm at the heart of the tower; that is
why it will not stand.

When you reach the little house, the place your
journey started,
you will recognize it, although it will seem
much smaller than you remember.
Walk up the path, and through the garden gate
you never saw before but once.
And then go home. Or make a home.
And rest.

poem via

behind closed doors

photo by Cynthia Greig

November 15, 2009

the open road

I dreamed that I got in my car in the middle of the night and left town with $200 in my bank acount, half a tank of gas, and a mind to see what lay between me and the Atlantic. I stopped at dawn to call my house and tell J that I was fine. Whatever that means. Then I got back in my car and drove toward the rising sun.

Later I woke up in my own room, which was disappointing. The air was cold, and rain was drip drip dripping down my windowpanes and rattling in the gutters. I wished I was in a car on the open road, unstoppable, with blue sky and white clouds overhead, a good song on the radio, and warm air rushing by.

photos via here, here, here, and here


"Byrd!” she cried, breathlessly, “Byrd, I’ve got it; I’ve got the ring! It was just as you said, all of it.” She trailed off, coming to a stop and looking about more carefully.


She had thought for sure that he would be waiting there for her. This was their tree, was it not? She sat down among the roots to wait. Certainly he would appear at any moment, to collect the ring and celebrate with her.

Coralie turned the ring over and over in her hand. It didn’t look like anything special; but then, he’d said it wouldn’t. The longer she studied it, however, the more peculiar it seemed. She felt a strange pulling sensation on her mind and body, an increasing heaviness which she struggld in vain to ignore. There was something about this ring. Something...

Before she knew it, Coralie was asleep.

She dreamed that a handsome young man was standing right beside her, dressed all in white, and Byrd was perched upon his shoulder. With one hand the man leaned against her tree, and the other he held out to her, as if asking for something. Byrd flew from the young man's shoulder and landed on her knee. He cocked his head to one side beseechingly, a pleading look in his familiar grey eyes.

“What is it?” she tried to say, but her mouth would not form the words. She looked back and forth between the man and the dove unhappily. “What do you need?"

November 9, 2009


There are some pages in this book I just can't bear to read.

November 6, 2009


photo by Tati

I always wanted to be a gypsy. I always wanted to feel powerful and confident. I always wanted to jump on the back of a brightly painted wagon and leave with the caravan. Chin up, shoulders back, eyes steady -- deep, black eyes, fathomless, brimming with mystery, hinting at secrets I'll never share. I wanted to be the one stared at by strangers, with loathing and with awe, and to let those stares slide right off because I know who I am and what it took to stay alive this long, when nothing comes for free. I wanted to be the wild woman that other mothers hastily usher their children away from, rather than the child, being ushered away.

inadequate for the purpose

My stomach, heart, and lungs feel all trembly.
Like they're made of spider's silk, or water.

it could have been

It really could have been beautiful. But something went wrong, inside of us. I felt it happen. That moment, like someone had flipped an invisible switch, and I knew it was only a matter of time. My heart skipped and stuttered, searching for an echo that was no longer there, and I knew things would never be the same.

November 5, 2009


The wind blows so fierce and strong I fear it might blow all my long familiar ghosts away -- and what would be left of me then? Wet leaves cling to the sidewalk beneath my feet. Hold on, they whisper, encouragingly. Hold on.

November 4, 2009

don't think, jump

I just want to feel powerful. In control of something, anything, in my life. I want to know how to set attainable goals -- and attain them. I want to write, and write, and write. Books, screenplays, stories. I think I need a project. It would be fun, cathartic even, to sketch out the bones of the fairy tales I already know by heart, and fill in the empty spaces with my own imaginings. A ready made collection, a place to start. Something to look at and say: "See, I did this. I can do more." And maybe it will help, if I am in every story. If I am big sometimes, and sometimes small. If I am answering riddles, and tricking wolves, and finding my way out of thick, dark forests. If I can find the right words, and arrange them the right way on the page, perhaps it will begin to hush the ceaseless noise in my head, the tumult of lost language, the clamour of a voice held in for far too long.

