Saturday, December 21, 2013


Who says these
dangerous, lonesome
prayers? You talk
like a creek feasting
on mud. Because of
this conversation, my
life has become a
thirst, a surrendered
flag trembling
in the generosity
of your breath.

----©Laura Sorrells 2013
all rights reserved

Sunday, December 15, 2013

first wish

When the thirsty wish
of first daylight
shows its strange
and silent wonder,
you wake in the kindness
that anything can show
you, to the splendid
experiment of Nothing,
countless and singular
with the task
of loving.

----©Laura Sorrells 2013
all rights reserved

Sunday, November 17, 2013

a season of smallness

Christmas is coming. I’m not feeling it. It’s been years since a truly childlike joy has pervaded my experience of Christmas, but this year there is an emptiness that frightens me. A few months ago I wrote about the “experience” of emptiness that I had at Arabia Mountain in June. It was really more of an experience of joy at being opened up. This is not like that. This is scary. There isn’t the whisper of silence to comfort me. The breath, the textures of the silence I’ve known of late aren't exactly those I associate with "true" silence but of a defiant,willful, stubborn wall. It feels alive almost at times. Right now when I write poetry, or try to, I struggle immensely with the words. The tenderness I have felt so strongly for God these past two years is reluctant to help me. Indeed it almost isn’t there. Being in the woods, alone with my camera and notebook, is a way of being with that tenderness. It doesn’t mean I feel it. The closest I do come to feeling it right now is when I’m teaching. Last week my students turned in the poems they wrote. Found poems, like the ones on my blog, and metaphor poems. “this mountain, this fire, this pencil, this song.” The poems shout and murmur with beauty. With the unexpected. Their courage takes my breath away. That is the closest I am coming to praying right now. Reading those and feeling gratitude that I helped birth them. I do say “thank you” many times a day, and I mean it. I don’t think I am angry at God. Perhaps I am, but that doesn’t feel like an explanation for this flatness. I know there is so much grief still there in my heart, mostly for my beloved and complicated mother, who died in 2004, but also for the failure of love. For my inability to love a man as I have wanted to. I don’t seem to be cut out for living into that love. I suppose part of what that’s about is that I am too selfish. But it is also beginning to be about thoughts of the frightening but sometimes compelling possibility of some sort of solitude in a protracted, long-term way. Still, I try to live in the moment, to be present to it, and when I can that is a grace. I wrote something years ago about wanting to be with a man who could “endure my solitude,” as the singer Nanci Griffith put it. I have yet to find this person. And I have put some energy into yearning and search. So possibly that is part of the hollowness this winter.

At any rate, what I do with this wall is what seems to be important. I think it is crucial that I do not pound my fists angrily on it. I can even name it. I have at times called my longing for God, for Christ, for Spirit, into it. I did that tonight driving home down the mountain in the rain. I thought about the cinnamon color of the sky around the browning forest’s top and I loved it. I felt a pang of passionate love for God just watching the rain fall on my pickup truck’s windshield. And then it went away and I began to cry. I found myself wanting the cheer and the abundant spirit of Christmas. The celebratory largesse of it. In truth I don’t want that, though. I suppose I think I should want it. But really what I love on Christmas is silence. Simplicity. Last year I went to the monastery for Christmas Eve and spent the night there. I put my bag down in the little room where I slept and loved its smallness. It felt so right. Little, austere, humble. Almost vulnerable somehow. Christmas felt then like a wreath of simple winter branches unadorned, like the receptivity and yearning of my favorite Christmas carol (actually an Advent song): O come O come Emmanuel. O come, thou Day-spring, come and cheer our spirits by Thine Advent here. I loved Christmas in the slowness of those syllables and of their dance with Advent candles in the secret part of the night. I have felt such resistance to the glitter and pomp of Christmas. For me the time is more about smallness, longing, hunger, emptiness, vulnerability, simplicity. Receptivity. Waiting. The love that has yet to be born, or borne. The child. Incapable of celebration in human terms. Naked, probably, or close to it. Just present in the human world, incarnate, hungry, breathing.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

a doorway, vanishing

Bring me the prophetic riddle
you have promised.
Reveal to me
the wheel of union, the
spacious all, the
gentle passion of
our tears. A furnace
of love breathes
through the Body’s
warm return. Everyone
here is a fountain,
a desert, a host.
A compass, a likeness,
a branch. A door-
way vanishing into
your speechless,
infinite heart.
----©Laura Sorrells 2013
all rights reserved

