"The hardest step is believing that you have something of value to share with the world. That you are worthy of taking up space on this planet. The hardest step is saying, 'Please don’t erase me. I want to be heard.'"
Max, Zoey, Trisha, and all of you here, listen closely to what I’m about to declare. I have something very very special to share. Did you know you have a secret power that is incredibly rare?
What is it? Please tell us! Charlotte demands. And Colette really really really wants to know as she raises her hand.
Okay, I think it's time. No more delays. Keep those eyes closed, Maya, no peeking today!
Are you ready? I don’t hear you. Are you ready!? Yes! Great! Let’s go!
Lift your hands up and touch the sky. Eric and Adalyn, do you feel the clouds way up high?
As you zoom through the air reach higher and higher until you get to space. Catch the stars like snowflakes that fall on your face. I wonder, how did the stars get there in the first place?
Delilah, have you seen a rainbow burst through the sky? Where does it start, does it ever end or just fly by?
Nichole, have you ever seen the sun rise? Or the way the world glows?
There’s a whole world beneath us, that’s under our feet. I wonder, where does a caterpillar even fall asleep?
Big beluga whales play in the sea every day. While birds with bright colors sit in the bay.
So what’s the big secret? Jacob E. calls from his seat. “You have the power to see the magic in the world” I reply without missing a beat.
But be sure to hold on tight, don’t let it disappear. The magic can vanish in seconds. I want to be clear. Where’s our wand and our cape? Olivia asks with a grin.You don’t need a wand or a cape! The magic’s within!
Jake and Isabella, it’s your heart and your kindness and the love you show to all. It’s as simple as that. Everything big, everything small.
You have the magic deep deep inside. Yes, Ananya and Jacob C., it really is true! What does this world need? More children like you! Children who are kind and brave, like Nivika, Advik, Madeline and you know who.
There’s so much to explore. Who wants to come along? Sammy? Krishna? Lucca? Caidon? The world is counting on you!
The world needs protectors! Earth Protectors! James, could that be you?
The world seems so big. The world seems so vast. What could I possibly do? You may ask.
But I know you’re up for the challenge. You’re brilliant. You’re you! Never stop exploring, playing, learning, and saying woo-hoo!
Even when you’re eight, eighty, eight hundred or eight million years old. Look at the world through the eyes you have right now and be bold.
May I offer you one last suggestion? Ask the big questions, it will lead you to places without the need for directions.
When you look outside to the trees in the forest or put your hand in the waves in the sea, think about the universe you hold in your heart. Hold on to this magic, go ahead, get a head-start.
Now open your eyes, look around, look closely. What magical things do you see, do you feel? Does the sun shine brighter? Do the clouds look like stars? How different the world can seem when you see it with wonder and not from afar.
I am filled with color. I am the greens of a forest fern, the glow of the harvest moon. I am the reds reflected off the dew of a summer poppy. I am in the darkness of the night sky. Tormented and brilliant. I expand across the spectrum, bright and bold. I stand with courage, vulnerability, and authenticity, no matter the consequence.
Here I am world. Do you see me? I don't want to be erased. I refuse to live as half a person. Never again. You cannot dull my color. My palate is sacred. The movement and transformation of life brings me joy and peace. It carries me down the stream. It gives me life. Oh the life. It's so wonderful to meet you.
November 2019 Writing
From April to December, I wake up not to the sounds of birds singing, but of lawn mowers and leaf blowers. I peer outside my window and see the neighbors ready to make their lawns immaculate. Sometimes I wonder who they are trying to impress.
In the summer, instead of sweet flowers, I smell the fumes of noxious chemicals being poured over turf lawns. Sprinklers at full blast to make sure the grass grows green and tall, but not too tall or else off with their heads! We drag out our lawn mowers, while glaring at the enemy. Fill it up with gas, pull that cord, and off we go. Nature is no match for us.
