On Practice and People in Person


A poet I loved loved sparrows.
We sat at Rao’s once, at an outside table,
watched them hop around and peck
at crumbs of scones and muffins.
Yesterday, a dozen of them
cam tumbling from a bush
right before my eyes.

Every time someone I’ve known or loved
dies, I feel the sky expand.
Wings are mighty things.
And also belong to the small,
most fragile-looking birds.

Do they belong to me,
or I to them?

I curl my shoulders
forward and back,
side to side, up and down,
feeling for the invisible.

I have a friend in Chicago.
She fashions her own wings.
A white pair, a black pair.

Have you ever watched a bird
ride air currents above
the ocean?
It looks effortless. I imagine
it may actually be effortless.
One element, two elements.

And then the wings
that were taken down
by fire, all the lives
they carried–were designed
to transport from New York to Zurich–
expired in seconds.
It may have been faster
than seconds.

And I did not expect
this crash landing, but
my aunt’s teeth and wedding ring
were rescued from salt sea floor
and sealed into evidence bags
Evidence of wing failure.

To clip a bird’s wings
seems the greatest cruelty.
To clip one’s own wings,
even crueler.

April is coming. I disagree
it is the cruelest month,
No, it will be a great
unfurling of wings too long
tucked tightly against
the narrow sides of a body,
a building, a sky that says:

Fill me. Come. Expand.
Look at all you can see
from here through my eyes–
everything that seemed
unnavigable, unnameable,
yours to survey. Then choose your landing.


tumblr_mzrg0hfHED1qg3lgko2_500This poem was today’s freewrite for my current writing group. The wind is wild today, and it’s so cold again. But as Katrina wrote in her beautiful post today, “Something ineffable has changed. It’s as if the air itself is richer.”

Spring is just two days away. Mani’s oldest is visiting from Phoenix–and actually hoping to catch a glimpse of snow falling! It is so, so good to have her here with us.

I have had a fierce, inexplicable headache on and off for days, but I was able to sleep in a little as today is a spring-break day off from work. I’m enjoying sitting in a coffeeshop with my laptop, a rare treat. I’m picturing daffodils. Hawks and sparrows. Ladders and bridges. And I’m looking out the window at the middle of the day, when I am usually in my office, at faces of people I don’t know. I’m playing this game where I pretend that any one of them could be someone in one of my online writing groups. It’s bizarre but true to think that I wouldn’t necessarily recognize them on the street, yet am lucky enough to read and witness their writing practice online.

“Never have I felt so befriended: by the page, by a group of fellow writers, by a teacher and coach. Jena provides a lovely mixture of inspiration, invitation, and validation. And then she throws in something else, something wonderful and ineffable which I can only describe as magic. For how else could a bunch of strangers become so intimate so quickly? Within this sacred circle, we came to trust not only one another, but also our own voices, our process, and most of all, the value of sharing our stories.” – Katrina Kenison

There are some exceptions, but most of the participants in my groups are not people I know in “real life.” We are all over the country, the world even. I love the way this affects how I see strangers; it makes everyone feel more familiar in a way. I wonder if that makes sense, but it’s the best I can do to try describing it at the moment.

Thinking about these things makes me all the more excited for the in-person weekends I’m cooking up for this summer. To bridge that space between words on screens with words in a room, words coming out not only through pens and keyboards but through the body–belly, heart, throat, mouth. Voice. Eyes. People in a room. (In fact, it’s the very room where Mani and I got married almost six months ago! How sweet is that?).

I can’t wait. And more than ever, am trusting that things are unfolding. To quote Katrina’s post again: “…whatever is happening in this moment is already in the process of turning into something else.” Exactly that.

For today, these are my words on a screen that began as words this morning on the page. Ink and paper. Prompts and practice. A person you might not recognize in person, I am here. Just waiting to meet you.


Learn more about & register for Unfurl: A Weekend of Writing Practice here, or visit this page for dates of upcoming online groups. (As always, a reminder: You do not have to be a writer to write with me!)  

Or just drop me a note. I am so very open to questions and connections. 

Image: The Walking Library

4 thoughts on “On Practice and People in Person


Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s