November 3, 2009


I think I never saw anything as lovely as your face. It squeezes my heart, squeezes it so tight I wonder if I'll ever remember how to breathe. Until the air startles its way into my lungs again for me, reproachful, long after I've forgotten to try.

I blink awake, and you're gone. Gone. As if you were never really here, though I know you were, if only for a little while. I still see you, so many nights; you and that once-possible future that is not possible any more.

tear down the stars

via welovewords

October 30, 2009


I made this fox mask. I really like it. I thought you should know.

It made me want to find poems about foxes...
So here are some poems about foxes:

fox, by Lucille Clifton
can blame her for hunkering
into the doorwells at night,
the only blaze in the dark
the brush of her hopeful tail,
the only starlight
her little bared teeth?

and when she is not satisfied
who can blame her for refusing to leave,
Master Of The Hunt, why am I
not feeding, not being fed?

Reflections of a Fox, by Christian Langston Davidson
It is in my nature, I suppose.
They let me out, so I run off into the thicket.
I've got to see how deep I can get into it
Before they catch me again

As long as I've been doing this, I've never gone uncaught
They are masterful hunters.

Standing tall on the top of the hill: they surround me
Crouched in the bowels of the valley: they uncover me
Hidden deep in the depths of the cave: they overwhelm me
Stuck stumbling in the lair of rattlesnakes: they rescue me
Trapped in the jaws of greed: they free me

Daily, exuberance dawns on me to lure me away;
Nightly, humility settles me in a magnificent palace
I can bank on that more than my own skin.

from Fox Sleep, by W.S. Merwin
What I thought I had left I kept finding again
but when I went looking for what I thought I remembered
as anyone could have foretold it was not there

when I went away looking for what I had to do
I found that I was living where I was a stranger
but when I retraced my steps the familiar vision
turned opaque and all surface and in the wrong places

and the places where I had been a stranger appeared to me
to be where I had been at home called by name and answering
getting ready to go away and going away

October 27, 2009

Lodged (Robert Frost)

The rain to the wind said,
"You push and I'll pelt."
They so smote the garden bed
That the flowers actually knelt
And lay lodged - though not dead.
I know how the flowers felt.

Thank you, Robert. I think I know how the flowers felt, too.

October 22, 2009

fairy tale endings

I have been reading alot of fairy tales lately. I appreciate that when the hero finally gets to the happy ending, the Bad Guys are summarily dispatched, and without a hint of pity -- because they are the bad guys. (It only makes sense: Bad. Guys. Hello? What possible reason would there be to keep hanging out with the bad guys? Why on earth would we let them live in our house, or sit at our table, or come to our parties?)

I like that the wicked stepmother and stepsisters aren't invited to Cinderella's wedding, that victories and celebrations can't be tainted by antagonists because they are just completely out of the picture now, goodbye. Real life should be like that too, I think. But so few people are strong enough to say: "No! That was not okay and you will NEVER treat me that way again -- you won't have the chance."

I always thought I had to have the people who had hurt me the most around forever, that any happy event would have to be shared with them, even though I knew deep down that they would overshadow it, and suck some of the happiness away. I felt like I owed everyone I ever came in contact with a piece of myself, for some reason. So to realize -- rather suddenly, at 25 years old -- that I have a choice, that I don't have to share myself with anyone I don't want to share myself with... well, that is huge. That is having my life handed to me.

October 19, 2009


It's nice that you want to take care of me; no one has ever wanted to take care of me before.

Oh... Oh, that makes me sad.

Me too.

October 17, 2009

the pieces

I see them both, over and over, in my mind's eye. I want to calculate the months, the days, but I stop myself. Would it matter? Could it help? Yes. No. Probably not. Well, maybe. Yes. It might. But still, I stop myself.

