Monthly Archives: May 2010


Work on the town path is moving forward, and it’s possible to walk a mile or more via path (crossing a couple of streets) to downtown. Grafitti artists have already tagged the tunnel. Two guys were grilling on the sidewalk; the outdoor restaurants in the old mills filled up. The air was warm and clear after a long rain. On the way home a friend was burning twenty years of tax records, getting ready to move to Missouri and go back to his music roots.


Rush Limbaugh

I know many people adore Rush Limbaugh, thrill to his angry cries; even I admit the occasional indulgence in a Glenn Beck bathos-a-rama, but let’s be serious. All these guys are peddling is Blame. The world’s turning very dark: the Koreas are racing to assume aggressive postures, the Gulf Coast is getting slicky from an oil pipe poked a mile deep into the sea–and these guys are still pointing their fingers at guilty parties.

Pscyhologists will tell you that blame is a mighty primitive emotional state, burnished over millenia in our limbic systems. It’s often our first, comforting thought when something goes wrong. But blame is immature and unproductive.

The life we have addicted ourselves to depends on burning  fossil fuels for electricity and heat and it is in peril. It  may be dissolving before our eyes, washed away as if by some chemical dispersant.

Why do we keep hedging our bets? Where is Rush Limbaugh’s full-throated call for putting people to work designing and building a new energy system that doesn’t bake the planet at the at the same time?  Where is the cry for constructive action?

Blame’s so much easier, especially if you can position yourself as the victim in someone else’s blame game. Oh sweet, sweet passivity. Ladies, this may take more cojones than these guys have.

On Parting with a House

I put the  house I lived in for seventeen years on the market this year and it felt like I’d put in on a chopping block. This was not only my house, but an exemplary house, broad-shouldered and profoundly rational. It faced squarely south and bore enormous small-paned curving picture windows that let in a lot of light. I live now with my partner Ellen in her house not far away, a bungalow beneath towering spruce trees on the edge of a bird-filled wetland. Our lives have reached a point where we need to let go of one house in order to restore the other. We decided some time ago that my house did not suit us–so big, and somehow less private–but it has still been an agony letting go.

My sons were three (Jacob) and seven (Gabe) when I moved to this town with my ex-husband. He and I had a few good years there it was a nice place to be a family in. I wrote my book Believers in an attic studio and wrote some great poems there. Later, my father came and lived there when he was dying, only we took such good care of him that Hospice kicked him out and he moved to a nursing home.

A massive beech tree grows out back, dominating everything. It’s been scarred by children but remains amazing, easily a century old, with edible nuts that are hell on bare feet. Someone will no doubt take it down in order to built a garage and family room or something. There’s a playground way at the end of a long backyard where I let a maple forest grow after my sons grew up.

Liminal describes the time that elapses during transitions from one state to another. Some are very short, like the instant the New Year is born at 12:01 or the moment at which you marry, and some, like undertaking a complicated real estate transaction, feel interminable. They have a certain tension.