Aren't memories grand? Life is made of both the big milestones and the tiny pebbles under our feet.


My hands have blisters in the most incredible places. The tip of my pinky, the edge of my palm, along my heart line, two in the moon of my index. Each has a name, like constellations: the mark of the hoe the scythe the pickaxe the wheelbarrow the shovel. My lover is dismayed. He cups […]

Letting Go

It took a couple of tries to find an amenable sales representative. “A cell phone plan in Brazil? Really? How long will you be traveling for? ” Forever. I’m going for forever. That concept didn’t quite register with her.  I tried to explain that I’d be moving, but traveling back to visit periodically and would […]

On Happiness

Happiness is in the language here. You greet someone: “Como esta? Tudo belleza?” And the appropriate, automatic response is always “Tudo joya.” (How are you? Is life beautiful? Yes, it’s joyous). It is so very easy to forget that we are in charge of our own happiness. I’m in a country where most people, even […]

Brazilian Wedding

A family of sweeping eyebrows. Men wearing fuzzy caterpillars Women wearing winged seagulls. Outdoor canopy borrowed, resuscitated from some past political event. National beer flowing free in cups and across tablecloths. Band playing bouncing beats of forro from the improvised stage– neither expert nor always melodic but always rhythmic and enthusiastic. Red, Brazilian mud grabbing […]

Dry well

During the day my brain is a dry well like the one in our field spitting out muddy water, running dry before you can fill a few paragraphs. At night the words come beating against the back of my eyes scratching open my eyelids twitching the tips of my fingers. They chant: Find us a […]

Word Jumble

At seven months of living in Brazil, my languages (English, Spanish, Portuguese) are still a bit of a mash-up. It’s a wonder that I manage to communicate at all. Portañol will only get you so far. It’s as if someone up there with a devilish sense of humor cross-wired these languages on purpose. In Portuguese […]


I get a lot of thinking done while swinging a scythe. Shamefully, today I spent most of my time mentally cursing out the in-laws who had dumped their trash among the bushes I was trying to clear. Bottles, lost shoes, tin cans–I never knew what I was going to hit. How could they be so […]

Sometimes, the books they choose you.

My first library card Here was my first official document in Brazil.  A library card. A small thing, really. Nonetheless, it gave me a finger-hold on normalcy in this mental terrain still trembling with the aftershocks of my relocation.  I drifted among the stacks, comforting myself with the familiar patterns of books on shelves, familiar […]