North Haven

As part of our project around the islands of Penobscot Bay in Maine, I have been writing poems and photographing the islands together with fellow artist and painter Anneli Skaar.

North Haven was our latest adventure. We took the ferry across from Rockland the day after one of the heaviest snowstorms of the season. The ferry ride over there left quite an impression on me. We were one of a few handful of passengers, so different from the summertime. It was bitterly cold on deck and most of the seats were deserted. Just a few lone souls huddled in the bright light and cold wind. 

"The Crossing"

Arms hug across our chests
Like chilly birds we flap
to warm ourselves
against the wind
whipping at our faces.

The ferry groans and shifts
An old lady, she makes her way across
the bay, begrudging and proud
all together.

We sit on benches
watery eyes squinting at the cold
Like hardy parishioners, 
embattled, determined

Across the bay
the island sleeps
Waiting out winter's
crisp embrace, 
this haven is of
God's own making.

Still from the cacophony of
summer's voices,  
their lives go on in the off
yet separate
Tethered by
this crossing
of the sea.

The Island Project

I recently visited Matinicus island with my good friend Anneli Skaar. Anneli is a painter and had approached me about collaborating on a project around the islands of Penobscot Bay here in Maine.

The islands have always been dear to my heart. The first one I ever went to was Matinicus, which I visited many years ago with my uncle where I had the opportunity to visit the house of one of the island's favorite residents - Sue Rankin. Her house is full of curiosities and fascinated me even then, so much so that I have never forgotten it. I was excited at the prospect of returning.

I was intrigued by the prospect of exploring some of these islands when they are not filled with the bustle of summer, but in the quieter times where you can hear you breath in the wind and feel their history in the quiet of a fog-bound winter's day.

My husband's family are from Deer Isle and we have spent every summer there since I've known him. For us it is a home from home and where I count some of my dearest friends. For my children it provides a touchstone for our family, a place of connection and renewal.

Here's a little bit more about The Island Project.



It is a thing of beauty.
Of paper, finely-wrought.
Woven there
amongst the branches.
yet peopled by industry.

A study in contrasts
it moves me.

I too have sought
my haven in  
fragile places.
Yet we,
hold fast.

of grackles

The grackles were not
made of flesh
and bone.
No feathers, nor
silvered tips.
You could see
through them.
Cackling and snapping
They were made
of wood and
I watched them.
Bickering around an
open fire.
Fearsome gossips
Scratching at the dirt
waiting for their

For Certainty

Not quite fog this
thick and sodden
blanket that
envelops me.

The very temperature of
blood, it comforts me, 
but leaves me
damp with maudlin

These climes are
made for
thought ful ness
quiet resolve,
for certainty.

The earth
is oozy underfoot.
Like cake
left out too long,
she has begun to

And yet, 
she is alive with
emergent and
Their pace a pulse
to mark the beat
of our dark histories

Last Night

Last night I dreamt
my teeth fell out.
There they were, 
All in a line.
The dentist said:
It was unexpected but,
not unheard of.

Big dinosaur teeth,
like ancient artifacts
set out for

December 2015

My Husband Asked me for an Anchor

My husband asked me for an anchor.
What gift is this to ask a wife?
He laughed, but still
Where we are now, we begin again.
Through roiling seas
this holds us fast.
Holds us fast
to the bedrock
buried deep
in the waters of our
shared ancestry.

For Penny

I think of you,
my sister lost to me.
I wonder
at your arrival.
What did our mother wear?
Was her hair matted against her brow?
And when she saw you,
did she gather you into her arms?
Could she love you for a moment, 
a singular moment when
she looked to you to breathe, 
to cry?
But there was nothing.
A life cut short too soon.
I cannot ask, for this is not my mourning.
But still I feel it.
A soft keening in the night hours.
She mourns you still
with her unacceptable anguish.
I feel it too, but lesser of course.
For with you, there could be no me
And so in a way I am grateful.

The Fog

At 3am I wake.
A catalog of lists
revolves inside my head
Endless things to do and say
ideas that will
not stop.

But I am weary.
I do not want
false friends.
My body craves
a dreamlessness
that hovers
just outside of reach.

I toss and shift,
eyes open, 
alert, watchful.
I am ready,
but for what?
I sigh, turn again
and start to count.

Sleek as an Otter

Sleek as an otter
your fishy flesh flashes
quick silver in the hot light of noontime.
In the murky dark your skin stands stark against it,
before disappearing once again.

