Into the Field

Jake Skeets and I will be sharing poems and conversation as part of the Further Notice Reading Series tonight. Details and relevant links for virtual attendance here.

Jake is an extraordinary poet and thinker. Exhibit a: this Book. Exhibit b: this interview. I am honored to join him, and really curious about where our wanderings through “the field” will take us.

Attending readings like this have been medicine for me lately. They offer a dose of language, imagination, and contemplation that fortifies the soul for the essential work we are doing of revolution and healing.

What is keeping you fortified, awake, centered, engaged?

What does poetry offer us right now?

Can a poem be an ecosystem? Or, at least, a territory of the imagination?

I don’t know for sure what we’ll talk about, but these are questions on my mind, today, and, well, all the time.

Origin of the Apple

A handful of years ago, in the days when my girls were riding ponies every Sunday morning and the hens were half grown and my book still unborn, my mother and paternal grandmother came by for a very impromptu birthday breakfast–they share birthdays in the same week.

The occasion was witnessed by Genevieve Russell, a friend who happens to be an extraordinary documentarian. She made a short film I want to share today in honor of all the mothers that stand behind each of us. I dedicate it to my beautiful mother, Lia, and beloved Gramita, Rose.

It was far enough back that I no longer mind the messy house and hair, or the overflowing bookshelves. All I see captured here is everything that is most precious to me.





From the Center

Centering: In Pottery, Poetry, and the Person by M.C. Richards is a treasure of a book.  An anthroposophist-potter-poet from the Black Mountain School meditating on creativity and poetry (cliff notes from Brainpickings here)–it’s the kind of book I can hardly imagine having the good fortune to stumble upon because I could never have imagined it existed. Good thing the library is closed and I can read it as many times as I like.


Richards writes:

Poetry is the created presence. Word-poem is its echo, for poetry is the glow of genesis out of which poems are made. Poetry as an art trains us to experience what lies in the kingdom of its origin and its consummation.


We are most poetic when we are the most in tune with created presence–person, place, thing. Life itself may be poetic.

Right now, it is hard for me to write poetry, unless you count the thirty page poem-in-fragments that was my attempt to find the words to say goodbye to my children should I die suddenly while working on the so called “front-lines” during the pandemic.

It turns out, though, that there are no words for that. So I gave up, and turned back to the other poem, the one called my life unfolding, the floor as usual in need of sweeping, and my girls calling me to be near them.

Along the way, I’ve watched as my initial terror has slowly potentized into an inner antibody that bolsters me against fear. Most of the time, it works very well.

The centering consciousness in poetry brings together those experiences and objects which appear separate, finding in the single moment of felt perception a variety of elements simultaneously aglow.


It occurs to me that we are near the center of the spiral with this particular cycle of social distancing. We don’t know exactly when it will be over, but it’s been about six weeks of moving inward, and it looks as if the shift out again has begun, even if it takes another four to six weeks to finish traveling there.

Along the way, we’ve sown our seeds into garden beds, the folds of our bodies, the cracks in our dreams. Who can say what will grow, or how we will be transformed.

I find myself slowing my steps and mind for the movement outward, planting each foot (when I remember) on the ground as if it, too, is a seed.

Perhaps this is what we do when we center; we bring the world into this womb of all, this central hearth where spirit glows.

Sometimes, on my runs in the arroyo, I lie down in the sand and pretend my whole body is an ear.

I hold still and eavesdrop on silence and birdsong.

I grow warm. Feel myself glowing. We shall see what comes from that womblike hearth.




Santa Fe holds spring in one hand, winter in the other. The place where they meet is near at hand, or, rather, underfoot.


The ridgetop spiral, aka, Sanctuary of Descent, Transformation, Renewal. My preferred Easter liturgy, birthday ritual (love you, El), and walking meditation.

Meanwhile, remember this scene from back in Ordinary Time?


Just me, Nippy, and pages of poems unspooling in the sunshine.

There are a few more people in the picture, these days. A few less pages.

Still, the spiral persists, seen or not.

I’ll keep walking it till I get there.




This Week’s Sponsor: Homeland

It’s hard to not feel like every aspect of life has taken a wrong turn, these days, as humanity veers, and waits, and teeters, and suffers.

Saturday we took refuge on the open land, a sojourn that will no doubt sustain us all week long.

Funny enough, we took a wrong turn, and found ourselves leaving the willow banks of the Rio to climb high, high, up to the top of the world.


The Rio Grande Valley opened wide around us.

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Sangre de Cristos, Jemez Mountains, Pajarito Plateau, Black Mesa. Together they form the container that holds us in place.


Sinuous earth veins led home, a reminder that erosion is the metaphor this land loves most.


We returned to where we started from.

Praise how that river keeps flowing. Praise how we carry on.

All Baskets Ready

When we stepped out under the stars last night, my husband said, “Listen,” and we heard the resounding silence that has overtaken town. Even the neighborhood dogs on their long chains seem to have gone indoors.


Some hours, I feel strong, like I was made for this. All those years making sourdough, sewing long underwear, and developing my inner introvert leave me uniquely adapted to isolating during a pandemic. A chance to bring back the family cloth? I am so ready and willing. See that pile of baskets? Just let the world end.

Other hours, like those that interrupt nights before I work a nursing shift at the hospital, I feel the weightlessness of free fall. What is happening and why is there such a large knot in my chest?

While we find ourselves suspended, hanging upside down in an otherworldly pause, I take shelter in Michael Meade, whose mythic perspective is my prescription for the unknown, and whose reflections on the virus have fortified me for the road ahead: The Second Level of Hope and A Time of Conscious Descent

Go ahead and despair, he says. That’s the beginning, not the end.

And this essay by the radical truth teller Paul Kingsnorth allows me to bear witness to this incredible, horrible, beautiful unraveling, and to deepen into the Great Pause that is our only remedy right now.

A friend pointed out that on each day home with her children, it is as if their true faces are revealed to her. I feel that way, too. We’ve been given a chance to take off the many masks we wear in our day to day lives back in ordinary time, and to return to something original about who we are.

Empty out the baskets. Let’s see what fills them when we stop trying.









Reading at the Crestone Poetry Festival, in front of a beautiful backdrop, and before a fantastic crowd. As far as I know I’m the only poet with a Signal Snowboards sponsorship. They don’t know this yet, but with luck it will catch on and lead to lots more great hats.

#AWPocalypse means I, along with many others, stayed home from my big adventure at AWP in San Antonio this week. Instead, you can find me reading and trying to write, and wondering what, what! is the meaning of it all? Same old, same old. All from the splendid vantage of my sunny living room.

Seriously, it’s like Christmas and my birthday all in one week, this gift of time and solitude and good health, with only minor twinges of now I have to write something truly great…like a blog post!

I am also the guest on a recent Hiking Thru Life podcast which you can listen to here. It is a candid and light hearted conversation with occasional forays into why one shouldn’t worry about what poems mean, the links between language and landscape, and my journey as a writer. I love the part where Sarah asks me to read a poem and I’m like, no, I’m going to read this other one instead. Who does that? I do!

Photos by Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer.

Ps–anyone else who didn’t go to AWP might enjoy these tips for recreating the conference at home from our friends at McSweeneys.