Tuesday, September 29, 2009

My Muse Anne Frank

I still have a copy of The Diary Of Anne Frank that I kept from the Chinook Middle School library in 1971. I never returned it. It’s a brown hardback and on the cover is a black and white photo of Anne.

I wanted to live in that attic with Peter, the boy who was a friend of the Franks. I didn’t care if the Nazi soldiers chased me. I could be quiet as a moonlit night.

Around the same time, I constructed a “fort” out behind our house. This fort. built under the Jonathan apple tree and next to the wood shed was my attic. I had a white diary that locked with a tiny metal key that I hid in one of my shoes. I wrote in the diary about boys, horses, dogs and Mount Rainier. I hung a print of a stallion on one of the plywood walls. I fashioned curtains from two old towels. Like Anne, I put pen to paper and tried to make sense of my world.

Since then, books have affected me deeply. Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Dee Brown’s Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison. Isak Dinesen’s Letters from Africa - Roots, Ragtime, Refuge. It’s hard to stop.

Interestingly, it was a book that initiated my divorce from my ex-husband 14 years ago. After reading Bridges of Madison County, I vowed to get out of a loveless marriage. Robert James Waller’s words opened a world to me that said I could someday love like his protagonist, Francesca.

Monday, September 28, 2009


The margarine moon
leaning on her side

Tonight, the earth wears
a skirt of wet dirt

Remember that day
I bought expensive soaps
Watched as you wrapped your hand
around the fork

At that cafe where
we drank coffee in the
thick white mugs
While I told you to
sprinkle me over
the mountain

You filled a blue bottle
with dandelion fluff
and said

Friday, September 25, 2009

Sequim Sweet Home

We have landed in Sequim, Washington, "The Sunniest Place in the Pacific Northwest", "The Banana Belt", "The Rainshadow of the Olympic Mountains" . . . like me, it is a place with a lot of names.

We've been here a little over a month. After living in the homeless shelter for three weeks, we have found a little cottage to rent. I call it a cottage because I am a writer and I nearly always see the glass as half full. Some might call it a hovel. It is a cozy place, the smallest house I've ever lived in - about 900 square feet, but it is home. We are number seven of eight tiny cabins. Lucky seven, the lady who studies numerology told me at my writing group. There is a horseshoe turned the "right" way over our front door. There is lavender growing out front and I can play my music as loud as I want.

Yesterday, I cried and sang several verses of "Take Me Home Country Road" on my way up here to Sequim, after retrieving my household goods from storage in Olympia. This morning, it is 5 a.m. and the French roast is brewing but where are the mugs? Cardboard boxes are stacked like building blocks in my tiny living room. Mostly boxes of books. My books are my fortress, filling four floor to ceiling bookcases as well as donating some and putting some in storage.

A big part of my security in life comes from the things I surround myself by. There's the old wooden washboard that Grandma Finnegan used to clean my Dad's clothes, the old moonshine jug that Dad dug up on a job, my yellow clay ashtray made in the first grade. Why did they let kids make ashtrays? These things are my touchstones - the security blanket wrapped around my life.

The coffee tastes especially good this morning in Nana's bone china cup embossed with daffodils. I can hear Tate's easy breathing in the next room. I feel secure like a locked room.


We are living in a homeless shelter
It’s called the Serenity House
I’ve told my son we are sort of
on vacation

There is a teal recliner,
a radiator under
the window

A patchwork quilt
on the double bed
could have belonged to
your grandmother

We leave during the day
act like tourists
at night, Tate creates tin toys
from left over aluminum foil