Patty Somlo

At the Same Time

The old fence stands
and almost gone
Vines having been ripped from
its mossy boards
In a heap
on the lawn below.

Next spring
I will watch
for the return
of the leaves
and there will be none.

Or will the vines come back
triumphant, defiant,
spread themselves
like rich lazy women
over what wood remains?

We are entering the grey time
when leaves form carpets of loose
yellow life
on sidewalks,
and every other day
get drenched,
become slippery.

Every year I say
why be so sad
As I weep over the passing
of light, the long
hot afternoons
When I think how good
summer rain falling
would feel.

I am sadder than I’ve been
for months.
The sky wears its grey coat.
I have turned
the heater on.

Yesterday when sunlight broke through the clouds
the orange leaves burned
and I nearly had to turn away
from all that beauty
But I wanted the light to last
like the last good bites of something
terribly sweet
and good

I grew despairing,
wanting what I knew
I couldn’t have—
to stop time,
to hold this one moment
in my hands.

A few last leaves still hang
from the arbor
like broken limbs
or teeth
ready to loosen from their pink nests
and come out.

Hope is slim
that the green time will linger
long past its appointed hour
to close

I must move too
into the dark time
Find my place in some snug
corner, under soft flannel,
my fingers warmed
from a mug of steamed cider
The taste bitter and sweet
All at the same


We Carry Umbrellas

A man kills his wife
and three children and one
on the way

He sips a dry Chardonnay

Eats crackers

Wind grabs the tree and slaps
a bare branch
against the pane.

A cat cries.

Later we learn
of his failures

The wrong turns

That he wanted a lot
of children.

Wind circles
three quick hard turns

The old pane trembles.

The wife, they said, was seven months
pregnant, lost
three children before

The children

Young and blond looked
like children always look

In family photographs

Like children
who were happy.

I cradle an egg in my palm
make my hand into a nest
fold my fingers over.

Clouds fly overhead, dark
balls not wanting
to let go.

A Christian family
everyone thought
they were doing well

No one considered him
an angry man

Everyone thought he loved
his children too much.

In this place
the weather’s always wrong

We watch because we don’t know
what else to do.

We carry umbrellas
even on the best of days.



If only I could learn patience
from the plants
Sitting all day
waiting for water
Or sometimes months on end
staring out the dreary window
watching rain
hoping for just a bit of light
But knowing
it probably
won’t come.

Or the cow
chewing its cud
in the lazy fields
as if the world outside of
that one spot of grass
did not exist.

I want to take charge
grab life in the fist of my hand
and squeeze it, bend life
like molten iron to my will.
Nothing happens. I speak with little
effect. Invisible. I float through air
like so much inconsequential dust.

The most trivial things
excite me
Blood rises to my cheeks

The ivy reaches its new leaves
into the air
without worry
for the consequences.

I am humbled
by such courage.


Patty Somlo

I have a daily mindfulness meditation practice. I began mindfulness meditation nearly 30 years ago, as part of weekly therapy sessions with a psychologist who combined Western psychotherapy with Eastern practices, to help me heal long-term depression and anxiety. I do sitting meditation daily and walking meditation at times. I also consider my daily, early morning writing sessions as a spiritual practice.

Patty Somlo’s most recent book, Hairway to Heaven Stories (Cherry Castle Publishing), was a finalist in the American Fiction and Best Book Awards. Her previous books, The First to Disappear (Spuyten Duyvil) and Even When Trapped Behind Clouds: A Memoir of Quiet Grace (WiDo Publishing), have been finalists in the International Book Awards, Best Book Awards, National Indie Excellence Awards, and Reader Views Literary Awards. She received Honorable Mention for Fiction in the Women’s National Book Association Contest and had an essay selected as Notable for Best American Essays 2014.

More on Patty Somlo's work can be found on our Links page.

Patty Somlo 300 x 300  photo.jpg