Writing the Distance: Steven Rubinstein

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, Steven Rubinstein provides a poem and photograph.

Good Fences Make Great Neighbors

Snow melts without moving from view
Spring comes on cottonwood winds
furrows deepening Bodenburg brown
still I sit by this window drawing lists
of what is now as it was not before
with little way of telling.

On my neighbor’s fence a green bandana
green- a reminder he lives and is well
a glance from my window-lit arctic entry
too often, too dirty, and wet with breath
too often for any real change.

Looking for change and drawing up lists
checking my woodstove for access to air
its audible intake its rumble and roar
assured by each breath it still draws.

Staring in wonder each at the other
out from our isolation in space
wondering who will it be

if one of us is gone tomorrow
what will be

if only this remains.


Steven Rubinstein is the Program Director for APU’s Graduate Program in Outdoor and Environmental Education on the Kellogg Campus in Palmer. He is working on a manuscript about a boy, a girl, a fish and the sky that will never be completed unless the hunker down order finally accomplishes what he thus far cannot.

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