Category Archives: Michigan

34–“Animals on the Journey Home” from “Frazzle”

I-94 to Michigan, M D Mikus, Copyright 2013

“A hawk in flight,
red tail, full wing extension

lands on the bank
newly grass-sown and waits….”

From poem 34, “Animals on the Journey Home,” in my book, Thrown Again into the Frazzle Machine: Poems of Grace, Hope, and Healing. Listen here:

To be in the moment as a witness, even in a car on the way to Michigan with husband driving and two kids in back. To notice and write down and remember…that exact time, the trip an awareness of its own, not just a destination.

For more poem videos in the “Frazzle” series

Not Being the Victim: “Bird Poop”

There is a breast cancer support group in Michigan where I am known as “the author of ‘Bird Poop,’ ” which is a poem from As Easy as Breathing: Reclaiming Power for Healing and Transformation. Someone even got up on a picnic table and read it aloud at their summer picnic a few years ago, as I recall. I have never met these lovely women, but this story still warms me. “Bird Poop” continues to be one of the most popular tracks on my CD. Does this remind you of anything in your own life? Here it is:

Bird Poop

I don’t feel
that I have cancer:
not just physically,
that surgery
successfully removed
abnormal cells…

but mentally, I am not
“a person with cancer;”
cancer is something that
is happening to me.

If a pigeon poops on your head
you don’t become
“a person with bird poop,”
it’s just something that happened to you.

You clean up,
tell your tale
and move on.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 1996









To hear me read “Bird Poop” on my CD, Full Blooming: Selections from a Poetic Journal click here and scroll down to track 11.






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This Space of Grace blog is moving soon to a new home, integrated into my newly designed website, All the same posts will be there in the archives and I will be writing more than ever. I am grateful to blogger for this time of connection (since 2009) and I trust I will see you all (and hear from you too) at the new location. You will be automatically transferred, you won’t miss anything so no worries. Thank you to all my readers and to those whose comments encouraged me to keep writing.

Recently I have been researching family history online. Many reasons why this is the time to do it. Questions to answer like: is what I remember actually true? Here is a new poem:

Peony by the Driveway, 2012          Copyright MDMikus

Peony by the Driveway, 2012 Copyright MDMikus


Photo Albums

My mother, one year maybe in the ‘70’s,
took the time to gather all the family photos
and for each of her 7 children made a life story

with bits of baby hair, maybe a curl from the first haircut,
and the tiny beaded wristlet from the maternity hospital
with DUBAY and a blue medal of the Blessed Mother.

Baby pics, posed and natural,
some of us looking so similar, had to tell who was who
by the year on the back or other cues.

And inside the front cover an envelope of negatives
was taped to later make some prints.
In mine, a copy of an old letter from my Grandma Schulte

with news to reassure her daughter, my Mom,
that my brother and I were alright staying with her.
She wrote our daily schedule including snacks and naps,

a newsy description of our interests,
her frequent concern for my hair to stay out of my eyes—
the solution: to give me a permanent.

The love X 7 poured into each album,
her lasting gift, I opened today
and found how close or far off was memory,

how radiantly beautiful
was my mother.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2013

Mom and Me in 2009                      Copyright MDMikus

Mom and Me in 2009 Copyright MDMikus

Dad’s Birthday

Today was my Dad’s birthday. Happy Birthday, Dad! No one alive knows any more the truth or myth of the family story that his mom tried to hold off his delivery until after April Fools Day, 1925. But babies come when they are ready and even a very stubborn German lady might not be able to pull that off!

He died in 1985, (when my son was just shy of one year old). He was 60, the age I am very aware of approaching. And very aware of how young that was, how much I have left I want to do. In 2009 I posted some poems for his birthday. Here are a few more.


Watermelon Reminds Me of Michigan

My strapping Dad buying
a couple big, unsplit,

possibly ripe, whole ones
for the extended family reunions.

Chill and wrap in layers of newspaper
to keep cool in summer heat.

Slippery wet black seeds
could be pinched between thumb

and forefinger,
shooting some distance

into park crabgrass
or spit, with juice

running down the chin,
face a satisfied grin.

Yes, that watermelon,
sometimes salted half-moon slices

or quarters for the youngest
(don’t eat below the pink part!)

treats in the hot season,
limited availability then.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2008


Sitting With It

My uncle died last week,
my Dad’s only brother,

I was not that close to him
so the intensity of my grieving

ambushed me.
But he represented my father,

gone these 25 years,
and he represented my past, my childhood,

my tribe, my clan (all that expectation).
All the memories wrapped up in one man.

