Sara Epstein

Pandemic Prayer -I listen to the wind, to the wind of my soul (Cat Stevens) Please,permissionto escape into the smaller world,the bigger world,pulse and breath of the day,movement in my body,space around me,snow, light on the snow,wind in my soul. Like a prayer, I guess,this listening,this not wanting to hearchaosbut instead to feel treasuretouch in, settle. And it’s hardto discern the differencebetween denial and self-care. The need for both sometimes,in the busyness of the dayactually not so busy,it’s the uncertainty and vigilanceI need a break from. Sometimes,denial is like a warm blanket,keeping out the relentless. I turn on the news,find out what I need to know. Or I sit within the blanket,listen to the wind.

A Quiet Wonder
Front porch with dying dog sitting under the bench I sit on.Grass green and reaching just high enough to remind me soonit will need mowing.Air moist and comforting, just warm enough to invite tears.Daffodils numerous and glowing white and yellowlike children’s raincoats on the way to school. But now, I realize, it’s not quiet at all.Squirrels and birds chirping and trilling,shouting about the buds and leaves bursting open,green gradually taking over the background that used to be grey,especially vivid with the sky still being grey. I am quiet though,relieved that he ateall of his breakfast,satisfied that I got up early and gave him his dose of prednisonebefore I showered. Back inside, I read about spending an hour with Emily Dickinson’s ghostin her bedroom in Amherst,the companionship the author of the article feltand how she let a poem form there, and she loses track of time. A turkey gobbles in my backyardas I write and the dog comes inside to sleep.

What Do I Write?
Lately I write less;employed as a therapistI expect myselfto practice listening most of the time.In my office I want to hearthe nuggets of truth,to reach for the unasked questions. But what of the poet?Excuses will not be accepted!Aware of my lassitude, I wantto uncover the secrets, revealthe terror and trauma of my patients lives.I want to craft a poem from their vivid details,yet that would be forbidden. Glancing out the window,I notice the waysnow gathers on the branches of the trees,and recall Neruda:Se desciñe la niebla en danzantes figures.The snow unfurls in dancing figures. And the way I walked so slowly in the woods,gathering my awareness of the rise and fall of my feet,annoyed at first at the quiet outside and my internal noise,in synch finally with my steps,noticing the smell of balsam fir and the sparkle of the brook.

Sara Epstein is a clinical psychologist from Winchester, Massachusetts, who writes poetry and songs, especially about light and dark places. Her poems are forthcoming or appeared in Mocking Heart Review, Silkworm, Paradise in Limbo, Mom Egg Review, Chest Journal, Literary Mama, and two anthologies: Sacred Waters, and Coming of Age.