GloPoWriMo – Day 24

Whose hands, this apple?

Whose hands touched this apple that I wash under filtered water?

My hands, scrubbing its rose-freckled skin.
The delivery shopper’s hands, picking it from the bin,
placing it in a bag, leaving it by our gate.
The checker’s hands, assessing its weight.
The produce stocker’s hands, setting it stem-side up.
Another man, with a label-gun, doing the follow-up.
A customer’s sticky hands, the hands of her kid,
think of the germs that might be hid

from view. Invisible. My hands scrub the apple
under filtered water. This is the fact with which I grapple:
the coronavirus lives 72 hours on a surface.
Still, I am grateful for the service
of the laborer who picked
this fruit as the work clock ticked
and the hands of the orchardist
who planted the tree in the mist

of an early spring morning in Washington,
or J.H. Kidd, horticulturalist, whose discovery, once begun,
led to this apple, in my hand, under running water, a red-freckled Gala.
I try to soothe my amygdala.
Whose hands? An apple a day,
now that my hair is gray,
adds to 21,900 pippins, red delicious, Macintosh
Granny Smith, ambrosia–oh my gosh

if each apple were touched by 50 hands
that’s thousands and thousands
and all the germs and the fingerprints
and all the skin oil and imprints
of feelings. Including the love that my mom and dad
felt for me. Remembering childhood apples, I don’t exactly feel sad.
It’s wistful, yeah, but it’s more the continuity.
I look at this shiny wet apple with ambiguity.

So many hands, to bring it to me.
All those feelings, soon to be inside me.

Whose hands touched this apple?

Daily Prompt:  “write about a particular fruit – your choice,” from Na/GloPoWriMo.

Author’s note: While it is always good to wash produce thoroughly (see 10 Dirty Secrets from your Supermarket Produce Departments), one needn’t be overly concerned about disinfecting them (see No, You Don’t Need To Disinfect Your Groceries. But Here’s How To Shop Safely.) I still wash, wipe, and repackage my grocery deliveries, saying blessings for the Amazon Prime delivery shopper, the grocery store clerk, the produce stocker, the laborers who picked and packaged and trucked the produce, and for the bees, whose tiny hands helped pollinate the flowers, so I would have apples this day. Thank you, all the thousands of hands!

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GloPoWriMo – Day 23

S

Sneaking through borders
Spanish flu steals
souls
some 50 million
succumbed
sons,
soldiers, sinners,
saints, senators.
sometimes I wonder who
survived, and how they
sustained
safety, security,
sanity.

C

COVID-19 crosses unseen
connecting
contacts
contradicting caustic

claims from a nar-
cissistic
cultleader creating

confusion, causing
chaos
coordinating crisis

complacent towards the other
crisis
climate catastrophe, no mira-

cle, unless we resolve to
change

Daily Prompt:  “write a poem about a particular letter of the alphabet,” from Na/GloPoWriMo.

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GloPoWriMo – Day 22

Loneliness is My Companion

Wherever I go
it’s there
my quiet shadow

so I’m not alone
sun on my back
my companion behind me

Through all this
change, my one
constant. A lonely

person is at
home everywhere.

Daily Prompt:  “Find an idiomatic phrase from a different language or culture, and use it as the jumping-off point for your poem,” from Na/GloPoWriMo.

The seed for this poem: “A lonely person is at home everywhere” – Russian proverb.

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GloPoWriMo – Day 21

Cook’s Salty Zen

Tries in geek, Cook may or not know better.
For all were mistaken, kin that garlic was–
soysauce, Ma’am. Has also strips that were all too
clearly zen. Try it with another’s coal–
do, or it taste like oolong.

Synesthesia: try it with knocked knees, Yong.
Pack it in your ear, like this. Try a jeer, not
nice, so all is best. So long, like here, salt it
took, too, like nectar of sea. Dance with me here in
2023 now.

Merry-make, Netty, old grapes, some
search or long of, we tell and phone. Sound is pratter
such may, Ma’am, over jilt’s sake, envy the pea.