Friday, October 18, 2013

an empty room

Your touch is both
circumference and
question. A bell,
a door, an ever-
lasting hour,
a shattered night,
an empty room,
the perfect light
that ravishes all
my little plans
with its wild
and holy

----©Laura Sorrells 2013
all rights reserved

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Christian Wiman's bright abyss

My God my bright abyss
into which all of my longing will not go
once more I come to the edge of all I know
and believing nothing believe in this:
----Christian Wiman

Thursday, September 26, 2013

breath and body

The elements
of Breath and Body
remember how you
belong to the blank
and smoldering face
of God. How you
wake to his lucent
kiss, how the suggestion
of air is a poignancy
before he gathers it
full and twinkling
for you to breathe.

©Laura Sorrells 2013
all rights reserved

Monday, August 5, 2013

another time

The last time I stayed up all night I was so excited about getting up before 3 a.m. to chant psalms at Vigils that I couldn’t sleep. I sat on my bed in my little room in the guest house of the Trappist monastery in Kentucky where I was on retreat and read a little from Kazantzakis’ novel about Saint Francis of Assissi and tried to meditate. Saint Francis has always been a vitally important and iconic figure for me, singularly compelling even before I began this part of my spiritual journey. I remember reading part of the Kazantzakis novel, for instance, back in Athens, Georgia, in the spring of 1996, not long before I left town on what felt like a whim to me at the time. I had been full of fear and despair then, and the book had been inexplicably comforting to me. I think I put it aside pretty fast when I moved in with my mother in the little mountain town where I still live now, some seventeen years later. At any rate, I didn’t sleep at all last month, that first hot July night on retreat at Gethsemani, even though I was exhausted from the long drive. I went into that odd, liminal space where shadows play games with the edges of a person’s eyesight and sounds sing songs that aren’t there. I know I was just really tired, but I felt keenly alive and powerfully happy. Almost giddy with joy, really. The monastery church there has a specific scent, as does the one in Georgia, an aroma that is both earthy and austere, but in a totally different way from the granite and evergreen and moss of Arabia Mountain. Not wild like a landscape but not exactly domesticated, either. I went into the church a little early and sat in the back, where the retreatants sit during the liturgy of the Hours, and just waited for things to begin. It was very dark, very quiet. The silence was broken by almost nothing, only a few small sounds here and there, just the settling of wood, the whisper of small wind against glass, and the breath of the body of everything, dark and kind and unknowable and empty in the absence of song and speech.

the last time

I wrote this in January of 2008 in response to a writing prompt: "When did you last stay up all night?" For some reason it resonated for me this evening as I ran across it accidentally in some old files.

It was last season, before all the leaves fell. I sat by a fire and renewed it when it diminished and read poems and wrote some things down in my notebook. I listened to the quiet. I held my old gray cat against my bare knee and rubbed his head. I thought about my grandmother and her painting and how she didn't start doing it till she was over fifty. I took some pictures of small things: a silver pendant, an old acorn I found under a tree in New England, the plumes of color coming off the burning wood in front of me. I didn't even try to sleep. I walked out onto the deck around 3 a.m. and the wind was blowing leaves down in big drifts. I made myself some popcorn and dusted some brewer's yeast onto it. I felt happy in my solitude though also a little lonely. I find that when my singularity is challenged I cling most intensely to these times. It’s good to stay up all night alone from time to time.

Monday, July 22, 2013


The first time I went to Arabia Mountain, this past March on Holy Saturday, I was astonished at the blanket of granite all around me. I had seen bits and pieces of the mountain on public television, but clearly I either hadn’t been paying attention or the camera did not capture the sweep of the place, the energy of it. My friend and I hiked for quite some time across the granite mountainface that day. He loves the mountain and enjoyed telling me stories about it, about how he and some friends just made it off the granite before it discharged electricity in the early moments of a storm. Other stories too. The landscape of the mountain, which is not really a mountain but a monadnock, seemed at once familiar and totally otherworldly to me. In Barry Lopez’s book Home Ground: Language for an American Landscape, Bill McKibben describes a monadnock like this:

            Though all land erodes, that erosion is never perfect; where harder rocks resist, an isolated mountain or hill called a monadnock can rise above the reduced plain, an unassimilated remnant of the loftier previous geology. The word comes from the Abenaki Indians, with one possible meaning of “the mountain that stands alone.” ...In the climactic chapter of Moby Dick, Melville describes Ahab as “fairly within the smoky mountain mist, which, thrown off from the whale’s spout, curled around his great, Monadnock hump."

