I am going through a period of not having much to say.  Not just poetically, although that too.  Politically, I feel like I am in a period of deep observation, not to the point of disengagement, more like I am sitting under a weeping willow in a soft rain, dry and listening to the drops drum down overhead.

It’s not the silence in which so many of our voices have been kept insignificant for centuries.

I think, or maybe am simply hopeful, that I’m drawing up energy to use in some insistent way later, as in Tess Gallagher’s gorgeous poem below:

Refusing Silence 

Heartbeat trembling
your kingdom
of leaves
near the ceremony
of water, I never
insisted on you. I admit
I delayed. I was the Empress
of Delay. But it can’t be
put off now. On the sacred branch
of my only voice – I insist.
Insist for us all,
which is the job
of the voice, and especially
of the poet. Else
what am I for, what use
am I if I don’t
There are messages to send.
Gatherings and songs.
Because we need
to insist. Else what are we
for? What use
are we?

Sometimes, there is a need to insist.  I’ve been reading the writings of activists (Julia Butterfly Hill) and adventurers (Alexandra David-Neel) whose insistence changed the world.  And, I’m struck by how much their lives’ work is as focused on internal landscapes as external ones for which they became known and admired.

A few summers ago, it rained for 40 out of 50 days.

I am craving that same uncontrollable washing away, like David-Neel did in her cave and Butterly-Hill on her treetop.

It is likely not to happen soon, at least in the externally verifiable way — I’ve recently submitted a spate of proposals on everything from helping an organization move through transition to creating a yoga and writing series with a library system in rural Virginia — but this desire reminds me to make daily space for the silence in my journal and in my garden, in my yoga classes, and in the coaching work I do with activists and educators.  Luckily, in a month’s time, I’ll be in Taos, where I’ll write in the company of other women wanting to explore the silence (and lead daily yoga classes to help them get there).

I’ll leave you with a recent poem I wrote about my garden — which is slowly getting into shape, as we pull weeds and amend the soil and plant tiny seedlings that we hope will grow into big strong insistent plants.

Would love to listen to how you incorporate silence into your work and life, if you’re so inclined to share.

Until next time,


Think of the small red garden snail
which took years to develop
unnoticed in a small bed of dirt
until you upturned its home, looking
for what didn’t belong.

A weed is simply a plant that grows
despite your desires. You might turn
the lowly dandelion into a wine
to help you digest the intentional eggplant
you tend to carefully and plan to fry.

Sauté mushrooms with magenta-flowered
burdock to help your mother’s cancer,
or make a milk thistle tea to bring
your overburdened liver back
from boozer bankruptcy.

When my father died, we lived in small
apartment overlooking a never-ending
expressway. The green we could see
from our terrace was a diamond
where kids hoped to beat each other.

30 years later, I live in a small
apartment overlooking a never-ending
nursery of animals and plants. Robins build
nests under the corners of our deck each March.
Alley cats visit for few meals, then disappear.

My garden is place of expectations and surprises.
Some years what we forage is greater than what we
harvest from what was planted.  Or at least,
more delicious, the found greens intensely
bitter with a woodsy finish, the buds sweet as honey.

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