Fox in the Night.

My daughter brings home a booster shot and sticks my arm. That night, I wake with dreams of email and work, of words that move through my mind, and then all of that passes. The cats and I lie before the wood stove, watching the flicking red embers through the glass. After each of my children’s births, I felt as though I had reached through a channel and touched the other world, that realm where I originated and where someday again I’ll return. A friend’s brother passes from Covid. She tells me, God must have a plan, but I don’t know what it is. For a moment, I think wicked thoughts about Catholicism, but that passes, too. Who am I to judge her faith, what will carry her and her family through hard days? In these December days of scant light and long nights, my daughter comes into my room and opens my window, waking me. A fox screams. We kneel at the window, gazing at the snow on the giant mock orange beside our house. The fox shrieks again. We listen, hard. In my mind, I begin imaging a message here — the two of us, the cold air, the moonless night, wild creature. Then I quit and simply listen.

Kicking Up Leaves.

My daughter and I are standing on a street corner in Montpelier, Vermont, talking about some little thing — maybe the mighty silver maple on the library’s lawn and how those leaves are always the last to turn gold. How I remember this every year at the same annual mark, and then forget this for the rest of the year.

While we’re talking, I keep thinking of this lovely library, and how I took my daughters there as little girls. Later, I often worked all day in the upstairs reading rooms with views of the trees. Not so, anymore, in our pandemic world.

Across the street, a couple kicks fallen leaves at each other. I stop talking, thinking, Oh, no, what fresh hell is this? when the couple begins laughing. They’re each holding white paper cup, and he has a paper bag that might be full of sweet delicious things from a nearby bakery.

That moment — that tiny joyful moment — opens up our day. Sweet normalcy. Oh, yes. Bring that on.

One of my most favorite autumn poems:

on a withered branch
sits a crow
autumn nightfall



The moon is a perfect circle of cream.

In the dark, we walk downtown and leave letters in the mailbox. Through the valley’s mist, house and streetlights glow. November looms. Poet Thomas Hood described November: “No dawn — no dusk — no proper time of day.”

The news around us is of two, unrelated homicides, neither far from our house, in our rural state with scant violent crime. In the dark, I bring in an armful of wood and pause for a moment. Across the valley, I see a pair of headlights crest a dark hillside and begin a descent, slow to my eyes through the mist.

Through the house windows, I see my daughters before the wood stove, our walls painted butter-yellow. The crickets are gone. Late fall pushes in. Every year, the darkness enfolds us again, inescapable and mysterious.

Over my shoulder there’s that moon.

Hardwick, Vermont


Pub date for Unstitched arrives Tuesday. The lovely Galaxy Bookshop and the equally terrific Jeudevine Memorial Library (both in Hardwick) are hosting a reading Tuesday (9.14.2021) at the Hardwick Town House.

If you’re in town and interested in coming out, please do.

I’ll also be chatting virtually with the fantastic poet Kerrin McCadden this Thursday, September 16, at 7:30 p.m., in an evening hosted by Phoenix Books. No charge, of course, for these events.

How much our world has changed since those days when I walked downtown and spent Tuesday evenings in the Galaxy, listening to writers and drinking cider. I hope you’re all well….

Short excerpt…

Like many others, I arrived [in Vermont] as a transplant. As a child and into my twenties, I moved frequently, from deserty New Mexico to New Hampshire’s red-brick mill cities to mountainous western Washington. Gradually, I became smitten with this tight-knit town. I joined the five-member school board and chaperoned walks into the wetlands. Our world was stitched together by carving jack-o’- lanterns, giggling at sleepovers, voting yay or nay on town and school budgets at community meetings, and baking surprise birthday cakes for friends. When I discovered the library had been broken into after hours, what remained was a lingering residue not only of cigarette smoke but also of fear. I began to wonder if maybe this world wasn’t so fine.”