An unassimilated remnant. The words carry a singularity and strength but Arabia is much more than a remnant for me. In the spring, patches of crimson diamorpha catch water and light, and after a few weeks they go brown. They seem to melt into the pocks of granite then, tousles of smallness where little fiery moss-meadows of bright rarity were before. Some of the pocks hold water from rain, and the water shines when the sun hits it in late afternoon, so that the lunar crumplesheet of granite seems almost to lift itself away from the earth around it. Trees, mostly conifers, dot the landscape, and there are islands of little forest all about. The people in charge of the National Heritage Area that includes Arabia built cairns all across its face at points where hikers could find their way back to the road. The cairns aren’t very big, and there is an organic rightness to them that is not invasive. The spirit of Arabia, such as I have encountered it in spring and summer, is one of paradox. It is both generous and fierce, rich and sere. It held me gently that Holy Saturday I first walked across it with my friend Phil, and then it called my lonesome spirit out and tossed it around like a plaything the next time I was there, some weeks later, on my own. I like that the granite of Arabia is akin to the granite of Mount Sinai. Arabia is not a desert, but it carries that same liminal edge that I felt in the desert just outside the Hopi reservation many years ago. It gets hot fast on Arabia. The air can feel charged with electricity even when there’s no storm coming. I feel both solitary and watched by God on Arabia. The two things come together in a dialectic of grace that is much different from the lush greenness of the Appalachian foothills where I live. The energy of Arabia insists on emptiness. It is not empty itself, exactly, but it seems to want me to be. Not long ago, at the start of the summer, I went to Arabia on a Sunday afternoon after having been at a weekend retreat at the Trappist monastery just a few miles down the road. The retreat was entitled “prayer and the image of God.” I’d gone to it last year, too, and I had been excited about it on Friday going in. Parts of the retreat were challenging and profound but other parts were a little disappointing. The final “conference” was to have been presented by one of the monks Sunday morning, but it was cancelled due to the Eucharistic Congress taking place in Atlanta. I was surprised and slightly disappointed, but not hugely so, and I certainly wasn’t angry. As I left the monastery grounds I contemplated stopping at the beautiful Abbey Church to pray with the people there, but I decided against it. Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament felt oddly disingenuous and even passive to me, a stark contrast to my usual sense of reverent eagerness. Then, too, I just did not want to be indoors with wooden choir stalls, stained glass, and blue light. I needed to be outside. So I went to Arabia. It was, I think, about the fourth time I had visited. It was a hot day, and as I got out of my car and put on my old blue cap I very briefly reconsidered the visit. But it felt right to be there, so, camera in hand, I walked on. The bright red diamorpha had long since faded into earthy brown. The sky was a relentless blue. The air smelled feral and sharp. I tried to identify that smell but could not. I don’t think I’ve ever smelled it anywhere else. There is something of patchouli, there, almost, and something of citrus, and a bit of evergreen, and something almost of the way asphalt smells after a rain. I have wondered if the place smells that way to anyone else. At any rate, I had been meaning to pray on Arabia, but words wouldn’t come. I wasn’t angry. Just empty. And as I noted the almost palpable fountain of emptiness the mountain was showing me I realized I was deeply, quietly happy. I felt at peace with the world, not in any visionary or supernatural way, but in a very ordinary, modest way that I did not really recognize at first. It felt like the air around me, the air in between pine needles and boulders, the air I was breathing, was charged with the blankness of God. No image. No sound. No taste. No thought. My mind did not try to grab on to much while I walked. I did not try to identify any birdsong or wildflowers. I watched where I stepped and I took a few photographs of noonday sun through clouds. At one point I lay down on the granite on my stomach to take a picture of a puddle, layered and shining. After I took a couple of pictures I put away my camera and rested my head on my forearms, just lying there still in the heat. The air seemed cupped and held, then sent along its way. It was not moving much, but it seemed to be. I had the thought that I was glad I had chosen to be there on the granite rather than indoors with dark wood and stone walls. And I thought about the image of God, or really the absence of an image. I thought about another time I had sat and felt something akin to this empty freedom, this nameless blankness, this love I had to work for to understand as such. It had been in the desert of northern Arizona, near Wupatki, a blowhole in the earth, right beside an ancient Anasazi ruin. I watched the sun set over the San Francisco peaks that summer day and felt included in its color. Being on Arabia that Sunday afternoon was something like that. As if I had asked a question and been totally refused a coherent, rational answer. Instead there was the invisible cup of emptiness all around and within me. The breath of grace. The spirit of something like a desert there, far away from where any desert really is. No image, no teacher, no ritual, no words. Just a silent God who knew I needed far, far less than I had ever believed possible, and who was delivering that deficit both fiercely and ineffably. My retreat was complete. It was time to go home.

