I Did

My husband wears a band wrapped
around his head – a long, constantly
bobbing pole attached – where all
his ideas dangle like carrots,
just out of reach – propelling
him absent-mindedly forward.

He tries to stay in the moment,
begins with full intent, gathering,
for instance, the makings of a grand
sandwich, and assembling successfully
but wanders off, leaving a trail of
opened packets and jars and crumbs

Too bad the contraption is invisible
or I’d snatch it off his head, and demand,
lovingly of course, that he stop a moment,
take the time to complete the task;
It’s a trap I fall into once in a while:
the fatal expectation that he’ll change.

I’ve tried leaving the mess, willing
myself to be accepting, hoping surely
that he’ll take notice and tidy up,
but I am always deluding myself –
he is after all mid 60’s, and not
about to break the habit now.

So, I content myself with my chosen
role, plow through the piles of messes,
and thank God that his brain still functions,
and remember how that very same carrot
drew me in once, compelling me
wholeheartedly to say “I do”.

Love? Really?

“Love,” my grandmother told me, “is a four-letter word.”

“She was beautiful as a young woman, and everyone wanted to court her,” her sister explained. “Our parents were heartbroken when she chose Charlie. Charlie was a farmer. She could have done so much better. We were city girls, you know. I don’t think she knew what she was getting herself into.”

“He could make me laugh,” Grandma said. “Played a damn good fiddle too, and he could dance. How we loved to dance.”

“When I think of my mother, I picture her standing over the woodstove cooking, always cooking, and crying. Seemed like she was always pregnant.” This from my mother, her daughter.

“Every time my fool husband hung his pants on the bedpost I was with child again. Carried ten to full term. Three of them died young.” She said it matter-of-factly, as if that is how life goes.

“Do you miss him?” I asked. “I mean, he died young, did you ever consider remarrying?”

“Hell, no! When he died, I started living. Took up drinking and smoking. I’d let a man buy me a drink, take me for a twirl on the dance floor, maybe walk me home, but that’s it. Let them in and they are only after one thing. They’re not getting that here!”

“Just don’t go putting the cart before the horse,” my mother advised me when I asked about love.

I knew she was talking about herself; I was born just three weeks after she married my Dad. I assumed she was telling me it had all been a horrible mistake.

“Were you in love the first time you got married?” Unwilling to give up on the notion.

“What did I know of love? He was handsome, drove a motorcycle and paid attention to me. Sure, I thought it was love, until I learned that he did the same for every other woman he met. I was the only one stupid enough to marry him.” She reflects for a minute. “Must have loved him, ‘cause I sure was crushed when he left me for my best friend.”

“It’s just as easy to fall in love with a rich man as it is a poor one,” my eldest sister cautioned, but I knew she was just cynical. She put the proverbial cart first, got pregnant while still in high school, married and was divorced two years later.

“Can’t imagine who would ever love you,” Mom told me often. “Men don’t like smart woman.”

Watched my sisters bounce from man to man, in and out of their beds without discretion, slandering the bastards for not respecting them. Knew I didn’t want to follow them.

Decided I wanted the kind of love that Ryan O’Neal and Ali MacGraw had in Love Story. When it didn’t come along, I began to believe that love is meant to be unrequited as in all the great romantic classics. My heart ached with a longing I couldn’t control.

“You’re just waiting for your white knight to arrive on his trusty steed and scoop you up,” a school friend accused.

“Am not!” But she’d struck a chord. Maybe I was.

Married the first man who was willing to stick around (pretty sure it was me who asked him). Joined my sister in the divorcee lineup less than two years later.

Began to think my mother was right – I was not loveable.

Finally swept off my feet six months later – a man of my heritage, a man who wanted to make me happy, who made my heart beat with excitement. Disregarded the short courtship and fell in headfirst.

“If you really loved me, you’d take better care of yourself,” he told a bedraggled version of myself, pounds heavier after bearing three children in five years.  If you really loved me, became code for you are not good enough.  The point was driven home frequently.

“I never really loved you,” he told me seventeen years later. “I just stayed for the children’s sake.” He left me for a woman who bore an uncanny resemblance to my younger self.

I was certain that my mother was right. Love was an intangible notion unintended for the likes of me.

Love yourself. The message trickled through the airwaves. New Age, talk shows, psychobabble, it was all the same. Love yourself and love will find you.

Love myself? I was forty-years-old and had no concept of what that might look like, couldn’t even remember a time where I’d felt loved, actually accepted for who I was, without criticism or disappointment present. Knew there were no models in the ravaged hearts that surrounded me. Had to dig deeper.

