I clean my grandmother’s bread knife
She used to make pepperoni bread
Sliced it so artfully

A year and a half ago, blood covered her brain
And she slipped away from us
She was
So active
So agile
And one day, gone
Her hands cupped over foam arm rests
Fingers that used to sew and dig
Useless and doll-like
And though I smile when I look at her
I am biting my tongue to not cry

She was my hero
And I never knew it
Until she was gone
She was impervious to all things
With honesty that made some uncomfortable
“Don’t particularly care for that”
She would say, regarding unwanted Christmas gifts
I didn’t know I wanted to be her until she became
This stoic shell of her former self
I didn’t understand that honesty, hard work and craftsmanship
Were anything of value
I was young and desired only novelty
Things like that we hovering
Just a few feet above my understanding

I mourn my unborn children’s loss
To never know such an exquisite woman
Such a pillar of love and farm-toughness
I stand in the kitchen
And clean her knife
So carefully



To others you can be
So rough
And to me
So tender

We used to lie on the couch together with our feet
In each other’s faces
And laugh and shout and nap
And stop ourselves from being mean or catty

“You know what?”


“Nothing, it’s mean.”

“Good. Don’t say it”

You taught me to be bold and kind and unashamed
And I keep that large treasure
In my trunk
For always


When I was 7
We had competitions at the neighborhood pool
To see who could hold their breath the longest
I was always the most pitiful
I would pinch my nose tightly and submerge
While Michael and Ashley
Would watch the pool clock
That was mounted next to the rescue net
I shot up gasping, snot coming out of my nose, bangs sticking straight up

“24 seconds”
Ashley would say, head cocked to the side
Like the absolute bitch she was
(If anyone is capable of being a bitch at 7, it was Ashley)
“Now, I go” she said, in her bitch voice
And put her wiry, perfect little body underwater

“61 seconds!”
Michael shouted
Micheal was an idiot with a crush on a 7 year old bitch

I read, yesterday, that Tom Cruise
Held his breath underwater
For six minutes

Now, no one is perfect
But I feel confident in saying
That Tom is the closest thing
A human can get to

Even Ashley can’t come close to that


The mountain wind is a breath
From a different god
And when I breathe it
I pray a song
That repeats
In my chest
A hollowness
A simple tune
A wordless song
Filled with only wind

And when I sing
She sings back

The mountain wind and i
Harmonize with a single note


I was riding in the shuttle back to the airport to catch
Yet another shuttle to Aspen
I was antsy and felt badly for the two other passengers,
(Both silent, elderly, white males)
As I already stank of vinegary sweat and sandalwood
Every few moments, I would look up from the totally cliché Bryson novel I was
Reading about the Appalachian Trail
And peer to mountains in the distance
Just past the dense foreground of
Applebees, community colleges and dentist offices

I have a hard time traveling alone
If only because I have to stifle
Intermittent urges to double fist pump my arms
In front of strangers
“Yeahhhhh…. Mountainsssss”
I say to myself, eyes temporarily closed

When I finally disembark from my final shuttle
I get out, stretch my whole body and let out an involuntary growl
Here they are; the unadulterated mountains
Unimprovable in their beauty and magnitude
Available to me to adore and conquer
I want to hold it in
But I don’t manage it
I scream at them
My fellow riders
Stare at me, expressionless
Extend the arms of their rollaway luggage and leave me
I stare at them for a moment, arms still ended in the air
And pivot back in the opposite direction

“Yeahhh… mountainssss”