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