Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree

Sidesaddle in a stuffed chair I sit, feet tucked.

Sipping coffee, I stare at our tree as if it’s a stranger. Strings of white lights, green branches, childhood adornments suddenly blur through the lens of tears.

A tinfoil star, a gold macaroni tree, a painted partridge too big for its branch, a handprint angel all dangle, but where are the tiny hands, sticky with glue that handed me those treasures with pride? The same hands who followed me, waving ribbons on sticks in a Palm Sunday parade; the hands and feet that danced to Billy Joel in the living room; the quad of voices that sang along with Barney and the Hansen Brothers with equal fervor; the gaggle of kids who ran up and down our road at every dusk, climbed trees, made mud pies at the driveway’s end. The babes I carried, birthed, nursed, tucked into bed, read and sang to; the kids who tumbled into the minivan like puppies leaving a colossal mess of dirty dishes, spilled toys and a topsy-turvy blanket-fort to run away to the freedom of the park with a canvas tote filled with fishy crackers, sippy cups, and apple juice.

My blurry lens reaches its tipping point and spills onto my cheeks as I greedily hunt this latest Christmas for more remnants…more popsicle sticks, framed school faces, construction paper nativities. My coffee grows cold as I fall into the hole that is the loss of the life I loved so dearly; the days and days and days where I was held, needed, adored.

I unfold my legs, stand and inhale, run the back of my hand across my face and step into the early morning darkness of the kitchen for a glass of water. As I pour it I am shaken by the corniest metaphor imaginable…a half-glass of water. The tree glows behind me and yet I see it still, know it lives with all we’ve been. The moment stops. I have never been a half-empty person.

And so, with my half-full glass I return to the tree, perch in the chair and stare. On its branches my eyes find the same gold macaroni, tin foil, and tiny hands that a moment ago brought pain, but a new washing floods through the loss that has grieved my heart for days; a slow river of spirit leaves gratefulness in its wake. I have been richly blessed. My life holds much, its mamma story written on the lines of the branches. My nest is not empty, but full. Filled now with different needs, I suppose, except the need is only one: to love and be loved.

The rushing waters erode the final layer of fear: I did not cease with little league games and ballet recitals. I am still the woman reflected in the hands of the children and family traditions that sparkle on this year’s eight-foot fir.  I am the mamma who listens, who encourages each child into self, ministers without measure. My brood may have moved from mud pies to mature matters, but I am the same park-going-ribbon-dancing-mud-pie-making imaginative mamma and there is no way my glass can ever be anything other than overflowing with love.

I’m a Yaya!


unbelievable feeling…crazy experience…blessed position…awed by god above in the intricacies and specificities and personal touch of his enormous spirit. wild love. grand hope. pulsing life. radiating out and out and out and out….can you feel it?

Locally Grown Words Book Fair…with ME!


COME support local words & buy some Christmas presents @BOOKMARKIT !

Join us for the “Locally Grown Words” book fair–and look for my table at the East End Market…

Copies of my new poetry chapbook Like Summer Grass from Finishing Line Press will be for sale as well as copies of my previous book from WordFarm Press, Surviving Nashville: Short Stories. Plus I can tell you how to get the kindle version of my short story collection and I promise to be ready to spill all the latest “dirt” on my upcoming novella, Lily Harp & Stories, due out through WordFarm Press at the AWP conference in Minneapolis in April.

Come enjoy the local scene as authors chat about words, sign and sell their books, and generally create a sly ruckus at the fabulous independent bookstore Bookmark it at the East End Market  on Corrine Drive in Orlando.

Join us if you can…if only to keep me from looking like an unimpressive, unpopular, literary dork.


LSG with shadowsurviving nashvilleimage2

bless you lisa

there are moments in life, when, if you choose, you may step into something greater than you had imagined.

i had such an experience today. my friend lisa curtis at massageworkz in winter garden…took me in. and i do mean “took me in.” Lisa has an unbelievable gift, a honed skill and a gracious practice of helping people release, unblock, open and actualize their life force, their body’s energy in such a way that they…that i…am able to step more fully into who i am.

i am not certain i could explain today’s experience except that after some very intense work – from both lisa and i – i was filled with the sense that i was not broken, but merely faced with the opportunity to step into the magnificent capacity that i was given at birth.

being someone so easily overcome with a sense of brokenness, hopelessness and shame…this came as a brilliant light. by the end of our session i was tingling, sweating, and absolutely full of thrilling, circling, energy running through my nearly dead-with-depression body, surging my gigantic heart to hope and action.

if you, like me, wrestle with matters of the spirit, the soul, the heart…if you ever feel taken under, overwhelmed or disheartened to the point of despair…please call lisa (407) 810-1804. she is an angel in human form.

