Be Surprised!

Two nights ago, I witnessed the most marvelous moonrise I had ever seen. 

The moon was one sliver shy of full, which only added to the rarity of the experience. 

I was driving at the time, and couldn’t stop to admire the moon or photograph it. I could only keep driving and keep marveling. 

What I loved most about the whole experience, was the surprise in that first moment I glimpsed the moon.

I wrote this poem today. I hope you like it.



P.S. The photo after the poem was taken last night (by me), the day after the Surprise Moon. Because the moon rises about one hour later each night, last night’s moon rose in the dark. Still spectacular, still surprising. 

Surprise Moon

Driving a tangle of highways 
through the slightly scary 
industrial lands, 
my car rises up on one of the many 
roadways over roadways, 
suspending me 
in a clearing of sorts,

just enough for the pastel blue sky to deliver 
on a silver platter of factory rooftops 
a gigantic luminous moon

a peach from God’s basket 
that should have fallen 
on an evergreen mountain in Maine 
not here, not at sixty miles an hour 
on a potholed road.

I shout with glee, 
things I cannot remember, 
half sentences, a child overtaken 
by delight

Nowhere to stop and pull over and marvel, 
I keep driving, heading deeper 
into the knotted roadways of the cities 
that line the Hudson River, 
stopping and squeezing and inching
through traffic

which is the oddest of gifts, 
offering me vignette after vignette 
of the urban moon, 
peeking around a warehouse, 
sitting like a jewel above a rowhouse, 
and wedged between these lofts and those.

Never has a moon been set 
this large, this orange 
against a sky 
this clear, this bright.

As I wind down the final cliff, 
the moon hovers 
like a cantaloupe-colored spaceship 
over the spires of Manhattan 
gilded by the sun just setting behind me.

Seatbelted in awe, 
I wonder, who should I tell? 
Who would care this much?

And then I wonder, 
who might care about me 
this much, enough 
to orchestrate an errand in urban traffic, 
just so I could be surprised.

Here’s the moon through my camera, last night, the day after the Surprise Moon…


Irish Ancestor

Hudson sunset

Irish Ancestor

Even though your name is lost to me,
you appear in my mind from nowhere
like the sum of two easy numbers.

Even though I know nothing
of your village, your prayers, the stories
of your hearth and your departure,

behind my eyes,
your struggles gather
beside the pool of dreams.

You appear with your tangerine curls
half pinned up, half fallen
onto the shoulder of worn cloth.

You tell me
that the hammock of grief I sometimes feel myself fall into
runs deeper than the wounds of this lifetime.

You say I have carried your pain, like a stone,
without knowing—we all have,
one after the other,

from one side of the River Shannon
across streams and lochs and the great
Atlantic, into the hungry mouth of the Hudson.

You want me to drop it now,
this sorrow,
because enough is enough.

The gift you meant to give
was courage,
and however pale it seems to me

you have woven it securely in my aura,
a blessing to accompany me across the wild waters,
a light from you to those who follow.

12 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 5, Water


water - wood dale park

12 Things I Am Grateful For This Year
Day 5: Water

Water blesses those
who take the time to wonder
while in its presence.


I still bless my water every day.

I also ask that rainwater be a blessing to all whom it touches.

And I am so grateful for the many ways in which beautiful water has flowed in my life this year. Here are a few photos from my travels.


water - hoboken 1

The Hudson River, from Hoboken, NJ


water - hoboken 2

Hudson River and Manhattan


water - hoboken freedom tower

Hudson River and the Freedom Tower


water - raritan bay

Raritan Bay, NJ. There’s always a beautiful breeze here, and the smell of salt air.



water - local stream

We moved this year to a new area where there are streams and brooks everywhere. This is one of them.


And here's another local brook.

And here’s another local brook.


water - manasquan inlet

Manasquan Inlet, NJ: looking out into the Atlantic Ocean.


water - piermont

The Hudson River in Piermont, NY


water - hudson at Cold Spring

The Hudson River where we kayaked in Cold Spring, NY. Incredibly beautiful and natural.


water - ogunquit

Ogunquit, Maine.


All the pictures from my Day 3 Thanksgiving post on Ideas were also taken from Ogunquit, Maine.

For me, water is a powerful, restorative presence, always a source of comfort, inspiration, and nourishment. May water be a blessing to you, too.