The Ekphrastic Review published “Field of View” in their July 2020 issue.(more…)
I am a stretched canvas. My mother’s
yearning background color. Dress dusty
pink the color of my first ballet slippers,
hair putting up a fight. Thin black belt around
my nickel of a waist, it takes me years
to become a body. Walking even longer.
The field is everything to me. The way sunlight
wakes up the colours, the way the hint
of a road slices space into before
and after, the way home keeps moving
away. Collapsing onto the grass,
oblivious to how it can stain you,
mark you as a child. When do we start
seeing the world as wider than we can
hold? I paint myself away from the edges
of the picture, on another coast, different
weather. I paint the story of my mother
and what she wanted. I remember when
she gazed on me, and when she gazed not
on me. I carry hollowness into the rain.
Stoneboat Literary Journal published “Father (Mother)” in their Spring 2019 issue.(more…)
Reading by Nancy Murphy of “Anniversary,” recorded Fall 2019 for Glassworks magazine.
Glassworks magazine published “Anniversary” in their Fall 2019 issue.(more…)
As you climb the mountainside hugging
the unguarded road, you imagine the worst.
You push on because there is an empty beach
between two rocks calling from the other
side and you want to be alone. You want to feel
honeyed sun on the top of your head as you
watch waves tap out messages on the sand.
You want to break the code. As the car
accelerates, your hands search the stitching
along the wheel, you notice the soft spots,
recall all the miles this body has taken you.
The wine colored mountains your eyes
are following on the horizon recede as you miss
the last turn and start the somersault down.
Nearby sheep graze, one locks eyes with you,
silently asks if there is something you need,
you both know it is too late. You nod
back in gratitude to the animal and let go like
you have just arranged that last pillow before
sleep. In your mouth, a familiar bittersweet,
not unlike that last sip from your morning tea cup,
a mix of milk and leaves and debris at the bottom.
Sheila-Na-Gig, Volume 3.3, Spring 2019
My father’s hearing is starting to go;
he chooses to miss things, refuses an aid,
doesn’t hear the 2 a.m. phone
call. I am the one who tells him
five hours later, Lee passed in the night.
I am the one who absorbs his shock
and sob. I thought he was prepared
but bad news is like that. She is the second
wife he has survived, the first my mother
twenty-five years ago. When I arrive
at his door that day, we make our usual
resemblance of an embrace, his eighty-eight
year old frame bent into a C, keeping
his heart from me. We sit side by side on the sofa,
the vintage flowered wallpaper suddenly
alive as if communing with Lee’s wild
garden outside the front window, the roses
bloom that week. I rub his bony back like
he is my child. The only other time I saw
him cry, at LAX arrivals,
my daughter three weeks old, my mother
two weeks gone. Me seeing him, him seeing
mine, all that living and dying, all that
I missed my mother’s funeral, too soon
after birth to fly. My father tells me he is the same sad
now as then and I feel betrayed. My parents
married forty-one years, isn’t time how you
measure grief? He writes a eulogy
for Lee, then falters, I agree
to stand in for him. He depends on me
that way. I take him to doctor appointments,
repeat orders. He does what he likes, ignores
the rule about salt, declines a daily walk.
We know he won’t live forever, but jesus
he has to try. He returns home, lives with my
brother in the old house. Everyone else
helps. Some days I feel like seaweed
come loose from the ocean floor, unmoored,
drifting away until you can’t see me.
I am no longer the mother.
No one is the mother now.
Stoneboat Literary Journal, Spring 2019
Irish rain chases us around January, climbs
into our bodies seeking warmth.
Instead of romantic evenings,
we split packs of cough drops, turn
away in the dark; the space between us
thickens with my disappointment, gives me
reason to hold back.
We push forward on this road trip,
Connemara maroon hills bleed
into bright green fields, blue-black
north Atlantic waves. Wildflowers
find footing in forgotten soil.
There is resistance in this land,
survival, a refusal to surrender.
We stop in an ancient village, hold
hands, share a pot of tea. He pours
the milk in, then the tea. He makes mine
first every time. It’s unfair how he does that.
The silence between us softens,
Glassworks, Fall 2019
some nights when they sleep
he enters the room
comes between them in the bed
there is space enough,
he slides into the warm sheets
slithers over to her side
wraps around her and gently
presses her skin squeezes
the life from her,
threatens her with disaster.
she thinks this is sexy
she has no idea.
the snake stays the night wanting
her dreams, she opens her eyes
early morning feels around
for something vaguely
the way night stories can be,
but he is gone pulled back
to his own bed
his own woman
her thick honey hair and soft hips
waiting, wanting to bear
children, he has
made his choices, he has
spoken his vows.
let’s meet for coffee he says,
that cafe in the hills she says
but they never do.
she rolls onto her side
now listens for the alarm,
when it sings she reaches
her entire body across
the mountain of her man,
she stays there as he
awakens encircles her
she holds on to him
for dear life.
Altadena Poetry Review: Anthology 2017