©copyright Laura Sorrells 2013
all rights reserved

Source used:
Lopez, Barry., ed. Home Ground: Language for an American Landscape. San Antonio: Trinity University Press, 2006. Print.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Why not?

The humble name of
the Beloved
burns everything into
Why not choose
to seek the
crucible, and behold
its luminous

©Laura Sorrells 2013
all rights reserved

Monday, June 10, 2013

a new thought

A new thought
is remembering its
soul. For so long
a lonely vigilance
has guarded the
soil of faith.
Listen and see;
become the willing
servant of love.
Anything can heal
your fear
if you bless it.
----©Laura Sorrells 2013
all rights reserved

Monday, May 27, 2013

a torrent of graces

The solemn cloud
above me
is seeking a canyon
to sanctify. Its thirst
gathers around this
silence. Something like
starlight trembles
in my haunted
psalmist's heart
as a wild, unutterable
torrent of graces
rises into my emptiness.

©Laura Sorrells 2013
all rights reserved

Wednesday, May 8, 2013


A jumbled, shining
music comes
to find me
in the corners
of your quiet
weather. Already
I can feel its
footsteps crossing
my heart, like
oars in the rain
of a river,

©Laura Sorrells 2013
all rights reserved

Friday, April 12, 2013

light's attention

Mountain laurel
glows in light's attention.
Every minute
seems to wait
on the wind
to trade in winter
for the humming
urgency of
----©Laura Sorrells 2013
all rights reserved

This was a found poem, culled from Dave Bonta's blog The Morning Porch and the responses to it.

all hours

Every climate chooses
its paradox. Your
ordinary, vivid love
tells me something about
beauty every time
I feel you speak.
Nowhere else
is where you are.
All Hours are our
oracles, our teachers,
our speechless, wrestling
angels in the
silent dark.
----©Laura Sorrells 2013
all rights reserved

Monday, April 8, 2013

the possibility of dogwood

The possibility of dogwood
sings in the simple
prayer you whisper.
Our family of sassafras
and wind, of bloodroot
and mourning cloak,
announces the violent
and blessed 
claims of birth
and breathing. The scrutiny
of lilies and thunderheads
always finds me, always
remembers how I burn
like a desert without
you, and how
your healing fire
declares itself
again and again
in the living thirst of
your breath.

----©Laura Sorrells 2013
all rights reserved

This found poem came from Pattiann Rogers' book The Dream of the Marsh Wren: Writing as Reciprocal Creation.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

a poem by Mark Jarman

from Questions for Ecclesiastes

Unholy Sonnet #17

God like a kiss, God like a welcoming,
God like a hand guiding another hand
And raising it or making it descend,
God like the pulse point and its silent drumming,
And the tongue going to it, God like the humming
Of pleasure if the skin felt it as sound,
God like the hidden wanting to be found
And like the joy of being and becoming.
And God the understood, the understanding,
And God the pressure trying to relieve
What is not pain but names itself with weeping,
And God the rush of time and God time standing,
And God the touch body and soul believe,
And God the secret neither one is keeping.
----Mark Jarman

something older

from 2008......

The other day I went to the little lake off of Cove Road to take pictures. I didn’t have anything specific in mind. I thought maybe I would see the wild turkey again, the one I saw in late May up in a tree. I didn’t, but I got several nice photographs of dragonflies. And so I sat down to write something about them, something about stillness, waiting, nearness, trust, consciousness, detail. After starting and stopping several times, I pretty much decided that there doesn’t seem to be anything richer than the simple fact of the dragonflies’ presence. The bulbous eyes, the shining tiles of spread wings, the returning surprise of a narrow powder blue body to a reed, like an airborne stylus or a comb held up to the light with the teeth pointing away from you. The leaf, the stem that holds something particular for those tiny feet. A template of curiosity when the creature settles closer, a way of thinking I let it have when I consider it but that surely isn’t there at all. How green and blue share the afternoon light in such a way that the same insect shines like the edge of a leaf one minute and then five later hums with the Maxfield Parrish brightness of twilight sky, a needle of blue flame sliding through shadow to water. I’ve heard dragonflies called snake doctors and so I looked up the term. Seems like the Native Americans started referring to them as such because of how dragonflies rode low over or maybe on the backs of snakes. Someone imagined them stitching up the wounds of injured king snakes and moccasins, I guess, and there you have it. it’s an image I like, one of wordless collusion between worlds, of healing transmitted through the thinnest of places to roughness, no questions asked.

