Voices from Afield Smith College Renga #1

Pictured left to right, top to bottom: Maggie Olszewski ’23, Sean Joyce-Farley ’20, Allex Dawn ’21, Bill Hagen, Arda Collins, Matt Donovan, Ellen Doré Watson, Clare O'Gara ’22, Jen Blackburn, Rosetta Cohen and Floyd Cheung.

Design Credit: Lauren Anderson

Smith College Renga #1: We are twelve students, staff, and faculty formerly on campus together at Smith College. Some of us have published many award-winning books. Some of us are just getting started. All of us believe in the power of poetry to connect.

Written by Matt Donovan, Clare O'Gara, Rosetta Cohen, Ira Goga, Floyd Cheung, Arda Collins, Sinead Joyce-Farley, Jennifer Blackburn, Allex Dawn, William Hagen, Maggie Olszewski, Ellen Doré Watson.

Voices from Afield
Smith College Renga #1

More news scrolling, yet more FaceTime,
mugs of ginger tea & the slow, dizzying work
of spring snow erasing the daffodil stems.

Sailboats on the Willamette River only touch
accidentally. We are suddenly similar to them,

moving stiffly across aisles and sidewalks, oar-arms
straight at our sides. Today, a somber hawk, perched low
on a stripped birch branch, watched us walk

with gold and burning eyes, but no sun to be seen.
Each day like a grey coat I take on and off

cocoons my grief and yet cracks open each night
with virtual choirs, phone calls, and time to read

the light in the trees across the afternoon
on the small hill tomorrow. What wouldn’t
be still spirals into the invisible

eddies spun by the dog’s lapping tongue
in the water dish. Who wouldn’t be

jealous of two birds
perching (not even) one wing's
full distance apart?

I watch them from my shattered glass window,
longing to escape my existence.

Clouds drift in a sunless sky,
the sweet scent of earth washes
memory from my mind.

Birds fly by in the shape
of a hand. All I remember is missing this.

Come here, little sinking heart. Yes, I used that word.
Look, the finches have turned from olive-drab
to lemon-yellow overnight. This is not nothing.