Oracion de buen ánimo

O Dios, tu has llamado a tus servidores a caminos los cuales no podemos ver el final, por sendas aún no transitados, por peligros desconocido. Da nos fe para salir con buen ánimo, no sabiendo a donde vamos, sino que tu mano nos guía y tu amor nos sostiene por Jesus Cristo, nuestro Señor. Amen.

Traducido por Luz

Holden Prayer, or Prayer of Good Courage

O Lord God,
who has called us, your servants, to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us.

Through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Oracion desde la aldea de Holden--antes de miercoles

Oracion de buen ánimo

O Dios, tu has llamado a tus servidores a caminos los cuales no podemos ver el final, por sendas aún no transitados, por peligros desconocido. Da nos fe para salir con buen ánimo, no sabiendo a donde vamos, sino que tu mano nos guía y tu amor nos sostiene por Jesus Cristo, nuestro Señor. Amen.

Traducido por Luz

Holden Prayer, or Prayer of Good Courage

O Lord God,

who has called us, your servants, to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us.

Through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.


for Lucille Viola Bodeen, 9 April 1924--15 April 2011

Mom at Safeco Field, 2001



Oh, they're not that bad.

Jim Bodeen
15 April 2011




Prayer and visions be yours Saint Lidwina,
on this your feast day, the 14th of April.
When your skates go out from under you
on the ice, your body no longer able to hold you
over all that slips and falls, you became one
for the disease never-before-named. Your name
gives suffering a new word. The fall,
the broken rib, the triggering complications.
Patron Saint of Ice Skaters and Multiple Sclerosis.
Shedding skin, body parts, and bones.
Sweet perfume from intestines in a vase.
One sore from head to foot from the age of 15.
38 years of suffering--Christ's three days on the cross
drawn out past the length of his life.
Patron Saint of Chronic Sufferers.
"When the rose bush blooms it will all be over."
Inspiration for Thomas a Kempis' Little Garden of Roses.
What a book. Leo XIII canonizes you.
You, so good to visitors in your little room.
Beginning to understand.
Your life as a prayer to God.
Suffering pilgrims know God will listen to Lidwina.
Your special love for Jesus in the Eucharist.
Living on Holy Communion for years at a time.
Fasting in the mean time.
Offer the pain to Jesus. Give it to him.
Reminding us, those of us in good health,
living in plenitude, in abundance,
to thank God as often as we can.
Your life, Lidwina, full and complete.
Driving one like me. God bless.

Jim Bodeen
14 April 2011


--for Peggy Grimes

"I want you to take this home
with you when you go." She wraps
the blue tureen in newspaper
as we talk. She's starting

to give things away
and she's grateful
that her son's friends
have become her friends.

Karen puts the cotton-woven
cloth from Michoacan
on the kitchen table
where the tureen sits,

a roadside chapel calling
us to beauty as we walk
through the kitchen
for cracker or cookie.

The delicate ladle
is a bell calling us to make soup,
to take it all in, sop it up,
wanting bread, promising restoration.

Jim Bodeen
13 April 2011


We crossed paths over 40 years
talking God and Schools,
equally flummoxed by both.
Practicalities of his vision
confirm what his family knows.
He helped send teachers
into the homes of every family,
to find out what might make
things better for kids.
In the pew he asked any question
that kept his God authorized,
large, and free to be God of all.
The dog he loved to sit with--
ask his family about that dog.

Jim Bodeen
9 April 2011


Water completes itself in rain

Water on the move
Melting, dripping

One of the core movements

Contraction and release out of the mountains

Jimmy Huega on skis
Jimmy Huega and his great can do
Jimmy Huega knocking his way through slalom poles

Can-do-disease-wracked body birthing hope

Jim Bodeen
11 April 2011


The pastor asks if he can bring the food.
We look at photos of Mom
in her uniform dressed for the game.
Only eight years ago?
A choir of elders sings Dylan while we eat.
Knocking on heaven's door.
Pastor holds the wine for Mom.
It's strong, she says.