I have nowhere to put my pain, nowhere to put this love... so I am making a quilt. I am laboring over it, bringing it into being out of scraps of nothing, working in my mother-love, my hope, my imagination. I am doing this for myself, so I do not drown. So I do not choke. So I do not die.

I pieced it together from scraps like I am piecing my heart. I will stitch the pieces into rows, and the rows into blocks, and I will layer it and quilt it and bind it and finish it. And later, when I have a husband and a house and a dog, when I have two more girls and a boy, and we are sitting in a heap in the evening with a good book and a fire in the fireplace, I will pull this quilt from the pile in a basket I will have by the couch, and without tears or twinges of sorrow, I will wrap it around my youngest child, and finger the place where I've emroidered Noah. And I will smile, and say: "Once upon a time..."

October 16, 2009

big and small

How are you feeling today?

I feel like shit.


Because I don't have a family.

Oh. I know. You never really did have a family, did you? But you can see it now, and feel it, and that makes it fresh and awful all over again.


I had to get you out of there, you know. I could see what it was doing to you, being around those people still.

I know. I didn't want to be there, but I didn't think I had a choice. I didn't think there was anyone else.

I'm going to find you a new mommy and daddy.

A new family?

Yes. But it might take awhile. You can stay with me until then.

Okay. Will you play games with me?

Sure. What kind of games?

Word games. I love words. I want to be a writer. I want to write stories like the ones in the books I read. Better than the books I read!

That's great! I bet you can. You write down anything that pops into your head, okay? Any little thing could be used for a story someday. You write and write and you keep on writing. I bet you’ll be famous one day.

You think I'll be famous? Really?


Will it be hard?


Will it make me cry?

(pause) Maybe.

It will it be worth it, though, right?

Oh, definitely. Don't you think so?

Yes, I think so... But I'm glad you think so, too.

Yi Peng

In the northwest region of Thailand, they have a celebration called the Yi Peng Lantern Festival. On the night of the full moon, they make huge hot air balloons to carry their prayers up into the night sky. As each balloon is set adrift and floats away, it takes with it the hardships and troubles of the person who made it, leaving room for good things to come...

October 14, 2009

the heartbreak moment, on repeat

It happens often. In the tub, or getting dressed. As I wake up in the morning, or when I'm going to bed. It's when I wrap both arms protectively around my belly and, vaguely surprised, I find no tightness there, no gradual slope, no movement. I am confused... and I remember, then, why this upsets me. There should be a baby. But there isn't. There should be. But there isn't.

But there should be.

October 13, 2009


There are times I feel haunted, or stalked. When it seems heartache lurks around every corner, monstrous, ready to pounce. My heart beats heavy and erratic, and I start at nothing and shadows of nothing, and try not to think. Turning the lights on can't quiet the silence, or stop me from flinching every time darkness descends with a blink.

October 5, 2009

do over

I was thinking rather dismally this morning about some of the myriad of painful things I've been through in my short life, and if any of that grief could have been spared, if I had the chance to do it over... and I was startled to realize, strange as it seems even to me, that I would not take back those first few months of the summer, and my second round with J, as heartrending as it was -- because Noah came from that.

I tried telling myself I wouldn't know the difference, if it had never happened, or even if I just hadn't known. It hurt like nothing else to lose my baby, and is another checkmark on a long list of traumas... but I wouldn't trade those precious weeks with my first son for anything.

What the fuck was I thinking?

note to self, twenty years too late

Katie! There is not a single person on this planet that you are not allowed to say "NO" to. You can say "NO" to your mom, your dad, your teachers, your friends, your neighbors. You can say "NO" to anyone, anytime. You do not belong to anyone, you are not owned by anyone, and you don't owe anyone anything.

Listen to that voice inside of you when it says run, run, run! Run far, run fast, and don't look back.

