Next Steps.

A fierce year for mud in Vermont — the schools send home notices that the busses cannot run. My friends in southern Vermont live in a town where the schools have closed up for a few days. Heck, why not? A basketball game has spread Covid around through the community again, anyway.

Back from my visit to my parents in New Mexico, I work long days, catching up. On the phone with a stranger, I share a little of my trip, and he tells me about his mother. Listening, I stare through the window at the snowflakes fluttering down, little spits of flakes swirling in a gray sky. Then he clears his throat and advises me on my next steps.

Pain Management
by James Silas Rogers

One day, in your forties or fifties,
you will start to think that life is turning
into a long string of small extinctions.
You will feel the word gone rise inside you
and might even say it aloud, quietly, the way
you would say it if the house had been robbed
and, months later, you reached for an item
you never knew was missing, thought had been
in a drawer the whole time: Gone. Add these
to the workaday wrong turns you half-knew
were coming from the start-you know: the shy
girl with trusting eyes with whom
you did not sleep, the dad who let you down—
and you will begin to think that if you started
crying now, you might never be able to stop.
But that doesn’t happen.
What happens instead is you make a cup of tea.

You sit on the front porch, and there you look
at spindly asters on a September afternoon:
flowers with ragged edges that are barely petals,
a color from somewhere down the spectrum
after blue-the same blue of cold skies
in early winter. And behind them,
the deep green of bloomless morning glories.

4 thoughts on “Next Steps.

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