you hold your breath; you hope it doesn’t happen again

you scramble for ground to stand on; everything’s turned grey

there is no one to guide you; but prayers are offered

was it just Thursday night when everything was so normal?

it was still the before and we laughed together on the couch

we had concert tickets for Friday night; had we finally arrived
at normal?

3:50 am, Friday morning, the “Daddy” cry comes and it’s not
just another nightmare

fever, sore ear–same ear that endured five hour surgery to remove
cholesteatoma* five months earlier; he can’t hear out of ear

wait for 8:00 am; phone call blitz to appropriate doctors,
nurse practitioners; two trips to pharmacy; get antibiotics
so we can wait again out here in the land of not normal

later, the world is awash in grief for France, and so am I.
awash in grief for us all; the uncontrollable of life
is highlighted

waiting for love to conquer all; waiting for hope to
transplant the dread; we fall to sleep that night with our
boy tucked between us

feeling for his fever all night long, I don’t sleep
as you predicted; I want to keep him safe always
I want to know surgeries and terror strikes are done

I want to laugh with you on the couch,

Heidi Fettig Parton

*More information on cholesteatoma.

Leaves Fell

A gust roused the waves,
leaves blew into the water,
the waves were ash-gray,
the sky tin-gray,
ash-gray the autumn.

It was good for my heart:
there my feelings were ash-gray,
the sky tin-gray,
ash-gray the autumn.

The breath of wind brought cooler air,
the waves of mourning brought separation:
autumn and autumn
befriend each other.

Juhan Liiv (Translated by: H.L. Hix and Juri Talvet)
Source: Poetry (June 2011)
Seeing Through Illusion

Seeing Through Illusion

“Trust this love,” you tell me.

Can I just trust you to love me
how you love me,
which seems rather wonderful.
Instead of all this
looking back at past
sorrows that I cannot
change or correct.
To let go into this moment,
into you and your
deep pools of
the way you
can join together my
disconnected thoughts.
The way your quick mind
sends forth this salve; just
the probing question to
turn me from the infinite
trail of “what ifs;”
the way you can intuit
what you are feeling and
tell me when I am hurting you,
at the time I am hurting you,
rather than carrying it
around silently in small
atomic packages of
cold war sentiments,
never knowing when
will be achieved.

The way you turn in your sleep
to hold me once again
after I’ve moved away.

This is the photo of me he loves; the one in which I see my wrinkles, and big nose, and lifeless middle-aged hair. And he says again: Trust this love.

This is the photo of me he loves; the one in which I see my wrinkles, and big nose, and lifeless middle-aged hair. And he says again: Trust this love.

Morning Glories

Awake, but still in bed;
I wear my favorite nightgown—
slippery, pale green, synthetic.
Morning sun streams through
opaque shades, slightly raised
for the breeze; only windows
cool this house without central air.
Crop duster sounds bleed in
from distant potato fields.

Early on these summer mornings
my mother tenderly cares
for her morning glories,
climbing just outside my window;
she is present, but not with us;
she’s alive, but always hoping
for more. Here though,
on these mornings,
spent tending her flowers
she finds a semblance of peace;
perhaps even joy.

Now a mother, it’s reassuring to know
my mom too left dreams unattended,
as we all must do, and this summer
I wake with clenched teeth and pass
my own flower beds, over run with
weeds and whimpering, dried out leaves.

Delayed gratification, they might say,
but still I hope that I might
find ways to nurture my children;
my morning glories.

Amen, Mother, Amen.


A poem written on the day I turn forty-five,

after a month of exhausting myself with worry

over my son’s right ear.

At 45 years of age, I’ve noticed that

the journey is no longer

about getting somewhere.

Instead, I arrive to each day as it comes.

Here, I will stand as the aged tree with lost limbs:

always reaching, always grounding. Here,

I can both feel sunlight and offer shade.

How much is lost in translation?

How would it change things to know

the Great Teacher did not say,

Do not be afraid, but rather,

Embrace it all?

Crows do not seem to ask why

they’ve returned to the same rooftop.

Perhaps, however, they wonder

how the steeple will cast its shadow.

At 45 years of age, living with

openheartedness matters more

than tracking slippery happiness;

asking how seems more productive

than asking why.

Heidi Fettig Parton


We are not a sisterhood of the traveling pants,

not a knitting circle nor a council

of wise ones. We’re not even a book club,

though we do read together—at times.

We are a half dozen women

sitting together in a shared

and respectful silence.

With but mere presence

we create this sacred space

for the puzzling together of pasts,

sighing our way along,

letter by letter, towards

the points of greatest attention.

There, we string together words,

like sparkling beads,

making beautiful sentences;

these flowing gorges,

that cut meaning

from the stories of our lives.

See how we sit together here,

in an oblong circle,

on the lodge furniture

in front of an unlit fire,

our computers on our laps.

See how we sit together here,

in this community of solitude,

accompanied by the brilliant

May evening night sounds

of mating frogs,

chippering birds, and the

deep voice of a singing wind chime.

See how we sit together here,

writing, writing, the far away;

pulling it in close.

Heidi Fettig Parton

I am not ensconced in a sheath of
soft red velvet
but in slow-moving, thick
white mucus
that makes everything turn into
irrelevant dollops
of time pressing onto vast fields
of nothingness
until this ear thump, throat scratch,
jelly swallow
subsides and I can once again use
language as
a person who is moving forward
with life.

Heidi Fettig Parton

(first published on my experimental blog:


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