Our old shaggy stray — who climbs stairs
one leg, two, and some nights now not at all,
who gets a daily needle in her neck
to compensate for kidneys, her head wobbling
like the doggie decoration across a car’s back seat —
this polite doe-eyed white shadow barks and bites
trailer tires like she’s some choke-chain cur
and with calves let loose in their new field, she runs –
low-slung, fast, nipping heels – ignores her name
to shape those eight calves to a herd.
Ambling back to where we’ve draped the fence
to watch her work, her tongue’s scrolling,
her sides heaving. She is shiny-eyed. He says,
Must have some shepherd in her.
What more to hope for: late in life,
a welling up of what you revel in, find
you’ve had some shepherd in you all along.
My shepherd was poetry.
I discovered it as I recovered from a hysterectomy. An ode to my uterus came to me with such force --and, yes, joy--that I was hooked.
I earned my MFA in Poetry at Warren Wilson College’s Program for Writers in 2005, many years after my Vassar College BA in English literature. My publications include three chapbooks, Mother Tongue (2001), The Spinal Sequence (2013) and Sequel (2019) plus three full collections, The Luck of Being (2008), White Bird: A Sequence (2017) about my husband’s battle with cancer, and Stride for Stride: A Country Life (2020).
I continue to live with three (!) dogs and a cat on a grass farm in the northern Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. My work has a strong narrative thread and draws from my rural lifestyle where the weather means more than what clothes to wear.