Portraits and Landscapes

Portraits and Landscapes


As I reflect back now that my second daughter Ali is pregnant with our first grandchild, a girl, I remember when my first daughter Sarah was born.   Sarah came into the world after two days of labor.  My water broke, but she resolutely refused to emerge from the womb; in fact I was threatened with a Caesarian after about forty eight hours of labor.  I remember feeling her little feet pushing into my diaphragm, and taking both of them in my hands, and literally pushing her out, despite her reluctance.


I think this was a foreshadow of the person she is today.  While she grasps at her life with both hands and lives it to the fullest, she is also stubborn and her own person, and has never wanted to do things on other people’s time line!


I remember thinking once I got to know both my daughters that they were the most beautiful and complex beings I had ever met.   I soon learned that my first daughter was internally driven and my second externally.  They would both lie quietly in my arms when they were first born, occasionally moving their lips with eyelashes fluttering, dreaming about this or that, and I would marvel at the blue tint of the skin that covered their eyes and their tiny seashell nails. 


How could those two sleeping babies possibly have prepared me for the amazing women they have now become?


Nausset Cliffs


We parked in front of a sandpile,

and walked to visit the cottage

where milk-fed babies breath

crossed our faces

and the waves battered the walls

as we held each other tight,

to find only bits and pieces of wood,

a concrete foundation,

some basement stairs leading to nowhere.


White electric wiring

waved uselessly in the wind.

An old black plastic chair,

the kind you find in restaurants

where they serve cheap food,

faced out towards the sea.


As I listened, I heard

our children’s voices moving

through the long cliff grass.




The sea unthinking, steadfast has

claimed back its own,

washed away the cliff.


Soon the foundations of the cottage too,

will crumble and slide towards the beach.


Like the summer thunderstorm

that suddenly came up that day

and went far into deep purple and black,

the flotsam and jetsam of those precious memories

will stay with me always.