I dip my finger into the tiny cup
for the last drops of wine.
Moistened finger touching Mom's dry lips
ending the meal.

Jim Bodeen
9 April 2011



Week-long spring storm re-sculpts the mountain
and the world is new again.
Sandwich, orange, nuts, notebook,
small Redemptorist prayer book
by my friend John J. O Riordain in Ireland.
One layer under-dressed for spring snowstorm.
Reach for sun behind snow.
The morning stretches me out.
Skis cut me in and out of trees.
Two feet of snow over ice lets me move at will,
camber-cutting skis floating front and back,
only my boots over snow,
popping over and through new drifts.
Sweating by lunchtime at High Camp.
First the prayer before writing and speaking.
Surprised by Mary.
Mary is hope because we can do what Mary did.
Sit with the mystery of eating this orange.

Sit with mystery of spring snow.
Blizzard of grappel. Somewhere between
ice and corn flower, turning snow light and fast,
adding to what's been covered. A handful
of skiers on a 1000 acres of powder.
Hike to un-groomed west ridge line.
Father John walking after meals with his psalter.
Big man and that tiny book. Reading psalms.
30 years later. Still friends because I slipped a poem
under his door the morning we last saw each other.
His prayer insisting on a new program.
Differ without rancor as a man might differ with himself.
Twin tipped skis lift me through powder
past my knees. God can to anything.
So can these skis, I say, turning in the steeps
before falling untracked through trees,
falling into the drift away from tree well,
sunk in a fresh fix. Poles show me
how deep I've buried myself,
skis and shoulders securing me in snow
lodging me deeper each time I move.
Reaching for the camera I record
the underside of things as I rest.
I can get out of this mess after assessing the light.

Jim Bodeen
8 April 2011


We stop on the mountain
and wipe her glasses.
She's wearing two pair.
One to see, one to shield snow.
Karen makes some nice turns.
We stop on the mountain for protein.
Sliced turkey from my pack.
I feed her from a baggie
with my fingers.
She is so beautiful,
snow curling her hair
as it touches her falling.

We're on our way to High Camp.
Stop here in the trees I say
so I can take your picture.

It is April. Karen wanted sun,
not this storm of snow.
I don't care what we get
knowing our skis
carry us again
into our long story together.

Jim Bodeen
5 April 2011



     Mister, here's a bag with all my money.
             Johnny Cash

On the second morning, early, dark.
Wheels humming with truckers pulling empty rigs
in protest of the price of gas, Cash singing,
It's hard to knock against the pricks--
Singing about the poor, walking in cactus.
Singing together, singing about our lives.

Empty yourself. Turn to power not yours.
Can't do a thing about a thing.
Pick up the receiver. Make me a believer.
Singing and dying, all songs with the same address.
The North Dakota town where I grew up
surfaces as a monk's chant.

I suspend my disbelief in order to believe.
I bow the body prayer after the monks.
I try to match my voice with theirs by losing it.
Walk the dramatic circle and kneel in the pit.
Johnny Cash singing gospel as the car rolls into Utah.

Johnny Cash in the great Kiva.
Cash singing faith of the family.
Singing what's left of the beloved.
Johnny Cash with kettle drums.
Born and dying. Alpha and Omege in the Kingdom Come.
In the tavern with Richard Johnson as a young man.
A game crossing. Song reeling pulling off the exit.
The simple faith given to children comes and goes.
Coming back in songs sung for the poor.
Born from below over and over.
Born from below in song and voice of the mother.
Monk-priest calling my face the face of the eschaton.
What a man comes for. Walking with no guarantees.
No por si a casa. No backup on this walk.

I bet my life every day on the story
I was given before I could choose.
Give my love to those in the poem.
Give my love to Rose.

Jim Bodeen
March 2008--April 2011


Christ in the wilderness--Chama Canyon

This flower goes on the cover of the notebook
called God's Foolishness. No sign-up sheet
for this hike. No one knows about this one.