How long’s ill, that alleges not dour, we wanna hear
what is worse, go on! Just heard her open it,
niece, for all’s lang syne we aren’t so fare.

Up bed, daughter, or a patchy in own, himself, over
tickles her. How will her, my sin, pay, key? Scissors?
Women gin up dizzy, now wherefore on a tea?

We’re, how was it not, all like ending, touch wool
this: in geek, Cook were all crooked, what mind, her.
The key, he’ll say, what mind her, see far.

Daily Prompt:  “Find a poem in a language that you don’t know, and perform a ‘homophonic translation’ on it. What does that mean? Well, it means to try to translate the poem simply based on how it sounds,” from Na/GloPoWriMo.

My source poem: FERKÂLDEN, in Frisian, by Nyk de Vries, https://www.poetryinternational.org/pi/poem/30070/auto/0/0/Nyk-de-Vries/Down-with-a-Cold/en/tile (Please read it–it’s beautiful in Frisian and in translation.)

Author’s note: Sure, the poem’s nonsense, but there’s a bit of a story in it, too. Writing this was a very interesting experience for me. As an autistic person, I experience challenge in social communication processing, particularly in translating spoken word into language. It’s not that I have trouble hearing–my sense of hearing is very keen. It’s that I hear sounds and music, even when people talk, and translating those sounds into language–into actual words that combine to create sentences and containers for meaning–is challenging (and taxing, too). So the process of reading the poem in Frisian, hearing the sounds in my mind, and then translating them into language is very much the experience I have whenever I participate in conversation or need to listen to lectures, spoken instructions, oral presentations, or meetings. Telephone calls, voice chat, and Zoom meetings are especially hard for me and can, basically, ruin me for the rest of the day–or even week. Also, with the poem being partially nonsense and partially containing meaning, that’s a lot of what my experience with spoken word is. I try to reconstruct what sense might be there, and often, I have the feeling that my understanding is not exactly what has been said. Even when my transcription has been 100% correct, I’ll often interpret it literally or precisely, and that’s usually not the intent of the speaker.

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GloPoWriMo – Day 20

In Hand

After my sister left
to marry the puppeteer
my hand clasped the colt
she carved for me last year.

It fit inside my palm
like another hand
simple, rough, black walnut,
cut with a toothed steel band.

It smelled like my sister,
shone with her fingers’ oil,
painted eyes, soft like hers,
around its nose, reins of red toile.

Even now, I sometimes hold
that rough colt in my fingers,
press my thumb against its ears.
Across miles, her presence lingers.

Daily Prompt:  “write a poem about a handmade or homemade gift that you have received,” from Na/GloPoWriMo.

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GloPoWriMo – Day 19

Quartz

Viewed one way
this rock is
nothing special

ordinary, dull
lumpy, ugly

Turn it over
it shines
crystals reflecting
light

Turn towards me.
Shine your bright
spirit–that soul-deep
reflection
of human goodness.

Daily Prompt:  “write a poem based on a ‘walking archive.’ What’s that? Well, it’s when you go on a walk and gather up interesting things – a flower, a strange piece of bark, a rock. This then becomes your ‘walking archive’ – the physical instantiation of your walk,” from Na/GloPoWriMo.

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GloPoWriMo – Day 18

Breathe

to stand
in the garden
and breathe

air clean as
the summer
you were ten
and hiked
in the Sierras

that air
pure

(Your dad was alive then,
remember?)

pure

air carrying
the scent of
the neighbor’s lemon
tree

in bloom

and the bright
promise of
next winter’s

harvest.

the virus
steals taste
and smell
when it first
comes

but when it
comes for your
soul

it steals
your

breath.

Daily Prompt:  “write an ode to life’s small pleasures,” from Na/GloPoWriMo.

Author’s note: Have you noticed how clean the air is these days? Like it sometimes hurts to gaze at intense beauty, it almost hurts to breathe. It’s that pure.

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