I will occasionally post new poems and works-in-progress.


At Night, My Daughter


At night my daughter wakes and in the dark
her eyes grow wide.  She stirs but does not cry.
Still, I move quickly to her side, the cracked
light from the hall enough to show my way.
Brave child: while darkness gathers at our door,
to lie alone like this at night and show
no fear.  The world is weary now with war,
and I am anxious that we all will know
too much of grief.  So in this hour of dread
I thought to calm her; she instead calms me,
and soothes the fire that’s burning in my head
and welcomes me into her own small sleep.
Now I will hold her well into the night.
I never knew a life could be so light.




Daddy plowed enough acres
with the two horses
to feed us all.

Mama loved those horses. 
“Unsweet,” she’d say at church supper
and pocket the sugar for them.

The morning after she left, Daddy saddled Nell. 
Leading Joe, he rode down the trail
to the tankage plant,
thirteen miles away.

We watched for him all day.
When at last he staggered into the darkening yard,
he was still carrying the saddle. 
Where it bit through his skin, he bled.

Let Us Gather By The River


The children stand together on the bank,
their heads bent close to gather strength against the cold.
The shadows of the trees play over them
like water lapping. 
Here the air seems dense and clear,
it bends the light like water does.

They jump:
the sinuous surface shatters,
each drop a splash of laughter.
Their small strong bodies shine,
the river luminescent,
fallen leaves like old toy boats rush past.

And suddenly
I know what’s wrong,
I shout,
You, river, stop! You, leaves!
This perfect rushing light
and you, my children,
bathing in it: Stop!
Does no one hear?

The trees pause then begin to shiver.
The river muscles smoothly coldly on.
It sweeps a world before it
and it will not stop for me. 
The children, laughing, splashing,
do not listen,
deeper and deeper they dare,
as if the air was thick as water,
and time as light as air.


Great Horned Owl


Their words sealed you in sadness
until you wizened and shrank
and disappeared,
my lovely girl.
How can an absence be so strong?

When I reached the base of the tree,
it was waiting.
Its kind does not belong here
in this city, at dusk--
in the instant of my seeing,
it rose into the air
on great primeval wings
and I felt the wind of its passing
flay my open skin.

And now at night I dream:
I feel my strength
beating the air solid beneath me,
my own swift heart
pushing owl-blood to the vivid tips
of my wings,
my bones bird-hollow and light,
my eyes stretched wide,
searching through the tawny night
at last, at last,
to find you.



“Still Point” is a sonnet I wrote for my husband Jonathan Burdette.  The composer Lawrence Dillon set it to music, for mezzo-soprano, viola, and piano (www.lawrencedillon.com).  The piece received its New York debut in February, 2009, at Mannes Concert Hall.  The performers were the Metropolitan Opera’s Theodora Hanslowe, violist Hsin-Yun Huang of The Juilliard School, and pianist Thomas Sauer, founding director of the Mannes Beethoven Institute.  “Still Point” has just been released on a CD of Lawrence Dillon’s work, Appendage and Other Stories.