Mine To Do

I return to the garden 
after a season
of supporting
those who must

matter most right 
now. Last week, I felt 
like Atlas, not quite 
holding the entire 

world on my back,
but convinced it
would crash down
around me if I

didn’t keep straining
and pushing and 
advocating change.
It has been necessary,

exhausting work, but I
turn back now to the 
business of mowing
and weeding and filling

bird feeders.  By day’s
end, I will be coated
with sweat.  Bits of grass,
twigs, dirt, bugs 

stamped on my skin, 
joiners to the cause.   
And I will stink.
I will stop because 

the sun is fading or 
because I am hungry or
tired, but not because
the job is done.

Tomorrow there will 
be more necessary, 
exhausting work that 
is mine to do.  

© 2020 Deb Moore, All Rights Reserved


I was stirring
honey in my tea
when through the
kitchen window
I spied the bright red
cardinal who had
established himself
Chief of the Yard.
He flight-paced
between the empty feeder
and a mimosa limb.
When he paused,
he looked right at me.
I swear he did.

His angry cardinal
glare and fiery
feathers, all ruffled
and fluffed, set
my priorities.
Tea down,
I went out to the shed
for the bucket of
seed and walked
toward the feeder,
then noticed,
a flash of red diving into
the honeysuckle.

Alone at the tree,
still, I felt watched.
Watched, as I reached
for the feeder,
set it on the ground,
fed it scoopfuls
of black oil
sunflower seeds,
and returned it,
full, to its limb
in the mimosa.

Back at shed distance,
I saw Chief
return and perch,
his beak stabbing,
shells flying,
a black hailstorm
the female cardinal
and the finches
and the wrens
and the chickadees
who must have been
watching from places

We watch each other
for different reasons,
Chief and I.
He watches for food.
I watch for beauty and
flight and poetry.
Reciprocal stalkers
in search of sustenance.
I feed, he eats,
and we are
both filled,
sated with
magnesium and

© 2020 Deb Moore, All Rights Reserved

Mom’s Advice for Everything

Several years ago, a tiny book called Life’s Little Instruction Book was a best-selling phenomenon.  H. Jackson Browne wrote the book as a gift to his son who was going to college.  If you were alive on this planet 20 or so years ago, you know of this book.  It was everywhere.  I had the privilege of briefly working for the original publisher of the book, jokingly referred to by those of us in marketing as “The House that Jack Built.”

It was such a simple and rather obvious concept.  Despite its simplicity (or maybe because of it), the book spent almost a year at #1 on the New York Times Bestseller List.  Copycat publications began to fall like rain behind it.

As a young writer, I longed for that kind of publishing success and wracked my brain trying to create a similar premise for a book.  Creating the simple is often the most difficult task.

With Mother’s Day just behind us, I’ve been thinking about my mom.  Well, of course.  In the story arc of my time with my mother, what she has taught me is not exactly conducive to book form.  Sure, she has given me quite a few lessons over the years, but there is a definite and predominant theme which would ultimately be the whole of any literary endeavor built around her wisdom.  It has been my mother’s answer to everything:  “Get up and move around; you’ll feel better.”

When I feigned sickness to avoid school as a child, that was her swift reply.  I suppose some mothers might feel a forehead or sit at the edge of the bed in pursuit of further information about the purported illness.  Not mom.  As she would zip through my room, probably putting away freshly folded clothes or (often) running a vacuum cleaner as my alarm clock, she would fling the phrase over her shoulder.  No matter how pathetic I made my plea sound, her response was the same: “Get up and move around; you’ll feel better.”

And the part I couldn’t easily admit as a child was that she was almost always right.  Even when I did have some aches or pains which might have justified my complaint, usually if I just started moving they began to dissipate.

Over the years, I have heard my mother’s voice echoing in my brain on many occasions.  When I was ill or depressed or just in a general funk, I could hear my mother advocating her cure for everything.

When life felt untenable and just generally bigger than me, “Get up and move around; you’ll feel better.”  When a job or my checkbook or the mess in the garage seemed out of control, “Get up and move around; you’ll feel better.”  When my heart or my spirit or my hope was broken, “Get up and move around; you’ll feel better.”

It’s no secret that exercise can combat depression.  My mother knew that far before it became the conventional wisdom of mental health, though in her eyes exercise is a waste of precious time you could actually use to work and accomplish something.  Of all the great wisdom in the world she could have passed on, in her endlessly pragmatic way my mother gave me the one piece that is actually useful in most situations.

I hope my mother is on this earth for many more years.  But, when the time should come for her to slip this mortal coil, this will be my vote for her epitaph: “Get up and move around; you’ll feel better.”