Between Lightning Bolts

fullsizeoutput_1f18One thing I noticed on this year’s pilgrimage to the Colorado wildflowers was that there are places that have been found by the masses, and places that haven’t. That goes for mosquitoes as much as yuppies.

On this lonesome ponderosa-clad mesa, mountains rolled like green waves around us, rippling out in every direction. Thunder commenced cracking at midnight, and lightning strobed as it must have done on the very night of creation.

We crowded together on the bottom bunk, counting seconds between flashes of light and its answering sound. There is a fruitfulness to silence and the unspoken. I love quiet, unfilled places. I can’t help but notice that in the long absence I took from writing online, a book was born, emerging out of rich, internal soil.

The internet is a little like Colorado. Some parts of it are really noisy. That is probably where my publisher prefers me to be, but I am choosing this backcountry blog as my online home. It is the space where I own (to whatever extent that means on the internet) my own thoughts and images, and where I am unconcerned about likes and followers. I’m not done telling the story I first started spinning a decade ago when I first started writing Old Recipe for a New World, and I want to do it here, away from the crowds.


We are home now. Fruit hangs heavy on the trees. The last weeks of summer stretch hot and welcome before us. I’ll be here, waiting for the next storm. How I love the hour after a good monsoon–the rain soaked desert, the dissipating ozone from lightning strikes that leave fertile ground in their wake.


Midsummer Revival


Mountain season, lake season, birthday season, river season, monsoon season, Volkswagen season. Season of things sprouting up like squash leaves in the compost, with ideas, dreams, & seeds from the long ago circling back on themselves, re-emerging.

It is amazing what emerges out of long silence. I have new stories to tell, though they are not so unlike the old ones. I have a book soon to arrive in the world, children still unfolding into their fullness, and an imagination still preoccupied with how it is one should live in this world. Perhaps it’s time to re-claim this space in the online wilderness, now so delightfully out of date.

Let’s be old fashioned together, shall we?













Untitled Map of the New Year

I spent New Year’s Eve with my table spread in all the year’s ephemera. The paper record of our lives stowed away in a basket and then added to the mighty, heaving scrapbook that has documented our days for ten years.


Here are a few holiday scraps to add to the Old Recipe archive, also…

Wood and Water. My child! She got tired of the wood tossed in a big pile on the ground, and led the charge to neat and tidy stacked rows. We would have gotten to it, eventually, I’m sure, but…

She is quite handy to have around, this one!


Feast making. Note to self in times of doubt: yes, it is always worth it to spend a day cooking with your children and mother, to occupy an alternate world in which we are slowly and satisfyingly nourished.


My other sustenance: Holy Darkness.


I need more of this.

Ah, there we go.


I am craving night, especially after reading, by absolute chance, Waking up to the Dark. I really would press this book into each one of your hands if I could. It is lyrical, prophetic, soul stirring.

“What is to become of us? That is the question waiting for us in the the dark.”

–Clark Strand

Meanwhile, in the endless La Niña sunshine, my daughters are making doll quilts.


And on New Year’s Day we climbed our beloved ridge with dear old friends and found a  spiral overlooking the city.


At it’s center, we discovered a miniature deck of the Wheel of Fortune.


We drew cards in a circle, and made a map, of sorts, of our work in the year ahead.


May Justice see her work done with our hands.


With each year, and each day, may we rise, and rise up, again!


To your reading list I would also add Down the Dark Mountain, a gorgeous essay from High Country News about beauty, grief, and ecocide. Do you have any suggestions for me?


Summer Drifting

Summer usually asks us to let go and be carried away by our senses. For a brief moment at the height of heat and sunlight, when the rains arrive and flowers begin to crowd the garden, I surrender. I put aside my work, my attachment to order and structure, and let myself drift.


It always feels strange–I don’t easily let go. It’s usually only when the wheel of the year is steadily turning, turning, and I can sense the passage of one season into the next that I realize it’s okay to belong to it completely. I can see that surrender is fleeting, and precious, and won’t take me too far off course.