                Laziness and Cowardice.
Two enemies of the spiritual life, Father Merton writes.
Most dangerous when thy show as masked discretions.

The little pocketbook--Merton on Solitude,
which he never saw, fits in my shirt pocket
with my memo book--cuaderno para memos.

Oh, oh--here's a barbed wire fence
with some fiercely wound energy saying, No.
I'm guessing it's a statement against grazing cattle,
but who knows...
                             here's a wash. Let's follow it.

Jim Bodeen
31 March 2008


Our second step is achieved when one thinks not about pleasing himself, but instead follows the injunction of the Lord, 'I came...not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me...' Jn. 6:38, Rule of Saint Benedict

That's all you have to do, keep your eyes on her,
for she is Christ making your sweet life real.
She makes it possible to kneel before the poem
with a straight face. Take yesterday

when you wouldn't pick up the phone
because you were listening at the table.
It took you long enough to be quiet.
That was Jesus in the kitchen.

It's good to sit with men reading poems.
The poem will never be worth a damn
if it depends on your will.
Bringing devotion to the table is the poet's task.

Jim Bodeen
14 March 2008



Charred in the charged moment
of his cry to the Lord, he is no more.
Wooden trunk in the sun,
burned past recognition,

tree or monk can no longer be seen
for who or what it was. What happened--
burned away. Photography cannot help,
burned as this one burned, from the inside

out, and outside in, set against sun and sky.
Yet here he is in the garden with me,
sitting on a stump beside him,
coming into focus. Made from a log,

size and shape of an ordinary man.
Holes drilled into the top of the log
on the side, ten inches down, to place
his outstretched arms. A chainsaw

has cut into the arms to place,
and hold, his opened hands--
hands and arms outstretched, open
and assenting to all that needed to take place

in order to make a perfect cross
burning a man. The monk in my head
tells me, Never love a cross, even in a garden.
This voice carries me through the Psalms

as I cross paths with the charred monk.
I see at the top, how the head has been placed
into the body, and the face, turned at an angle.
Burned out eyes and nose and mouth.

Eyes scraped open with a blade.
Shape of the nose remains, but the nose itself
has been disappeared, after-fact of fire.
The monk's back and shoulders

at the top of the log were created by careful
placement of his face in flames--flames burning
against the contour of the log--a face
reaching from a turn in its growth as a tree--

main branch turning towards the light.
The monk's face also retains the remnant,
or shadow, of a beard cut at a sharp angle,
to form his chin. There is a burned-out hole

where a heart should be, and one wonders
if birds nest in this emptiness. A monk's belt
from a white cotton rope is double-wound
around his waist with four knots cinching

and decorating charred remains in high ceremony.
Inexpensive beads have been placed on the monk's
right hand. Red and white beads discolored
by the sun. The monk's presence does not

tell his full story.
Did his mother receive the news?
Was he given a new name? Old name remembered?
Perhaps his voice in mid-syllable psalm

of praise and flame-frozen, waits in stone
to be heard, containing something
I don't yet know how to listen for.
Maybe that voice sang this morning

at Vigils, blending with others,
indistinguishable, an angel. It's odd.
His feet, bare. Weathered,
they have not been touched by flames.

Jim Bodeen
30 March 2008--4 April 2011
Christ in the Desert Monastery/Yakima



Follow the Chaco Stick
on the trail leading into the sun.
Mapped, and you have water,
and can see your tent

under that rock that will keep you
from getting lost. Whatever functions
big Kivas held, the people inside them
had nothing to do with you. Walking

this path you will find more than Kiva.
Walking this way you will see
yourself circling kivas not built by force,
kiva before stars on dark nights

in darkness, too small to be anyone's
flash of lightning. Kiva away from it all.
Kiva too far out to be visited by power.
Kiva whose firm purpose

is descent. Kiva too wild to be seen
or known. Kiva under stars
away from fear, even as it fills with fear's creation.
Kiva where people wrap themselves

around each other in bleached grass.
Kiva of no choice and natural.
Kiva you're looking for. Kiva found
around you, surrounding and peopled.

