The Agonist

In a Hat Box

When I wake at three in the morning with stars
sprinkled between my curtains, and see
my old hat box wedged on the corner shelf
beneath scalloped shadows, I remember
its contents of unused wool from a needlepoint
canvas, colored pencils and the camera
with a broken lens. I recall a length of ribbon
too dark for my hair, business cards
that no longer matter, a plastic harmonica
from an amusement hall and an old monogrammed
handkerchief wrapped around a black and white
picture of you, leaning against a palm tree.
Back then, you were a transplanted Nebraskan
collecting San Diego summers in your pockets,
exploring tide pools and sailboats. Each Saturday
you rode the bus to Hotel Del Coronado
where big band music filled the Victorian ballroom.
One night you posed on the lawn in pearls and heels,
beneath a sand dollar moon embedded above the bay.
That was before you married dad. Before trips
to Bermuda and Europe, mundane chores, diapers,
three children, bike rides and sewing classes.
Before illness. When a slice of moon could move
across Coronado Bay and still glint in your eyes.

Creating a Pastoral Scene

A turning point—
like a needle piercing a canvas,
pushing up from the blind underside
to revisit the world.
With each small tug
a thread appears, connecting
a row of holes that align
like silent days.
Today, I work in a field of blue,
blending small patches of sky
around trees, struggling
to find the pattern between hills and clouds,
heaven and earth.