a handful of poems – some old favourites and some new – that have taken on new meaning these days…
by Amy Schmidt
It’s impossible to be lonely
when you’re zesting an orange.
Scrape the soft rind once
and the whole room
fills with fruit.
Look around: you have
more than enough.
You just didn’t notice
Things to Do in the Belly of the Whale
by Dan Albergotti (2008) *
Measure the walls. Count the ribs. Notch the long days.
Look up for blue sky through the spout. Make small fires
with the broken hulls of fishing boats. Practice smoke signals.
Call old friends, and listen for echoes of distant voices.
Organize your calendar. Dream of the beach. Look each way
for the dim glow of light. Work on your reports. Review
each of your life’s ten million choices. Endure moments
of self-loathing. Find the evidence of those before you.
Destroy it. Try to be very quiet, and listen for the sound
of gears and moving water. Listen for the sound of your heart.
Be thankful that you are here, swallowed with all hope,
where you can rest and wait. Be nostalgic. Think of all
the things you did and could have done. Remember
treading water in the center of the still night sea, your toes
pointing again and again down, down into the black depths.
by Linda Pastan (2015) *
You tell me to live each day
as if it were my last. This is in the kitchen
where before coffee I complain
of the day ahead—that obstacle race
of minutes and hours,
grocery stores and doctors.
But why the last? I ask. Why not
live each day as if it were the first—
all raw astonishment, Eve rubbing
her eyes awake that first morning,
the sun coming up
like an ingénue in the east?
You grind the coffee
with the small roar of a mind
trying to clear itself. I set
the table, glance out the window
where dew has baptized every
from Contemporary Finnish Poetry “Letter”
Pentti Holappa, tr. by Herbert Lomas
I yearn and my days cave in.
i baked banana bread
for the second time in a week
this time i got the colour right
didn’t use as many chocolate chips
and the crust came out so soft and chewy
the smell of vanilla and cardamom
now fills my home
hugs the tired and lonely out of me
i don’t care about the calories
i am baking myself to a future i hope to see
there is no point in feeling guilty
* favourites i have saved over the past couple of years, received via Matthew Ogle’s Pome newsletter