Jim Bodeen
3 April 2011



--for Ken Capp

Look at the staff, wound
with tight-woven white rope

for hands. New rope,
no sweat from walking

an ancient path. The staff,
shaved and smoothed

for pilgrimage
beginning day after Easter,

complete in itself,
innocent and pure.

Desire of any journey,
worthy of patched robe

worn by St. Francis.
Rope binds the pilgrim

to his path, too, not
any map, as my friend says,

practical as his mention
of truck stop with hot showers.

Jim Bodeen
February 26, 2008--April 2, 2011


--for Kevin

Never predictable, spring.
Not ready for mountains
without snow, I pick up
The Collected Poems of Allen Ginsberg,

and the first poem makes me weak
in the knees with its language.
Wordsworth and Coleridge walk the alps
looking for peak experience, lost,

finally asking a local for the summit
they've already walked by. The Gobi Room
is a desert of light and sound. Mother
recognizes my voice but doesn't know my face.

Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness.
I spend 58 on skis, but who's counting. Warm
in the mothership with Karen
and a lift ticket that never expires,

throw me from Heaven. No.
Christ, I'm not ready. Throw me
one of the Upanishads--the one looking
for the spirit behind eye and ear.

There was nothing false about mountain light
and it was dark before dinner time.
Sit with me. Sit here in the heart space.
Must one mention baseball?

My friend sends a note saying,
Throw out the first pitch, Buddy.
His baseball poem is the Poem of the Month
in Spitball, and he writes about the game

in the closing penitentiary. He killed seven
guys, watch your back/ at the plate.
My mother wore me out with baseball
when she took out a home loan

to buy season tickets. What do you think?
Do you think a man must come down
from the mountain? Penitentiaries
set the mind on April's scripture.

Jim Bodeen
1 April 2011

Gift of the Eschaton Reading in the Desert



This is my life
This is not my life

Rained off one mountain
Drive home to another one

Dried out my tent
All dry on the inside

Spring and all
Garden popping

Snow and Bachelor Buttons
out my window, skis waxed

Jim Bodeen
1 April 2011


Big rain on the mothership
all night, hammering the snowpack.
Snow bombs fall from great firs
bouncing off the cloud roof
and tent in random bursts.

Winter Solstice to Spring Equinox.
My old friend, the Lutheran pastor,
Harald Sigmar, wakes without Ethel
for the first time in 60 years.
He summons what's left of a howl.

Time to break camp. The mountain
that makes me strong, puts me to sleep.
Wonder of it, walking. Waking on skis.
Sleeping, dreaming, and his great beyonds.
Story of my old friend. Time and custom

shattered before the unseen new.
So quiet in High Forest Camp.
The unwritten poem surrounds the page.
Beyond sanity and reason and religion.
His big book between us rising.

Jim Bodeen
30 March 2011
High Forest Camp


Overflowing with people
Just the right number of beds.

Jim Bodeen
29 March 2011



"He crossed the border at Portal,
and ended up on our doorstep,
and Mama always gave him something,
a sandwich or a piece of bread,"

Mom told me, and that's how
the word itinerant came into my life
when I was a child, born
into North Dakota extremes

looking out the car window
for Northern Lights.
Itinerant labor. Traveling workers
during the Great Depression. Slowly

collecting what the word held as I grew.
The Great Depression no longer defined
the word. No fixed home. From late 16th Century,
from the verb itinerari, from Latin,

itiner--journey, road. With types--
drifters, rogues, rovers, vagabonds, vagrants.
Including perpetual travelers,
including illegal aliens, migrants

nomads--including hunter-gatherers
and gypsies. Hobos, including tramps,
bums, derelicts, refugees and displaced persons.
Including street people, street children,

paupers, squatters, waifs, schnorrers,
and world citizens. Throughout history
and today: Freight Train Riders of America,
Romani, uncontacted peoples. Afar

people in Horn of Africa, Bajau of Philippines,
Banjara of India, Bedouin desert people,
Beja of North Africa, Bushmen of Southern Africa,
Dorn people in North Africa,

