A poem for now

For the podcast Sugar Calling, Cheryl Strayed interviews authors during quarantine. In a recent episode, Billy Collins, former Poet Laureate of the United States, read and recited poetry. Collins is a poet who reminds me that I like poetry. In the podcast, he quoted Irish poet Eavan Boland, “Poetry begins where language starts: in the shadows and accidents of one person’s life.”

If ever there was a time that felt like a shadowy accident, it’s now. Thus, I can’t write anything resembling advice. Dozens of COVID-19 think pieces exist or will soon, and I can’t do that to you or to myself. Also, I have no sourdough tips.

So instead of a blog, I’ve written a poem, followed by some poems I enjoy.



there is poison ivy in my garden bed. 

I bought mulch to tamp it down

but it continues sprouting. 

The roots stretch into the soil, infinite

They smell like poison,

like they should come with a label with a skull on it.

I need to dig out 

the poison roots 

to get rid of them. 

It will take years. 


And yet


Hosta emerge from the earth 

like tiny miracles. 

How did they survive a winter 

waiting all that time, 

bulbs with dead leaves buried in snow? 

How did they fear their own emergence, 

gobbled by rabbits?


We are the bulbs. 

We wait, 

We cannot emerge, yet. 


On a positive note, 

life as a woman in public 

has never been better.

With the popularity of physical boundaries,

nobody brushes my body 

at the grocery store

and no one shouts out the car window 

at my masked face


I have planted 

forget-me-nots, salvia, zinnia, lavender

tomato, cucumber, basil, red chard

arugula, pea pods, cilantro, jalapeño 

cosmos, hosta, phlox 


The seeds sprout in my sunroom

where it smells like photosynthesis

like spare oxygen,

like the plants have exhaled and are waiting for my next breath


Here I’ve assembled my favorites – 

plants, mandala painted rocks,

bird feeder outside the window.

My son in the next room, 

water evaporating from his skin,

lingering from our water fight in the grass.


Next to the mudroom,

where yesterday 

he stretched blue paint 

across a picture of a T. Rex.

“I love painting,” he said, 

and the paintbrush scratched across the canvas with the most delicious sound.

I’ll leave you with some poems that I enjoy and feel relevant right now.

Don’t Hesitate by Mary Oliver


If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy,

don’t hesitate. Give in to it. There are plenty

of lives and whole towns destroyed or about

to be. We are not wise, and not very often

kind. And much can never be redeemed.

Still, life has some possibility left. Perhaps this

is its way of fighting back, that sometimes

something happens better than all the riches

or power in the world. It could be anything,

but very likely you notice it in the instant

when love begins. Anyway, that’s often the

case. Anyway, whatever it is, don’t be afraid

of its plenty. Joy is not made to be a crumb.


The Uses of Sorrow by Mary Oliver:


(In my sleep I dreamed this poem)

Someone I loved once gave me

a box full of darkness.

It took me years to understand

that this, too, was a gift.



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