Poem of the Week, by Ellen Bass

My poems podcast, Words by Wintercan be found here.

The world is too big if you make it so. This sentence has been running through my head lately. Every time I feel besieged by the world’s problems, which is most of the time, it comes back to me.

This morning the dog and I got up at dawn and went into our tiny backyard. We watered the vegetables and the flowers and the baby apple trees and the mint. The water made rainbows over the mint and the tight clean smell of it reset my mind a little. So I went in search of more lighten-ment. Crushed a little lavender, some Russian sage, basil, rosemary, more mint, until the air was full of their scents and so was I. The world is too big if you make it so.

Any Common Desolation, by Ellen Bass

can be enough to make you look up
at the yellowed leaves of the apple tree, the few
that survived the rains and frost, shot
with late afternoon sun. They glow a deep
orange-gold against a blue so sheer, a single bird
would rip it like silk. You may have to break
your heart, but it isn’t nothing
to know even one moment alive. The sound
of an oar in an oarlock or a ruminant
animal tearing grass. The smell of grated ginger.
The ruby neon of the liquor store sign.
Warm socks. You remember your mother,
her precision a ceremony, as she gathered
the white cotton, slipped it over your toes,
drew up the heel, turned the cuff. A breath
can uncoil as you walk across your own muddy yard,
the big dipper pouring night down over you, and everything
you dread, all you can’t bear, dissolves
and, like a needle slipped into your vein—
that sudden rush of the world.

For more information on Ellen Bass, please click here.


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