Bio Note: As this month's submission will show, I have both change and the past on my mind at this liminal time, when it feels as though we are jointly crossing over from one age to another, from the world of plague to a new way of being in the world. During the time of shelter, I have devoted myself to writing, working with others in the poetry community, growing deeper roots. I hope I will continue to do this once I can also turn outward into the world beyond my walls.
Celebration with Mirror
To RHW Dillard When I was twenty, I used to look into the mirror every day. There wasn’t much I loved—but it would be a pleasure to look into that mirror now to see the person I once was. Not knowing yet I’d never get away from me, I left my home in Philadelphia for a college far away. Now I travel only to the past. The first time I didn’t feel alone was in a workshop on a Wednesday night, sitting at the far end of the honey-colored table, where I could watch the others’ animated faces without them noticing. Sometime that semester, an ancient lightbulb, Edison’s first model, big as a lantern, burned out during class— a pop and fizz, bright as a camera’s flash, a whiff of sulfur. The surprise of sudden darkness made us laugh, the big bulb held carefully between the teacher’s hands, a crystal ball in which I might have seen the future I inhabit now.
golden shovel from a line by Brigit Pegeen Kelly On this night and many others, just as I close my eyes, the whole past opens out forever like the midnight sky, heart- dark and deep. Again, it is the night my mother dies in her sleep, and I am not there to slip the ring of hammered gold, worn thin, off of her finger. I touch this bright band, etched with unreadable signs, feeling its heavy sweetness.
After the Plague
It’s time to open up the door, closed and locked so long the hinges stick and groan, peer outside into the too-bright sun, hear wild parrots squawking in the branches, crows gargling their few harsh notes, unhampered by the window glass, the walls. But I can’t let go yet of this long dark year. I want to welcome everyone I know into my home, hold them close, feed them home-baked bread and soup, but won’t, though now it’s safe to share a breathing space, standing close enough to throw an arm over another’s shoulders, singing together under the rising moon. Instead, I’ll build back slowly the broken bridge between the world and me.
©2021 Robbi Nester
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