Winter, for me, is a time for quiet contemplation. I am been intentionally making myself rest and reflect for large periods of the day. This is unusual for me because I am always busy, always on the go, always doing the next thing before the present thing is even completed. Winter has helped me to slow down, to consider possibilities, to wonder what my next careful step will be. I put all the rushing and doing on pause. I want to enjoy my solitude and begin to like myself again.

At home and at school, I have been thinking about what it means to belong. People put themselves into all kinds of groups: family, teams, organizations, cliques, clubs, etc. We have a inner need to belong to someone or something. That is what makes us human. We seek connection all our lives. It is the basis of government, religion, and culture. But a majority of this needing to belong is temporary and capricious. As I grow (and I’ve been growing for the last six decades), I realize more and more that I belong to myself and to nature. Nature makes me feel large and small at the same time. Nature reminds me of my purpose on this pretty planet. The moon, the stars, the trees are all connected to me and I to them. They are solid and steadfast, something to hold on to. They will go on after me. I am the fleeting, ephemeral one. But the stars, the clouds, the snow falling – these things are faithful and true.


I walk on the road at night,
Mittened and muffled.
The street strewn with
Milky crystal squares of salt,
The streetlamps shiver yellow,
The moon, in front of me,
Sliced off in a graceful curve,
A Waning Gibbous, I think,
Following a Full Moon -
Lighting the way.
I walk alone,
No one else inhabits,
This place at this time,
I belong here -
This road, this lamppost,
The frozen pond,
The imperfect circle
Of the moon
Are all mine.
I belong to them,
And they to me.
I am here alone -
The silent moon,
The meandering road,
The new fallen snow,
And me, a dark spot,
          Finding my way. 		

Poems in a Small Space

Acceptance.  I think that is the gift that I give myself when there are a multitude of things that are out of my control on both a personal and global level.  My small hands, my curious mind cannot solve any of it.  I can accept and move forward.  I can accept and be content that I am whole; I am safe in my own small space.

Poetry has always given me that small space to crawl into – to journey down into a deep, welcoming hole and find myself in an open field at the other end, a field of possibility. It is a place to try out new combinations of words to express what is in my inside because my inside is the only thing I can control.  How will I approach this situation?  How will to react to that setback?  What can I do to right myself again?

Words help me know what I’m feeling.  Words record where I have been, who I was at that moment of time.  They are a snapshot of myself.  They help me reflect and grow.  They allow me to navigate the world and keep me on a steady course.

Every morning I remind myself why I am here.  Mary Oliver’s wise words whisper in my ear: Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon? Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?  I am here to write.

 Winter’s Coming
 Softly lace crystals dance
 On the chill wind whispering
 Winter’s coming
 Three deer play hide and seek
 With the trees– leaping
 Winter’s coming
 Rabbit in her brown-fur burrow
 Safe and warm dreaming 
 Winter’s coming
 Alder trees arch with the weight
 Of new fallen snow creaking
 Winter’s coming
 Squirrels frolic in the snow
 Fluff their silver tails chattering
 Winter’s coming
 A flock of Canada geese glide
 Across the frigid sky honking
 Winter’s coming
 Meanwhile beneath the deep white
 The steadfast garden lies silent
 Till spring – Hush now
 Winter’s coming 

 Swamp Oak in Winter
 Silver-white swamp oak
 Stands alone in the clearing
 Branching up and up
 Gracefully curving
 While each slender stem embraces
 Curled copper leaves
 Like snow-capped cocoons
 Silently contemplating
 Silver-white swamp oak 

 Following the path
 Through the woods
 Walking in other’s footprints
 In the shallow snow,
 I feel the tug from the earth,
 A call from the bare branches
 To come rest in the soft snow,
 Sleep till spring.
 The woods are silent,
 The sun is iced-over,
 Each branch, each leaf
 Is frozen in space and time,
 A lone woodpecker lands
 Rendering a hollow sound.
 The elm stands bare-boned,
 I rest my cool cheek
 Against its smooth trunk,
 Take comfort from its
 Immense strength,
 Sturdy persistence,
 Acknowledging the life within. 

If you are not yet a writer of poetry, I urge you to try.  Observe what’s around you, calm your mind, and narrow your focus. Settle down and relax. You can start small.  If I haven’t convinced you to write, then read poetry.  Fill your mind with its music. Fill your heart with its knowledge. Begin.

Poetry for Adults

  • Aimless Love by Billy Collins
  • A Thousand Morning by Mary Oliver
  • Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude by Ross Gay
  • Devotions by Mary Oliver
  • Nine Horses by Billy Collins
  • Selected Poems by E.E. Cummings
  • Twenty Love Poems by Pablo Neruda
  • The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace
  • The Undressing: Poems by Li-Young Lee
  • The Wild Iris by Louise Gluck

Poetry for Children

  • All the Small Poems and Fourteen More by Valerie Worth
  • A Pocketful of Poems by Nikki Grimes
  • Beautiful Blackbird by Ashley Bryan
  • Bookjoy, Wordjoy by Pat Mora
  • Creature of Earth, Sea, And Sky by Georgia Heard
  • Everything Comes Next by Naomi Shihab Nye
  • I am Loved by Nikki Giovanni
  • Let it Shine by Ashley Bryan
  • One Last Word by Nikki Grimes
  • Twist: Yoga Poems by Janet Wong