Hard to Love

640px-Black Walnut

You are a Missouri black walnut tree

boasting heartwood heavy and strong

with a dark, rich grain.

No one sees this beauty

unless your mighty trunk topples.

As an obnoxious living tree

you demand territory,

provoking blight

upon nearby fruit producers.

You thrust your pointed leaves

toward the sun, fortifying

your hard green globes.

They stain my hands black

as I gather them from the woods.

I strain to remove the husks

after hard hammer blows

and crushing tire treads.

Once open

the distinctive flavor polarizes.

I count myself

among the lovers.




Father figure

Porträt des Grafen von Seilern mit Tochter, by Vaclav Brozik, 1895

Porträt des Grafen von Seilern mit Tochter, by Vaclav Brozik, 1895

“God sets the lonely in families.”  Psalm 68:6

He doesn’t know

the little girl inside me

leaps when we chat.

He consistently arrives.

He speaks with respect.

He defers to my femininity.

He listens and affirms.

He self-effaces though he could boast.

Best of all

faith is a bridge

not a barrier.

So often I tell myself

I don’t need a daddy anymore.

But sometimes the deep cavern opens

and grief rushes to the surface.

Today I am healed

by the kind attention

of a silver-haired man

who doesn’t recognize

the blessing he bestows.

Sunday Drive


After church I watch the ripening cornfields

with sprinkle doughnuts on my lap,

messy treats our children can hardly wait

to consume.

How I’d love to jump into this Jason Aldean song

with you, dropping everything

driving down to the Mississippi at dusk

listening for the night train

and making out wildly under the stars.

Do you remember

when I broke my promise

to never sit in the middle

of a pickup truck?

We rode on the interstate

with wide open windows

blaring Beastie Boys

on our way to pick out rings.

I laughed with my head thrown back

and my hand on your thigh

in that bench seat.

Now we’re separate

in these captain’s chairs:

you working so very hard

to provide for us

to build a future

me working so very hard

to keep our family

to preserve our home.

None of our parents made it this far.

We both grew in hybrid families

by the age of our youngest child.

We’re on this blind-curve road

at a furious pace

without a map.

The mid-thirty press

squeezes out all but leftovers

for us two.

We can’t survive on chaff.

Tears well behind my sunglasses

as I remember what Pastor said:

never grow weary of doing good

never let your dreams die

never give up.

Inside I light a fire

in the hearth of that old dream

of a family who stays together

no matter what

and I reach across the console

to place my hand on your arm.

A wordless reminder:

today we’re moving forward.