October 4, 2009

Heartache of a Stranger (Paper Face)

She wanted to scream until her lungs collapsed. Scream and scream and scream until someone heard her. "My heart hurts," she wanted to say, "I'm here, but I'm not. I have a name, but I feel nameless. I feel like I was born yesterday and inherited all the heartache of a stranger."

via Paper Face

October 2, 2009


a light; sweet; noble

comfort; rest; peace

September 29, 2009

perfect piety

As I drove home from counseling today, I saw a billboard outside of a church. The sign read: HE WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU NOR FORSAKE YOU.

And I couldn't help but think that being molested in my parents' bed, and being dragged into a darkened alley and raped and left for dead, and crying in a downstairs bathroom, watching my first and then my second child leave my body as blood, instead of babies, feels like 'FORSAKEN' to me.

September 26, 2009


There are parts of me still busy, still urgent, still saying: Protect him, feed him, keep him warm. Busy, busy, busy. I want to tell my body: Stop it! Stop torturing me! He's gone, and I can't get him back. Shush, calm yourself. Go to sleep.

I want to go to sleep. I'm sure I would rather be asleep.

September 25, 2009


You came to me all involuntary
and hopeful, and helpless, and oh-so small,
and all you needed was my love.

It kills me that you never got the chance to live out in the open, under the spreading sky. Your life was close, and dark, and short as a midwinter day. But I kept you warm, at least. I could do that much for you.

September 24, 2009


white porcelain tub
an idea like a boat
with the water inside of it
rather than out
and bearing me nowhere,

my hot tears hit the swiftly cooling water and dissolve
turning it to salt -- like the ocean
like the vast, unfeeling ocean
I'd like to walk straight into the ocean someday
walk straight and steady and sure
like a queen, like a conqueror,
like everything I'm not
I'd like to walk straight into the ocean one day
and ask it to teach me how to be unfeeling
I would listen, intently, and I would not breathe
and I would watch the seaweed wave to me, unhurriedly:

Photo by Elena Kalis

September 18, 2009


I didn't need reminding. I needed something I could touch.

September 13, 2009

morning, mourning

Every time I crack an egg, I think of him.

my hands grasp only empty air

I want to touch you so badly. I want to touch your face, your hands, your tummy, your toes. I wish I could have said goodbye to you in person. More than that, I wish I could have said hello.

September 6, 2009

carried away

I don't know what will be done with those words, released like wayward doves toward people I almost trust. I feel so afraid. Come back to me, please, my doves! You are not safe to wander freely on your own. You were never safe, I fear; but you leave me here with nothing to hide behind.

September 5, 2009


What was I thinking, to voice such things? I want to scoop up all those words I said, take them and stuff them back into my mouth and swallow them back down -- and then maybe I could convince myself, eventually, that none of those things I talked about ever really happened after all. I could pretend, (if I hadn't already said it), that I was just imagining things.

September 4, 2009

The Chain (Ingrid Michaelson)

the sky looks pissed, the wind talks back
my bones are shifting in my skin, and you, my love, are gone
my room seems wrong, the bed won't fit
I cannot seem to operate, and you, my love, are gone

so glide away on soapy heels,
and promise not to promise anymore
and if you come around again,
then I will take the chain from off the door

I'll never say "I'll never love"
but I don't say alot of things, and you, my love, are gone

September 2, 2009

a minor inconvenience

I wander the planet with six billion faceless people, and I'm the boorish one with the audacity to hurt out in the open. My wound gapes messily, and my arms are too tired to hold it closed anymore. So I lay down, exhausted, in the middle of Everything.

The people who know the Rules stare straight ahead, and go about their business as usual, and step over my prostrate form as one might avoid a pile of refuse, or a crack in the sidewalk.

September 1, 2009


I lost another one. One whose skin would have been the color of a morning latte, smooth and achingly sweet. One whose eyes would have sparkled, limpid, darker than the night sky, deeper than the sea.

In my mind's eye, I trace one finger lightly over the fuzz of tight black curls that would have covered his tiny head... and kiss him goodbye.

Happy birthday, daddy. Happy birthday, baby.

August 30, 2009

Dear Ailis

Oh, baby girl! I miss you every day.

