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April 8, 2002


Here is the cast of characters:


this mysterious sky

like a giant blur hat

pulled over the head

of the earth–


and this field

clear and grandly spacious

a suitable set.


This borrowed jacket, 

too big for my body

but rooms to hide these 

brightly colored birds 

who will enter on cue.


The minor characters:


stands of goldenrod,

bright gold of kings–

tall and waving grass

and crickets and mice.


All cleverly disguised as 


and thing unseen

like wind waiting (for a cue)–

her entrance.


Now enters:


the main attraction

the cash cow

that which puts even

spaciousness to shame.


Swelling, sparkling, swarming

in this September sun–

orange as pumpkins–

coming in clouds and herds

and millions–

on the brown path

on the goldenrod

in the blue sky.


(And now, the wind’s cue)



Do you know what you carry inside?

can you speak it?

Can you rise in the morning 

light wearing your own beauty?

more poetry:

The Piccolo

January 25, 2007


I am trying to learn to love people.

This work is like wedging myself

through the eye of a needle.


there are excuses of course,

being first raised as a daisy

and then as a rose and I have learned

how to love both daises and roses.


David has been my primary teacher–

over many years by his loving me.

It is as clear as the smallest church bell

or the ring of a piccolo.


I do love the snow coming down today and the trees,

the gray and orange squirrels now running

in the snow, back and forth, by the wood pile.

And the night coons with their bandit eyes and

the deer who are so beautiful, standing in the

twilight by the feeder, all birds,

yellow Sam, our cat.


These I can see

I am not able to love what I cannot see.


I think there will be a time when loving has nothing to do 

with seeing–

Then I feel sure that the music of a bell and

the sweetness of a piccolo, though not seen,

I will love.


I Asked My Husband to Sing to Me

July 10, 2002


It’s late.

The house is still.

the summer birds,

warblers & swallows

have gone to sleep,

each under a wing

or a leaf. I hear

their silence

through the open 

windows & doors.

I look over at you,

silent as a Pope, reading.

Come lie down with me.


Sing to me.

Sing “Sweet Low.”

Sing “Sweet Adeline.”

Sing in your long, low voice.

Sing as though nothing 

could ever harm us,

not inside or out –


Sing the sound of wind

through these cedars

who stand also long

& silent in the dark–

rooted & full of life.

Things that are Close

July 31, 1995


The sun

I am sitting on a deck chair

in the back of our house –


The sun streams into my 

face, my arms and legs, 

my torso, my fingers and toes.

It fits me like a glove.


It takes away all thoughts, 

insists on total surrender.


My concerns,

like so much junk in a wheel

barrow, are carted away.

It leaves my breathing softly

and totally in love.

A  Love Poem

October 23, 1997


Now that I am beginning to be old, I wonder about


pausing, or stopping, or

seeming to. When I move

into the unknowable, when

my spirit gives up my

body, like an old faded dress.

I am not very old, but

I think about this.


A silly thing.


I will miss my cats – unless,

of course, the spirit form

is able to lie between their two soft bodies in the cold

winter nights.


And the trees


of our woods – will my spirit be able to watch

day by day, the luscious green

leaves turn gold and fall down,

leaving dark bodies of trunks

as the wood’s sentinels?


And David,


will you be able to feel

my breath when you walk 

in the woods?

August – Walking the Shore of Lake Superior 

August 1997



and dull chant of waves,

light on everything.

squeezes between rocks

which are hot from the sun.


I pick one up

to warm my hands.

Sky, a blue dome.


No one but us

on the beach which is not sand

but small rocks

hard to walk on.


Oh, the stillness 

which is not like emptiness,

more like our quiet

bodies as we walk,

more like the single

white gull who follows

us down the beach 

on foot.

Christmas Collection



The woods are creaking with cold.

Something ahead of me moves,

is still,

half hidden in twilight, but I

feel the huge body, legs

slender as willow branches,

eyes sunken from scarcity.


The only sound– a heart

beating wildly.

I do not know the inner meaning 

of things.


Does mystery have shape and

size, scent and sound?

What is invisible

in what we see?


This curious world–

its sweetness and dread–

What holds us so gently

in the dark?

Christmas Collection



Small, winged creature,

I balance you on the smallest

finger of my hand,

Your wings are sheerer

than the gauze that wraps

your wound,


There is goodness in this world

as well as dark. Darkness

holds the silent stars

but goodness can’t be held.


Standing in this field

with snow and open hands.

I sing.

Christmas Collection 



I startle from sleep.

A sound so close it could be in the room,

cat on the quilt at the foot of the bed, 




Again the sound:

an owl very close to the house,

on the roof or in the eves,


the sound again, unmistakable through the starry night.

I have no language to understand,

no language to answer,

to express my thanks.

Once when hiking with our friends, Kirsten and Jay Johnson, we accidentally came upon a rare and magical gathering of Monacrch butterflies in Carver Park, Hennepin County, Minnesota. These ethereal bearers of hope were preparing for their nearly 3000-mile migration to California or Mexico. Penny shared the magnificence of the moment:

Sam the Cat

February 6, 1996


I put my book on the table,

turn out the light.

Sam the cat

jumps on to the bed.


By moonlight,

I see him turning from whisker

to tail.


He is making a perfect circle with his body.

Turning once,


three times.


He is making a place for himself

in the tall grasses of my quilt.

He is making a place for himself in the countless

numbers of things on this earth.


Now he circles down into a yellow and white

ball, leaning heavily against the side of my body.


He purrs.

He sleeps.


I make a place for myself in the mysteries

of sleep.


I purr.

I sleep.

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