Shelter in Place

Earth quit smoking last month, 

sky’s a deeper blue. Tonight, 

Moon sighs silver-white; 

surrounding her, 

a million stars.

No need for a patch or a pill. 

Today, the tides roll in and out, 

steady as breath. 

In and out, today 

dancing butterflies, drifting clouds, 

the scent of earth floating 

on the breeze, calling catch me if 

you can and running fast, fast, faster 

through shimmering trees. Today, 

a tender pulse beneath my skin. Today,

fluttering grass as earth tightens her

grasp, lets go. Within the 

lake’s mirror, sky. 

I cast my line, in and out,

out, in. Dragonflies  

buzzing, passing by. 

Such arrivals, like 

love letters or gifts, without 

return address or postmark or 

name. Still, I accept what I 

cannot see: in daylight, 

the shelter of a million stars.  



 

The Art of Dreaming

Commentary

 

Art is a conversation. We absorb our worlds, consciously and unconsciously, and when we create art, we’re expressing those experiences, whatever they may be.

 

With the shelter-in-place order, I no longer spent my days teaching in a high school classroom. My ears rang, not with the usual buzz of my 130 students, but with an unfamiliar silence. I felt myself floating in a bubble of space and solitude, listening rather than speaking, an exchange student in a new land. 

 

Spring arrived. With it came the season’s intricacies and delicacy; green buds on oak trees, the soft chirping of birds, grasses shifting into pale yellows.  Within two days, my rosemary bloomed indigo, and the air hummed with bees. My kitten, frantic with joy, leapt into the air, hoping to catch hummingbirds and butterflies. 

 

The more closely I listened to spring, the more I noticed. Transitions are fragile, moment to moment, easily missed.  (Right now, a mourning dove cries urgently outside my window--would I have heard her song before?) 

 

Since I am a writer, my natural metaphor in describing creativity is conversation.  But perhaps a better metaphor would be dreaming.  Dreams do not need words; they are feelings, visions. A painting is a dream we step inside, and hopefully, its dream changes us.  

 

Poems are dreams.  As an English teacher, I never tried to define a poem in my classes. Instead, I would ask students: What did you like? What resonated?  Were there any surprises?  Students were often afraid of getting it wrong, as if there was a right answer.  But when you enter a poem, it becomes your dream, no one else’s.  Your experience cannot be deemed “wrong” or “right”. When I share my poems or stories, they no longer belong to me.  

 

If someone asked me today: Where does your inspiration come from?, I would say: Whatever I am dreaming of. Chocolate, butterflies, medieval archtecture... it could be anything. The world of the imagination has no borders, it only asks us to listen. Transitions are fragile, yet with them, we can open to a new awareness, a new dream.