the year of stay-in-place

Poetry by Debra Stone

Black and white photo of a person sitting with their knees up in a chair by the window.

January, three together, snow squeaks as we leave trails of boot & paw tracks hiking the urban woods & Bassett Creek silent, frozen in place; it’s my birthday a hotel stay and fine dining & the snowstorm swirls. Snow slick street in February I wait for the tow truck in the cold. March, three together giddy a new car, defying stay-in-place & driving north once out of the city the highway nearly empty; Kathio State Park, only the twitter of birds heard. In April urban deer tracks on the greenway, my husband says, my social butterfly wings have been clipped, it’s true. May, no camping, on our living room TV, we watch the crowds but we can’t risk the virus so we cry out too: GET YOUR FOOT OFF OF MY NECK! Two together, no camping, in June, we fly, our electric bikes pass trees a blur to Coon Rapids Dam near the falls cool water sprays our sweaty faces. July, it’s his birthday & we order take-out, STILL NO CAMPING, the tear drop trailer sits in the driveway & I’m feeling desperate, will I survive all this togetherness? August CAMPING allowed with social distancing, three together, Blue Mounds State Park hiking in the prairie grasses, bison fenced in & the westerly winds blow my curly hair every which way & in the bathroom mirror I see my mother’s brown face but it belongs to me, another birthday without her. In September we bring the third, our beloved Ziggy to the vet as we age together; he much faster, his eyes weaker, steps slower both of us so grey now. By October, camping over, but days are warm & we’ve become bolder & go to the outdoor café my pina colada cold, sweet & delicious. Virus spike in November & we walk the paths with face masks covering our faces & noses like bank robbers. December, an unseasonably warm day trees are leafless, I biked the Luce Line trail, once the hunting trail for the Dakota, my Christmas tree lights glow & on cold nights we sit in front of the fireplace, three together. 

Debra Stone’s poetry, essays and fiction are found in Green Mountains Review, About Place Journal, Saint Paul Almanac and Random Sample Review. She won the 2019 Sundress Publisher’s essay competition, Best of the Net, judged by Hanif Abdurraquib. Debra is on the board of Graywolf Press in Minneapolis.

Photo by Sam Moqadam on Unsplash

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