Category Archives: March Prompts

scent memory


As if I could summon spring to stay with me

with an oven-bloomed waft of lemon and ginger,

leave this chill winter with one last dusting,

powdered sugar licked from my fingers.

As if I could pull from the earth

the buds of my mother’s quarter century Graham Thomas

with the tame sweetness of this grocery-store bundle,

sunshine in cellophane.

As if, if I stood again in that red clay where I grew,

I could divide, clippers in hand,

which stem the wounds came from,

and which one

the words.


Stretching toward spring with all my might

and with the prompts at Write ALM


on the road


“Pain and beauty were so often tangled up together. Joy and sorrow came and went from a life, the balance sometimes shifting one way, sometimes the other, like a car sliding on an icy road. The trick was just to hold on somehow through the difficult stretches. ”

The Last First Day by Carrie Brown, read this weekend

Stretching toward spring with all my might

and with the prompts at Write ALM

turn to the sunlight: a thursday birthday list


It is Thursday, list day, when I challenge myself to write a list based on the Write ALM prompt. And this day also happens to be my forty-second (yikes!!!) birthday.

When I read the phrase “turn to the sunlight,” I immediately thought about the way a potted houseplant must be turned regularly, so it will grow evenly. I tend to have a melancholy nature, so my ways of turning toward the sunlight, whether they’re physical, spiritual or creative, are ways of balancing my bent to pensiveness, wistfulness. And I am a non-driving introvert, so lots of my ways of letting the light in are homespun ways to recalibrate, to shift the scale. Today, I give you forty-two ways, some literal, some metaphorical, to turn to the sunlight:

  1. Ask for help. Whether it is the dishes or a health problem or a change in perspective, reach out and ask for a hand up. Turn to find you’re not alone
  2. Find the voices in your family, in your life, even on the Internet, who speak hope and encouragement. Tune them in clearly.
  3. Open the windows.
  4. Plant something, anything.
  5. Reach out when you have something to give as well. Write a note, make a call, clip an interesting article or funny cartoon and send it to one of your people who will appreciate it.
  6. Wear color. Red, coral, turquoise, yellow.
  7. Keep angling for the best shot, the best word, the right amount of freshly ground pepper.
  8. Go browsing a the magazine section of a big bookstore. Pick up a few you’ve never explored, and leaf through them slowly.
  9. Do several breath initiated sun salutations. Feel your spine release in forward fold, feel the way a good, belly-filling inhale raises your arms.
  10. Write down good quotes from what you read.
  11. Listen to Pandora. Like ripples, a good Pandora station can steadily widen the world of musicians you listen to.
  12. Balance past wisdom about people or situations with giving the benefit of the doubt.
  13. Put on lipstick or gloss. Pause to smile at yourself.
  14. Light scented candles. (And you can fill the house with the fragrance of honeysuckle or lavender or mango in February as well as in July. I won’t tell anyone. )
  15. Rearrange the furniture.
  16. Look through seed catalogues.. Imagine salads and bouquets.
  17. Reconnect with old friends. They have loved you through bad haircuts and bad boyfriends and pregnancy and seeing your dark side.
  18. Listen to the music you loved when you were younger.  (I’m looking at you, Joshua Tree, Indigo Girls, Springsteen, Dave Wilcox, Madonna, the Cure. . . ) Dance in the kitchen. Sing along, loudly and regardless of skill. Horrify the middle-schooler.
  19. Do something that’s not your thing, but will delight someone you love.  Play legos, watch funny you tube videos together, read comics.
  20. Memorize an inspiring scripture, a beloved poem, a great joke.
  21. Remember to play with art–  it is just a few words, a little paper and glue, a yard of fabric. It isn’t plutonium. Mess around. Start something especially when you don’t know where it is going.
  22. Let go of competence. Shoot baskets, ride a skateboard, do something with someone you love, something they love doing that you’re not good at.  Laugh readily, but don’t apologize.
  23. Eat something messy and fun, like ribs or an ice cream cone.
  24. Clear your calendar. Say no. Give yourself the gift of a day.
  25. Wrote a handwritten letter.
  26. Clean the kitchen. Pause to just behold it when you are finished.
  27. Iron your pillowcases for a little bedtime luxury.
  28. Make the bed, slowly.
  29. When considering a task, a role, or a bit of drama, ask yourself, “Is this on my plate? Is this honestly part of my portion?” If yes, consider your response carefully. If not, don’t consume it or be consumed by it.
  30. Reread a book you loved as a kid. Preferably a slightly yellowed, softened paperback.
  31. Go hear live music.
  32. Take a nap.
  33. Read aloud, just to savor the sound of the words.
  34. Set a lovely table.
  35. Play in your own closet. Put together pieces that have never been worn together.
  36. Go see art. A museum, a gallery, a kids’ art show.
  37. Sit outside for awhile. Without doing anything else. Check in with your five senses.
  38. Leave the smartphone at home.
  39. Listen to podcasts while you cook or fold laundry .
  40. Sit in a new seat, at your own table, at the coffee shop, in church. Look at the vie from there.
  41. Go to the library and visit a new section. Bring home some fresh ideas.
  42. Unclench your jaw. Relax your hands. Embrace the day. Mercy has been new every morning forever. It’s unlikely to run out now.

Turn to the sunlight. Grow in all directions.

Stretching toward spring with all my might

and with the prompts at Write ALM


Joining in the fun of Lists With Friends 2014

planting seeds


Hope in March

sounds like the muffled racket of chicks,

smells like rabbit food and fertilizer,

shines like a new galvanized washtub.

Ideal Feed and Seed held the rites

for a world made over

in its dusty bins, its priests taciturn, leathery,

measuring their potions with metal scoops

and a swinging balance.

They always had a twinkle and the crack of a smile,

Coca Cola in a small green glass bottle,

for the nearsighted girl visiting the baby bunnies.


What I would not give for a spin again

on the creaky seed display rack,

those many colored, rattling packets of promise,

a time tunnel back to that strange waiting place

full of sleeping beauty.


Stretching toward spring with all my might

and with the prompts at Write ALM

the stars make no noise

The Stars Make No Noise


The stars make no noise.

As far as we know, they’re long in bed

beneath their solid grey flannel blanket

tucked into their accustomed places.

We have only the night music

of a million million cold raindrops,

the last verse of winter.


There’s no use, tonight, looking up

for wishing.

Tomorrow I’ll bow my head,

spread and curl my fingers

into the wet earth,

plant my hopes here.

When I quiet my breath

I can hear every bud and stem

curled dark in root and bulb whisper,



Stretching toward spring with all my might

and with the prompts at Write ALM

5 PM: a list for Thursday


5 pm:

  • the point when the day seems to slide toward settling into evening
  • boy#1 finishing homework, boy#2 running by the windows, playing with new neighbors
  • All Things Considered theme music as I head toward the stove and dinner prep
  • a few more minutes until the car in the driveway, a hug from my sweetheart
  • the glorious light still spilling into the house, no lamps on, almost making up for groggy, post-time-change mornings
  • a deep breath, anticipating the next few hours. All of us around the table! Adult conversation! Reading! Netflix! Exhale!
  • reconciling the hopes for the day with what has been done, said, finished, abandoned. Seeds sown for tomorrow. Resting into the ease of the hammock slung between accomplishment and expectation.

Stretching toward spring with all my might

and with the prompts at Write ALM

Adding my voice to Lists With Friends 2014