I started with what it would feel like to be loved. Daydreamed about the feeling, experimented by buying myself flowers, doing things that made me felt good, cherished.

Learned that love calls for defined needs, and the ability to set boundaries – two things I had always denied myself. Recognized that in the realm of give and take, I was afraid of receiving, felt more comfortable giving (more in control), discovered the dark side of me.

Opened my heart once again and for the first time felt loved. Took my time, and

focused on the moment, not the long term. Allowed genuine affection to grow naturally, nurtured respect.

It’s not perfect – no relationship ever is – but it’s a start. We’ve been married ten years now, and love is still growing.

You see, love is a four-letter word (not the cursing kind) and works better as a verb than a noun. It is a process, an opportunity; not a static concept that passively sits by.

I think I am finally catching on.


Maybe I just needed a new perspective –
like the famed Hanged Man of tarot –
committed to some deep, internal need,
willed a horizontal shift, landed with intent.

Maybe it is not my legs that are disabled,
but a soul longing to escape the continual
discord of perpetual motion, a never-ending
to-do list of the success driven persona.

Maybe there is a greater purpose for being
that is not encompassed by outer drive –
a mysterious meaning that is revealed only
in the quiet stillness in which I now dwell.

Maybe I have been called to a personal
pilgrimage – a Camino of sorts, a crusade
of spirit designed to cleanse and enlighten –
the journey is certainly arduous enough.

Maybe it is through acceptance, finally
having released  a need to control, move,
achieve, accomplish that I am able to
embrace the true lessons of suffering.

Maybe this cocooning is an act of Grace
demanding surrender before the actual
transformation occurs, and I will emerge
legless or not, winged and ready to soar.

Maybe, just maybe, this stripped down,
barren existence is not a penance for
shameful living, but a desert crossing,
offering re-alignment, hard-fought peace.

Imagining Genius

Imagine befriending genius –
accepting social awkwardness
embracing habitual quirks as
incubation for enlightenment.

If I could strip down, release
preconceived notions, agendas,
lie naked, exposed, in shallow
waters, intimately entwined,

unencumbered by sexuality
or gender protocols, I would
shake this sensual impotency –
become one with creativity.

As my father, wounded, I
am inhibited by my feminine,
opting for compliance over
strength, a conditioned identity.

His mystery extends, flawless
sculpting, archetypal secrets,
pretense proclaiming normalcy,
usurping vitality, genius stifled.



Ask me how I’m doing
and I’ll say “fine”, not
because I’m actually “fine”
but because “fine” is the only
socially acceptable response.

If I said that I have been lying
here for three hours now trying
to will my body to movement
that would elicit unsolicited
advice and tarnish my “fine”

I’d berate myself for breaking
my promise not to complain
knowing that complaining
provokes compulsive needs
to fix which makes me angry

Because my concept of trying –
which is defined by getting dressed
every day – does not match trying
every new therapy, drug, exercise
offered by well-meaning but clueless

others, who may experience fatigue
at times, but have no understanding
of what it is to be exhausted after
something as simple as bathing,
let alone debating what I haven’t tried.

So, ask me how I’m feeling, and
I’ll say “fine” and we can get on
about the weather or the latest
movie must-see, and I can bask
in the warmth of the contact

carry the conversation into the
void of the rest of my day, smile
to think that I still have friends
who accept my “fine” even though
they know I am anything but.




Always wanted to travel,
dreamed of exotic places,
thriving metropolises,
worthwhile destinations –
where I’d be
a somebody,
make a difference,

Aptitude tests proclaimed proclivity –
candidate for leadership –
confidence to reach to the top,
know-how unnecessary,
if the hat fits,
I’d wear it –

Wasn’t prepared for the halt
in progress – ending up
in rural Ontario, nothing
but a mall for entertainment –
told myself life is what
you make it –
keep your chin up,
and all that.

Let a few of my dreams slide,
they’d be better off
without me, moved on
before I could reclaim them,
abandoned common sense
for irrationality; a call
for help

Assured others I was all right,
not to worry,
swallowed anxiety,
choked on my confusion,
broke down when the road
ended again,
there is no control center,
only ability

to respond,
and that sometimes
life leap-frogs
and sometimes
backwards is forwards;
is topsy-turvy
and not a well-oiled machine,
and no matter the direction,
the journey
will be


A splash of icy water –
first personal assault
on an adopted persona –
marked each day’s start.

With military precision
the lie, perpetuated since
childhood, was carried out –
a ritualized euthanization.

Starched collar, tightly
knotted tie (hangman’s
accomplice), solidified
the tortured charade.

