Circled on a Map for You

You Girl with the Rope in Your Teeth

Only a shard of white glass moon

and two stars traveling on either side of it

pass in this dark sky that should be dawning.


The clock sings seven, and still no sun.


Who is this person,

waiting in my chair by the window

finally without a rope held in her mind-teeth,

anxiously tugging

belated light across the sky?

When did she relinquish control of jobs not in her sphere?


Oh, the agony of being in charge of it all,

dropping all mistakes and regrets

into buckets labeled ‘Failures’

each time the weather, the outcome, the decision

isn’t right.


I am leaving you behind,

you girl with the rope in your teeth.

I’m putting aids on my eyes and ears and heart

to observe…


Hafiz wrote:

This place where you are right now,

God circled on a map for you.


What place?

This city?

This chair by the window?

This emotional space, this port-of-call?

Let it be.


Just now a pink line divides the ground from

a bluing sky

All in good time:

this view,

this poem,

this dawn…

Julia, 2019


Universal Blank Verse at 4:00 a.m.

Beyond the glass, against the upper pane

     backlit leafless limbs

     of hawthorn twigs

     tangle, twist in wind, like all you’ve known:

                                              the people

                                              and the places you have loved.


You turn to ease the ache of lying still;

the dog turns too,

and she reclaims her spot

against the tender bend

                                  behind your knees.


Give us understanding

a request

as snow plows pace the pavement of the street,

grinding teeth on asphalt, chomping ice.


Briefly I sleep and dream of scented warmth;

camellias drop and I’m a child again.


Nightfall in Montgomery

In a summer street

of children and bikes

the radio plays West Side Story

and we draw hopscotch grids

with chalk

The dusk still lingers

all these years later

–dusk blue and still

   with no wind moving

   across porches

   where bathrobed women


   evening shrubs…


From the Beach


I take back pictures

that cannot be pressed into frames

They are stilled in time

              (heart pictures)

of you kneeling

–your hands lacing water and sand.

You are safe in the harbor of

  my watching you

and your eyes

  (the color of waves–

   blue and green and brown)

lift to see if I am there.


I will be there…


your six-year-old legs

will grow strong and tall

And you will build castles

  (not just in sand)…

You will launch ships

                       of your own making

when this child-time has passed.

And so I hold here in my heart

  –where light cannot fade the colors

  or time tear the corners–

this picture of you

  –freckled with sun

     poised at the water’s edge–

     peaceful in our harbor time

that comes before the




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