Evening Muse

me&todd wedding afterEvening muse ends

this ordinary day



with certainty.

Pink breeze ruffles

the fringed fingers of the palm

ripples late waters as I

hammock swing, dreaming


with paper and pen, muse


the well, find the time

I first felt your hair—

my hand, your spirit

each hour so clear

from a page in a book

I wrote somewhere.


Musing wanders

I walk alone

a poet grand, lauded, known.

Instead of our jetty

I wander the Rhine

swirling fancy

theaters fine

cafés and milliners

our romance untried.


Fancy fades

in hammock, I lie

swaddled in cotton

under lidded skies

no more wondering

worldly why.


I, despising

the flight of

my muse

in evening hues

find my wanting


only you. I touch


your hair, you

whisper near,

we are here. We are

here. We are



My Yaya Room


This is my Yaya room…created for my girl-grandbaby coming in two weeks or so…also in anticipation of others yet to come…my new role rising ever before me…mamma, to observer, to friend, to Yaya…each movement of relationship a gift…a moment of new breath…a hope, a treasure, a new endeavor.

i welcome each new chance to love and be loved. is there anything else?

“Hope” is the Thing With Feathers

As Emily Dickinson wrote:

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –

That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –

And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –

I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.

the making of Yaya

you know it takes almost 10 months to make a baby. and most of that time to prepare a mommy and a daddy.

but i am here to tell you that even after four babies of my own, and four young adult launches into the great wide blue, it has taken me until 3 weeks before her due date to begin to find my own rhythm as my granddaughter’s Yaya. her “G” seems unruffled, ready.

making my Yaya room has helped. i cleared out the old unworkable office and “G” set up new bookshelves. we got rid of half our books (they’re  sitting in trader joe’s paper bags in the living room with half my clothes) but couldn’t part with the literary journals and classics and personal favorites and several shelves of books our kids were raised on…Junie B Jones, Dr Suess, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, Harry Potter…

then i brought in an ikea orange rug with white polka dots and a friends pack ‘n’ play. a changing pad from my sister-in-law atop another kid’s discarded desk became a changing table and Todd’s first piece of furniture–purchased with his own money in college–the “spinning chair” as the kids used to call it, became my Yaya rocker.

i got excited then, found old baby quilts in the closet, bought a multi-colored, dealy-bob, hand-knitted hat at salvation army, ordered zoo sheets, animal patchwork curtains, a bright green frog hamper, hung a long armed monkey from the bed and bought a pink monkey changing pad. i rooted around in the closet for those special toys i had worked so hard to save and found there were precious few left. these i tucked in a wicker basket and set by the new baby’s bed: angelina ballerina and her trunk of many outfits, madeline in her portable orphanage, beanie babies, and an imagination kit used over and over on family camping trips.

i have more plans for this room, children’s paintings that have not had their proper viewing for some time, flowers in the little ceramic pots on the windowsill…and then there is getting rid of the baby momma’s first wedding dress. same groom, just a change of fashion. it still hangs in its crisp white bag over the closet door. size 2 anyone?

even so, every time i walk by my Yaya room, i turn on the light, look inside and smile. it is not a baby room and it is not my room…it is our Yaya room, a place for me and this new one yet to be…and the others that just might come along. i have great plans and hopes to fill it full of love and laughter, cuddles and stories, whispers and secrets…the kind only a Yaya can share.

Like Summer Grass — book launch finally!

so after launching our four kids this spring…i am finally going to “launch” my new chapbook of poetry that came out in june through finishing line press! we will gather at my dear friends Janice and Seth’s in winter park on friday october 24th at 7pm. if you want to know where…email me and i will give you the scoop. its a “barton book launch potluck” and guaranteed to be a blast!