What is Here


I am open to what is here.

Here, near a pool of warm water, drizzling rain, lavender Lilly pads surround me.

Cattail breeze,

star shine,

a vessel collects what I will need later.

Morning glories and passionflowers linger near by.

They, with their healing do not worry today medicine, help me breathe.

I sit, open, eyes closed, fully embracing what is.

I embrace my changing body; will nurture it so it no longer feels heavy to hold.

I embrace fear, will recognize when she begins to wrap around my throat, take over my words, my energy, me.

I embrace what I can’t control- like the rain on a day where it would be lovely to walk; I say to myself over and over, I don’t have to be in charge, and let this rain lead me instead.

I embrace the chaos- the chance to meet it with silence or more chaos, which I alone choose.

I embrace what unfolds next- a landing place we landed long ago or a journey.

I embrace needs and wants, the mundane, the ordinary.

I embrace the ebb and flow of being.

I embrace all those years of trying to embrace what doesn’t fit, trying to hold onto what stings, trying to mold liquid.

And I embrace letting go.

~ Kelly Sage- for the Poplar Grove Muse


Beauty and Memory

The “Holiday Season” is so laden with memories, for everyone, some good, some bad, many religious, many not. These days it is impossible to escape the Christmas marketing, but if one allows oneself to go back in memory, it is possible to recall simpler times, both good and not so much.

I remember sitting on my parents’ bed for hours in the weeks leading up to Christmas, poring over the Sears Wishbook, concocting an impossibly long list of desires, then whittling them down to something Santa might be able to deliver (while still allowing for the wishes of the many other deserving children awaiting his visit). I don’t remember many of these well-honed desires, except for one: my Budding Beauty Vanity—oops, I mean, my Hostess buffet.

I so wanted the “Marx Budding Beauty Vanity,” which the next-door-neighbor girl had; SHE had the Budding Beauty Vanity, with its plastic makeup and grooming tools (brush, comb, manicure set), jewelry, and toiletries, an inset lid that lifted up to reveal a discreet compartment for storing all the goodies, and a sculpted-tufted Styrofoam hassock that opened to store even more treasures.

I am pleased, now, that my parents didn’t cave to my unrealistic desire to become a “lovely lady” like the girl next door. Whether due to their sincere efforts to place less emphasis on external, superficial qualities and girly-girl pursuits in our home than what was going on next door, or whether they simply couldn’t acquire (or afford) the coveted, trendy Christmas request, I did not receive the Budding Beauty Vanity.

Their substitution of the “Little Hostess Buffet” was a lot of fun, too, with silvered plastic cutlery, candlesticks, napkin holders, and a 3-piece tea service, plus 4 place settings of plates, cups and saucers, and some molded plastic “crystal” fruit dishes and goblets. Along with a few bright pieces of plastic fruit. I’m sure my loving parents, whether by choice or of necessity, calculated that food preparation and presentation, while mostly (and still) the domain of the women of the houses, was an essential life skill to survival, both physical and social. It was certainly a domain of endeavor less predicated on a certain “skill set” of natural attributes than the budding beauty game.

My dad told me more recently that the buffet was a bitch to assemble in the middle of the night on Christmas Eve (a parental passage my husband and I made late one bitter December 24th in 1997 assembling our own firstborn’s kitchen set). I was recently astonished to locate the ad that had created and intensified my desire for this product on the internet, and to hear how the catchy tune and the shots of a little girl putting on her makeup and dabbing perfume alongside her mother’s grownup vanity, still catches in my memory, and my heart. The emulation of a distant, glamorous mother, the studied, gracious “salute” introducing an elegant set and the pampered world it suggests, the elusive promise of a transformation of self, all spring to life in my being once again. “A little girl, becomes a lovely lady with a vanity all her own….”

But this is really a reflection on memory, on how a long-ago, mostly forgotten, childhood desire, sparked by a crudely manipulative advertising campaign, can open a deep channel of recollection, bringing a whole world of feelings and experiences to life, leaving a middle-aged woman singing an old jingle for days while she quietly makes peace with a piece of her past.