Dramatic? Yes, but true. So true. None of this makes any sense to me. Our habit creates a wasteful cycle of time, energy, and resources. And that’s not mentioning how our weekend obsession adds to the destruction of our natural habitat.
Now that it is mid-November, instead of lawn mowers, the sounds have been replaced with leaf blowers.
When I look out, all I see is an army of Terminators that have taken over my street. Machines strapped to backs, ready to wage war on nature. Habitats be damned! Hours of blowing leaves back and forth, back and forth. Blowing from one edge of the street to the next. Stuffing them in bags then sending them to landfills. Plumes of smoke and the smell of fumes tells me they won the war in creating a “litter” free lawn.
But why? Why are we doing this? Who says this is what beauty looks like? And at what cost?
This fall, you will not see a rake in my hand. We are leaving the leaves. If you drive past our home, one might conclude that we’re lazy or don’t care about our lawn, but quite the contrary.
Fallen leaves provide shelter for wildlife, including native insects, and pollinators to hibernate over the winter. You want butterflies and bees? Leave the leaves. You want to hear the songbirds sing? Then leave the leaves so they have insects to eat. Leaves provide nutrients to our garden beds and can turn into rich compost that benefits our soil without fertilizers. Shouldn’t we be listening to their name? They are called ‘leaves’ not ‘takeaways.’ My yard may look unkempt, but I don’t care. I’m doing it for all of us, and that includes wildlife. Let’s stop trying to tame the wild. Let’s change our habits so we can learn to live with nature, not against it.
anvil 10+10: an ode to the mosquitoes on the day of their death
You don’t know it’s coming. I think it’s unfair. Three hours from now. Contamination. Death. I wish I could warn you.
You take our lifeblood. We resent you. Your lingering presence won’t allow us to forget that you’re here.
100 million years on this Earth, feeding birds, bats, spiders, and dragonflies. But to us, you are an annoyance. You are anonymous. You must be controlled.
Our fear ensures death of a thousand. The female of the species is our target.
Tonight we spray. Tonight we terminate. I wonder, what else, who else, will die from the poison in the sky?
Droplets like Hiroshima bombs on the insect world. And on us?
Anvil 10+10 does not pose “an unreasonable risk to birds or mammals” the authorities claim. But how can a chemical that is meant to kill, not pose harm? Can somebody please explain?
I recorded the night sounds before your demise. I wanted to remember what life sounded like in case it disappears at midnight. Listen.
It’s 1:00 AM. I hear the planes fly overhead. Duck your heads. It’s coming. My heart weeps for the Earth.
1:05 AM. It’s over. The crime had been committed.
I listened to the night sky again, worried that it would be silent. But life was still alive. A false sense of security? Destruction will come one way or another, I’m sure.
Moving farther east the warning level raised from high to critical. An Ashland man now at the mercy of EEE. Not knowing if the mosquito was a resident of Ashland, hysteria ensued.
“My daughter has a mosquito bite! What do I do” someone cried. Tea Tree oil! Another replied. Wipe out the mosquitoes, spray them all! The chorus said in harmony.
A second ground spraying was scheduled to combat the disease. Trucks with fans spraying toxins into the air drove through town lines.
Spray! Spray! Spray! Kill! Kill! Kill!
The morning after the second spraying did not host the loud birdsong I once heard. Muted. Dull. Perhaps the second attack was too much to bear.
I washed away what I could, but I knew the direct assault was not over. It never is. It will always be us vs “them.” Whomever “them” is.
We can’t live with our living earth. Pushing further against her. Shortsighted. We don’t understand so instead we harm not heal.
Death toll: Humans- 2 Other animals- Infinite
The warfare doesn’t stop. The spraying continues. #3, #4, #5… I can’t keep counting. Make it stop.
School children must remain inside. They are becoming frightened of the outside world. That was the plan, right?
Indoctrinate Indoctrinate. We must control lest be controlled.
In a plume of invisible spray Anvil dropping from the sky. Killing more than what’s in sight.
