Early last year, when Italy was the first country to issue stay-at-home orders, I came across a video on Twitter. It showed the tenants of an apartment complex standing on their balconies and making music together across the empty space of a courtyard.

There was no commentary, no explanation. Just the shakiness of a handheld device recording this exhibition of the human spirit.

It was intimate and it was poetic.

Throughout last year, the internet allowed us to come together when we couldn’t gather in person.

Personally, I heard more poetry read by a more diverse body of poets than ever before.

The North Carolina Poetry Society’s Awards Day Celebration was held via Zoom because we couldn’t gather safely. And while we missed a lot by not meeting face to face, we also gained a lot by being able to host award winners from far away from our home state.

This year will likely be the same. And from there I imagine we’ll have some new hybrid of an event that blends the face to face and the virtual.

The poet is an essential worker these days. For what better than poetry can bring home the experience of all us individuals facing this pandemic alone together and together alone.

Our submission period ends this weekend. I hope you will share your piece of all this by then.

Now, I would like to share the following poem by NCPS Member C.G. Thompson:

IN WHICH SHE DEALS WITH CHEMO IN HER OWN WAY

I see the brush on the bed and know the rest
of her hair is gone. Long auburn glory is stranded,

locks twined around hard plastic and bristles.
She stood at the full-length mirror, I’m guessing,

deciding to beat the inevitable at its own game.
There’s power in choosing your own moment.

Now the door to the bathroom is closed, steely light
beneath it, and I imagine she’s studying herself,

contour of scalp in plain sight, stark and exposed.
Maybe she’s touching skin, memorizing topography.

Last night she pulled our wedding bedspread
from the closet, seeking comfort in familiar fabric.

Timing the moment to knock, I sit and picture scarves,
warm and hopeful, emerging from paisley covers.

inspired by an image, “Caught in the Days Unraveling,” by Chelsea Welsh

Published by Doug Stuber

Doug Stuber is the Adult Contests Director for the North Carolina Poetry Society.

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