He represented all the aunts and uncles beginning to pass on
and my mother, waiting in line.

I am from Michigan people who gathered
and stayed together, supported each other.

And I left them to find myself—
the gain in that decision

greater than the loss, but there was loss nevertheless,
any connection to them from a distance.

Any relationship of my children to them,
more fragile and tenuous.

(My children did not grow up with
extended family at every important occasion.)

And now that my Dad’s brother is gone…
no more chances for understanding.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2010

My father was a complex man and we had our troubles growing up, but I am grateful for many things, the lessons I continue to learn from him. This poem was written as part of body-mind-emotion-spirit energy healing work I did with Tricia Eldridge (founder of Energy Touch School for Advanced Healing in Michigan) to deal with recurring abdominal weakness and other persistent health issues.


Old Wounds Healed

My Dad came this time,
invited to participate,

to undo what had been done,
to take back what had been said,

lodged in my gut but rightfully
belonged to him.

She said he struggled with it,
but kept on until the dark mass,

that chain and ball or anchor?
who knows, not mine,

but his, and now returned to him,
leaving me lighter, healing.

He died 24 years ago,
I have worked hard

over and over to heal and forgive.
Last week he showed up

clearer than ever—in a good way—
sitting at our old Formica kitchen table,

cutting giblets and celery for stuffing
the Thanksgiving turkey.

Was that his ethereal gold form
standing last night in my room?

Did he choose to come help
or did I call him…or both…or neither?

Just the right timing,
you know how this works:

what is ready to be healed
come up to the surface.

However painful, allowing the feeling
releases the hold.

Still true,
still true.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2009

Surprises of Both Kinds

Some surprises are welcome and others not. Recently we have had some of both. My husband and daughter went to Michigan to see his mother, who was in failing health. They had a wonderful visit at the hospital, though it was clear she was declining. When they were almost home, a call came that she had died. Last Monday we came back from her funeral. (In the first week of January, Stephen’s Dad, who had been very hardy, slipped on the ice in his driveway and died in the hospital days later.) They were both in their eighties and we were aware time with them was getting short, so we had made more trips than usual to Detroit last year. Still there is no way, really, to prepare, and losing both parents so quickly is especially hard. My way of coping was, as usual, to write.  Here is a poem about my mother-in-law, Rae.


Rae’s Last Day

I can picture her standing there
in front of the living room picture window
small, fragile, vulnerable, frail,

wearing her tan jacket
and matching tan pants,
her hair done just so,

and I gave her a hug and said
we’d soon see her again
knowing it was nearing the end.

And today was the end
of that complex book,
the last page of dialog written

in a grace-filled hospital room
with loved ones gathered around.
All she needed to slip away

more or less easily, graciously, consciously.
To say and hear “I love you,” to laugh,
to be herself. To wrap up long life,

to breathe the last sacred breath…
and go.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2011

When preparing his mother’s eulogy, Stephen unexpectedly turned to my new book, Letting Go and New Beginnings: A Mother’s Poetic Journey. Over the 16 years of my poetry writing, Stephen has supported me in many ways.  Often I read to him poems that I wrote for him. But typically he does not read my poems on his own. This time he was looking for something that would express the mother’s voice—in a sense speak for his mother—and amazingly he thought of my book to find something that fit. These are the three poems he chose to read in the course of his eulogy. I love my poems being used, in that sense, a good surprise.


Reset Button

In a sense
I have not allowed myself
to let go
of your small hand in mine
as we cross the busy street,

although I know you are ready
and you know you are ready.
Perhaps guilt over sometimes
letting you cry, when I
needed my own life,

but felt stuck in the apparent
confines of caring for two small children
—the life I had,
a life I had chosen.
But now, do you see it too?

It is time to let go
and walk side by side as equals,
each as tall as the other,
each as weak and as strong,
each sometimes needing a hand.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2006


Mother of Adult Children

You want me to be there
when you want me to be there,
and to disappear when
you are no longer—
presumably temporarily—

How fair is that? And,

that is OK with me…
up to a point.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2006


After You Left

I am watching out for you.
Even when I am not watching,
I am watching.

I cannot say why this is true
or when it began,
it feels like forever
my love.

So do me a great favor
and become…not less carefree
nor less careless,
nor even more careful,

for being full of care
is not it exactly.
Be more aware of your choices,
more in tune with your inner wisdom.

For you are wise
dear one.

And if I am selfish
and want you to stay with me
when it is clearly time to go,

and go.
Call me when you arrive.
I will be waiting.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2008

To read a sample of Letting Go and New Beginnings and the new lovely review go to