Tidal Basin

Germination Detail Part III, by Leslie Shellow

contemplations about what stays in the net

Friday, December 31, 2010

On New Year's Day

This is what I will read tomorrow at my dear friend's memorial service. I have no words for the longing that will take place afterward when the crumbs are swept from beneath the tables and the pictures are taken down and wrapped up to go. 

“Love you lots,” Christine would say at the end of a regular conversation. She had this way of making sure people knew how much she cared about and appreciated them. I felt she was magical - a light shining even when she struggled. Her essence was so clear as if she were holding hands with the deepest part of herself. I knew I could trust her with my heart.

To me, Christine was a work of art- an immense splash of presence, a moment captured with the most vivid colors or the greatest amount of contrast. Black and white on grey or a sudden swash of emerald green. What is it like to be truly heard? Seen? I felt both when I was with her.

When I walked beside her, I saw the branches sparkle in winter because she saw them that way. When I spoke with her, I felt the heft of her listening – a gentle presence on the other end of the line urging me to know myself more.

She had that wish for herself, as well – to be known deeply and in the most abiding way. The week before she passed, she spoke to me of having experienced true love. She said she felt so lucky to have known that kind of love on Earth in her relationship with Rita. Rita, I know that you were a gift to Christine and she told me so when we spoke.

In many ways, we all realize this is an impossible task, so with this poem, I wish to approximate her beauty. My hope is that you will recognize some of your experience of Christine in my own.

She shimmered.
Emerald green on forest floor
A brightness so natural that
she became tree, riverbed, carefully worn pathway.
To see her was to listen closely to the ripple of laughter
she bathed us in when we’d tell our stories.
her heart wide enough open to gather our spirits together
and huddle like children in the mystery of life,
exploring yet another idea, another path, another round-the-bend.
And she, with her floppy hat at the pool’s edge, shaded from the sun’s fierce rays,
watched as we swam in cool water and bathed in warm light and told her of how it felt to move as creatures in another element. She sat, sun-glassed, and hatted, long-sleeved in her chair like she was perched upon our moment, never needing to get her feet wet really in order to understand and care about what our experience was.
And then she’d tell us, long and deep into conversation, how she
Knew the beauty of this world
And that the heart was made for diving into
Long before reason had its way with us.
And how every moment was precious
and how she lived to taste each morsel. 

Christine, love you lots.

We will miss you.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Truth of This Illness

Some benevolent force is reorganizing
me into its own
I am being paginated,
and broken into stanzas,
rearranged in the blank space of parchment
 in order
to make more sense.

Urgent Care

I am fevered skin
The object of my desire, myself.
How does the afternoon sun burnish olive curtains
making the dreary window frame glow?

And the good sun’s announcement
as if to usher a glint of the outside
world into my sickbed.

It is moments like these
of utter stillness
determined by the body’s very own halt
that I feel the weight of bone

A body

conspiring to dig its way down into
the soil beneath this house
pressing, more than releasing, down
through bed, floorboards, and foundation
in order to taste a future burrowed soily home.

I feel the dumping of memory
and the
Shy discovery of something hidden
Within the folds of words.

I feel a baby’s skin creeping 'round my body,
wrapping in tightness the in-between places of
tendon and ligament.

The street lights are out,
like midnight in Santa Fe,
the only thing visible the ancient breath
of stars.

And I, fevered child, lay still awake
and dreaming
The interstitial space between me and the
Unseen, disappears.

And what comfort this sensation
of doing nothing
and still sinking.
A sun bath persistently
scrubbing my face and
flickering loudly on the screen
of my closed eyelids.

I close,
as if the screaming sun
and deafening gravity
would tear me apart once and
For all      
          The ember and shine of the day’s last light
leaves a blister on the bed where I lay
          The language of this poem perched
where a body had once been. 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A thought, A feeling

my life isn't
by insurance

There is no assurance
we will be here tomorrow
there is no assurance
but the effort we place
in ourselves and in
the Divine
to heal the deepest parts
of ourselves that have forgotten
they are

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A new blip on the screen

I think I will be writing about the liminal pangolin soon. Stay tuned...
I must first do some research.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A Day's Lines of Reasoning

funny: The purple feather on my dash flew out the window. What do I know?

             1. television:

              The spicebush swallowtail caterpillar has false eyes;
              you cannot tell when it is walking away 

            2. grocery:

A bar code swiped
identifies a package by its

Who is there?

The cotton in my ears must have arrived in my sleep. I couldn’t hear by morning.

By midday, curious, the silence was louder than the noise of petals falling.

Dreamed pieces clack and slide in auricular tubing against hammer, anvil, stirrup

no one can hear
but me

I took my knowing
down by the river,
washed it, and let it go

3. she hung in silks across my path
tangled and free,
like me,
not you.

breakfast: it was too late to eat dinner, so I ate breakfast.

no margarine

            4. a sunrise.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


I felt
the stretching of fibers
until they broke.
the gauzy place between them.

A gust of wind
No sound
Just the straining of filaments
to reconnect.

In time,
A separation that
Could no longer be reconciled
The space between fibers
Now full of nothing

Monday, September 20, 2010



I would like to say that I went to a modern dance class tonight, but the words are strange and unfamiliar, from an age I was long ago. How does it feel to sink, release, roll up and sway, accent and tuck, relinquish, extend, and catch myself falling?

I heard fireworks in my shoulder and all I could think of was: This has to be good because if it’s not, I won’t be here again any time soon in the presence of this kind and beautiful teacher.

My right shoulder feels fine now, but my neck is warm and there is an unusual pain that is not responding to Advil. I will wait until morning to suffer.

The joy was immense, like taking off in a hot air balloon and giving oneself over to wind. I had no choice but to dash across the floor in my small group of four, hoping to remember when to suddenly drop from the air onto the floor and twist into myself and become heavy. We changed direction so many times that I had to ask my mind to stay out of it. Swirling, swirling we were, left and right and left and then down. Pushing away from the ground with both hands now and up again, spinning.

If I weren’t my age, I would have been terrified of making myself a fool. And, perhaps I will be next time. But during this class, I was a child exploring. Which reminds me how I have made myself a fool this year in the best way possible – a total hurling of the heart with both hands as far as it could go. And I think of Annie Dillard, who writes of a run she takes away from the grown man she has angered with a snowball and how the run, like childhood, is something she thrusts herself into wholeheartedly; how she’s never been that free since.

I felt that free tonight. I hadn’t danced in class in years. My back was beginning to hurt again. I threw myself into this class as if it were my last chance to dance (I shall find out in the morning if that is true.) I threw myself in because I had only myself to lose. 

Dillard, Annie. An American Childhood. New York: HarperCollins, 2007.