My tiny daughter by the Elm tree.

My tiny daughter by the Elm tree.
The one that gave me my vision.
A real Saul to Paul conversion.
Instead of Damascus,
or other holy sites
My parents’ backyard
in Kansas.
A cloud covered night.
Warm for January, still chilly enough to be urgent.
An urgent sort of awakening.
Barren in January, but not afraid
The Elm was older than all of my anxiety.
25 years, or at least 16,
I was afraid to look inside myself.
For fear of what I might find.
Another story of about a tree,
A confirmation of my inner ugliness.
Every mirror, save one, confirmed this.
I had a grandmother who believed
Everything good about me.
Her love was a small life raft
Circular with a square red cross
But this tree, this tree didn’t believe anything.
It only whispered.
“Take a look”,
“Turn inward, eyes open –
no peering through closed fingers,
and see”.
Like walking off a cliff,
Into waters unknown.
I pressed my whole body into that tree.
“Can you come with me?”
Suddenly courageous, turning, running,
From that cliff, the furthest branch of my self
Back into the deep,
The roots
And what did I see?
Goddess, if that makes more sense.
Not alone,
But underneath everything.
How did I know?
A barren Elm, in the dead of winter
taught me.

— WRL, 1.1.18




I once heard Marie Howe say

that being present


a little bit.


Some people call her

a religious poet.

She says she isn’t sure

that fits.


I do think,


Only a religious person could admit

any of this.



That word.

It means to re-ligament.

Or, to reconnect


what was once adjoined.

Now separate.


It’s in the body,

That gap,

And also the way back



She’s right,

you know.

Being present hurts a little bit.


You have to say you’re sorry

every time.

For having ever left


And forgive,

and forgive,

and forgive


And come back.


Right here,

Right now,



I’m sorry,

you say.

And then you let go



Getting caught up

in all your separateness.



or blame

My excuses are limitless.


These human traps,


and seductive, and so real

when we feel it.


But not true.


Have you ever seen a pebble shame itself?

Or a raindrop cast around blame?


The lilies of the field don’t worry about their clothes.


What did Rumi say?

“I’ve gotten free of that ignorant fist

that was pinching and twisting”

me into an illusion

of separateness.


So we forgive,

but we don’t forget

It’s very hard to stay.


Right here,

Right now.

I’m sorry, you say.


Followed by, “it’s okay”.


And then, come back, come back,

come back.



Of course, that hurts a little bit.



it’s all still here for each

and every one

of us


Right after forgiveness.