The house was built,  
Brick by brick, pane by pane,  
Initially withstanding winds,  
The force of a hurricane. 

But over time, the faults are found  
As storm after storm  
Assails, the craftsmanship outdated,  
In need of reform. 

The windows break, one by one,  
Under the weight of wrongs, the structure strains, 
Until one day fire catches,  

And only the foundation of good intentions remains.  

While easiest would be to walk,  
To abandon, moving on to rebuild,  
The value is seen by those who have called it 
Home, desires to be fulfilled.  

Remembering the mistakes,  
Maintaining the hope of freedom,  
Hand in hand, we work,  
Entering a new season.  

The work is not complete until  
The walls protect all who live there,  
No exceptions. Abandonment of all  
Unnecessary despair.  

A job led by all, not by one,  
We work long days turn long nights.  
The creation of our hands  
Proving more than surface level acknowledgment of rights.  

The past is not buried  
But underlies 
What we have transformed  
Before our eyes.

Copyright © 2021 Hallie Knight. Used with permission of the author. Published in Poem-a-Day on January 23, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

So this is Sunday evening 
under the live oak behind the kitchen 
where the Rose of Sharon 
spills purple tea onto the grass, 
the yellow bells sound yellow alarms 
from tall stalks, and the sunflowers peep
over the fence into the street
where car tires lap at the pavement
and walkers and joggers and dogs and strollers
pass. Our weeping
persimmon makes a small room
under its branches that children
younger than mine could inhabit 
for an afternoon. Squirrels chase 
each other up the live oak trunk, scratching
the bark. Crape myrtle, peach, plum:
our tiny arboretum. 
We had another tree that had room  
for two girls to sit in it, but the winter freeze
killed it. Gone, too,  
the neighbor whose name I never learned
who yelled at speeding cars in her front yard
wearing only a long t-shirt and underwear
with her ageless legs for all to see, 
especially me, from my kitchen, as I waited then,
as I wait now, for my daughters’ tears
to come the way they do every Sunday evening
because we cut down their climbing tree
and tomorrow is a school day, and they don’t care
about the sky dropping pink and orange curtains
around the neighbor’s house, ending an opera
about a house that held a woman’s life
that some tomorrow will scrape down. 

Copyright © 2022 by Cecily Parks. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 14, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

      I went by the Druid stone 
   That stands in the garden white and lone,   
And I stopped and looked at the shifting shadows   
   That at some moments there are thrown
   From the tree hard by with a rhythmic swing,   
   And they shaped in my imagining
To the shade that a well-known head and shoulders   
   Threw there when she was gardening.

      I thought her behind my back,
   Yea, her I long had learned to lack,
And I said: “I am sure you are standing behind me,   
   Though how do you get into this old track?”
   And there was no sound but the fall of a leaf   
   As a sad response; and to keep down grief
I would not turn my head to discover
   That there was nothing in my belief.

      Yet I wanted to look and see
   That nobody stood at the back of me;
But I thought once more: “Nay, I’ll not unvision   
   A shape which, somehow, there may be.”
   So I went on softly from the glade,
   And left her behind me throwing her shade,   
As she were indeed an apparition—
   My head unturned lest my dream should fade.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on October 16, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.