December 31, 2014

New Year’s Eve —
where the dog was
an empty collar

December 30, 2014

steady pull
my longing for home begins
as we drive away

December 29, 2014

one warm spot
in this cold December night
clothes from the dryer

December 28, 2014

holiday travel
taking the long way
to see more lights

December 27, 2014

as the night grows colder
the edge of the moon

December 26, 2014

twenty-two years
the voice I hear
in a crowd is yours

December 25, 2014

last-minute swerving
holiday conversations
and icy roads

December 24, 2014

all those bicycles
coming together at last
Christmas eve

December 23, 2014

blinking lights
out of synch
hospital Christmas

December 22, 2014

before the presents
behind-the-scenes planning
and knowing smiles

December 21, 2014

by morning
will I have forgotten
this long night’s dream?

December 20, 2014

winter recital
we listen for the song
beneath the notes

December 19, 2014

this year’s fledglings
learn about ice

December 18, 2014

that day our dad
made a game out of
company manners

December 17, 2014

December 16, 2014

this list of names
alive in our memory
one at a time

December 15, 2014

before the moon comes up
darker than dark

December 14, 2014

Not In Our Town

My membership in Not In Our Town is a reflection of my life-long development as a Quaker and an activist. I came of age during the emergence of the AIDS epidemic. Just as I was coming out as lesbian, my country’s prejudice and inhumanity was exposed in the starkest possible terms, with President Reagan refusing to address the growing crisis, and Pat Buchanan giving his infamous “Culture Wars” address to the Republican National Convention. Desperate and dying, AIDS activists brought a fierce creativity to their protests. I can still hear ACT UP”s chants from those days: “Act Up, Fight Back, Fight Aids!”

My life partner and I were finally able to marry and secure our full federal rights (after nearly 20 years together!) in 2011. In the course of my lifetime alone, so much has changed for the better in the LGBTQ community in America. But the lived experiences of people of color, and particularly that of black Americans, remain plagued by the effects of entrenched racism.

On September 3rd, 2001, our son was born. Eight days later, the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon brought America to a stunned and grieving halt. I looked down at the infant in my arms and thought, “What kind of world have we brought you into?” Since becoming a parent, my activism has been informed by the knowledge that our son is surely watching, and that my world is now his as well.

As a Quaker, I believe that there is that of God in everyone. I also believe that it is my responsibility to work for the change I long to see in the world. A fellow Quaker, Liz Oppenheimer, traveled to Ferguson, Missouri this past October and, in keeping with Quaker tradition, returned with some queries that she encouraged others to consider. Among these was the query, “Does your checkbook or calendar provide evidence of your active commitment to racial justice?”

This query was in my heart as I followed the stories of continuing protests and listened to the perspectives of the (often young) leaders at the heart of the renewed struggle for racial and judicial justice. I was reminded of one of my favorite Jane Addams quotes, an excerpt from an essay in which she says, “'The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life.”

So when a friend reached out to me about the possibility of joining Not In Our Town, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to “walk the walk.” I am grateful for the opportunity to join with others who have made a personal commitment to creating inclusive and safe communities for all. I am tired of wondering, when I hear of a young person’s death at their own hand, if they might have been struggling with their sexual identity. I'm sickened by the ever-expanding list of unarmed black citizens who have been tragically turned into hashtag echoes of themselves. I am aching to have the luxury of speaking of prejudice and injustice in the past tense. Darnell Moore, who helped organize the Black Lives Matter ride to Ferguson after Michael Brown’s death, said, “you need embraces, to be angry, to breathe, to be creative, and to think about solutions with folks who care about you.” 

With luck, Not In Our Town can be a space for all of that.

remembering now
why that song meant so much
in the first place

December 13, 2014

in such a hurry
the front door sparrows are gone
before I see them

December 12, 2014

December mistake
thinking we have enough wood
to last the winter

December 11, 2014

December 10, 2014

lying between us
he asks if we are the banks
and he, the river

December 09, 2014

mothers talking about layers
as a cold rain falls

December 08, 2014

we find ourselves
redesigning again —
peace labyrinth

December 07, 2014

too lazy to look,
I take your full moon report
on faith

December 06, 2014

to the sparrows I just startled
thinking of Issa

winter trees
somehow even more lovely 
without their leaves

December 05, 2014

old folk songs
rolling unbidden to mind,
awaiting new lyrics

December 04, 2014

with the leaf-tangled grass,
pinned down by sorrow

December 03, 2014

grateful for breath
for breathing, grateful
for language, for life

December 02, 2014

lavender fields —
bare spots and bees
after the hurricane

December 01, 2014

the wonder I felt
holding a library card
with my name on it

November 30, 2014

my upstairs pillow
and my downstairs pie —
worthy opponents

November 29, 2014

I keep looking for
friends who have gone on ahead —
winter’s chill

November 28, 2014

our first kitchen
how we loved bumping
into each other!

November 27, 2014

along the edges
those we didn’t mean to kill
Route 27

November 26, 2014

he looks over at me
as he licks the knife

November 25, 2014

November 24, 2014

November heat wave
all up and down the street,
birds shocked into song

November 23, 2014

tracing the news -
the lake is safe for skating!
as doors fly open

November 22, 2014

hard-to-reach places
she thinks of her mother
polishing silver

November 21, 2014

late November
our house heat not quite reaching
the tip of my nose

November 20, 2014

bedtime resistance
his last-minute questions
a foot in the door

November 19, 2014

for just a moment
lost in the kingdom
of frost

November 18, 2014

last night’s rain
slowly working its way down
how I still miss you!

November 17, 2014

holiday season
I review my notes from
last year’s Thanksgiving

November 16, 2014

sleet changing to rain
the in-laws take careful turns
holding the baby

November 15, 2014

crossing this river
for the first time
she takes my hand

November 14, 2014

the sun in my mind
still bouncing off the lake
long hours later

November 13, 2014

new weather report
faces tilted up to feel
the snow coming down

November 12, 2014

ready for bed
she puts the really loud watch
in a drawer

November 11, 2014

hole in the page
where you tried to erase
battle memories

(For all those we have asked to fight on our behalf.)

November 10, 2014

cursing the driver
who brakes to a sudden stop
until I see deer

November 09, 2014

cloud darkened days  

trading stories of divorce 

we shiver a bit

November 08, 2014

how did you know?
we smile, happy to answer
one more time

the one red tree
in a hillside blazing gold
goodnight, Catherine

(for Catherine Perry, member, Princeton Friends Meeting)

November 06, 2014

drawer full of keys,
no idea which lock they’re for —
how we hold on!

November 05, 2014

November 04, 2014

all day
the wind ruffling the world
even the lake

November 03, 2014

wishing his family
could be in the mourners’ line
to hear those stories

(For D.I. and his family)

November 02, 2014

pinned by the wind
the hawk overhead
seems not to move

November 01, 2014

her just-swept walk
covered in leaves again
she starts over

October 31, 2014

we scare a tiny monster
without meaning to

October 30, 2014

hand-me-downs —

photos of my mother

that I thought were me

October 29, 2014

how traffic reports
only stop being jargon
as we’re nearing home