Maybe the four day river trip we just took, floating down the wilderness section of the Rio Chama helped me see all this. To have the outer world mirror the inner always helps with navigating life.


We moved slowly through the day, carried by the river but trying not to move too quickly through the canyon. When the water grew still, we lifted the oars to spin and take in the view, to drift on flat water. We navigated the rapids and sleepers when they came. The girls chanted “It’s not over yet!” as we splashed through white water. Come afternoon, we tied the boat up when we arrived at a place that felt like home. IMG_4238

We’ve spent our share of time on the spectacular lower sections of this river, day tripping and camping and floating with improper gear. But I’ve always known there was something further up, inaccessible and out of sight. And I’ve been thirsty for it for a long time.


(Pause in which the blogger wonders what inner journey that longing and arrival correlates to.)


Turns out it takes years to gear up for the river with a Vanagon era (and size) boat. But while I’ve been busy with poems, someone around here had a vision and spent weeks repairing and preparing, arranging permits, amassing an impressive collection of straps, and learning to drive the boat.


We skipped the dinosaur footprint, the side hikes. Despite my pre-launch jitters, nobody was bitten by snakes, or swept away by the river. More and more, I need to choose trust in the goodness of the world over my fear of what harm it could bring. Running this river was like learning to float for the first time. I was surprised at how much work it takes to stop working and how good it feels when you do.


Sometimes, we travel the farthest when not moving.

Sweet summer drifting, friends. Let go while you can!


Ps: A couple of my poems landed on sweet shores and are part of a folio, “Sacred Americas,” from Anomaly (formerly Drunken Boat).  The editor writes, “And don’t you know that the world has been remade, again and again?…This remaking is what I call the sacred.” These poems are medicine for our times.


Poem Roundup

It’s time for turning ground and putting in seeds, true, but also a moment when seeds I planted long ago are seeing the light of day for the first time. Poetry is like that–sort of a slow food for the literary. I need to be better about making sure the poems that make it into print and e-print find their readers, so here is a little farm stand for you to browse.


A poem for the spring planting season was published yesterday by Heron Tree, my favorite place to find a single, beautiful poem each week.

I am grateful to The Wayfarer for creating such a perfect home for three of my poems in their spring issue. They aren’t available online, but I will lend you my copy anytime, friends. It is a beautifully crafted journal that I savored cover to cover.

Yellow Warbler, was published by Written River and is similarly themed along spring lines.

Back in early winter, three of my  poems –two correspondences and a canticle–appeared in Dark Matter Women Witnessing’s issue on kinship. Let me just say that you know you are reading a Kyce poem if it has a fruit tree or river in it.

My biggest harvest of all is just days–and a craft talk and public reading–away. On Saturday I’ll graduate from the Institute of American Indian Arts with an MFA in poetry. Here’s an outtake from my thesis introduction:

The poems in Understory explore what it means to inhabit a particular landscape at a time of enormous disruption. They are a correspondence with the seasons, both those in the natural world, as well as inner cycles of renewal and loss. Throughout, domestic themes of body, garden, and home point quietly toward the unseen work of mapping identity and place. I think that, contrary to being insignificant, the correlation between those two relationships –self and place—are one of the means available to mitigate the damage of the Anthropocene. My work is a defense and praise of this, and an attempt to further understand and embody it. These poems are a listening that writes my speaker and I back into an ecological language of place.

Enjoy the poems, friends, and may you live your own in springtime’s open arms.

Small reconciliation with stillness


One name for the red-belly and white-speckle wings busy in the un-blooming lilac is rufous sided towhee, and once I know that,they appear outside the bank in parking lot

shrubbery, underfoot along the river, ruffling pine needles as we climb Atalaya and talk loudly all through the ponderosas

about the discovery that while it is amazing that a woman can clean house and write poems and till soil by hand all in the same hour,

her children are waiting for her to sit still enough to hold them.