Killing our bond with nature. Killing nature. Killing ourselves.
October 2019 Writing
Running down the road, I was high on life. The air was as crisp as the lays potato chip bag tangled in the tree and the sun as shiny as the reflection off the beer can in the stream.
I looked at my watch. 3.48 miles. Perfect. I’m almost there. I could see my house in the distance. Another morning run under my belt.
Slowing down my pace as I rounded the bend, my eyes focused on the mound lying on the road. It was either discarded trash or a dead animal. Each probable. Both upsetting.
I inched closer. Ah. Another death by cold metal frame. No reverence for life these days. They call it stainless steel, but can it be stainless if it leaves stains of blood on the road?
I pulled a goldenrod stem from where the road met the forest and placed it on the latest victim. “Your death will not be ignored,” I explain.
I crouched down ready to say goodbye when I noticed that this being was alive. Pockets of blood pooled over the rocky pebbles. How could his heart still be beating?
My heart said pick him up, but my body said no. He’s a wild animal. He might have a disease. I told my body to shut up and listened to my heart instead.
My finger ran along his narrow back. “It’s okay, my friend. I’m here now,” I whispered. He looked up at me in pain. Cars streamed past while I guarded my friend. I glared at them as if they were the perpetrator to this crime scene. I hope this is a lesson for next time.
Furious at how disposable the world had become, this life was cast aside like a McDonald’s Big Mac wrapper. Where had the humanity gone?
“Hold on friend, I’ll be right back. I have a plan.” I sprinted up the hill towards the house and threw open the door. “James come help me quick!” I called out. “Grab a box and I’ll grab a towel. We need to help a chipmunk!” He threw me an empty box, and I stuffed the towel inside. Praying a car had not crushed him, I flew down the hill. Life depended on it.
He was still there. He was still breathing. Thank, God. I took the towel and wrapped it around him, cradling him in my arms. With each breath, red blood splattered on the white towel. “You’re coming home with me,” I proclaimed.
James ran outside with a bowl of water but it was too late, he was dying. It was only a matter of time. I rocked him back and forth, back and forth. What else was I to do?
I faced him towards the sun so he could feel the warmth on his fur. I walked through the garden and picked a strawberry. I laid it next to him, hoping his last memories would be sweet.
As the minutes passed his breath grew shallow. A clicking sound echoed from his chest and his cheeks puffed like deflated balloons. My towel was now covered in blood and strawberry stains.
My husband walked over to me without saying a word. “He’s dying,” I said as I lifted up the blanket. Tears poured over me. I wanted his suffering to end. There was nothing that I could do. His body convulsed in the last throes of life. This is what death looks like.
His eyes glassy. Staring into the distance of a different realm. Half here, half there. Still rocking back and forth until it was time. Our eyes met. He was somebody’s baby too, I thought.
Blood bubbled from his nose and dripped down his fur. I didn’t look away. I had to witness the blood we had on our hands, that humanity had on its hands. I felt his body expand one final time. “I’m here.” I say once more. “You will not die alone, not today.”
the four corners of my garden
Air: Crickets, Birds, Bees Bird calls in the faraway distance some whooping, others more seductive with their sounds. A buzz of electricity signals through the air from crickets calling home. Harmony without discord. Bass, tenors, altos, and sopranos all present and sing their afternoon song in symphony.
Slightly moving from the southwest, the air is hushed. Almost unnoticeable except when you feel the coolness on your cheek or see the squash blossoms sway. The sweetness of the morning air has since disappeared. What’s left is earthy and unruly. A dry air, a relief from the heavy August summer days.
Earth: The earth is dry but still alive. Supporting all that it grows. Auburn, burnt orange, and crimson speckle my path. I see red cherry tomatoes falling off the vines and Black-Eyed Susans start to dry. An acorn squash emerges from underneath the protection of a large umbrella of leaves.
