“any step in the right direction is not a loss”

for my daughter and my mother



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On International Women’s Day –

I read my daughter’s words

any step in the right direction is not a loss.

Witness the beauty of her precise economy

her spirit of generosity, her incisive analysis

her ethics of care, her understanding

of this flawed present, her anticipation

of a possible future.


I wonder at my daughter, her transformations

her life empowered by loving friends.

A taut bravery anchors her voice

in the tender tough knowledge of so many.



painting by Ward Williamson

On International Women’s Day, I call

my mother tells me her brain

can’t wrap round the books I sent her

but she is glad to have them


I send her books.

Weeping, I return in my mind

to a bookish child

and my mother who reads to me.


My mother says,

I always wanted to dance

but we were so poor.


And I remember my countless lessons,

recitals of indigo blue tulle sewn

satin ribbons tied just so

I danced my heart out

for decades, my mother’s spirit

animates a twirl of arms and legs

Spinning limbs.in my mind’s eye

a ritual of body memory

singing with pleasure.


My mother’s passion for reading

my passion for a solitary chair

a happy tether to a PhD


A painful sliver dives deep

in the palm of my hand

a turning, the page

the room, alone

a pen, a cigarette in clutched fingers

a notebook that listens



My mother mouths the words –

There was a little girl who had a little curl

right in the middle of her forehead

and when she was good she was very very good

And when she bad, she was horrid.

A Shout Out

round and round the garden like a teddy bear

storying a river

to crush the nice

to embrace the horrid


an insurrection writes a life

my mother’s words

leak through me in this word:



On International Women’s Day

my daughter writes to the suffering –

I stand with you...


March 8, 2017

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