All Through October

Everyone pours into the hills.

Where the pine-trunk bends into a perfect bridge across the stream, Maida says, I’ll walk with my eyes closed, just hold my hand and tell me every step of what is coming.

IMG_2892I make her a crown by folding salmon berry leaves in half, enclosing the previous leaf inside the next, and piercing the stem through both. I miss the friend who taught me how.

The night we pressed apples, everyone found a rhythm: washing apples, tossing apples into the hopper, turning the hopper, pressing the mash, bottling the cider.

The high green turned to gold. Under the aspens where he sings, we pull our woven shawls tighter.


I’m sad because it’s autumn, and good to grieve at least a few days of the year. I cannot keep waiting for rain, or even clouds, to stay in.

There are still crickets pulsing in the darkness, there are still apples ripening on the tree. There are so many good places to be.

Open Country


It was the longing for this light that pulled us out of the house, away from the pots of stewing apples, away from the fruit flies and cobwebs, away from the newly resumed life of school and work: lunches to make, lessons to plan, all those papers and poems, all those books to annotate and understand.

Underline this, the Caldera cries. Mark it in your body. Sail your net into this open country, and carry it home: Birds rising and falling across the windblown grass. A fat coyote circling the prairie dogs. Cloud flight and shadows. That long afternoon light we suppered in. That we feasted on.

Since We Left Off

:: An almanac of the last months, in images and poem fragments ::


The name of my child is sweet berry on thorn bush.

Red earth falling on the mountain road winding between contentment and quaking hunger.


The first bluster of snow makes you think of the woman you love born in the far north.

How the skein of silk thread pulled between her fingertips stretches and breaks as she leans in 
and out of tenderness.

Watch how her palms rise, supplicant to the falling sky, how they fill like dark branches with snow, while on the ridge clouds billow and bleed, sweep and flurry.


Deep under the frozen surface I call doubt, the water teems.

Fertile muck, and it’s all I can do to remember that if I held each seed to the light it wouldn’t be in the dark where it belongs.


Across the thick planks of the table, wheat berries scatter like so many loaves of unbaked bread.

I’ve been calling and calling you to eat, and I wish you would listen, because life did not open the door from your mother’s womb so you would be hungry.


Yes that is spring hatching between your hands. The high trees full of singing. The world whispering soften, lean back.

Do not speak a little longer.


Look up!

That warm light is the sun that loves you. This feast is the one you wrote the recipe for long, long ago.

Hold your cup of trembled tea, grown and cut and scalding good.

Miracles for the Noticing




It is a little excessively exuberant to include my 7 year old’s first ever taste of vegetable soup on the list of miracles, so instead I will call it the miracle of the human being unfolding, the soul being revealed and maturing, of the incredible way we grow into ourselves. Perhaps that is the same work humanity is busy with in these tumultuous days…

The miracle of fighting for what is right. Every day, the world is filled with people working for justice and peace and the earth. I know what happened in Paris would not have been possible without the activists from every part of the world rising up together. I know that my work is to stay connected to hope through my hands and heart and doing.

The miracle of connection and the transmission of insight. Be it with my parents around the Sunday dinner table, wayfaring strangers invited in to our home (and who immortalized us on instagram here), a circle of women lighting candles in the darkness, or a phone call with a mentor, I find my way to myself through these relationships.

The miracle of songs that bring light and beauty into the heart’s chamber. My husband making a song from a poem, children singing in a Santa Lucia processional, these freely given Advent songs that bring fresh life into old melodies and truths.

The miracle of the quiet day. Like the snowday this week when the house was swept, the children busy playing with old ornaments, and I realized there was nothing more to do but sit down and spend the next three hours writing a handful of cards to people I love. No pressure, no rush, no distraction. Oh sweet quiet.

At least twice this week I’ve missed a walk, but at the end of the snowstorm, I covered the ridge with boot prints. And that was miracle enough for me. 

Warmth and Light Be Yours!