©Laura Sorrells 2008
all rights reserved

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Mountain

The mountain’s face is just the face it shows me. The side I see. It plays at getting bigger and then smaller again, depending on where I am. Sometimes I drive from Cove Road down Grandview Road to Burnt Mountain Road just so I can see the mountain rise up over me. A gentle ancestor, a season. It’s never the same twice and yet there’s a stubborn consistency about the textures of its winds and shadows. The light loves to turn colors I’ve never seen before as it passes across the forested spire. I make up names for these colors sometimes. Thornblue, roselaurel, greyling. Earlyglow. Threshold. Silverhaunt. Pantherdark. Woodsmoke. Skywild. The mountain often seems to mandate silence, or at least suggest it, sternly but with what I think of as love. Mircea Eliade wrote, “In several traditions the Cosmos is shaped like a mountain whose peak touches heaven; above, where the heavens and the earth are reunited, is the center of the world. This cosmic mountain may be identified with a real mountain, or it can be mythic, but it is always placed at the center of the world.” For me this cord is genetic, I think sometimes, and I wonder if my mother and grandparents, and others, felt this visceral sense of kinship with the mountain. I listen to the music of the mountain as I drive past it and it calms me. The music shifts but it always shares a soul with itself. The songlines, I thought once, driving along into the rise of the road one day in late December, watching the mountain get bigger as I got closer. It often does that in winter. I have thought that it should be the other way round, that the mountain’s bareness should make it seem smaller, but the bones of its slopes rise up into a shared space with the revelation of treetrunks in the small light of a January afternoon in a way that enlarges the mountain’s presence. Years ago, reading Joyce, I ran across the word “omphalos” and, looking it up, realized that the mountain carries that cord of energy for me. It is a portal, a thin place, a threshold, a liminal space where sky and earth come together and promise me that everything here---sky, earth, hawk, tree, coyote, rock, bear, creekwater, pinecone, bobcat---is my relative. That the tapestry of ancestors is not linear but curved and always present, always speaking to me in the silent shapes and shadows of wind and cloud across the cove as night comes on. 

©Laura Sorrells 2013
all rights reserved

Sunday, March 3, 2013


Unmoored by the afternoon,
I follow a coyote
along the crease
of the forest.
The hinge of everything
collects itself
to open something
up. If I try,
I can remember
the sounds of
this reverence:
the silence of the
loosestrife, the
scent of
a body larger
than the world,
wild, and
limned with love.
---©Laura Sorrells 2013
all rights reserved

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

the generosity of thirst

The generosity of thirst
is changing incredulity
into love, here
where the palpable
affection of God
bends rivers into
silent fire, then
back into
the insouciant,
singing grace
of water.

©Laura Sorrells 2013
all rights reserved

Friday, February 8, 2013

another rediscovered

from 2007

This ravine, still green and furious with foliage, is a kind of gap, its thirty-three descending wooden steps obscured by ferns and moss in October’s unseasonable heat. At the bottom, in the trough near the grotto where I stood with the spiderweb last month and played with light, I once buried my cat Tess, a gray and orange tortoiseshell who loved my mother. I wrapped her in a thinning ancient towel, white with marigolds across it, a brightness I saw the next morning from my deck, knowing I’d made the grave in that hard dark earth too shallow. That unearthing, however it happened, seemed to me then a kind of seamless holy thing, like Annie Dillard’s bloody tom, distributing gore across her waking body at dawn, his compact hunter’s form a tawny stamp of fecundity, much like the flare of vivid yellow I saw in the forest that morning: a flag, brash and empty.

