Satya II: At the Fair


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The Satya stories are from my archives.


When Satya told me her mother and sister had her committed, I couldn’t stop thinking about it.  The questions popped into my head at the weirdest times, like when I was eating a crème filled chocolate doughnut on my coffee break, or brushing my teeth before bed.

            Satya and I were on the Arts Council, and she was preparing to do a yoga demonstration for a Health and Wellness Fair in our town.  Her daughter, Devi, and I worked as ticket-takers on the Saturday of the fair. 

            Toward the afternoon, the stream of visitors slowed to a trickle.  The two of us sat together at the long table sipping lemonade.  It was one of those terrible humid days that make me wonder why I ever left Arizona.

            “Your mom is brave, doing yoga in this heat.”

            “She’ll be wiped out tonight,” Devi agreed.

            “How long has she been doing yoga, anyway?”

            “She started in the psych hospital, I think,” Devi said.  “I was little, maybe four or five.”

            “And you were living with your grandma then?”

            “For a little while.  And then with my father.  But that turned out bad.”

            “You don’t have to answer this,” I said, “but I’m curious why your mother was in a hospital.”

            “Oh, it’s no secret,” Devi said.  “Gosh, it’s hot.” She lifted her curly hair off the back of her neck.  “Mom was talking to the archangels.  Which wouldn’t have been a problem—she still does—it’s just that she told the wrong people about it, like my grandma, the super WASP.”  Devi gave a dry chuckle.  “Ha, and worse yet, she told my grandma what the angels said about her.”

            “Not good, I gather,” I was probing, but Devi didn’t seem to mind.

            “Not good,” she confirmed.  “So my grandma and my aunt Delia got my mom committed.  Mom could have lied about her visions, but she wouldn’t deny the angels.”

            “You said she still talks to the archangels?”

            “Oh, yeah, but not as often now, what with the yoga classes and me to look after.”

            “What’s it like, having Satya for a mom?” I asked.  I thought of my own three kids, how the two teens are so easily embarrassed, like when I sing in the supermarket.

            Devi turned to look at me directly.  Her face was still and her usually wide, relaxed lips were drawn into a line.  “What do you mean?”

            I drew in a breath; aware I’d gone too far.  “Well, uh, like she’s not what people would consider…”

            Devi pushed her chair back and stood up.  “I have to check in with her now,” she said, and walked away, her lemonade cup in one hand, and running the other hand through her curls.

            “Whoa,” I blew out the breath I’d been holding. 

On That Morning


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On that morning,

a thin crescent moon

dangled in a cloudless sky

peach apricot light smeared the trees

and the rambling water


On that morning,

a fox left his scat on the gravel

a mixture of tarry, seed-flecked turds

his way of owning the meadow


On that morning

the Queen Anne’s lace 

and mushrooms

glowed bone-white,

sudden alien visitors,

beacons in the mist


On that morning

a heart beat hidden under

a black trench coat

sought truth and miracles


for God to answer





Angels make their hope here

on this struggling planet

of refugees and school shootings.

Why do they persist?

Because they’re angels.

How can they not weep for us?


Today the radio sent me

back to Sandy Hook.

Twenty children, six adults


And before Adam Lanza

entered that school,

he shot his mother.


What happened next?


Alex Jones of Infowars

told his listeners

that the shooting was staged

A government conspiracy

to take Americans’ guns away.


Grieving families were harassed.

Told that their children had been seen



Will Mr. Jones have something to say

about the Russians bombing

a maternity hospital?


Oh, angels, do you have words

for this insanity?

I don’t.

Do you have hope?

Help for us.  Hope for us.

We are foundering.


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Satya I: Tea with Satya


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Here are a series of stories about Satya from my archives.


Satya 1: Tea with Satya

            “My mother and my sister had me committed.  They got custody of Devi.”

            Satya said this the second time we had tea together. By then I’d met Devi, a tall, filled-out girl about sixteen years old.  Devi’s eyes were a young egg blue behind black frame glasses.

            Satya was tall, too.  She gestured widely with her pale arms when she spoke.  Her voice was smoky and deep, soothing like ocean waves.

            We were drinking tea outdoors on her patio.  Satya sat in a peacock fan-back rattan chair.  Her black, curly hair looked stark against the white reeds of the chair.  Her eyes were like an endless sky.  After she spoke those words, she went silent and simply held my eyes unblinking until I had to glance away.

            I wanted to know more: why had she been committed?  How long?  How did she get Devi back?  I didn’t ask.  Those eyes of hers stopped me.  They seemed to be challenging me to ask a better question, a profound one.  So I waited instead.

            Satya took a sip of her ginger tea and said, “I don’t have any contact with my family now.  It was too painful.  There was so much bad energy.  Easier to cut off contact completely.”

            “Mmm,” I said, being as non-committal as possible.  Thinking, “It’s not so easy to get someone committed.  Or is it?  A friend told me a long time ago that in some places, it takes only three signatures.

            Satya’s dog pushed her nose through the flap of the dog door.  It was a vizla, one of those golden dogs with the racing body, like a greyhound.  She padded over to Satya and placed her head on Satya’s knee.

            “This is Belle.  She is my familiar.  My sweet old dog Lazarus died two years ago and came back to me in her.  It’s so good to have him back again.”  Satya rubbed Belle’s head and traced a symbol on it with one pale finger.

            “This is my last lifetime,” she said to me, in the same way she might have said, This is my left shoe.  “That’s why I’ve had so much to deal with, you know, tying up all the loose ends.”

            I nodded.  It made perfect sense on that patio, with Belle waving her slim tail, with the taste of ginger and lemon prickling my throat, with the shifting shadows of leaves on the warm bricks.

            “I don’t go out much here,” Satya said.  “Too much bad energy out there,” she gestured toward town and the world beyond.  “How did you like class today?”  she asked.

The studio where Satya teaches yoga is behind her house.  This is where we met when I signed up for classes.

            “It was good for me.  My back is looser than it’s been in weeks.  No pain at all,” I answered.

            Satya smiled.  “You took some furniture out of your bedroom, right?”

            I was sure I hadn’t told Satya about rearranging my bedroom.  I had finally sold my mother’s oak dresser, after long agonizing days of indecision and guilt.  I hated the piece and its memories, but I’d carried it with me for years, for moves all over the country.

            “How did you know?” I asked.

            Satya waved her hand.  “I see things sometimes,” she said.


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Creation I


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Shiva’s skin glows blue.

He sits on a tiger skin

on a rock

on top of Mount Kailasa.

He is still and silent.


The sound is OM.

He rests in his own delight.

His heart is the sacred center.

He is a perfect, pure lake of love.

He needs nothing.

Desires nothing.


Shakti comes like a warm breeze.

Her golden veil billows out behind her.

Her movement stirs the still water.

Circles of ripples intersect in spiral patterns.


Shiva does not move.


Shakti tickles the lake’s surface

with slender brown fingers.

Fish appear—

sunset orange, crystal white,

transparent fins waving.

Shakti strokes the sky,

pokes holes with her fingernail.

Bursts of light shine through

the indigo dome.


Shiva opens one eye, just a slit.


Shakti smiles a secret smile.

She hums a lyric tune.

She dances on the surface of the lake.

Where her feet touch, islands appear.

Verdant vines twine up blossoming trees.

Jasmine scents the gentle air.


Shiva’s nose twitches.  His nostrils widen.


Shakti twirls to her own music.

Her hair flies free.

Where it touches the sky, birds take flight—

crimson feathers, feathers of turquoise and lime green,

dipping, floating against the cobalt sky.


Shiva opens both eyes.