Home on the Roslyn Ridge

Susan Johnson

Roslyn, WA

We had watched from the trail
for their speckled purple-brown.
Still, when we came upon them,
their modest beauty startled us.

A gathering of chocolate lilies
hidden at the foot of the pines,
their heads bowed down
like monks in morning meditation.

We rested, stood there in silence.
Even the birds quieted for a moment.
And then, a pulse of prayer among the trees.
Pines, lilies, birds, our uncertain selves.

Image accompanying Home on the Roslyn Ridge
Image accompanying My Classroom Changed
My Classroom Changed

Mary Jackson

Clarkston, WA

My classroom has changed this spring.
Thirty-two years of four walls are the only constant that I see.
Creating lesson plans the day before to make sure they are posted by 9:00 AM.
Setting alarms just in case insomnia from the night before doesn't make me "late" for class.
My bed is my new office chair and my computer, my updated desk.
My morning coffee is a keeper as I read through e-mails, deciding if I should or need to respond.
Pajamas and a robe are my preferred clothing these days.
Wondering why students or parents don't respond to my phone calls or e-mails.
Wondering why I feel so stressed.
Expectations high
Wondering why it's okay for teenagers to be working outside the home but not doing any school work.
My office chair needs sheets from Macy's, or maybe I need a new chair.
I want brand new work clothes too, my pajamas have holes, and my pink fuzzy robe looks dingy.
Thank goodness that I have a backup pair of work shoes, satiny black slippers.
Yes, my classroom has changed this year, and so has the teacher.

My Life as a Chair

Ed Stover

Yakima, WA

Before the pandemic,
I would flee the honey-dooz—
the paint flaking from the trim,
the loose boards on the fence
waiting to be nailed,
the invasive species that has
taken root in my backyard,
the hedge in need
of a haircut as badly as me.
Now I'm a piece of furniture
trapped in my own house,
as wooden as the desk
at which I sit writing these words.
I may write a poem
called My Life as a Chair
because I am learning the feeling
of simply occupying space,
gazing out the window
at the same patch of grass
waiting to be mowed,
the same flowerbed
wanting to be weeded.

My wife and I hardly speak.
We're not mad at each other,
just numb, as though we've
been hit with a zombie stick.
She sits in the living room
and listens to audio books.
I sit in my study
and scan the headlines
on my laptop news feed
for signs of relief.
But all is bombast—
a fat face like Jabba the Hutt
telling me I'm old, expendable,
that facts are fake news,
that snake oil cures all
and nothing's as bad as it seems.
It's an alternate reality
like an alternate fact
we imagine until it becomes true.
The people walking past
on my street look lost.
We're all pinching ourselves.
We want to wake up.

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.

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