You would be almost two years old, now. Running around and chattering. You would be all dimples and curls. You would be shouting "Mine!" and "NO!" at every given opportunity. You would have your birthday right around Christmas, but I would never let anyone try to combine the two. You would still smell baby-sweet. You would still look perfect and innocent when you were sleeping. I would let you wear fairy wings and rubber boots to the grocery store. I would take your picture all the time. (You would be used to it by now -- the lens in your face, the shutter click.) I would be terrified when you ran a fever. I would wish you still fit in the sling, so I could keep you close to me; but I would celebrate your independance too. I would worry about your daddy's history, and whether it would come to bite us someday. I would find it difficult to understand how my love for you could surpass my hatred of him, and of what he did... the consequences he left us with, that you and I both paid, though it was never your fault, or mine.

I'm sorry you couldn't stay. Our life would not have been easy, but I would have loved you, you know. I think you do know. I think in your brief life you loved me too.


I've never even seen your face, but I would know you anywhere. You are a piece my heart, flown away, and it hurts to live without you.

August 29, 2009

just you and me

Let's travel the world! Let's fly in aeroplanes, let's sail clear across the sea. Let's go and marvel at the pyramids in Egypt, and let's put our feet in the Nile. Just you and me, babe.

Let's go simply everywhere. Let's do whatever we want.

August 26, 2009

From Blossoms (Li-Young Lee)

There are days we live
as if death were nowhere
in the background; from joy
to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
from blossom to blossom to
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.

August 25, 2009

identity crisis

I wish people could see that even though my arms are empty, it doesn't mean I'm not a mother. Because I am a mother, and my empty arms are aching...

August 24, 2009


All of my life, a constant searching for the sun.

August 22, 2009


And to the north, beyond the border, great mountains throw their jagged silhouettes up against the bleached blue brilliance of a late summer sky.

August 21, 2009


You're not even from here, are you? Yet flourishing so far from home, decked out in the brightest red and richest green. (You are making the best of it, I see). You are not sensitive or shy, like the hothouse flowers, or the African Violets. You are lovely -- and brave.

I wish I was more like you.


Am I tired of being alone... or tired from it?

August 20, 2009


I'm being hounded, chased by a dog that I never quite catch a glimpse of but I can hear him crashing along behind me, feel his breath and his slaver coming hot and fast on my heels. I am small. The grass is as tall as I am, and taller in some places. I push through, but it is slow going and I'm sure I will feel those jaws close about my shoulders at any moment -- but suddenly I am out, on a steep bank that slopes down to still and silent waters. I leap, but the stepping stones have been strewn always just a little too far apart. My foot slips almost every time, and my right shoe is soaked. I am tired, each step less sure than the last until I stop, stranded and alone in the midst of a vast, motionless body of water that stretches as far as I can see in every direction. In focusing on where to put my feet, I lost sight of where I was trying to get to, and that far bank that seemed attainable when I started out is gone. I have no idea which way to turn.

I can't help but feel that whoever designed this path, whoever laid these stones, either dislikes me immensely, and wishes me to fail, or does not understand how small I am, how hindered by pain and by fear, and does not realize that I can never make it this way on my own.

August 16, 2009


Sit down with my notebook and blue ink pen all purposeful before me, staring at the blank pages remaining blank and staring back at me. Stupid paper! How am I supposed to know what I'm feeling if you won't tell me a thing?

August 8, 2009


I wish I was a tyger. I feel more like a mole.

August 6, 2009

sick inside

Love turned to hate tastes like poison...
And I think I am dying of it.

August 5, 2009

The Tyger (William Blake)

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright,
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire in thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?

When the stars threw down their spears,
And watered heaven with their tears,
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb, make thee?


Sitting under early apple trees,
eating turkish apricots, painting my Heart out...

