You love your friend, so you fly across the country to see her.

Your friend is grieving. When you look at her, you see that something’s missing.

You look again. She seems all there: reading glasses, sarcasm, leather pumps.

What did you expect? Ruins? Demeter without arms in the British Museum?

Your friend says she believes there’s more pain than beauty in the world.

When Persephone was taken, Demeter damned the world for half the year.

The other half remained warm and bountiful; the Greeks loved symmetry.

On the plane, the man next to you read a geometry book, the lesson on finding the circumference of a circle.

On circumference: you can calculate the way around if you know the way across.

You try across with your friend. You try around.

I don’t believe in an afterlife, she says. But after K. died, I thought I might go after her.

                In case I’m wrong. In case she’s somewhere. Waiting.

Read this poem on Poetry Out Loud.


Yesterday, a coyote sprinted
through my front lawn.
I thought it someone’s lost dog.

Tomorrow, something larger will come.
It will come like a snowplow,
heavily horse-powered and muffled
by what it shunts aside. 
There will be lights.
They will shine in through windows,
spotlighting intimate, tender moments—
a mother halving blueberries
for her infant son, a man
smearing ointment across his mother’s back.  

The way in which
the I-thought-dog made its wildness
known was the way it ran straight ahead,
not looking for or needing anyone.
Not lost but alone.
Not underfed
but hungry nonetheless. 

Read this on Stirring.

Trick of the Light

In France, the pickpockets
ask tourists to sign petitions
against social injustice,
then run their hands over
their intimate belongings,
gentle and needy as lovers.
It’s hard to judge them harshly,
such artistry.
Even the rush-hour crowd
hurrying toward the downtown C
parts for the woman in checkered spandex
twirling a hula-hoop about her waist
while standing on her head.
Dear unobservant god,
do not snuff us out.
We are beautiful and strange.

Read this on The Writer’s Almanac.

A Life

Each afternoon he took his pipe
and led his goats beyond the pasture
to a neighbor’s field behind his farm—
not exactly his but not exactly not.

As the goats clipped the tall grasses,
he sat in the chair he never failed
to bring. Sometimes he read, most often
not. The vetch climbed the goldenrod,

the dandelions turned from gold
to globe, and every day he went,
thinking to himself how good it was
to be almost but not entirely alone.


Read this on The Writer’s Almanac.