 Eurasian nomads of Eurasian Steppe,
Ghilzai in South-Central Asia,
Indigenous Australians,
Indigenous Norwegian Travellers

of the Americas, Irish Travellers,
Kuchi people of Afghanistan,
Nomads of India, Pygmy peoples in Equatorial Africa,
Quinqui in northern Spain,

Scottish Travellers, Yeniche people of Europe,
Carnies, Hippies, Jossers,
Kobzari--musicians of Ukraine,
Lighterman--bargees in England,

Peredvizhinki--realist artists of Russia,
Swagman, Circuit riders, Gyrovagues,
Bhikkus, Mendicants of Christianity,
Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Buddhism,

Pilgrims, and Sadhus. The notables:
Alexander Supertramp, Kinga Freespirit,
Albert Einstein, Democritus,
Diogenes of Sinope, Friedrich Nietzsche,

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Mohandas Karamanchand Gandhi,
Paul Erdos, Guatama Buddha, Historical Jesus.
See Jack Keruoac. Because he asked me,
I said, Yes, I do identify with the word,

itinerant. Thank you. It was lunch time
and I was kindergarten teacher for a day,
filling in for my daughter, who was ill.
I was dressed up in slacks. And sitting in

with Christian ministers at a lunch meeting,
when asked. Yes, I think so. They're my people.
The Blind Girl, 1856, depicting two vagrants,
is a painting by John Everett Millais--

two sisters, a blind musician, concertina
on her lap, resting by road after a rainstorm,
travelling. An allegory of the senses,
blind and sighted, before a double rainbow.

A tortoise shell butterfly rests
on the blind girl's shawl. The sheet around
her neck, captioned. Pity the Blind.
Spared, chosen, never worthy, graced.

Jim Bodeen
March 28, 2011


Do you want to be on the mountain?
I ask my son when he gets up to pee.
I am on the mountain, the man says.
Husband, father, even grandpa's job--

keep stepping back. Don't lose courage.
Fragments of the story.
Fragments of the poem.
Cover-up and exposure in snow

Wind sweeps the mountain.
Old Man's Beard blows from fir
catching its green tail in its mouth
and wheels over snow, snow-bound,

life already over and done.
A fire for someone already lost.
Men and women surround the table
talking about the immigrant. One,

an acquaintance with a collar
from the mountain church years ago,
looks at me when I come in.
Jim, he says, when I introduce myself,

You look like a transcient.
Where have you been? I remember you
with the Mexicans, carrying poems.
But you? I thank him for his eyes.

Jim Bodeen
24 March 2011


Cut steps on snow.
Others join on us on the mountain.
The avalanche shovel
is the favorite toy of children.

Stronger than children, just their size,
and light enough to dig tunnels.
Karen walks to us on snowshoes
and our story returns. Off skis,

the child's work, too, is done.
Snow piles beyond their reach
asking for nothing in return,
a playing field in a short season.

Jim Bodeen
20 March 2011


--for Ethel and Pastor Harald Sigmar family

Will there be bunnies?
In Heaven? the granddaughter asks.
Bunnies feel our love when we hold them.
We feel theirs. I would guess so--all that is love

will be in Heaven. Nothing that isn't.
Heaven is only love where ever love is.
What do you think? My friend in the pulpit
talks about the darkness of Easter morning.

Theories of testimony and art
surface on skis. My dog wants to ride, too.
The mothership carries us. On the chairlift
I tell the grandson about the pastor

who knows his name, who took off his clothes
to show his Superman shirt, asking about Superheroes.
The grandson says,  Superman is real
because the fact is, I saw his picture

in the newspaper. The Sermon on the Mount
could be one of the Upanishads.
The spoon never knows the taste
of the soup, but the tongue does.

