Attending to Serpents




Your image haunts me.

Heartwood vanishing

Under giant drifts of

ice and snow.

My beloved

little house

that held us tight

in her weeping arms.

Kept us warm.

Our fruit trees

fed winter birds

and feeds them still.

The deer

still sleep outside

our windows,

I’m told.

Yes, log cabins


but also

dull sound –

except from

gunshot wounds.


When the breathing

forests disappear

Chickadees move North.

I moved South –

I thought, for sanity,

mourning that I

could not let you go.


Changing woman

am I.



the breath

of fierce west winds

clouded my mind.

“For Sale” I quipped,


two dreams that

instructed me

to return;

closing my heart

to you

as if I could

put a wall between us.


When the Toad appeared

my body knew…

“You won’t find me here

she breathed,”*

calling me home

for part of each year.

North Country

Woman am I.


I abandoned you,

I thought,

to survive myself.

You endured…

Loved by deer and trees

until I rewove

the thread I had broken.

We are linked

beyond space and time

not just through anguish,

astonishing beauty,

but through the

burdens we bare –

yours is visible under

heaps of black ice

and snow.

Mine less so.


Indigenous woman

Am I.


Perhaps that’s why

Persephone appears

with her diamond back

and coppery collar:

Do not refuse

to acknowledge

what you feel and know.


You live

in two worlds;

one lush, one a desert.

A rainbow bridge

connects the two.

He rattles his tail

as  Healer

and as a warning

that this is so.





*After the toad appeared last August I researched her and discovered to my sorrow that these western toads are functionally extinct, meaning that overall their numbers are so low that this western species will not survive.


The eastern toad is still extant, for how long we don’t know, but for now they still live in Maine.


In the hopes of drawing in any amphibian to my home here in New Mexico I created a little toad pond that will be fed from any water that falls from the Cloud People onto the roof (as well as being irrigated from below)…I am hoping some frogs or toads will breed even though I will not be here to see or hear them because I will be returning north to my little cabin for the summer. I am also hoping that the tiny ( native) green desert toads that I am waiting for will find home here too.


Like me, these amphibious creatures live in two worlds.


In the north they freeze during the winter months, and sing from ponds in late spring; their summer trilling is one of the most beautiful symphonies on Earth…


In the south toads spend most of the year underground, appearing only after rain to breed. During the summer they escape the sun by burrowing themselves into the ground and hop about seeking food at twilight…


IMG_1981.JPGAfter three years spent in Abiquiu, I have only heard a western toad call twice.

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