Thursday, February 7, 2013


When I was a kid, I had a subscription to Cricket magazine. I loved the running commentary from Cricket and Ladybug and the fat snail and the blind earthworm, down in the margins. I read each issue hungrily and memorized the artwork with my hungry little writer’s soul, fantasizing about pairing my own words with such beauty. When my parents split in 82, the magazines disappeared—or so I thought.
A couple of Decembers ago I found one of them under the sofa in my father’s house. Mice and elves on the cover, 1973. and then in January another, in a basket in the upstairs bathroom beneath Lake Wobegon Days. 1974, a Valentine’s issue, aswirl with candyhearts and paper roses imprinted with tiny cricket footprints. And, a few months later, still another, this time on a shelf beside the basement stairwell. Christmas 1974. I began to search for others, and they started turning up—in a small stack in one of the closets in the garret bedroom upstairs, behind the old yellow Ethan Allen dresser in the basement. I became obsessed with finding the Hallowe’en issue from, I think, 1974, simply and solely for the graphic on the cover. Having apparently nothing better to do for two days over spring break that year, I shuffled through the attic, determined to unearth that magazine. The cover was for me a completely perfect expression of Hallowe’en, always my favorite holiday. On the front was a city alight with the small and large peregrinations of the night, and on the back was a thrillingly haunted country scene depicting an assortment of ghosts and goblins and witches and jack o’lanterns marching and dancing through the fullmoonlit countryside. Hallowe’en was for me the cusp of the year, even as a child, a time when it seemed the progression of the seasons tilted and moved into newness. The magazine held all that—-the scent of pumpkinflesh carved and slightly scorched, the sense that anything was possible and that all the thin places of the world were standing open, enshrouded in a playful beneficent witchy silver mist. If I could only lay eyes on those goblins again!
I never did find the magazine, at least not yet.
But I did find a box of marching horses—a porcelain gray prancer with an illfitting white plastic saddle and a velvet sorrel with a stillsilky mane and tail and wide eyes. I found the gray tabbycat handpuppet I told endless stories to as a child, her green eyes milky and shot out. I found a journal I kept from the fifth grade through the seventh, beginning with a description of a November rainstorm and ending with a reminiscence about wandering the bridlepaths of the horse pasture behind our woods and imagining I was a deer. I found my guide to the care and training of Shetland sheepdogs, with my beloved Sheltie’s papers tucked inside. I found a pair of thick glasses with brown plastic frames in a bright red cloth case, the left much thicker, as ever, than the right. I found a decoupaged box with three of my baby teeth and a set of tiny castiron salt and pepper shakers in it. I found a yarn panda bear filled with foam, put together by my Grandma Floyd.
The thin places did open for me, it seems, in a seamless beckoning into the deepest satisfactions and sweetest treasures of my girlhood. Were they there all along, and I just didn’t look?
I’ll keep my eyes open better from now on.
copyright 2007 l.k. sorrells

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


This ruined garden
begs for your spark.
Recognize the Beloved
face of your heart
in its wild and constant
light. Somewhere
here your treasure
lingers, waiting for
you to understand the
puzzling rune, to
inherit the silent
castle, to love
the lonesome shard
on the cold and
empty floor.

©Laura Sorrells 2013
all rights reserved

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Mary Street

Walking home alone
in the electric sheen
of post-thunderstorm
April evening,
the night is lambent
with reawakened moonlight;
the street is tossed
with foolish bits
of flying energy
released from
pre-storm torpor
by the punk
of lightning’s sulphur,
by the voice of thunder
in these mountains.
Branches arc
across the streetside,
narrow dark curves
of dispossessed tree
flung down from
home by wind.
Leaves, like paper-thin mice
with brains made
frantic by rain,
hurry past,
their voices the sylvan inheritance
of each season’s violence,
done to trees:
the pressure of ice
in winter,
its weight on branches
in leafless stillness,
the intemperate blasts of spring,
as cold air gives
way to warm,
as frost is displaced
by the small
bright fires of
growth in wood.
I recall the August blasting
of a favorite white oak by lightning:
A ravaged ash
alone in a dry field,
a scorched sentinel
made electricity’s victim.
Then autumn’s disavowal
of green, its dismantling
of that cloak
of shuddering chlorophyll,
its dispersal of color
into earth,
the souls of sweetgums
made ready
for the ascetic
winter lives of owls
and sleeping creatures,
each naked branch
a voiceless prayer
of restoration
and of pagan grace.

©Laura Sorrells 1996
all rights reserved

Friday, January 25, 2013

the story

The solitary fire
you travel with
knows the story
I chase. It
brings me the password
of transformation; it
mends the bones
of my wildness.
Hungry for its
beggar's whisper,
I wait for the refuge
of its reach:
replete with
the shock of Love.