A stray, unyielding curl
atop neatly cropped hair –
lonely vestige – belied
the woman locked within.

Stiff comportment channelled
inner rage, buried beneath
driven pursuit of monetary
success professing normalcy.

Behind the mask, a gentler
soul watched, agonizingly
lonely – abandoned authenticity
imprisoned, denied expression.

Alcohol, sought to numb twisted
reality – exacerbated tensions,
propelled acts of violence, drowned
unwitting co-conspirators, diminished

hope – no viable solution – society
uncompromising – fantasies of death –
swift release – defined behaviours,
created a legacy, a prayer adopted

by a child left behind, incapacitated
by father’s anguish,  smothered
by ashes of incredulous tragedy,
awaiting the phoenix’s rising.

Soul Stalker


Downy blankets of white settle softly,
Nature gratefully submitting to slumber
as the Earth bids a seasonal adieu.

Inside, my body craving hibernation
curls into layered bedding, draws shades
against the snowy scene, wills respite.

My soul, a cat, lulled by the miracle
stretches wide paws, arches, ready
to discover some mystic wilderness.

She is primordial, a snow leopard,
camouflaged, elusive, a silent stalker
instinctively hungry for nourishment.

Weakened, I yield, certain she will prey
on this near lifeless flesh, leaving me
bloodless, hide-less:  a mere carcass.

Then I shall lay down in the frigid warmth
of winter’s illusion and surrender rotting
self to the Earth’s core; pray for rebirth.

Seeking Release

Days confined to a four-walled cell
morose gray skies mirroring gloom
drumming of an overworked heart
breaking this suffocating silence.

Twenty months sentence served
release date uncertain, life altered
beyond recognition, hope elusive
as the sun – I am powered down.

Pocketed energy calls for efficiency
integrity challenged by wavering
brain; peace a butterfly chained
by depression, praying for release.

Stability relies on yielding, practice
demonstrating caring, gentleness,
giving to self, mourning spontaneity,
I stretch to find perfection, believe.

Convince myself of synchronicity,
celebrate creativity, ideas, feedback,
focus on glimpses of well-being,
treasure merriment, inspiration.

Ego mistakes self-preservation
for selfishness, attacks motives,
loveability, invites depression,
awareness gained obliterated.

I cycle back; imprisoned anew,
am salvaged through interaction
simple sharing magically uplifts
rebirthing perspective; healing.

Through grace, I embrace gifts
surrender control, self-rejection,
retire the victim, and remaining
open, recognize response-ability.


“First one to ten wins,” I tell my four-year-old granddaughter.

We are seated beside the large, corner, picture windows facing the street.  It’s a favourite spot of ours, and we spend hours contemplating nature, or playing “I Spy”.  Today, she is counting white cars that drive by and I am counting red.

“There’s a white one!” she exclaims, jumping up and down on the couch.  “I’m beating you by one.”

“You are!  Eight to seven.”  Is it wrong, I ask myself, that I am teaching my granddaughter to be competitive?

“First one to ten wins a prize,” she adds.

“Okay,” I respond, smiling warmly.  I love how she brings such enthusiasm to the simplest of games, and amusingly notice how she always manages to work a treat in.  Competition, I decide is a natural part of life.

“Another white one!  And another.  That’s ten!”

“Oh you beat me.  What prize would you like?”

She thinks about it for a moment, her blue eyes studying my face for any signs of disappointment.   “I know!” she beams. “How about we keep playing till we both have ten and then both of us can have a treat?”

Another white car drives by and I point it out.

“No Grandma,” she chides me.  “We are only looking for red cars now.”

In a matter of minutes two red cars pass and she declares that we are both winners and can now claim our rewards.  Playing along, I follow her into the kitchen, wondering what it is she has in mind.

Holding open the pantry door, she considers the options.  “Do you have any gummy bears?”

“No gummy bears, just fruit snacks.  Would you like a cookie?”

“Umm, no….you can’t eat that.”  I am impressed.  She sincerely wants me to share in the honours, and as she well knows, this Grandma doesn’t eat cookies (unless they are gluten free).  She yanks open the freezer drawer and finds popsicles.  “Here you go Grandma.”

We sit at the table, commenting on our chosen flavours and whether or not we lick or bite our frozen treats, all the while exchanging loving glances.

“I love you Grandma!” she tells me between bites.

“I love you, Sweetheart.  Thanks for letting me be a winner too.”
She cocks her head to the side and grinning broadly gives me a thumbs up and I marvel at the lesson this little soul has just taught me about compassion and win-win.