Writing the Distance: Kathy Trump

The Covid 19 pandemic is isolating Alaskan writers. We can no longer attend workshops or public readings. The coffee bars where we met with other writers are closed. To bridge these physical gaps, 49 Writers is providing this on-line forum for Alaskans writing the distance. Today, Kathy Trump provides a poem and photograph.

In Defense of Redpolls

Boreal forest breaks unique each year
a canker of Spear-marked Black moths
rose from gardens in morning sun
fed on birch damaging trees

Another year, I carried my paddleboard
to a necklace of freshwater lakes hidden in muskeg
puffs of dust rose where water once sat
desiccating Labrador Tea and Bog Rosemary

The summer before Spruce trees died,
of bark beetle infestation
and left conifers standing like torches,
seeds, shaken from their cones, littered trails
whispering what was to come

This year, virus found us
schools, shops, and cruise ships shut down
familiar faces of people I love
unrecognizable in hand-sewn masks.

We remain quarantined
each house in my neighborhood with a plastic tub
plopped in snow at end of driveways
to share puzzles, books and vegetables

When I walk my dogs morning reveals
ordinary sounds of chittering Redpolls
females crouched with drooped wings
while males stiffly bow

They will make nests of twigs and lichen
lined with feathers
eggs pale green with purple streaks
like aurora borealis

I laugh with my love over a rich cup of coffee
as he repeats that same joke he makes
every morning; I go outside and
marvel at sounds of redpolls

Kathy Trump, from Talkeetna, is finishing her twenty-seventh and last year as a high school history teacher. She is learning how to play the ukulele during the pandemic.

Scroll to Top