Monday, May 15, 2017



They say that children choose their mothers
from on high, before they’re born.
If it’s true, and there were others
just as caring, just as warm,
pure as honey, sweet as clover,
soft as spring they might have been...
but if I had it to do over,
gladly, I’d choose you again.

by Mary Campbell May 2010 for Melba Campbell 1912-1974

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Life Is Poetry (Now)

When you find your spot and hit your stride,
regardless of how hard you tried to be
on time and didn’t quite succeed, yet neatly,
gracefully, and perfectly in step,
slipped into your appointed place as if
you were the missing tuba player in
a marching band, but landed with a grin
and saucy bow, finessing now,
extemporaneously starring in
an unpremeditated bit, and everyone
applauded, just assuming it was part
and parcel of the entertainment — then
you’ve made a work of art out of a chance
anomaly, and life is elevated
from the ordinary: It’s a symphony,
a dance, a comedy… perchance, by grace,
beyond felicity, to be accompanied
by ginger tea and love and handmade lace
and wondering at Coleridge and Blake…. Now
you must get some pixie dust (before
you are allowed a bit of rest and solitude)
to give you extra effervescence and
a bit of magic, and, not merely reading
sonnets of Rossetti, Keats, and Sidney,
be a sonnet, one with careful, offhand
rhyme, magnificent. Be poetry;
its tide is in, its time may not soon be
so sensible again.
For more on this poem, see Poem E: God's Time Is the Best Time

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Lazy Heart

Fragonard, The Swing
On certain summer days, when
there is something in the air that weighs

it down—that enervating water-pollen mix,
perhaps—when the barometer has risen, or
it’s fallen, at the moment I’m afraid I don’t
remember which—and when the sky’s opaque
and dull, and even chatty cardinals don’t
communicate; a robin can’t be bothered to
investigate a sign of subterranean activitynearby, though it would likely yield
a meal—

and I suppose they’re healing from frenetic
spring, which, once awakened, rubbed its eyes
and surged to life, demanding that its
residents fall smartly into place, and now
they’re taking mental-health days; we should
pay attention, for they put our human pace
to shame—

on days like these my heart is lazy.
If allowed to, it would lie about and
gravitate toward yesterday, imagining
that then it didn’t have to labor so
to be engaged with people, places,
occupations. “Ah, if only now were then,”
it teases, tempting me to give it space for
wallowing, and all too soon the rest of me
would follow and I’d wish to have my lively
children back who at the time I’d hoped
would hurry and mature and move away.
It’s true there was contentment that 
eludes me now, when I have time to 
brood and notice small tears in the

I tell my heart it doesn’t need to drift in
gravity’s deceptive ease, or shiver in the
clammy air, or rid itself of insubstantial
burdens. Little effort is required to ascend
the gentle path of love. The poor heart
merely must present itself and can be
certain of success, for love has its
own energy, and does the rest.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017



Cruising in our nearly new Nineteen Fifty-Four Pontiac
past fields of ripening corn and sorghum, my sister
and brother engrossed in their books and the car radio
playing softly, part of an impromptu trio, Mom humming
and Dad whistling to the singing of the Sons of the Pioneers,
we drifted along with the tumbling tumbleweeds, except that
Dad and not the wind was in control, skillfully and purposefully
steering, lest we drift off the edge of the horizon instead of
checking in just after dusk at the Best Western. Now, with
eyes half-closed and Raggedy Ann as my pillow, I leaned back
and watched the grassy shoulder glide by, milkweeds and
black-eyed Susans rampant, as the tumbleweeds gave way
to the sweet strains of Eddie Heywood, Hugo Winterhalter, and
a mystical, faraway Canadian sunset I suddenly longed to see.
The way my father whistled, slipping deftly from melody
to harmony and back, I was sure he knew that sunset
and that place and he would take me there someday, wherever
it might be, if I asked him to. But just as suddenly there was
no need; everything that life could offer was contained
in a Nineteen Fifty-Four Pontiac on a two-lane highway
and the radio, the songs, and the summer afternoon.
The Sons of the Pioneers, with Roy Rogers

On YouTube:

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Do You Know Why?

Leopold Kupelwieser, The Journey of the Three Kings, 1825  

Baby Born on Christmas

Lo, the baby born on Christmas~
    Sisters, hear the sound
of angels singing
angels all around
He is sweet as Heaven’s
    meadows, flourishing,
fed by living water.
    Save, O sacred spring,
the brittle hope that clings like
    petals to the dry
rose; and we sing Alleluia~
Do you know why?

Lo, the baby born in winter
    in a barren land;
Brothers, can you see the tender
    growth upon the sand?
Death is in possession
    of the frozen ground;
yet the angels carol~
    angels all around.
Glory, Alleluia,
is their lullaby.
We, too, sing him Alleluia~
Do you know why?

Underneath the fragile
   surface of the lake,
creatures keep their vigil;
   soon the land will wake
fertile seeds, at rest before
   their season has begun,
sleeping until morning,
   waiting for the sun.

Life does not surrender
   when the dry leaves, stung
by frigid fingers, flutter,
   yielding one by one.
When the wind blows bitter
   o’er the frozen earth,
Life comes new in winter
   with the baby’s birth.

We are born anew then,
   clean and fresh as morning;
of the past unburdened,
   everything forgiven;
born and born again yet
   seventy times seven.
As often as we seek it,
   living Grace descends.

Baby born in winter,
   Children, this we celebrate
on Christmas, for his innocence
   is born in us today.

by Mary Campbell, 2008
Available as a Christmas card on

Thursday, December 8, 2016

...and All Things Shine


Because I have been less than inches
from the thin edge of unbeing,
and have been afraid that, having
nowhere else to go, I would
on purpose, accidentally,
fall in, and simply fall and fall
forever, since unbeing has
no floor; and have been rescued,
and been certain of my rescuer,
and have again felt almost-solid
earth beneath my feet; when I
had given up on earth and sky
and sun and rain and comfortable
shoes and friends and weddings; having
been as good as dead, there in that
purgatory of unbreathing,
and then being turned around,
embraced, and liberated — I
believe in miracles. For everything
is living once you have been almost
dead; and all things shine, as if their
only purpose is to serve as
a reminder of that free and
infinite dependence on
the spirit who exhaled to give me
breath again.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

The Two of Us


There is a frightened little girl in me
who fights the good fight every minute
every day and cries herself to sleep
and I don’t comfort her enough,
but now I’m longing to enfold her;
so we sit and rock, the two of us,
and, oh, what simple strength
there is in that, and bliss.
And as I wrap my arms
around the child, it seems
as if the whole big wild chaotic
universe is sitting on my lap
surrounded by and drenched in
love. I am the archetypal mother,
crooning, soothing, weeping for
my children’s pain. But the Creator
takes my tears, as all are gathered
for a baptism of rain, sweet, tender,
healing rain that makes the iris
and the poppy and the peach tree
bloom in spring. So when we cry,
the child and I, our grief is not
in vain. Our sighing is a gentle wind,
and when we laugh the leaves dance
on the trees again.

by Mary Campbell, 2008