The Guilded Shelter

Christine Lamb White

Vancouver, WA

Home structured in place
words from books with golden leaves
coverage of stories bless me
singly sitting in my cabin of flight
where I land, many galaxies at night
coverage of imagination blesses me
gardens of tenderness
green shoots with compost, the everlasting church of the garden
coverage of fresh growth blesses me
red flannel bedding cleanly washed
a glorious featherbed waiting to hold my body
coverage of nighttime dreams bless me
I am the boat in the water of my bathtub
a temple of sea-salts soaking
coverage of wellness blesses me
cooking in the kitchen
transformation served up on plates
coverage of nourishment blesses me
the gilded shelter unlocked
paying attention to my soul
coverage of “its nice to meet me,” blesses me.

Image accompanying The Guilded Shelter
Image accompanying Empty Chairs<br>
  	  	 	 	  	 <i>~ for Kessler 04/02/2020</i>
Empty Chairs
           ~ for Kessler 04/02/2020

Patrick Dixon

Olympia, WA

sit vacant in the gray
light of morning,
reminders of where
we sat yesterday,
our first visit in months.

This virus, armed with wedges
places an ironic twist on the adage
Divided We Fall.
Now it’s Divided We Live,
so, no hugs

when we spotted you
on the street, despite
desire so strong it hurt.
Instead, laughs, tears
and the feeling I sit with

today, writing this poem:
a knowing that if we don’t survive,
instead become statistics,
that you loved us
as deeply as we loved you;

that these chairs outside,
weathering spring sun, rain and hail
are not vacant at all– despite
all appearances, they cradle
invisible treasures

of cherished lives.

Panheartening

Judith Ames

Seattle, WA

What is happening to our hearts?

In our hearts?

We wake in the night to think of our loved ones.
We feel the enormity of our love for each of our dearest.
We call. We forget what had appeared broken.
So too even unto ourselves.
Love reigns as she opens our eyes to the beauty in each of our beloveds.
And in ourselves.
As we know, when we encounter those we don’t even know, what we share:
A longing to touch. To connect.
Moments of thanks, and preparation, should we need it, for goodbyes.
As we slow, to enjoy preparing and eating.
As we plant, in our victory gardens,
little rows of hope.
As we see young fathers walking with their children.
At last.
How long we have waited to rediscover the simple.
To come home.
Seeing our homes and having time to dig deep into dusty corners,
To clean and polish,
Touch our homes with affection,
Until they gleam.

Image accompanying Panheartening
Image accompanying Cutting Each Other’s Hair During the Corona Virus
Cutting Each Other’s Hair During the Corona Virus

Dotty Armstrong

Yakima, WA

We are two women who got married
seven years ago
but that is not our story of courage.
This story is about
sitting in the yard
in a plastic chair
an old towel around my shoulders,
clippers, scissors with teeth
on a side table
and my wife
with an anxious face
coming toward me
with sharp, small scissors.

If you think
we have no training for this job,
you are wrong.
We watched an old guy
with thinning hair
cut his own
on U Tube.

But now,
my wife lifts the clippers
to the back of my neck.
The goldfinches in the apple tree,
dapper in their bold spring plumage,
chirp encouragement.
Our dog watches
from the sidelines,
face filled with alarm.

The clippers buzz their way
along my neck,
then she grabs handfuls of hair
on top and lets the toothy scissors
munch on each clump.

When we switch, I let the clippers
linger and a bald spot
glares on the back of her head.

After,
when we look in the mirror
my formerly fluffy hair
is flat and the back of your head
is too close to bald,
but we glitter
smiles to each other
as if we just renewed our vows.

Stalled/Plans

Sarah Bardeen

Berkeley, CA

In the first week
I was full of plans:
Language, songs to learn
bread to bake
murals to paint.
Long-neglected house projects,
suddenly front and center,
standing tall. Proud to be
of service.

I would use our collective
solitude, too,
to rethink the balance of
the world
and my place in it.

Now, eight weeks in,
I stand transfixed:
watching a hummingbird
hover and strike in the air
devouring insects
a flash of ruby red
at her throat.

Sorrow
at times
has left me unable to rise
from my chair.
But the dog comes and shoves
her muzzle into
my curled fingers.

My children sleep and grow, sleep
and grow
and the sky is bluer
than it has ever been.

first published in the San Francisco Chronicle, 05/09/2020

Image accompanying Stalled/Plans