Saving daylight

for Kevin, best neph, who is 33 today

This is the springing forward,
the first of 240 days to make
more use of daylight from

the second Sunday in March
to the first Sunday in November.
The Canadians started it in 1908,

nothing to do with farmers or
the trajectory of our nearest star,
except that humans have long wanted

to harness more of what shines
upon us—much as the demigod Maui
lassoed the sun to slow its progress

across the sky to allow his mother’s
kapa cloths of pounded bark
more time to dry. We all want more

time in the sun to make hay while
it shines, make love, make do, make
waves, make light of so much dark,

especially as our half of the earth
starts to warm like an egg sunny side
up in a pan. Longing for winter to

catapult us into spring, we mortals
imagine that we can nudge the season
by turning clock hands forward,

as we catch our collective breath,
open a door, fling wide a window,
welcome the warmth of that

trickster sun once again.

Oneuli Beach, Maui / Photo: Dick Schmidt
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Pineapple Express

Worry descends before the rain,
remembering the last one—water,
water, so much water deluging our
arid selves, power outages and snow,
snow, deep blankets of snow, pristine
icing layers thick atop groaning roofs,
shoveling that doesn’t stop.

And now another atmospheric river
chugs up from Hawaii, the Pineapple
Express barreling toward us—warmer
rain to melt all that snow up the hill,
lots of water predicted for us below.
We hunker down, sit tight, wait.
And wait.

As the Express finally arrives,
spitting like a petulant child, I head
out on errands anyway, surprised
to see the pet food store deserted,
the single employee shivering—
heater’s out again—and to my
favorite local Mexican lunch spot—
good to see you!—alone, watching
watery trails stripe the large window.

Back at home, yes, rain, but no
ferocious wind yet, and, just to be sure,
I offer up prayers to La’amaomao,
the Hawaiian wind goddess, the keeper
of dozens of winds from soft to stormy.

Please, I entreat her, makani olu olu
fair winds, gentle, wafting breezes—
ones that do not rattle the trees
and leave us powerless.

All night, as the wind builds
to a ko’olau, the kind that chops
calm seas into treacherous peaks
and valleys, I whisper into the dark:
Calm down, ease up.

And in time it does, dead calm
by morning, wee bits of blue
piercing the gray, widening
by midday into a sunny grin.

More inclemency is on its way,
they say, but for now we’ll bask
under momentary fair skies.

Mahalo, I murmur to the gods.
Malama pono. Take good care.
Keep us all safe.

Photo: Salgu Wissmath / San Francisco Chronicle
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In between

In between
2nd winter and
The Pollening

I awaken with a headache
that usually means something’s
blooming, and, in fact, so

much is, in this inbetween
moment, which March so often
is in my neck of the woods,

which are not woods at all,
but a city of trees in a neighborhood
with lots of them blossoming

their fool heads off, which I love,
so pretty, but one or two among
them makes my sinuses throb,

especially on awakening, and this
brings you close, Daddy, with your
stuffed up nose and perennial

sniffle thanks to hay fever that Mom
dosed with lots of vitamin C, which
allowed you to mow the lawn

without suffering. And there you are,
my long-ago love, who felt the precise
moment when the almonds came

into bloom, eyes instantly tearing,
nose running, you who at long last
escaped to the east, where I

imagine you encased in snow,
but when I look online, your neck
of the woods shines, 58 degrees

today, and you, I hope, are breathing
without obstruction into Actual Spring,
so beautiful, so full of promise.

Photo / Joe Chan
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After days of gentle blue overhead,
punctuational clouds dashing
and comma-ing the sky, some
trees suddenly donning their
pink tutus, others ready for tea
in saucer magnolia cups,

we prepare for what may be
winter’s last blast—more rain,
more snow, we hear, drenching
us from mountains to valley
a couple of hours below the peaks
on the horizon groaning under
all that white.

If we are looking for inspiration,
we have only to look up.

We learn a new word, thanks
to the new owner of our
favorite neighborhood Mexican
place who, delivering burrito
and tacos to our table, tells us
about catching tiny white flakes.

Hail? I ask since snowfall on
the flatland is rare as rubies.

No, softer, he says, holding out
his hand, as if he’s managed to
hang onto a tiny bit of origami ice,
sky poetry written on his palm.

Later we learn that he held graupel,
a word weather folks know—
snow falling through a cloud,
soft, oblong crystals that can
resemble snowflakes, so fragile they
quickly crumble and disappear—

temporary bits of snow crystals
that once in a while make it to earth
for us to marvel over on a day when
heavy clouds thick as sweaters
overtake us, a different kind
of sky poem,

as we wait for the marching patter
of tenacious rain feet to come.