The air is delicious today, cool breezes passing over my skin every now and then like a lover's kisses, waking me gently without a sound. It is so quiet! Bumblebees drone nearby, lavishly overdressed for the weather in saffron and ebony velvet. Feigning shyness, bright strawberries peek from behind their saw-edged leaves, a wanton shade of red, luscious and forbidden.

August 3, 2009


I woke up too early, unwanted knowledge crawling over me like a handful of millipedes. I feel ill. All morning my heart has been racing, my skin flushed rosy red; but there is a cold, slimy feeling in the pit of my stomach; I imagine it full of languid black slugs.

I don't know why, but I really thought it could be different this time. I don't know why you think the only way to end things is by making me cry. But maybe you're right.

I really hate it when you're right.

August 1, 2009

in the headlights

Skittish as a doe, I'll shy away
from footsteps approaching or
even the most kindly meant words.

Staring straight ahead I'll
try to disappear, to be
invisible in a corner or
near the cupboards,
on the back steps or
behind my own closed door.

July 31, 2009

you could say anything

Lean in close and whisper
anything in my ear. The words
don't matter, I just want to
feel your breath warm on my neck because
I like how it gives me shivers
all down just one side, and then
we laugh about it, and I like that too.

July 29, 2009


Half asleep, I dreamt that you were lying next to me, and I moved to rest my head against your shoulder in the dark -- but it wasn't your shoulder at all, when I opened my eyes. It was only my pillow.

July 28, 2009

wounded ones

Even in their play, the children who in their short lives have already known heartrending violence and pain scream at a decibel that I am convinced only the other wounded ones can hear.

heat wave

Fire hydrant squats red and ready at the corner of Third and Lawson. Half-hearted breezes stir the treetops nearby, but the air lies hot and thick around me still, unmoving. Burgeoning tomatoes hang heavy on their branches, pale green and orange, and the sky arcs hazy and unchanging overhead.

The curve of my sun bronzed shoulder marks a path of pilgrimage for some winged crawly thing; it gains the peak and then flies away, triumphant -- redeemed? The neighborhood smells of heat and lethargy, raspberries and corn tassels, grass and sprinklers and sidewalk chalk. When I breathe in I can taste it all at once upon my tongue.

July 24, 2009


I want to sip cold, cold beer from a big red plastic cup.
Mmmm... classy!

you don't know me

So, sure, I could just close my eyes
Yeah, sure, trace and memorize
But can you go back once you know --

(You don't know me) / You don't know me at all
(You don't know me) / You don't know me at all

July 19, 2009


Your dark hairs are telling stories loudly all over my bathroom floor; but you've left me again and I know that you'll keep on leaving me right to the end.

July 18, 2009

late nite

My head hurts. My heart hurts. I want to trade in most of my memories. I'd like to erase much of my past. I wish you were here, to help me forget. I am so tired of being alone.

July 17, 2009

better this way

I would have named you Ailis. I would have called you Lissie. I would have searched your innocent face every day for traces of his. I would have wanted to send you away. I would not have been brave enough to do it. I would have loved you, despite myself... But you are gone; and perhaps it is better this way, for both of us.

July 12, 2009

oreos for breakfast

I walk the dew-wet morning grass with my oreos for breakfast, and the trees with the wind in their branches reach for me; a summons, an earthy embrace. They want to tell me their secrets, I know; so I wait, and I listen for a time, but I have not yet learned the patience required to hear what the trees are saying to me.

Still, their soft words calm my soul.

July 11, 2009

I will buy you rubber boots

I will buy you rubber boots,
and I will let you wear them whenever you want to,
even when it isn't raining outside.

I will hold your hand when we cross the street,
and I will jump with you from one wide white line to the next,
even though it takes longer that way, and there are cars waiting.

I will teach you how to bake,
and I will let you lick the spoon every time
even though I worry that the raw egg might make you sick.

I will build a life for you --
And I will teach you, even when I'm tired.
And I will play with you, even when I'm sad.
And I will provide for you, even when I feel like I can't.