Juan Mascaro translates The Dhammapada,
John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila in his ear,
walking the Extremadura in ecstasy.
My friends, holy men all, poets

and collared, so many Bodhis.
Karen and Carole. And what of these children?
At my old friend's funeral,
the sermon coming from  Harvey Blomberg

who took me to Glide Memorial in the City
35 years ago, who showed me street people
singing Jesus' praise, saying this morning,
Those of Easter faith know

that nothing is packaged.
We don't have clean houses.
Ethel said, That's what candles are for.
That first Easter, dark and confused--

Women doing what they were told.
What to do--following rules.
And following rules, told that rules
don't exist anymore. Women, first to hear.

Jim Bodeen
19 March 2011


And so on days like these, we learn
what our friend carried those years,
determining her decisions
to walk with us, chin up, laughing,

Lang Amma, great grandmother
in Icelandic. The daughter talks.
"Mom never desired a clone,
or a child conforming."  No natural

border separating Saskatchewan
and Dakota--tight weave of rooted grass
holding against losses
on the day of remembering

on the mountain. A man skiing
with grandchildren. In the poorest
countries, families give their youngest
child to grandparents in old age

to keep them from loneliness.
The boy says, "Mama doesn't like
me to whistle. She says it hurts her throat."
He scoops a handful of snow

between his skis. It's hard to ski
the steeps and eat snow at the same time.
News reports from Japan, all bad.
49-year old Kyoko Nambu

stands on a hillside overlooking
her ruined town of Soma,
"Our house is gone, and now
they're telling us to stay indoors."

Some say that I must come down
from the mountain. Zev asks me again,
because I ask him, "What is a mountain?"
The Jewish poet writes me in response,

"Does the dirt inside a mountain
know how high up it is?
If you asked it, wouldn't it say,
'What on earth do you mean?'"

At night I play the song over and over.
Leonard Cohen's, The Traitor.
The dreamers ride against the men of action,
Oh see the men of action falling back.

Our century is not through with us yet.
The granddaughter looks down
at her skis, and across the terrain park
where snowboarders ride rails

somersaulting in snow. "Grandpa,"
she asks, "Are you
going to get me long skis?
Or can I get a snowboard?

Jim Bodeen
17 March 2011



Mom recovers. Rest, penicillin, sutures. From agitation and anxiety resulting from a urinary tract infection, from a fall. From a long night in ER when the previous 72 hours triggered the river-run spilling into delirium that took away her ability to reach us, as well as our ability to communicate with her. Walking with my mother is part of my life work. What my mother gives me in this walk is the blessed life.

Many years ago--more than 30--my friend David Lovins began talking with me about Arnie Mindell and the Dreambody--coma states, and the inner work the elderly do in their last days. Ideas reaching me as immediate, true, and practical. Ideas, too, that coincided with a series of family deaths where I had roles that brought Mindell's presence to the beds of the dying. I felt that my acquaintance with these ideas made a difference in my interactions with those making the crossing, as well as with family members, sometimes much closer in relationship to the dying than was I.

A decade or so later, 20 years ago, at my request, my friend and I renewed our discussion of Arnie Mindell's work, and this time I began reading his books and listening to tapes. We were hiking in the North Cascades and my own inner work--working with the self alone, also reached into the fabric of Mindell's work. In these years I also began seeing a Jungian therapist on a weekly basis. Our early work together led us into the dreamworld, and this soon became my primary focus of attention.

I carried one seminal idea of Mindell's Dreambody through this time: that elderly and dying people in comas states often do some of the most important inner work of their lives during their final days. These ideas took on a new urgency, and became one of my primary operating principles in daily living. It seemed a redeeming truth that arrives as immediately working and in play: observable and hopeful.

Dream studies became an education for me. My therapist opened up symbols in my own area of literature. I read words and events in new ways. My therapist, whom I called the waterman, gently chided me, too, saying that I was more interested in what dreams gave to the creative process and writing poems, than I was in my own personal growth. His point remains another sign post always on my map, if neither embraced or rejected outright.

