Cascara Chorus

Cascara Chorus
Cascara Chorus

It’s like she was waiting, just for me, especially for me. | She sat on the sand just beyond where the surf would pull her back into the swirling crash of waves, where she’d be thundered against rocks and coral and other shells, with all those who do not survive to their second life. | This beautiful cascara, a creamy cone of shell, painted with wisps of chocolatey brown squiggling down her body and flowering around the crown of her head. | Her pointy tail broken off, some accident on the wild ride in from her old home in the sandy depths. | Her underside rubbed free of her artsy markings, worn from a lifetime’s journey. | 
A little piece of another shell tucked in her side slot, taking a free ride to wherever she’s going. | She seems to have known an orchestra of shells waited on the windowsill for her, needing the instrument of her being to complete their song. | And now, I sit on the bench, in front of the window and I hear the music whispering in my ear, the chorus rejoicing: life is beauty and light. 

This poem, like last week’s poem (Lluvia), is fresh from my most recent trip to Mexico. It was probably the best shell collecting ever – I found so many varieties, and so many of several varieties (like cowries, turritellas, limpets). Too bad that my abundance was confiscated at the airport coming home. So I’m practicing being unattached and realizing the real joy was in the seeking and finding and enjoying on the windowsill.

her rolling pin

her rolling pin

standing there, in the kitchen – 
where everything is worn 
to the point it becomes shiny again
from all the contact and touching over time

this kitchen – 
where she’s stood hundreds -
no thousands - of times before 
where the floor holds her feet
laced up into shoes like a corset
holding everything together

wearing her apron – 
the one with the lone flower rising
toward a sun and blanketed 
in a bed of spring grass – 
its ties wrapped around her waist 
like a child’s hands pressing into clay

removing the rolling pin from the drawer
grabbing it with 
the one remaining handle
that fits her hand like a glove

reaching into the flour canister
massaging the snowy powder onto the wood
like bathing a child in soapy water 
her palm pressing, her fingers grazing

pushing the powdered pin 
onto the moist mound of dough
beginning to roll, back and forth, 
steady glides, a rhythmic and 
somehow comforting movement, 
like dancing to her favorite song, 
slow and sanguine  

she kneads the dough like a prayer, 
grasping and pushing away
grasping for all she dreamed her life could be
then pushing away all that life has given her


A bird in song, Santa Clarita, California

Once I was
a sweet song bird

joyful as the jingle
of a kid’s bike bell

gentle as a breeze
on my mother’s shoulders

strong as the strands
on a spider’s web

Then I dimmed
as if the night
light in the hall

the bell whispered
the breeze stilled
the silk softened
and I sat down
to rest

This poem is also part of a collection I put together called All the Shapes of Joy.