Writing the Distance: Mistee St. Clair

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, Mistee St. Clair provides poem and photograph.

During a Pandemic

Sit at the kitchen table by the window
that looks out to your small garden
of bare dirt and old mulch, soil keeping cold.
Look how the yellow grass and drying moss
have crept over rock borders from summers
and summers ago. Look to the bird feeders,
seeds picked over, empty suet basket swaying.
The gooseberry and the currant listless
except for pale, waxen nubs,
flushed and swelling.
Look to the mountains beyond,
see how winter surrenders.
Crowded evergreens muted
with a haze of brown,
old snow fading, degree
by degree.

Step out onto the deck, feel the sun
before the wind picks up and slaps you.
Small hopping movements catch your eye,
you look for a junco, see instead leaves,
dried and brown from last fall,
tumbling like acrobats across the lawn.
Last fall feels like a long time ago,
as nostalgic as childhood.

A sparrow sings from the crabapple,
his lusty song reaching through isolation
like the eager sun behind a thick morning fog.
Tomorrow crocuses and hyacinths will surface
from the indifferent earth. The sun will push
new leaves out of their homey buds.
The sparrow’s song rustles hope,
each leaf sings of the ordinary.


Mistee St. Clair reads, writes, mothers teenagers, ponders all sorts of things and hikes with her collie in beautiful, rainy Juneau. She can be found at misteestclair.com.

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