I will buy you rubber boots, my love,
and I will let you wear them whenever you want to.

photo by Charity Grace, typography and text by me

July 10, 2009

the searing pain of unspeakable loss

Flesh of my flesh, ripped from my body;
swept away from me in a sudden gush of blood.
My heart stopped with yours, but started again on its own
whether I wanted it to or not.

Begun with violence, and ended with heartache.
I am so sorry, little one; I am so sorry for us.

spiritual (Johnny Cash)

Jesus, I don't want to die alone.
My love wasn't true, now all I have is you;
Jesus, oh Jesus, I don't want to die alone.

Jesus, if you hear my last breath,
Don't leave me here, left to die a lonely death.
Jesus, oh Jesus, if you hear my last breath.

All my troubles, all my pain, will leave me once again.
All my troubles, all my pain, will leave me once again.

Jesus, I don't want to die alone.
My love wasn't true, now all I have is you...
Jesus, oh Jesus, I don't want to die alone.


The pen lies loose in limp fingers again;
thoughts surge and then recede,
the tide sucking me down too deep
to reach for my words to tell you:
I am going, I am going, I am almost gone...

My arms useless at my sides,
the darkness closes gently overhead without a sound
and it is easier not to protest.
What can language do for me anyway,
against forces such as these?

So many things to unlearn.
Turn back the clock twenty years and
let me hold me for a little while;
smooth the worry lines from my own pale brow,
tell me it will be okay, that the nightmares fade eventually.
Even though it isn't true, I think it might have helped to hear it
at the time. I wish someone would have said it to me.

But they didn't know about the nightmares;
they didn't know about the nightmares, did they?


your smiles and small gestures of kindness
so many pieces of armor put on
against a cruel and unsuspecting world


Someone could take a picture of me right now -- sitting on the floor in my underwear, hair still slick wet from the shower, dark smudges of shadows under both my eyes from sadness and inadequate lighting. And it would be unflattering; but it would be who I am in this moment. It could be printed and published, that this is what I look like, and it would not be a lie. This is what I look like, right now... But I could also get all glammed up, have my hair done and my makeup, pick the perfect clothes, expensive earrings -- and that would be who I am, too. (In the best possible light, of course.) And someone might say: This is what Katie looks like. And it would be true.

This confuses me greatly.

June 22, 2009


I am a person,
a place, a thing;
that which is clearly visible
but rarely really seen.

June 1, 2009

Dear Baby

Don't worry. If you're in there, I want you. If you're not, I look forward to the day we finally meet. Till then, rest well, and know that you are loved.

♥ Mommy

May 29, 2009

walk away from

Sitting in an empty tub in the dark
I can still see exactly
where each tan line fades to white
from here.

Don't need the lights on to recall
every curve, and fold, and flaw of my body
I could map them out for you
like directions to my parents' house.

But you know every inch of this skin
and you don't need a map
and you can remember the way
to my parents' house all on your own, so
you don't need me anymore.

I opened my heart wide, and you came near
and loitered there at the door but you never walked through;
so I'll just close it up again, and I'll pretend
like nothing ever happened
nobody wants to be the one
that somebody else had the will and the strength
to walk away from.

mirror mirror

Sometimes I think I might actually be really rather pretty.



these lines
these skinny lines
these silly skinny lines
these lines
are not just lines
are not just silly lines
these lines are
these lines are important
to me

they are eaten up with meaning
they are thin, they are emaciated with meaning

I look at them and I know
despite their nonchalantness
despite their scraggly appearance
despite the fact that I don’t know why
they are there, I can see them, and I can see that
they are not just lines
they are important to someone
they meant something to someone
they are important

they mean something
to me.

May 23, 2009


I am a village stripped and
raped and pillaged.

I've salvaged what I could;
I'll burn the rest
and hope for something good
to come up out of the dust.

