Writing the Distance: Ray Ball

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, Ray Ball provides a poem and photograph.

I Regret Never Learning Her Name

Today in Anchorage: 143.
April drips down my windows
but all I can think of

is July — ones inexorably coming
and ones passed and unrecoverable
when afternoons descended

in hazy torpors of heat,
shimmering on the old stones.
Even before quarantine,

no one sat on the benches
that flank the flowing
Guadalquivir at mid-afternoon

in summer. Carmine and pale pink
flowers drooped on bending stems
like my elderly neighbor

whose shoulders bowed over
her blue and green grocery cart.
Every few days she wheeled

groceries back over the narrow
streets from Carrefour.
We exchanged greetings,

spoke of the feral cats living
in the Roman ruins, when passing
each other in the musty entrance

of our building. I wonder if
she has someone to shop for her now.
If she has been or will be

intubated. 940 dead
in Andalucía. Thousands
of miles away white spruce

and cottonwood instead of oak
and poplar provide perches
for birds. I sit a distant vigil

while April drips down my windows.
I wish I could board an AVE—
propel along the tracks

from Madrid to Córdoba
to Sevilla too quickly
to see tendrils of grape vines,

new flowering shoots,
and dusty olive groves.
Today in Andalucía: 11,053.


Ray Ball is Associate Professor of European and World History at UAA and poetry editor of the literary magazine Coffin Bell.

3 thoughts on “Writing the Distance: Ray Ball”

  1. Elizabeth B Davis

    Thank you so much for this one, in particular, Ray. It means a lot to me, on many levels.

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