Photo / Dick Schmidt
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International Women’s Day

To the girls we were,
the women we’ve become,

to the women we’ve loved
and ones we have not,

to the ones here and not here
who made us us, despite

years of bemoaning our
imagined imperfections,

flaws, failures, which truly
weren’t, and to those who

thought to give us a hearty
“atta girl,” reminded us to keep

going, that we’re just getting
started, no matter our age or

experience, that this is why we’re
here—to live and grow in love,

to share our light on this mortal
plane as we work to heal our own

karma, watching our souls grow
and flourish, to find balance in

serving others and ourselves,
to put a whole lot of heart

into it all, to see every day
as accomplishment, simply

in the breathing, the moving
through, the doing of the most

mundane/important tasks
—it’s what we do

and who we are, we far from
ordinary, truly extraordinary


Ukrainian women / Red Viburnum by Lyubov Panchenko
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Moved by beauty

I have decided that I’m here in this world to be moved by love and [to] let myself be moved by beauty.
—Ada Limón, Poet Laureate of the United States

And so I move again
on foot toward no specific
destination, moving just
to move, eager to be
surprised by loveliness
rushing at me or simply
ambling along—

the woman pushing
a walker, who looks up
at me and beams a
beautiful smile—

the dog grinning,
tongue flopping,
pulling its person
who matches the grin
when mine joins theirs—

the tiniest buds
bursting into white
flame on trees branches
so bare only weeks ago,
still in place despite
the pelting rains—

the everyday ordinariness,
not so ordinary at all,
of cars passing on a
quiet Sunday, of birdsong,
acknowledging all this
beauty as blessing—

especially when I
extend a hand to receive
a lick of dogtongue,
delighted by this kiss
from a passing soul,
a stranger no more.

Tofino, British Columbia / Photo: Dick Schmidt
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Planetary kiss

A few nights ago
two planets appeared
(from our rooted earthly
vantage point) to snuggle
each other, separated by
the width of a pencil eraser
held up at arm’s length.

I missed it, thanks to clouds,
but, I thought, no biggie—
kissing, while a charming
notion, is a bit silly because
Venus and Jupiter are separated
by 400 million miles, more than
four times the distance between
Earth and sun.

Tonight, just before getting
into my car, I looked up to see
the pair dancing higher in a clear
western sky, on their way to
the horizon, farther apart now
and vertically aligned, a cosmic
colon in conjunction.

And I stood midway in the moonlit
street for a while, captivated, trying
to decide if Venus was higher than
Jupiter or the other way around,
until I realized: doesn’t matter.

Those two pearly orbs, like all
planets moving in their grand ellipses
around the sun, do their do-si-dos
in the same pattern across the sky,
as they have for millennia,
as they will do for millennia,

and we lucky souls on this planet
get to count ourselves, yes, starstruck,
when we think to look up and admire
such dazzling brilliance in this fortunate
happenstance of a moment.

Venus and Jupiter by astronaut Scott Kelly from the International Space Station, 2015 / NASA
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for Pat and Dee

They two
and we two,
born to two siblings
who hailed from Illinois—

we share the same
grandparents, we two
older girls and two
younger girls,

so much family history
between us, so many
photographs the older
two have dredged up to
share with the younger two,

spread out over a big table—
scattered snapshots, some
in piles, some in lovingly
assembled photo albums,

next to Grandma’s small,
century-old suitcase with
a letter typed on her manual
Olivetti in its distinctive
cursive font.

We look and laugh; one
of us copies photos on a
newfangled camera that
also makes phone calls,
summoning the spirits
of the ones who made us
by the mere mention of
their names,

those who walked our
ancestral path, paving our
way long before we existed,
who loved us before we had
a glimmer of an idea what
was possible, of the women
we would become.

My cousins: Dee Dietz Hann and Pat Herbert
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Rain bucketing, pummeling
the park where, on the concrete
edge of the flooded baseball
field-turned-wading-pool, stands
a boy, his skateboard flipped
vertical, resting against his calf
like a loyal dog, watching.

At some signal from his inner
adventurer, the boy flips the board
horizontal with his foot and sets
a sneakered sole atop, revving
the board back and forth, its
invisible engine preparing for

which he does with a mighty push,
sailing into the sidewalk shallows
before him with such force that
his wheels disappear as he surfs
that rain-pocked sea, going farther,
faster than he may have imagined,
upright, riding the wave, staying tight
in the tube till it spits him out,

and his fist leaps into the air,
punches exultation through
the drops, amped as he stands
in ankle-deep water, then flips up
his stick, tucks it under an arm,
and splashes back to where
he began,

grinning and shaking his head,
wet through and through,
ready for another gnarly run.

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In between

for Dev Berger

The trick on a walk
in between winter storms
is to open to the sunny day
at the same time a friend
has joined you and talk

You try to listen more
than you speak, though
it’s just a mile to lunch
down a street you drive

Because in this liminal
state—one foot still
in winter, one walking
hopefully into spring,
stepping over puddles
where the sidewalk ends
and the street begins—

you want to pay attention
to the tiniest buds that
survived the drenching,
still hanging on to bobbing
branches overhead, even
as the evidence testifies
that some of their brethren
lie underfoot.

But you two—well fed by
the little restaurant down
the street that also survived
its share of storms, still on
your feet, walking in and out
out of spots of sunshine—

you understand how to
cherish being in the midst of,
poised for what’s next,
even when you have no
idea what next
will look like.

Photo / Jan Haag
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