©Laura Sorrells 2013
all rights reserved

Monday, January 21, 2013

This Book

This book is a paper sailboat careening into the spires of cypress knees.
This book is a barn burning, erasing the beams that stood in front of the big yellow moon.
This book is a microscope, rescued from a box in the attic of your childhood.
This book is a tender young beech leaf yearning to know the sun.
This book is a grandfatherly archetype, playing games with magic in the middle of the night.
This book is a wanderer. It likes to go places without names, places in between the places on the maps.
This book is neither a telegram nor a text message.
This book is a skinny bear emerging from the grotto in the forest, hungry for grubs and cat food.
This book is an alligator’s leg pushing away from logs in the courtyard pond.
This book is a wild thing trying to be tame.
This book is something like a mystery or a riddle. Its pages are neither gray nor blue. They carry a texture like depth, a seriousness that gets behind language and shoves it around.
This book is a foxtail with a bristly tip, given as a gift.
This book is a cloud of brown-headed cowbirds full of corn and winter.
This book is a travelogue, a clumsy try at keeping track of all the ways to talk to people in between the towns of Appalachia.
This book is a city skyline bristling with bridges.
This book is a bridge tagged with blue.
This book is the furl of tarpaulin beneath the bridge, a rectangle of chill in January.
This book is a labyrinth, a web of careful bricks edged with stiff tufts of leftover grass.
This book is an empty suit of armor on display in a place where no one knows its story.
This book is a carpenter’s cat’s paw with nothing to nudge loose from beams or siding.
This book is the slender bleachy jawbone of a fox or dog, found settling into tar on the traintracks near Talking Rock Creek.
This book is a mug of jasmine tea, remembering how sweet it was to be a flower.
This book is the place where poems go to be alone when no one wants to read them.
This book is a monocle, always hot from starting tiny fires in checkout lines.
This book is the big old wind that tears down limbs from oak trees and sings to itself in the cove.
This book is cousin to the Eastern Forest Field Guide under the seat in the truck.
This book is a superhero’s diary, full of hyperbole and mischief.
This book is the unwritten thing that has no synonym, no nomenclature to show itself to others. It sings its little song of consolation. It whistles past the graveyard in the moonlight. It is a cliché, a cannonball, a memorized stanza from high school, an excuse, an homage, a playground, and a whisper. It got lost once but found its way back with nothing missing. You looked and looked, expecting to see a chunk of font cut away from the middle with someone’s tiny scissors, but everything was there, all the words that courted you and made you write them down for some unspoken reason you aren’t sure exists.
This book is all topography, all raised edges showing you what to see and how to get around it.
This book knows your name but won’t say it.
This book is the last story you’ll ever need: a simpleness, a foundling, a caress, a stumble, a woodsplitter, a pillow, a koan, a dream half-remembered in the morning, a plate of scrambled eggs with lots of pepper, an afterthought, a raincoat, a weathervane, a kiss.

-----©Laura Sorrells 2013
all rights reserved

Sunday, January 20, 2013

everything left

Your intoxicating Silence
tells me things
I have always
wanted. Whatever
intimacy I turned to
hurries away from me now.
Everything left is
melting into
praise, into
the happy work
of becoming

©Laura Sorrells 2013
all rights reserved

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


My heart has
become the
exultant disciple
of your
thirst. No
mantra, no
movement, no
author. Only
this sweet
desert, this
family of
fire, this

©Laura Sorrells 2013
all rights reserved

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About Me

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Georgia, United States
I live at the edge of the forest in a little town in the north Georgia mountains. I teach sixth grade Language Arts and am writing a memoir of sorts about family, spirituality, and narrative. I am also exploring a possible writing project having to do with contemporary lay contemplative experience and how it might be informed by the Desert Fathers and Mothers of early Christianity. I am a relatively recent convert to Roman Catholicism and an admirer of Pope Francis, Leonardo Boff, Joan Chittister, and Richard Rohr. I'm a Lay Associate of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Monastery in Conyers, Georgia. I am interested in indigenous cultures, narratives, and spirituality, especially how these can inform my spirituality as a lay contemplative. I write, read, take pictures, play around with creating ephemera from paper and cloth and other organic things. I cook, hike, watch wildlife, and collect random bits of interesting oddness, both tangible and abstract. I am a seer of smallness and a caretaker of ridiculous minutiae. If you want, e-mail me at or