You are
in your element.
There is no you, no it, no other.
Just light, movement, splash and sinew.
You slip through my fingers.
Just when I thought I had you
you are gone.

Longing to Breathe

Eyes tight shut
deep breath
I pinch my nose.
Now. Now!
I leap.
Legs wide
elbows out.
I am
before I fall and fall
and then
water rushes up to meet me. 

I am under.
Sucked into
murky depths of
muddy blackness.
Knees buckle to break my fall,
mud squeezes through my toes,
I push now,
up and up,
I kick and fight for the light.

Sensing the surface I feel
the light on my face,
the water warmer and
my face meets the air.
Oh the air! I gasp.
Exhilaration rips through my chest
and at last I breathe, 
deeply, longingly, I breathe.
Floating now,
water billows about me,
holding me,
I surrender.

Before Thinking

It was such a pitiful cry
like something animal, 
a mewling.
We did not know
at first.
Then we ran, 
our hearts knowing,
our legs moving
before thinking.

Twisted and frightened
you lay crumpled.
Like a pile of laundry
left outside in the rain,
grass-stained and sodden-wet,
all of a boy in a fearful jumble,
hard to piece together.

We gathered you up
and carried you in.
We iced your bruises,
and fed you chocolate.
All tenderness and efficiency,
we felt carefully
for breakages.

Today you fell too far from the tree,
but tomorrow you will climb again.
We will hold our breath
and try not to be watchful
for tomorrow you will climb again.




i have come
she said

i am

i’ve got you
he said

she said
you are
    too late

it’s already

A Hard Day

I’m thinking of you today, she said,
it’s a hard day.
I blinked, pulled up short.
The meaning of the day now cast anew.

I had been celebrating
with my son’s father and

my husband’s father and
I was not thinking of him.

I wasn’t thinking of his “Would you terribly”s and “Ever so kinds”. 
Of his polyester pants and the chemistry stains.
Of the Sunday roast in his wingtips and tie,
and the cups of tea forever.

I wasn’t thinking of his inky fingers and scrappy mustache,
Of the morning crossword and his fountain pen,
Of the crumpets at tea time and the curries on Friday,
and the beer and smokes forever
yes, the beer and smokes forever.



Vulpes vulpes

Softly, he pads through the brush, 
snout forward, tail low, 
sniffing the air. 
His hunger is sharp,
metallic on his tongue.

Within, a low rumble of unease
disturbs the roost.
Still somnolent they stir. 
Feathers tremble as fear folds in
like the evening mist.

He sees them now, his pulse quickens.
Salivating he starts to pant,
smelling the promise of a 
belly full.


At the very bottom of the
embroidery box
lies a tangled mess of thread.

The skeins are loose, 
no longer tightly bound.
The ends frayed,
colors fatally faded.

Careworn hands that 
once held family together, 
stitch by stitch,
now struggle to straighten.

She smoothes her skirt upon her knee.
Staring absently, she recalls a life
negligent with its neglect
of the necessary.

She sees that now.
What mattered.
Picking at a loose thread
she tries to tie it off,
to make it right.

Time for Bed

Small voices carry through
the thick and languid air of evening.
The scent of honeysuckle is rising 
yet still they play.

Calling to each other, chattering
like chickadees, they chase
and flit from tree to gentle tree.
I hear them,
counting now. 
10, 9, 8, 7, 6 ….
An older voice.

Night draws on.
It is past suppertime, but
time yawns and stretches, 
reluctant to relinquish the day.

Demands of bus and homework 
pushed aside.
These are the long days of 
bug bites rubbed raw
and ice-cream in the afternoon, 
just because.

There’s crying now, murmurings of comfort 
and chastisement.
Wounds are soothed and tears are wiped, 
it’s time to go to bed.

Not Quite Captured

Not quite captured, yet
not quite free.
Your scaly skin
curls around my wrist, almost
a caress.

In vain you reach for me,
with teeth too small to
pierce my skin.
You are nonetheless

This struggle offers no surrender.
You sense my fear, you
And though this is 
no even match,
you may outwit me yet.


Why does the mocking bird 
sing at night?
You are so loud, 
calling for your mate.
My insomniac friend,
you are
pitiful company.
Shadows loom large 
in our hours of wakefulness.
I cannot sleep for worry
and regret.
And yet, sleep does come.
Unconsciously I yield.
Giving up, too tired 
to bother.
My pencil my solace

slipping from my hand.