Mary Peckham for The Poplar Grove MuseVanity

The Dance – December 14th, 2015

Rainmaking is a  weather modification ritual…Rain

Wind bends the almost brittle but not yet wintered Poplar.  Then, snap.  A stick splatter – an irregular display appears like a Jenga mistake across the black top drive.   My wheels maneuver around the tree log at the end of the road, it is dark.   Morning yogis arrive on a tenuous note; I can feel it in their breath before they pick up the pen.  Creatures of symmetry are broken by wind.   Today, yogis balance on only half of the body.  We sit uncomfortably unilateral and seek convergence of air – alternate nostril breath.  Four counts in one side, six counts of retention, and four counts the other.   Over and over – we bridge.  We seek balance, centering ourselves amidst the chaos – an invisible science only the soul and body know.  We sit and sirens wail with a frequency that says full moon.  We sit with sirens that shriek of a collective disaster…scream of times when our tides are pulled into the mass hysteric.

I drive.  I wonder if I can see less or somehow my eyes are not used to this unseasonal mist rising like the mystery around the Appalachian range.  Something of a thrill – a worry – a hate – a love…. it depends. How do we feel when things don’t go the way our lineage expects?   The barista tells me, she feels scattered.  Inside a four walled room, there’s no shelter.    Desert dwellers do not expect wet, rain means a miracle.   Rain means that the dance has been heard.   Once we were active in the conjure.   Who are those who remember the relation?    The worry of course, when the rain doesn’t come, is natural.    Its’ natural our ancestral heart quivers with transgenerational love as winter does not settle.  And unhibernated squirrels run in circles fat drunk with confusion.  Their madness makes us think:  has our tribe done something wrong, has our dance been quiet to the Gods?

Allison for The Poplar Grove Muse

Two Poems


Ruby red fancy pants
with your mask as shiny black
as a crow’s face
your crest as jaunty as Robin Hood’s hat
I watch for you daily
long for your rich color to flash
like an exotic jewel against this
gray-brown backdrop of winter

My mouth waters for
plump red raspberries
when you fluff out crimson feathers
against a brutal wind
when you sit quiet as a berry
round, luscious
midst barren branches
of sumac trees

And when you preen like a prince
on this crooked porch railing
and bury your beak in the depths
of your scarlet robe
my nose remembers plunging
into thick clumps of red roses
that climbed my mother’s
garden trellis a half century ago

When snow decorates the cedar tree
that grows through our porch deck
and spackles your gay apparel
with glitzy flakes
you whistle birdie, birdie, birdie
from that picture perfect setting
and I hear deck the halls
with boughs of holly
and imagine a red-berried sprig
in your clawed grasp
the word PEACE silver-glittered
in ever mounting snow



Snow Reverie

Midnight clouds dumped five
dense inches of white sugar magic
on every possible landing place—
it sweetens my ink and morning coffee
with unexpected delight.

Great clumps of heavy white snow lie
tangled in thick green tresses of cedar tree—
a three dimensional Christmas card
too big for any mailbox
except maybe God’s.

Snow tumbles from branches as
flitty birds land, take off
and land again.

Titmouse, chickadee, and nuthatch crack open
sunflower seeds on swinging wooden feeder.
Gold finches hang on sides of bulging white sock,
pull thistle seeds through tiny mesh holes.
Cardinal splashes into scene without warning,
like fresh blood on a new white dress—
brilliant and shocking.

Outdoor dog peers through picture window,
one ear up, one ear down,
head cocked sideways— “May I come in?”
always the optimist.

Parakeets twitter softly as if the snowfall
has shushed their usual morning chatter
and left them whispering dreams
of tropical forest sunshine.

Yellow cat on back of couch
rams his head against my head,
my neck, my shoulders—
no genteel lover is he!

Black cat stares from hooded eyes and couch arm,
“How can you possibly want to write,” she purrs,
“When I am so close by?”
Morning reverie interrupted—I give in
to petting and being petted.

—Glenda Breeden for The Poplar Grove Muse