Five years ago I walked through another door leading me closer to my mother that coincided with Mom moving to our community in Yakima. I became part of a team of people working with week-long workshops creating an Eldervillage in the retreat center of Holden Village in the Cascade Mountains. Mom moved into assisted living quarters, and later, into assisted living for those with Sundowner's Syndrome requiring locks on the doors. And finally, I spent four days with Arnie and Amy Mindell on the Oregon Coast, as a participant in dreaming, Dreambody, and deep democracy training. I slept in a tent on the ocean, calling it the dream canoe.

I bring this background to the daily work with my Mom. Arnie Mindell's work is as important to my relationship with Mom as is the love she receives from our family members, and the caregivers in assisted living who bathe her, dress her, and put her to bed at night. Arnie Mindell considers this work as making contact with the divine.

I am my mother's biographer, with her permission. I have been writing her story all of my life.

Arnie Mindell helps all of us on this journey to see the divine nature of the walk. During the past four years, Mindell's ideas, along with others trained in process work have been primary guides for me, as our family walks with Mom. We're talking here about deep listening, being present to those in coma states, and differing coma states at different times. Family members, not hospice workers.

Mom's life, her personality, her humor--and anger too-- remains available to me, partly because of Mindell. Mom's journey continues, her life's meaning--including her mission and ministry as one who walks and suffers with dementia, remains. She carries the disease and diagnosis. The Dreambody looks for her in other places. And finds her. Her toughness, and what she struggles to communicate is observable, and changes those present to her. Mother does the hard, frustrating work. Being close to her walk is one of the life-altering experiences of my life, adding to, and changing, her full story. Mom is the teacher. Mom as guide and muse. It is her ministry. She shows others. It remains my job to witness, and correct, the diagnosis where I can, where necessary.

Mom remains. We're walking through new doors.

Jim Bodeen
6 March--14 March 2011


In Memory of Ethel Sigmar

One day your oldest friend's wife dies.
They had been married longer than you've been alive.
You say her name and you hear her laugh.
When your friend laughs, you hear her laugh again.

It is like that with oldest friends.
They carry the threads of your life
that saved you. The very way she served
your coffee clarifies your vision

of all that distills itself in her.
She, too, was a subversive, as all teachers
are subversive. She used to scare
street kids with her presence.

She taught them penmanship,
and made them copy down sentences
from the board that would later
change their lives. She never

asked about their lives,
only about the way they made the letters
and held the pencil. That's what I carry,
that, and the way she laughed at all of us.

Jim Bodeen
13 March 2011


...no question to question, until we reach the stage where we question without questioning and without questioning we keep questioning. We keep questioning until we finally find an answer, until delusion comes to an end, until we can swallow the world, all its rivers and mountains, everything, but the world can't swallow us...--Bill Porter, Road to Heaven: Encounters with Chinese Hermits

It is with almost a shock that one recognizes
What supposedly one had known always:
That it is, in fact, a mountain; not merely
This restrictive sense of nothing level, of never
Being able to go anywhere
But up or down, until it seems probable
Sometimes that the slope, to be so elusive
And yet so inescapable, must be nothing
but ourselves; that we have grown with one
Foot shorter than the other...
--W. S. Merwin, The Mountain

And the poem begins, just like that,
my wife coming through the door, saying,
I'm home. The poem is the mountain
we give our lives to. I step into my skis.
Marriage is a mountain, and so is the music in my car.

Hogback is the mountain that takes my grandson
to superheroes. Talk to him about transformation.
He'll show you. The pharmacy has my prescription.
My granddaughter brings down the mountain with her prayers.
M.S. is the mountain of resistance as it falls.

It is presumptuous to say I made the mountain,
sleeping in its bed. Call sleep sleep if you can.
It is the divorce we believe in and fight for.
The mountain is where I wait for news.
Making movies, the camera must be in your hand.

You don't know what will happen on the mountain.
So it goes entering the Temple of Light.
What holds you to your skis is a sharp edge.
Eyes have nothing to do with it. Snow changes like laughter.
Snow doesn't train, neither does your mother.

Jim Bodeen
12 March 2011