Travel with me — to places unknown — on a path of words and imagination.

Hill Tribe Mom

I still have the photo from Phu Koc,
you and your baby barefoot
at the village snack shop.
I never knew your name.

He is so precious, tiny
little man in Hello Kitty
pajamas, standing like
a conquering warrior in
miniature Ahka headdress,
its fine, colorful stitches
you spent careful weeks sewing.

I still have the picture of you
kneeling, looking at him
in glowing adoration.
I wish I knew your name.

In second-hand pants and T-shirt,
no jewelry, do you wonder
what sort of life the boy will have?
Beyond the village hard clay
stretch the forever rice paddies,
where you labor daily, back bent.
This is his heritage.

When the rice crop fails,
and there is no food, will you
send him to live at the monastery?
How will you bear
to send him away,
a mother who so loves her son.
I still don’t know your name.

In the photo you’re not worried
about the future. Today
there’s enough baht to sip cool liquid
through a straw and munch
crunchy rice crackers.

Today your babe
with golden skin is well,
his big brown eyes wide
with delight, the world
at his small fingertips.
I still have the photo from Phu Koc,
I never knew your name.

Previously published in A Flight of Poems, a Collection

How Far Will She Follow Her Dreams?

Ohio farm country, 1897. Louisa, the spirited eldest daughter of Herzig and Clara Steinbacher, has her whole life ahead of her. She is seventeen, and dreams of the “outside world” beyond her doorstep. But when Clara dies in childbirth, Louisa is suddenly thrust into adulthood—with the burden of her mother’s responsibilities…and the care of her younger siblings. The only world she has ever known closes around her.

Then Herzig, an elder in their strict Mennonite community, hires young, handsome Thomas to help on the farm. Thomas is hardworking, honest…and not of the Faith. But Louisa can’t hide her growing feelings for him. Her choices set in motion a transformation she never expected. But at what cost?

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