I taste a single blade of grass. Fibrous with rows of sweet candy-like treats. It’s nice. I don’t think I’ve ever tried a blade of grass, perhaps only as a child. I walk around my garden beds at first with toes curled tightly round. It’s unfamiliar and strange. But why? Isn’t that sad?
I soon unfurl my toes and step by step I feel the dry sun-christened blades blanket the curvature of the twigs. I enjoy the soft pillowy mountains of moss. When I pass by the lamb's ear, I stop for a moment. It reminds me of when I was young and the stuffed bunny that I loved so dear. The same feel of her soft ear that brought me comfort in the vastness of childhood.
Fire: The harvest sun is upon us. It is bold, beautiful, and full of bliss. It is feminine. A silhouette tracing from behind the clouds tells me it’s setting. Radiant but soft. Bursting of light before the winter moon comes. Getting its last change to perform its summer dance.
Water: I do not see any drops of dew or beads of rain. I search along the tops of petals and look down the tunnels of the leaves. No rain has come for many days, only from my own measure. I come upon a tin planter and find the source for life. When I look inside, I see it filled with leaves and twigs. An insect’s paradise I’m sure. As I bend to inspect. I am overwhelmed by the sweet smell of tender wildflowers. They were having their last day in the sun.
BURNT ORANGE MARIGOLD
The marigold reminds me of my Great Grandmother Anna. Her blue-green house, more green than blue, was fortressed by marigold guards. The marigold, a burly flower, resilient, and in charge. It reminds me of Ms. Anna Stepp, sitting straight in her crushed velvet olive-green armchair, face filled with scorn. Her hair tidy and clothes always pressed. The sharpness of her tongue created many cuts. How did such a flower grow?
Have I seen all sides of Anna, of Miss Marigold, I wonder? I look closer and observe the stem that has grown so strong. Having the wisdom to be solvent in the face of summer storms. Sophisticated and complex, a life that knows its worth. Petals ruffle with femininity and delicate beauty. It’s tightly wound tulip centers, guard closely its nectar, keeping it safe for flying friends. When I crush her petals, I smell herbs and sun tea. Her colors shine more brightly than the others. Perhaps I misjudged poor old marigold. Perhaps she’s actually the most beautiful one of them all.
I AM FROM
Earth I am from the Earth and summer beauty. The twinkle in the sky. From the dew drops that christen the pink crushed petals. Locked in love together. I am from the breeze that carries the sun into the new day. From the roots that erupt and give strength to the stars.
People I am from Dan and Sue, Charlie, Lorraine, from Ronald, Lois, and more. Names unknown and hugs not felt, but I hold them anyway. I am from the strings of time and lines of life, Holding the thread that stretch across space.
Place I am from the western side, over the hills and mountain tops. Down dusty gravel paths that lead to many pointed peaks. The earth is green and dirt is deep. Beneath us, we know what’s true. I am from a simple place, that’s humble and sometimes feeble.
Heart I am from a space that’s kind and open. A place where heart speaks loudly. Where arms endure and endearing ears are ample. I am from the brightest place, one that keeps on shining.
Life I am from scratch card tickets, confirmations, and fish fry Friday dinners. Hoarded boxes of Little Debbies and guilt tucked in bedside tables. Laughing loudness, lots of people, and card games that end in shouting. I am from waffle blocks, baby dolls, and diaries that share my biggest secrets.
I am from Daffins candies, pierogi dinners, there’s so much you don’t know. Slush for Christmas, Easter baskets, dressed up in ribbons and bows. I am from the melody of flutes and saxes and sounds from barrel drums. Treehouse and forts to play and hide from younger brothers.
I am from pumpkin costumes, new school clothes, hugs, and off goodbye. Twirling batons, some on fire, before the football game. Boyfriends, crushes, first kisses, and love bundled up in big red boxes. I am from car accidents, fear, friendship losses, and yes, sometimes there was despair.
But all the while, I had it all, I think it was quite fair. Where I'm from is kind of special, and I hold it quite quite dear.