There are wires and cords
that stretch out,
from the hospital bed,
the transparent filigree
of a floating jellyfish.
One leads to the phone
to order food.
One leads to the TV, so we can stare at
cooking shows with delicacies not available here.
One leads to compression wraps
for your vulnerable legs.
Another leads to the IV ports
in your bruised, crepe-skinned arm.
In between your long spells of sleeping
and my knitting,
we enjoy the pretend competition
of the contestants cooking.
We marvel at how quickly
they move about the kitchen.
I marvel even more at your careful movements
and the miracle of progress after your fall.
We count the steps you take
as if you are skipping stones—
any number makes you a winner.
You fight for everyday markers of strength,
your efforts a perfect ten.
This is the Olympics of rehabilitation.
Cotton gown diamond patterns
become your fashion.
We look out the window as day becomes night.
Another day passes
in the goldfish bowl of recovery,
a blue ribbon day of taking five steps
just to turn around
and walk back to the bed.
Copyright © 2021 by Cristina M. R. Norcross. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 8, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.
We were stepping out of a reading
in October, the first cold night,
and we were following this couple,
were they at the reading? and because
we were lost, I called out to them,
“Are you going to the after party?”
The woman laughed and said no
and the man kept walking, and she
was holding his hand like I hold yours,
though not exactly, she did not
need him for balance. Then what
got into me? I said, “How long
have you been married?” and she said
“Almost 30 years” and because
we were walking in public, no secret,
tell everyone now it’s official,
I said, “How’s marriage?” The man
kept walking. The woman said,
“It gets better but then it gets different.”
The man kept walking.
Copyright © 2015 by Jillian Weise. Used with permission of the author.
I remember the hour you stole time from me and here in these late pages I try to collect back the kisses in the parking lot that erased my history next to that green F-150 when you became my future.
I were to say
I love you and
I do love you
and I say it
now and again
would you say
would you see
the world revolves
From Same Life by Maureen McLane. Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. Copyright © 2008 by Maureen McLane. All rights reserved.
As I walked out one evening,
Walking down Bristol Street,
The crowds upon the pavement
Were fields of harvest wheat.
And down by the brimming river
I heard a lover sing
Under an arch of the railway:
‘Love has no ending.
‘I’ll love you, dear, I’ll love you
Till China and Africa meet,
And the river jumps over the mountain
And the salmon sing in the street,
‘I’ll love you till the ocean
Is folded and hung up to dry
And the seven stars go squawking
Like geese about the sky.
‘The years shall run like rabbits,
For in my arms I hold
The Flower of the Ages,
And the first love of the world.’
But all the clocks in the city
Began to whirr and chime:
‘O let not Time deceive you,
You cannot conquer Time.
‘In the burrows of the Nightmare
Where Justice naked is,
Time watches from the shadow
And coughs when you would kiss.
‘In headaches and in worry
Vaguely life leaks away,
And Time will have his fancy
To-morrow or to-day.
‘Into many a green valley
Drifts the appalling snow;
Time breaks the threaded dances
And the diver’s brilliant bow.
‘O plunge your hands in water,
Plunge them in up to the wrist;
Stare, stare in the basin
And wonder what you’ve missed.
‘The glacier knocks in the cupboard,
The desert sighs in the bed,
And the crack in the tea-cup opens
A lane to the land of the dead.
‘Where the beggars raffle the banknotes
And the Giant is enchanting to Jack,
And the Lily-white Boy is a Roarer,
And Jill goes down on her back.
‘O look, look in the mirror,
O look in your distress:
Life remains a blessing
Although you cannot bless.
‘O stand, stand at the window
As the tears scald and start;
You shall love your crooked neighbour
With your crooked heart.’
It was late, late in the evening,
The lovers they were gone;
The clocks had ceased their chiming,
And the deep river ran on.
From Another Time by W. H. Auden, published by Random House. Copyright © 1940 W. H. Auden, renewed by the Estate of W. H. Auden. Used by permission of Curtis Brown, Ltd.
The moon tonight is closer to us
than it will be
for the rest of the year,
grace willing, the year
we will remember as the Great Pandemic.
Pulling us closer into its orbit,
shining the light of its fullness into the room,
we turn to hold in our hands
each other’s face as if
for the first time,
and the last—
Pink Moon, Egg Moon, Moon of New Grass.
Copyright © 2022 by Cathy Song. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 3, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.
Let us walk in the white snow
In a soundless space;
With footsteps quiet and slow,
At a tranquil pace,
Under veils of white lace.
I shall go shod in silk,
And you in wool,
White as white cow’s milk,
Than the breast of a gull.
We shall walk through the still town
In a windless peace;
We shall step upon white down,
Upon silver fleece,
Upon softer than these.
We shall walk in velvet shoes:
Wherever we go
Silence will fall like dews
On white silence below.
We shall walk in the snow.
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on December 26, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets
Sedate and archaic, a twilight-frilled haze
Walks over the meadows like rolled-out centuries
Quivering in sprightly welcome.
Trees pushed down by silence;
Trees lolling in comely abandon;
Trees pungently flamboyant,
Their leaves spinning in the wind’s golden elusiveness.
Trees probing the shrilly sensitive sunset
Like little, laced nightmares leaning
Upon a scarlet breast;
Trees sprinkling their stifled mockery
Upon the blue tomb of the air;
Trees, are you silenced beings
Whitening into the winding paradise
Of old loves seeking a second death?
And has this archaic, twilight-frilled haze
Moulded me to your semblance?
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on December 12, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.