Bettina T. Barrett









Unlock chests

open cupboards

breathing can go deeper

am still skating on

the surface


where is her breath?


she needs

to hold on


too many keys

weigh down pockets


live simply oh yes

refrains are bone dry

tunes no longer



to her own ears


still she stands

in front of that chest

that cupboard


let all of us take

a deep breath


start over






Why could we not

have shared our lives

in the language of love?


why did you not smile

laugh with me

instead of flirting with

all the good-lookig men

on our doorstep


where did your heart live

every morning when you

sent me off to school

with a frown


I kept looking for the wrinkles

you managed to erase

with jars of cream every night

no smiles allowed


I kept drinking out

of the open well

where not a drop existed


You carried fear like a

medalion of honor


left me to polish the silver






The oars   one on each side

longer than the boat itself …

I float on glass


eyes follow into the deep

where white clouds live

I dive

there is no bottom

the sky goes on forever


someone rows

and we move with each wave

he sings a song where

feathers fly and words

come to rest

on the shore


I follow each flight

white gulls

whose dream do I remember?


now the boat

his breath


come morning the day spills

over the edge




March 2018












Bettina T. Barrett was born (Sept.1931) and grew up in Denmark, coming in 1946 (after WWII and the German Occupation) to the United States, where she finished high school and went into nursing. She arrived in California in 1970 and Santa Barbara in 1972 and developed her writing and art as well as hiked the mountains here and in the Sierras, learning that what we call Nature is not something “other,” something separate from us, but very much a part of us all. Barrett writes, “I have become aware of who and what I am as a woman and what it means to be alive, in this place.” Barrett is a member of the Santa Barbara Art Association and has exhibited widely drawings, paintings, and ceramics over many years. She has also been a volunteer “grandmother” with the Wilderness Youth Project. Breath and Bone is her third book of poetry. She also had a chapbook published, Heartscape.



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