Breathe new life in me,
breathe some heat into these cold
extremities, forgotten in my haste
to escape reality.


slate grey waters meet green grass and sloping sands
is it comfort or despair that wells up in me at the sight, the
endless pattern: in and out and in and out and in displays the fact
the ocean doesn't care whether i stand here watching
or not. it doesn't need me to go on
crashing in and out and in and out and in...
but i care. and i'm here -- can't stay away
from those familiar coastlines,
ragged as the edges of my heart.


the weight of
gravity, lifted


freefall kiss
of gentle winds
but then
once again


Frustrated, I want my words to march across the page in orderly rows and stay where I put them and say exactly what I mean them to say, and I don't want it to take much effort. Sometimes they just come; and sometimes they don't. I'm not sure what makes the difference.

I want my words to be like the animals in the Sunday School version of Noah's Ark, filing onboard. In easily recognizable groups; docile, well-behaved, directed by God, disinterested in eachother, content to quietly serve their purpose in the grander scheme of things. Instead, they are more like how I imagine the filling of the ark (and the days leading up to it) really was: rather loud at times, and overwhelming. Things getting stepped on, crying, complaining, clamoring for attention. The predatory animals gobbling down just a few of the meeker variety... Words roam and ramble around my head and across these pages, chasing one another like hunters and hunted. Like lions and zebras. Not all of them are pretty. Not all of them are even neccessary. Not all of them make sense -- but here they are. And though the capacity comes from God, they are mostly not directed by God, but by me; by my small, willful, stubborn, ignorant, frightened, stumbling-in-the-darkness self.

And yet... I wonder if God doesn't really like all his own messy stories much better than our cleaned up retellings?

healing [the mystery of memory]

looking back
life looks more like
a steady line but sometimes
at the time
it feels more like
fits and starts
rushes and lulls
and in between
those things
you think you know but
then you find that
you don't really know
at all.

why do we wander
into woods or
by the water
to find ourselves
what can the trees
or rivers
even mountains
ever tell us
about us
where we've gone
and been
and done
why do we leave to
search far away
when we're right here
when we're right now

i look around
and sure it's pretty
but it's empty
empty empty
because there are no other
human faces here
the wilderness just
wasn't made to
love me back
trees and flowers
all so pretty
but they can't tell me
what my name is
or remember when with me
like you can
like you could
if you ever wanted to

golden moments
glow 'mid the dark of
childhood shadows and the


rings in my ears
love was just
too softly spoken
to hear
at times
over the fear
and worry
seems the world is not a
safe place to stand
how can anybody think
we might survive
this scary life that i
somehow accidentally
ended up in

hold your breath
hold my hand
please hold your
questions till
the end

then there are moments
seen in splinters
like broken shards of glass
when we go back
relive them
they leave us bleeding
black and blue then
heal up quick
or maybe slowly
depending on how deep
the cut goes and i
can forgive but i can't seem
to forget
though i've

but healing is a
process or so
they say
or so they've
said to me before
but maybe it's just
one of those things
they think they know
but they don't
really know
at all.

the tainted
all pent up
inside to fly away
on the bright wind
of a
new day
new day
new day
new way
new road
new me
it is for
he has
set us free.

oh, to know you like i could
oh, to love you like i should


a hundred ripe strawberries
round and shining red
so sweet to taste them again
wide open spaces
green hills and fields
where I can run
and run, and run
and never reach the other side
until I'm ready.

cottonwood seed falls like snow
slips through my open fingers
on gentle summer breezes
grass and flowers
growing lovely there
look and smell so amazing
and I can put them
in my hair and know
my eyes won't burn
my head won't ache.

dance up a mountain if I want to
from the bottom to the highest peak
or maybe swim a waterfall
no rules, no gravity, no fear
my heart beats strong
my breath comes easy still
thunder and lightening split the sky
resounding in the shining city
off the buildings where His people dwell
we cry Holy as the echoes fade and then
begin again.

welcome home
to a home that's all your own
but with nearly everyone
you've ever known and loved
we have no need for sun
or moon, or stars
aside from beauty's sake alone
for He is the only light now
and forever.