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  • Writer's picturePenny Harter


I haven’t written a new poem for almost a week now. The very hot and humid spell that we’ve been having here in South Jersey has been muting me. Even when I’m inside, comfortable in air-conditioning, I know that opening the door and stepping out into it is like hitting another wall.

But this morning, remembering how green everything was when I briefly ventured out yesterday, this poem came. Again, I tell myself that even during this long season of pandemic and politics we must live in now and find something to appreciate, no matter the conditions we find ourselves in—a necessary choice.

In Green Time

Each day green riots more and more

along the roadsides, threatening to

overwhelm my view into the woods

with tangles of shrub oak, laurel, and

burgeoning blueberry bushes.

Further on, the green wall of reeds has

grown so tall I can’t see through them to

the endless stretch of grass that used to

host white ibis, or the horizon of bay

water glinting blue in the summer sun.

Closer to home, this afternoon’s mallow

blossoms along the edge of the park have

already begun to fold inward, drooping

from heat or drought. They close at night

yet daily open pastel faces to the dawn.

A few days ago on my daughter’s birthday

I dared to enter her house, pandemic mask

in place, sat at table in front of a bouquet

of roses from her husband, their red ruffles

shouting beauty in the midst of isolation.

These long hot days, even as daylight has

already begun to shorten toward autumnal

dark and chill, this part of the planet doesn’t

care, is too busy making everything green

while it can. And we must do the same.

© 2020 Penny Harter

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